100+ Suggested Events in Western MA: December 21, 2019 – January 3, 2020

Awarded the “Essential Agent of Change Award” by the MDPH’s Massachusetts Essentials for Childhood, Hilltown Families is recognized as a leading family strengthening initiative in the region, promoting “positive parenting through the social norm of community social connectedness.” Serving Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families continues to support the development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, farms, individuals, schools, and non-profit organizations are invited to collaborate with Hilltown Families in their community outreach. With over 9,000 opt-in subscribers and 2.6+ million visits to our web site alone, Hilltown Families can deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA! Find out about our affordable advertising options and how you can partner with Hilltown Families in your online marketing by contacting us at info@hilltownfamilies.org… and scroll down to discover community-based educational events and community building opportunities happening this weekend and next week in Western MA!

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Bulletin Board

Dec 26 – 30

Holiday Vacation Programs: With schools out for the holidays, the New England Air Museum is hosting a series of daily interactive workshops. Activities will be offered from 10:30am-2:30pm each day and are included with admission (unless otherwise noted). Workshops include Lunar Landscape Painting (12/26), 1st Annual LEGO Brick Aircraft Contest (12/27), Marshmallow Constellations (12/28), Straw Rocket Challenge (12/29), and a Model Airplane Workshop & Demonstrations (12/30). The museum will be closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day and closing at 3pm on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. For more information about these and other events, visit www.neam.org or call 860-623-3305. NEAM is located at 36 Perimeter Rd., Windsor Locks, CT.

Jan 1

Mark your calendars! On the first day of 2020, Hilltown Families and Flywheel are partnering again in the beloved annual New Year’s Day Morning Dance Party, a breakfast bash featuring food, dancing, and diversions for kids held at Flywheel Arts Collective on Wednesday, January 1, from 10am-12noon. New this year, local storyteller, Tom McCabe, will spin a yarn while folks enjoy a community pancake breakfast. After breakfast, families can join DJ Youthelectronix for the “best ever dance party before noon.“. This annual event is a fundraiser to benefit the work of Flywheel Arts Collective. Minimum suggested donation: $6/person. Start the new year with a New Year’s Day Music Dance Party. Save on the babysitter and dance away on the first morning of the new year! So much cheaper than a night out on the town and just as much fun! Flywheel Arts Collective. 413-527-9800. 43 Main St, Easthampton, MA.

Dec 21

Save the Date! This holiday season, experience the beloved story of The Nutcracker told through Celtic Dance. A Celtic Nutcracker will beautifully blend the Tchaikovsky score with live Celtic music and original choreography by the Celtic Heels Dance Company Director, Cara Leach. Bring your family to this one showing event on Saturday, December 21st at 3pm at the Academy of Music, Northampton. Featuring the Celtic Heels Irish Dance Company and live music this is sure to become a family tradition for anyone who loves the Nutcracker or Celtic Dance! Tickets are $12-20. Information can be found at www.aomtheatre.com.

Imagine a cozy space where caretakers and their little people are invited to read, create, play, & linger together. Now place it in downtown Florence, right off the bike path—then add bike & stroller parking, comfy spots for relaxing & feeding, and a family-friendly bathroom. It’s High Five Books, a NEW independent kids’ community bookstore. High Five Books is the neighborhood go-to for new board & picture books, early- and middle-grade readers, YA books & graphic novels, plus art kits and other creative supplies. They share their welcoming space with Art Always, an art school for children & adults. They offer $5 daily drop-in art sessions, family literacy & art events, and snacks. And, of course, high fives anytime. www.highfivebooks.org

Auditions: Jan 5

Do you know children who are talented instrumentalists? Are they motivated to practice and make music with other young musicians? The Pioneer Valley Symphony Youth Orchestra offers a dynamic & supportive ensemble environment for talented musicians in middle & high school. Directed by Steven Bathory-Peeler, PVSYO performs in 2 standalone concerts and also collaborates with the Pioneer Valley Symphony Orchestra. Chamber ensemble opportunities are also offered. The PVSYO rehearses at Greenfield High School on Sundays from 5:30-7:30 during the school year. Auditions for all instruments (except trumpet & clarinet) will be held in Greenfield on Jan 5, 2020, 5:30-7:30. To learn more or register for an audition, visit www.pvsoc.org/youth-orchestra.

Open House: Jan 11

The Common School: Community, collaboration, inclusivity, social justice, environmental education- Come learn how these words are put into action at their winter Open House on Saturday, January 11, from 10am-12noon. Play in their classrooms, meet their teachers, chat with current parents, and tour their beautiful campus situated amongst 120 acres of conservation land on Larch Hill in Amherst. Light refreshments provided. Questions? Contact Director of Admissions, Dana Kadish at outreach@commonschool.org or visit www.commonschool.org.

Accepting applications for fall 2020. The Bement School founded in 1925 and located in Deerfield is a co-educational junior boarding and day school serving 225 students in kindergarten through grade 9. At Bement, the innovative educational approach and rigorous curriculum prepare students well for competitive secondary schools and to tackle the challenges of life. Students work hard, learn to overcome obstacles, persevere with joy and optimism, develop a strong sense of self, and find ways to help others. Children and adults at Bement work together to create a community where all members cultivate mutual respect and understanding within the school and the world. For info on how to arrange a campus visit, call 413-774-4209 www.bement.org.

Western Massachusetts is rich in learning opportunities to supplement the interests of children, teens, and lifelong learners! Hilltown Families Class Directory features classes, lessons, enrichment programs, and membership opportunities across Western Massachusetts and throughout the year. Our Class Directory makes it easier to find these gems while connecting families with resources that support their interests and education, including theater, music, dance, art, and much more. — Have a class, private lesson, or program you’d like to include in our directory? More Information. | Reserve a spot. | Submit your listing.

MARKET YOUR PRESCHOOL: Are you looking for a preschool that fits your child’s personality and reflects your family’s values for next year? Check out our Preschool Directory, which features preschools and programs across Western MA. Find the perfect place for your young one! ♦ If you have a school or program you would like to add to our directory, contact us at info@hilltownfamilies.org for more information on how you can be added at any time.

ADVERTISE HERE: Want to reach thousands of families living across Western MA? See your community event, after-school program, summer camp, class, school, open house, audition, homeschool program, workshop, volunteer opportunity, wellness program, local business, fundraiser, or non-profit featured here in the Bulletin Board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and in our weekly eNewsletter! Find out about our affordable advertising options and how you can partner with Hilltown Families in your online marketing by contacting us at info@hilltownfamilies.org.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
December 21, 2019 – January 3, 2020

Saturday, Dec 21Sunday, Dec 22
Monday, Dec 23Tuesday, Dec 24Wednesday, Dec 25
Thursday, Dec 26Friday, Dec 27

Saturday, Dec 28Sunday, Dec 29
Monday, Dec 30Tuesday, Dec 31Wednesday, Jan 1
Thursday, Jan 2Friday, Jan 3

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The events below are shared as a courtesy. While we do our best to share accurate and up-to-date information, please take the time to confirm date, time, place, age appropriateness, registration requirements, and costs before attending.

Events Happening in the Hilltown


Saturday, December 21

Saturday, December 21, 9-10am – FAMILY RADIO/URBAN LIFE: Hilltown Family Variety Show City Songs Episode with Guest DJ, Jesse Goldman of Moozika! Jesse shares joyful city-based adventure songs that highlight the diversity of cultures, languages, and music in urban settings.. Click here select from over 13 years of archived shows! It’s better than Saturday morning cartoons and commercial radio! ♥ Hilltown Families eNewsletter subscribers are invited to an exclusive sneak peak every Thursday of the upcoming show. Check your eNewsletter to listen any time. Not a subscriber? Click here to subscribe to our free Weekly eNewsletter!

Saturday, December 21, 7am & 3:30pm – WINTER SOLSTICE/ASTRONOMY: The Umass Amherst Sunwheel has attracted tens of thousands of visitors who wish to learn about solar and lunar cycles. Sunwheels, circular stone structures, are designed such that the stones line up with the locations on the horizon of the rising and setting Sun during solstices and equinoxes. You can witness this event during the Winter Solstice while also learning about the seasons, the phases of the moon, the story behind the building of the sunwheel, and more. Bring questions and dress appropriately. The gatherings last about one hour and are held in all weather except rain or blizzards. UMass Amherst Sunwheel. South of McGuirk Alumni Stadium, just off Rocky Hill Road, one-quarter mile west of University Drive. Amherst, MA.

Saturday, December 21, 11am – FILM STUDIES/SCREENING: Despite becoming one of the most quintessential holiday films, It’s a Wonderful Life director Frank Capra told the Wall Street Journal in 1984 that he never really thought of it as a Christmas film. In Capra’s own words, the purpose of the film was to promote “the individual’s belief in himself” and “combat a modern trend toward atheism.” Ironically, the film was also the subject of a memo from the FBI warning that it may be a piece of communist propaganda, as it discredits bankers. Nevertheless, as with all works of art, It’s a Wonderful Life has taken on its own meaning. Widely considered one of the greatest films of all time, despite negative critical reception, viewing the film has become an American Christmas tradition. Come see It’s a Wonderful Life on the big screen, this holiday season! Amherst Cinema. 413-253-2547. 28 Amity St, Amherst, MA.

Saturday, December 21, 12-1:30pm – NATURE-BASED CRAFTS/MYO HOLIDAY ORNAMENT: Holiday Nature Crafts Tree Trimming Party! Create holiday pinecone ornaments using ingredients found in nature along with colorful art supplies for nature craft holiday masterpieces! All craft supplies will be provided, but bring feel encouraged to bring pinecones to share! Mount Greylock Visitor Center. 413-499-4262. 30 Rockwell Road, Lanesborough, MA.

Saturday, December 21, 2-3pm – NEW ENGLAND HISTORY/CHRISTMAS: The Real History of Christmas in New England. The reality of Christmas in early New England may be disappointing to some and unbelievable to many. Join presenter Dennis Picard as he discusses the historical actuality of Christmas, one that blends the heritage and spirit of many cultures and lands. Seating is limited. RSVP. Springfield Armory National Historic Site. 413-734-8551. 1 Armory St Suite 2, Springfield, MA.

Saturday, December 21, 3pm – CELTIC DANCE/NUTCRACKER: This holiday season, experience the beloved story of The Nutcracker told through Celtic Dance. A Celtic Nutcracker will beautifully blend the Tchaikovsky score with live Celtic music and original choreography by the Celtic Heels Dance Company Director, Cara Leach. Bring your family to this one showing event on Saturday, December 21st at 3pm at the Academy of Music, Northampton. Featuring the Celtic Heels Irish Dance Company and live music this is sure to become a family tradition for anyone who loves the Nutcracker or Celtic Dance! Tickets are $12-20. Information can be found at www.aomtheatre.com. Academy of Music Theatre. 413-584-9032. 274 Main St, Northampton, MA.

Saturday, December 21, 3:30-5pm – WINTER SOLSTICE/SING-ALONG: Solstice, Sunset, Cider-Sip, and Sing-Along! Celebrate the return of the light on the shortest day of the year. Meet shortly before sunset, gather and warm up by the fire with warm, locally made cider from Mount Greylock grown apples, and join voices together in song! Meet at the Visitor Center and have your camera handy to capture a stunning shortest-day sunset overlooking Pontoosuc Lake. Feel free to bring along your instruments to play as well!. This program is free and open to all ages. Mount Greylock Visitor Center. 413-499-4262. 30 Rockwell Road, Lanesborough, MA.d

Saturday, December 21, 3-8pm – HISTORY/CHRISTMAS: Saint Francis of Assisi is credited with having created the first nativity scene, in Greccio, Italy, in 1223. Francis’ nativity scene used live actors and animals and reenactments of this kind became enormously popular throughout Christian Europe. Eventually statues and miniatures took the place of live actors. In England, it became customary to bake a mince pie in the shape of manger and fill it with a baby Jesus. After the Puritans banned Christmas in the 17th century, these pies were prohibited as “idolaterie in crust.” Old Sturbridge Village’s Christmas by Candlelight features a wide variety of old fashioned historical Christmas activities, including, of course, the famous nativity scene. This is a great opportunity to learn about how Christmas would have been celebrated in colonial New England. Old Sturbridge Village. 800-733-1830. 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge, MA.

Saturday, December 21, 4-8pm – HOLIDAY TRAIN RIDE/CHRISTMAS: Santa’s Trains at Look Park, a beloved holiday tradition for families throughout the Pioneer Valley runs nightly through December 23. The Garden House, transformed into a Victorian-style Train Depot complete with model rail cars whizzing through miniature villages, will surprise and delight children of all ages. Kids can share their holiday wishes with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Enjoy a holiday cookie and cocoa by the fire. Be marveled by the magic of the season. Look Memorial Park. 413-584-5457. 300 N Main St, Florence, MA.

Saturday, December 21, 4:30-6pm – LOCAL HISTORY/PROHIBITION: This year, coinciding with the annual Hatfield Luminarium will be the special exhibit, Booze, Schmooze, and News: Remembering Hatfield Taverns and Clubs. The 100th anniversary of Prohibition has inspired this exhibit, delving into the history of drinking establishments in Hatfield, both established bars and restaurants, lounges, clubs, cafes, and package stores. Where drink was poured and lives were shared — from the Daniel White Tavern on Main St., to the Hatfield Club and Barn on Elm St., to Buckwheat’s and Casper’s on West St. and much more! Come to the opening for a great start to your Luminarium evening. Hatfield Historical Museum. 39 Main Street. Hatfield, MA.

Saturday, December 21, 5-7pm – MUSEUM ADVENTURES/FESTIVAL OF TREES: Festival of Trees After Dark. Explore the sparkling indoor forest of “Festival of Trees 2019: Heroes” after hours, when the galleries are lit only by the twinkling lights ablaze on every tree. Berkshire Museum. 413-443-7171. 39 South St, Pittsfield, MA.

Saturday, December 21, 5-8pm – PLACEMAKING/FESTIVAL: From Hanukkah to Diwali and Christmas, communities all over the world mark the coming of winter with a festival of lights. There is something deep and powerful about creating light in the midst of the darkness, and it is no surprise that this ritual inspires such faith and hope to people around the world. This holiday season, Naumkeag in Stockbridge will be illuminated by thousands of shimmering lights and displays. Embrace the holiday spirit and the continued presence of light amidst the darkness with an evening of music, community cheer, and fun children’s activities. Naumkeag. 413-298-3239. 5 Prospect Hill Rd, Stockbridge, MA.

Saturday, December 21, 4-9pm & 5-11pm – CHRISTMAS/LIGHT DISPLAY: Have you ever thought about why we decorate our Christmas trees with strands of light? Ever think about the origin of this tradition? Find out about the history of Christmas lights, then take a drive through Bright Nights at Forest Park from 5-11pm or Winter Wonderland Light Display at Look Memorial Park (300 N Main St. Florence) from 4-9pm for contemporary displays of holiday lights. Bright Nights in Forest Park festive light display has been listed as one of the Top 100 Attractions in North America seven times! The light displays creatively celebrate not only the themes of Christmas, Santa, and winter but also branch into other subjects with displays like the Victorian Village. Winter Wonderland Light Display at Look Memorial Park will be transformed into a magical holiday celebration of light. (Remember to wave to the dragon!) Sharing traditions like experiencing these annual displays with your larger community strengthens a deeper sense of place and belonging. Springfield & Florence, MA.

Saturday, December 21, 5:30-7:30pm – WINTER SOLSTICE/NIGHT CANDLELIT HIKE: Winter Solstice at Notchview. Celebrate the winter solstice at Notchview on a short candlelit walk along the kinder loop, a bonfire with s’mores, kids crafts inside the lodge, and reading of nature poets from long ago. Bring non-perishable goods to be donated to a local food pantry. Notchview. 413-684-0148. 83 Old Route 9, Windsor, MA.

Saturday, December 21, 5:30-8:30pm – SOLSTICE CELEBRATION: The word “yule” is originally derived from Old Norse, in which the word was used as a synonym for “feast” and as part of an alternative name for the god Odin. The word came to refer to the Germanic and northern European celebration of the Winter Solstice and when the region was Christianized during the Middle Ages, elements of the old rituals were incorporated in the holiday of Christmas, most notably yule singing, the yule log, and the Christmas ham. For communities all over the world, the shortest day of the year is met with great celebrations of light, food, and merriment. This solstice, come celebrate at Arcadia, with a bonfire, live music, and an illuminated path! Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary. 413-584-3009. 127 Combs Rd, Easthampton, MA.

Saturday, December 21, 6-8pm – PLACEMAKING/LUMINARIES: What better time to celebrate the gift of light than the second shortest day of the year that the annual Florence Luminary! Every year, Florence is transformed by countless luminaries, and the entire downtown area comes alive with caroling, bonfires, hayrides, and lots of holiday cheer. Gather together to celebrate this wonderful community and the promise of the coming year. Florence Civic & Business Assc. 413-584-7891. 90 Park St the Corner of N Main St & Park St. Florence, MA.

Saturday, December 21, 7-8pm – WINTER SOLSTICE/PLACEMAKING: Ashfield’s Annual Winter Solstice Celebration on the Town Common. Sing, dance, and listen to winter-themed poetry and perhaps a story. Watch the Juggler Meadow Morris Men. Bring a log for the fire and some cheer. More celebrating at Elmer’s after the outdoor festivities. Community event all are welcome to join in. Town Common. Ashfield, MA.


Sunday, December 22

Sunday, December 22, 7-8am – FAMILY RADIO/URBAN LIFE: Hilltown Family Variety Show City Songs Episode with Guest DJ, Jesse Goldman of Moozika! Jesse shares joyful city-based adventure songs that highlight the diversity of cultures, languages, and music in urban settings.. Click here select from over 13 years of archived shows! It’s better than Saturday morning cartoons and commercial radio! ♥ Hilltown Families eNewsletter subscribers are invited to an exclusive sneak peak every Thursday of the upcoming show. Check your eNewsletter to listen any time. Not a subscriber? Click here to subscribe to our free Weekly eNewsletter!

Sunday, December 22, 11am-5pm – MUSEUM ADVENTURES/HOLIDAYS: Springfield Museums, home of The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss, invites you to celebrate with the Gingerbread: Hollywood and the Holidays exhibit and Family Fun Holiday Happenings/Countdown to Christmas from November 29 through December 31, 2019. An annual event, the Gingerbread exhibit puts everyone in the holiday spirit. Gingerbread features a multitude of artistic culinary creations accented by creative murals, festively decorated trees, and other enchanting elements. Stop in also to view Sweet: A Tasty Journey for a history of candy and a chance to experience hands-on FUN while learning. And don’t forget to visit the Grinch, the beloved curmudgeon who helps us all remember, “Maybe Christmas means just a little bit more!” Springfield Museums. 413-263-6800. 21 Edwards Street, Springfield, MA.

Sunday, December 22, 2-3pm – MYO MENORAH: Menorah Building Workshop. Chabad Hebrew School invites the public to a Menorah workshop. Chabad Hebrew School is teaming up with Home Depot to offer a children’s menorah workshop. All participants will have the opportunity to build their very own menorah to take home. The Menorah Workshop is open to the public and free of charge. The event will feature lively holiday music and donuts. RSVP and inquiries can be directed to Rabbi Lavy Kosofsky at 413-567-8665 or Lkosofsky@LYA.org. The Home Depot. 179 Dagget Drive. West Springfield, MA.

Sunday, December 22, 3-5pm – WINTER SOLSTICE: Heath Community Winter Solstice Celebration with holiday stories, music, refreshments, and a candle-lighting spiral walk. Enjoy a special reading of Hershel’s Hanukkah Goblins and holiday songs with the Heath Union Church Choir & Friends. All ages welcome. Heath School. 413-337-4934 x7. 18 Jacobs Rd. Heath, MA.

Sunday, December 22, 3-8pm – HISTORY/CHRISTMAS: Saint Francis of Assisi is credited with having created the first nativity scene, in Greccio, Italy, in 1223. Francis’ nativity scene used live actors and animals and reenactments of this kind became enormously popular throughout Christian Europe. Eventually statues and miniatures took the place of live actors. In England, it became customary to bake a mince pie in the shape of manger and fill it with a baby Jesus. After the Puritans banned Christmas in the 17th century, these pies were prohibited as “idolaterie in crust.” Old Sturbridge Village’s Christmas by Candlelight features a wide variety of old fashioned historical Christmas activities, including, of course, the famous nativity scene. This is a great opportunity to learn about how Christmas would have been celebrated in colonial New England. Old Sturbridge Village. 800-733-1830. 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge, MA.

Sunday, December 22, 4-8pm – HOLIDAY TRAIN RIDE/CHRISTMAS: Santa’s Trains at Look Park, a beloved holiday tradition for families throughout the Pioneer Valley runs nightly through December 23. The Garden House, transformed into a Victorian-style Train Depot complete with model rail cars whizzing through miniature villages, will surprise and delight children of all ages. Kids can share their holiday wishes with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Enjoy a holiday cookie and cocoa by the fire. Be marveled by the magic of the season. Look Memorial Park. 413-584-5457. 300 N Main St, Florence, MA.

Sunday, December 22, 4-9pm & 5-11pm – CHRISTMAS/LIGHT DISPLAY: Have you ever thought about why we decorate our Christmas trees with strands of light? Ever think about the origin of this tradition? Find out about the history of Christmas lights, then take a drive through Bright Nights at Forest Park from 5-11pm or Winter Wonderland Light Display at Look Memorial Park (300 N Main St. Florence) from 4-9pm for contemporary displays of holiday lights. Bright Nights in Forest Park festive light display has been listed as one of the Top 100 Attractions in North America seven times! The light displays creatively celebrate not only the themes of Christmas, Santa, and winter but also branch into other subjects with displays like the Victorian Village. Winter Wonderland Light Display at Look Memorial Park will be transformed into a magical holiday celebration of light. (Remember to wave to the dragon!) Sharing traditions like experiencing these annual displays with your larger community strengthens a deeper sense of place and belonging. Springfield & Florence, MA.

Sunday, December 22, 5-7:30pm – CHANUKAH CELEBRATION: Chanukah at CBI: Stories of (Surprising) Strength, hosted by Congregation Bnai Israel. Community Menorah Lighting, Chanukah Singing, “Moth” style storytelling performances, community dinner catered by Abundance Farm, freshly made homemade Sufganiyot. Congregation B’nai Israel of Northampton. 413-584-3593. 253 Prospect St, Northampton, MA.

Sunday, December 22, 5-8pm – PLACEMAKING/FESTIVAL: From Hanukkah to Diwali and Christmas, communities all over the world mark the coming of winter with a festival of lights. There is something deep and powerful about creating light in the midst of the darkness, and it is no surprise that this ritual inspires such faith and hope to people around the world. This holiday season, Naumkeag in Stockbridge will be illuminated by thousands of shimmering lights and displays. Embrace the holiday spirit and the continued presence of light amidst the darkness with an evening of music, community cheer, and fun children’s activities. Naumkeag. 413-298-3239. 5 Prospect Hill Rd, Stockbridge, MA.

Sunday, December 22, 5:30-8pm – PLACEMAKING/MENORAH LIGHTING: 4th Annual Lighting of the Menorah, celebrating the first night of Chanukah. This public ceremony is open to the public. It will be held in partnership with the Congregation Sons of Zion in Holyoke with the assistance of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts and with the participation of Congregation Rodphey Shalom. In addition to the festive lighting of the Menorah, there will be snacks and hot chocolate, a brief Chanukah story, singing, and Chanukah dreidels given out to those in attendance. Holyoke City Hall. 536 Dwight Street, Holyoke, MA.


Monday, December 23

Monday, December 23, 2pm – FILM STUDIES/SCREENING: Despite becoming one of the most quintessential holiday films, It’s a Wonderful Life director Frank Capra told the Wall Street Journal in 1984 that he never really thought of it as a Christmas film. In Capra’s own words, the purpose of the film was to promote “the individual’s belief in himself” and “combat a modern trend toward atheism.” Ironically, the film was also the subject of a memo from the FBI warning that it may be a piece of communist propaganda, as it discredits bankers. Nevertheless, as with all works of art, It’s a Wonderful Life has taken on its own meaning. Widely considered one of the greatest films of all time, despite negative critical reception, viewing the film has become an American Christmas tradition. Come see It’s a Wonderful Life on the big screen, this holiday season! Amherst Cinema. 413-253-2547. 28 Amity St, Amherst, MA.

Monday, December 23, 2-3pm – MYO SOAP: Holiday Rubber Ducky Soap Making Workshop. Children ages 5-12 can get have fun creating a holiday rubber ducky soap, making one for themselves or as a gift. Preregistration required. South Hadley Public Library. 413-538-5045. 2 Canal St, South Hadley, MA.

Monday, December 23, 3-8pm – HISTORY/CHRISTMAS: Saint Francis of Assisi is credited with having created the first nativity scene, in Greccio, Italy, in 1223. Francis’ nativity scene used live actors and animals and reenactments of this kind became enormously popular throughout Christian Europe. Eventually statues and miniatures took the place of live actors. In England, it became customary to bake a mince pie in the shape of manger and fill it with a baby Jesus. After the Puritans banned Christmas in the 17th century, these pies were prohibited as “idolaterie in crust.” Old Sturbridge Village’s Christmas by Candlelight features a wide variety of old fashioned historical Christmas activities, including, of course, the famous nativity scene. This is a great opportunity to learn about how Christmas would have been celebrated in colonial New England. Old Sturbridge Village. 800-733-1830. 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge, MA.

Monday, December 23, 3:20-3:45pm – PLACEMAKING/MENORAH LIGHTING: Menorah Lighting at Court Square. Join LYA for a community lighting ceremony on Court Square. Springfield elected officials and dignitaries will be on hand to address participants. There will be other community leaders, schoolchildren, and members of our community who work in the area. Enjoy latkes, cocoa, and dreidels. Join the Springfield Jewish community for this joyous celebration. Court Square. 92-98 Court House Pl, Springfield, MA.

Monday, December 23, 4-8pm – HOLIDAY TRAIN RIDE/CHRISTMAS: Santa’s Trains at Look Park, a beloved holiday tradition for families throughout the Pioneer Valley runs nightly through December 23. The Garden House, transformed into a Victorian-style Train Depot complete with model rail cars whizzing through miniature villages, will surprise and delight children of all ages. Kids can share their holiday wishes with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Enjoy a holiday cookie and cocoa by the fire. Be marveled by the magic of the season. Look Memorial Park. 413-584-5457. 300 N Main St, Florence, MA.

Monday, December 23, 4-9pm & 5-11pm – CHRISTMAS/LIGHT DISPLAY: Have you ever thought about why we decorate our Christmas trees with strands of light? Ever think about the origin of this tradition? Find out about the history of Christmas lights, then take a drive through Bright Nights at Forest Park from 5-11pm or Winter Wonderland Light Display at Look Memorial Park (300 N Main St. Florence) from 4-9pm for contemporary displays of holiday lights. Bright Nights in Forest Park festive light display has been listed as one of the Top 100 Attractions in North America seven times! The light displays creatively celebrate not only the themes of Christmas, Santa, and winter but also branch into other subjects with displays like the Victorian Village. Winter Wonderland Light Display at Look Memorial Park will be transformed into a magical holiday celebration of light. (Remember to wave to the dragon!) Sharing traditions like experiencing these annual displays with your larger community strengthens a deeper sense of place and belonging. Springfield & Florence, MA.

Monday, December 23, 4:30-6:30pm – COMMUNITY MEAL/CHANUKAH: A Magical Chanukah. Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy PTO is preparing for a Magical Chanukah. Join LYA for a magic show performed by The Amazing Andy at 4:30pm. Following the show, a pasta and meat sauce dinner with Chanukah specialties of latkes and donuts will be served. A vegetarian/vegan option is available. Following the dinner, there will be a Chanukah menorah lighting and performance by LYA Choir. Reserve your space: 413-567-8665. Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy. 1148 Converse Street, Longmeadow, MA.


Tuesday, December 24

Tuesday, December 24, 4-9pm – PLACEMAKING/LIGHT DISPLAY: It’s time for the annual Winter Wonderland Light Display at Look Park. The entire park will be transformed into a magical holiday celebration of light. And don’t forget to wave to the dragon! Sharing traditions like this with the community creates a deeper sense of place and belonging. Look Memorial Park. 413-584-5457. 300 N Main St, Florence, MA.

Tuesday, December 24, 5-9pm – CHRISTMAS/LIGHT DISPLAY: The festive light display, Bright Nights in Forest Park, has been listed as one of the Top 100 Attractions in North America seven times! The light displays creatively celebrate not only the themes of Christmas, Santa, and winter but also branch into other subjects with displays like the Victorian Village. Bright Nights at Forest Park. 300 Sumner Avenue. Springfield, MA.


Wednesday, December 25

Wednesday, December 25 – SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING/ORNITHOLOGY: During the winter, young wildlife enthusiasts can focus their attention on feathered friends, one of the few creatures who are still very visible throughout the coldest months of the year. Whether your family are avid birders or simply enjoy watching feeder visitors, there are lots of ways to learn about the local environment and to participate in citizen science by watching birds this winter! From owls to chickadees, there are many ways to engage with the local landscape and to help contribute information to important studies. Read more in our post, Becoming a Citizen Scientist Opens Your Awareness to Birdlife In Your Backyard.

Wednesday, December 25, 12:30-2:30pm – CHANUKAH CELEBRATION: Chanukah Celebration. Children ages 5- 13 (and their parents) are invited to celebrate Chanukah at Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy. The afternoon will include Chanukah activities, games, crafts, foods, and storytelling. All participants will be able to assist in the building of a 6 foot LEGO menorah that will be lit at the Longmeadow Shops on Sunday, Dec. 29. There is no charge to attend Celebrate Chanukah, and the event is open to the public. No reservation is required. Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy. 413-567-8665 . 1148 Converse Street, Longmeadow, MA.

Wednesday, December 25, 4-5pm – CHANUKAH CELEBRATION: Annual Chanukah Celebration and Grand Menorah Lighting celebration with Mayor David Narkewicz of Northampton, hosted by Chabad-Lubavitch of Northampton. Join the whole community downtown with your Jewish Pride this Chanukah! Mayor David Narkewicz will be in attendance to help light the Giant Menorah. Sufganiyot, hot cocoa, hot latkes, live music, and singing with Brian Bender, dancing, friends, and the annual lighting of the Giant Menorah. The 9-foot-tall menorah is one of 10,000 public menorahs being lit worldwide to symbolize a universal message of religious freedom. Open to the public. Downtown (next to First Churches).109 Main Street. Northampton MA.


Thursday, December 26

Thursday, December 26, 10:30am-2pm – HOLIDAY VACATION PROGRAMMING: With schools out for the holidays, the New England Air Museum is hosting a series of daily interactive workshops. Activities will be offered from 10:30am-2:30pm each day and are included with admission (unless otherwise noted). Workshops include Lunar Landscape Painting (12/26), 1st Annual LEGO Brick Aircraft Contest (12/27), Marshmallow Constellations (12/28), Straw Rocket Challenge (12/29), and a Model Airplane Workshop & Demonstrations (12/30). The museum will be closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day and closing at 3pm on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. For more information about these and other events, visit www.neam.org or call 860-623-3305. NEAM is located at 36 Perimeter Rd., Windsor Locks, CT.

Thursday, December 26, 12-4pm –MOVEMENT/LOCAL HERITAGE: Some kids love, and benefit from, vestibular input. This term refers to our detection of motion, which is connected to the inner ear. All movement affects vestibular receptors, but some activities such as spinning, swinging, and hanging upside down, are particularly intense. The Holyoke Merry Go Round, known as “Holyoke’s Happiness Machine,” is a sensory treat for the young and old. This antique carousel with brightly painted wooden animals and calliope music was once part of Mountain Park, an amusement park on the side of Mt. Tom, and was moved to Holyoke Heritage Park when Mountain Park closed in 1987. Holyoke Merry Go Round. 413-538-9838. 221 Appleton St, Holyoke, MA.

Thursday, December 26, 2-4pm – STEM/PHYSICS: Playful Engineers: Traveling Makerspace. Playful Engineers teaching artist and engineering enthusiast Jay Mankita will present a hands-on workshop in which participants will have a chance to design, build, test, and play with Rube Goldberg “Machines”, and other chain reactions, connecting focused play with serious science. Participants learn through demonstration and play, exploring basic force and motion physics, as they build fun chain reactions with common toys and other ordinary materials. Jay brings lots of materials to work with, including dominoes, wood blocks, string, chain, pulleys, elastics, tinkier toys, k’nex, legos, tracks, ping-pong balls, clamps, connectors, bases, dowels, and magnets. For ages 5 and up. Forbes Library. 413-587-1011. 20 West St, Northampton, MA.

Thursday, December 26, 5-8pm – PLACEMAKING/FESTIVAL: From Hanukkah to Diwali and Christmas, communities all over the world mark the coming of winter with a festival of lights. There is something deep and powerful about creating light in the midst of the darkness, and it is no surprise that this ritual inspires such faith and hope to people around the world. This holiday season, Naumkeag in Stockbridge will be illuminated by thousands of shimmering lights and displays. Embrace the holiday spirit and the continued presence of light amidst the darkness with an evening of music, community cheer, and fun children’s activities. Naumkeag. 413-298-3239. 5 Prospect Hill Rd, Stockbridge, MA.

Thursday, December 26, 6-8pm – HANUKKAH/KLEZMER MUSIC: Klezmer Hanukkah Celebration, hosted by Chabad-Lubavitch of Northampton, a Hannukah Party for everyone! Bring your menorah and candles to light together with the community for the 5th night of Hanukkah while enjoying live Klezmer music. Sufganiyot, latkes, and refreshments will be served. Play dreidel together with chocolate gelt and enjoy the holiday spirit along with friends, family, and community. Congregation Rodphey Sholom.1800 Northampton St. Holyoke, MA.


Friday, December 27

Friday, December 27, 10:30am-2pm – HOLIDAY VACATION PROGRAMMING: With schools out for the holidays, the New England Air Museum is hosting a series of daily interactive workshops. Activities will be offered from 10:30am-2:30pm each day and are included with admission (unless otherwise noted). Workshops include: 1st Annual LEGO Brick Aircraft Contest (12/27), Marshmallow Constellations (12/28), Straw Rocket Challenge (12/29), and a Model Airplane Workshop & Demonstrations (12/30). For more information about these and other events, visit www.neam.org or call 860-623-3305. NEAM is located at 36 Perimeter Rd., Windsor Locks, CT.

Friday, December 27, 11-12:30pm – DENDROLOGY/PLANT ID: Winter Tree Identification Hike. Learn how to identify trees during their winter slumber with DCR Management Forester, Kevin Podkowka, on this family-friendly hike along the Bradley Farm Trail. Be prepared for the weather by wearing appropriate clothing and sturdy snow boots (traction devices, trekking poles, and snowshoes may also be advisable). Inclement weather cancels. This program is free and open for ages 8 and up. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Mount Greylock Visitor Center. 413-499-4262. 30 Rockwell Road, Lanesborough, MA.

Friday, December 27, 11am-12:30pm – PASTRY ARTS: Kids Can Cook, The Clark’s popular kids’ cooking class returns! This year, participants will learn cake decorating skills and sample the results of their work. Recommended for ages 5–10; a take-home goodie bag is included. Reserve early as this class regularly sells out! Clark Art Institute. 413-458-2303. 225 South St, Williamstown, MA.

Friday, December 27, 11am-3pm – AGRICULTURE/WINTER FARMERS’ MARKET: Downtown Springfield Winter Farmers’ Market. Winter farmers’ markets provide a fresh and colorful oasis during the winter months, reminding us that despite the blustery, snow drift-covered fields that surround us, farm-fresh foods of all kinds are still available. Connecting to the local food chain year-round is not only healthy for your body, your family, and your community, but it can be educational as well! Exposing children to the vast array of foods available from winter farmers’ markets can help them to recognize that there are many different methods for growing and producing food while connecting to where their food comes. 1391 Main Street, 1st Floor. Springfield, MA.

Friday, December 27, 11:30am-1:20pm – ICE SKATING: Are you a homeschool or unschooling family? The Mullins Center offers a weekday public ice skate for families to attend. Great opportunity for physical activity while making community connections. Ice skate rentals are free and guardian’s skates for free. All families are welcome. Mullins Center. 413-545-3040. 200 Commonwealth Ave. Amherst, MA.

Friday, December 27, 12-2pm – KWANZAA: Citywide Kwanzaa Celebration. During the days after Christmas, most people are sleeping in and recovering from a day filled with family, food, presents, and 24 hours of “A Christmas Story.” Those who celebrate Kwanzaa, however, are just beginning a celebration. Kwanzaa is a holiday designed to connect African American communities everywhere and is celebrated from December 26 to January 1. Citywide Kwanzaa Celebration starts at 12noon with a candle lighting ceremony that honors Faith, Family, Community, and African American cultural history along with entertainers and speakers. “The City of Springfield continues to celebrate this tradition… the seven principles are still central to building a community that is not only diverse and inclusive but one that honors where it has been, where it is at the moment and where it is going.” Free Admission. UMass Center. 1500 Main St (2nd Fl). Springfield MA.

Friday, December 27, 1-3pm – SPORTS/GYMNASTICS: Hampshire Gymnastics School has an open gym during the holiday break. Try out the air bag, practice your skills, swing on the rings, and burn off some energy with your friends. All kids ages 5yo+ are welcome. You don’t need to be a student to attend. Hampshire Gymnastics School. 413-256-6990. 461 West Street. Amherst, MA.

Friday, December 27, 2:30-3:15pm – PUPPET SHOW: Mr. Vinny’s Shadow Puppet Show, A very silly and very interactive show! Not the traditional stuff. Mr. Vinny is out in front with the audience using an old school overhead projector and his homemade shadow puppets. He and the kids play “What’s that Shadow” and tell stories like “The 12 Lil’ Pigs and the Big Bad Pineapple.” It’s the rowdiest Shadow Puppet show out there! Best for kids ages 3 + up. Forbes Library. 413-587-1011. 20 West St, Northampton, MA.

Friday, December 27, 3-5pm – INTERGENERATIONAL/GAMES: Family Game Afternoon. Screen-free afternoon at the library! Bring your favorite board game or come see what they have available at the library. A fun and family-friendly event. Gaylord Memorial Library. 413-538-5047. 47 College Street. South Hadley, MA.

Friday, December 27, 3-8pm – HISTORY/CHRISTMAS: Saint Francis of Assisi is credited with having created the first nativity scene, in Greccio, Italy, in 1223. Francis’ nativity scene used live actors and animals and reenactments of this kind became enormously popular throughout Christian Europe. Eventually statues and miniatures took the place of live actors. In England, it became customary to bake a mince pie in the shape of manger and fill it with a baby Jesus. After the Puritans banned Christmas in the 17th century, these pies were prohibited as “idolaterie in crust.” Old Sturbridge Village’s Christmas by Candlelight features a wide variety of old fashioned historical Christmas activities, including, of course, the famous nativity scene. This is a great opportunity to learn about how Christmas would have been celebrated in colonial New England. Old Sturbridge Village. 800-733-1830. 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge, MA.

Friday, December 27, 5-8pm – PLACEMAKING/FESTIVAL: From Hanukkah to Diwali and Christmas, communities all over the world mark the coming of winter with a festival of lights. There is something deep and powerful about creating light in the midst of the darkness, and it is no surprise that this ritual inspires such faith and hope to people around the world. This holiday season, Naumkeag in Stockbridge will be illuminated by thousands of shimmering lights and displays. Embrace the holiday spirit and the continued presence of light amidst the darkness with an evening of music, community cheer, and fun children’s activities. Naumkeag. 413-298-3239. 5 Prospect Hill Rd, Stockbridge, MA.


Saturday, December 28

Saturday, December 28, 9-10am – FAMILY RADIO: Hilltown Family Variety Show City Songs of Hope & Healing Episode with Guest DJ, Alastair Moock. Alastair and his twin girls guide us through a selection of songs that remind us of the small joys and sometimes difficult moments that pull us together. These new and old rootsy tunes — from Pete Seeger to The Okee Dokee Brothers — will have you and your kids dancing, singing, and hugging! Click here select from over 13 years of archived shows! It’s better than Saturday morning cartoons and commercial radio! ♥ Hilltown Families eNewsletter subscribers are invited to an exclusive sneak peak every Thursday of the upcoming show. Check your eNewsletter to listen any time. Not a subscriber? Click here to subscribe to our free Weekly eNewsletter!

Saturday, December 28, 10:30am-2pm – HOLIDAY VACATION PROGRAMMING: With schools out for the holidays, the New England Air Museum is hosting a series of daily interactive workshops. Activities will be offered from 10:30am-2:30pm each day and are included with admission (unless otherwise noted). Workshops include: Marshmallow Constellations (12/28), Straw Rocket Challenge (12/29), and a Model Airplane Workshop & Demonstrations (12/30). For more information about these and other events, visit www.neam.org or call 860-623-3305. NEAM is located at 36 Perimeter Rd., Windsor Locks, CT.

Saturday, December 28, 11am-12:30pm – OUTDOOR ADVENTURES: Family-Friendly Outdoor Adventures at Mount Greylock, an afternoon of winter activities, including snow tubing for the little ones, a snowshoe demonstration, and a self-guided hike along the Bradley Farm Trail. Dress in layers, and wear sturdy snow boots. Traction devices, trekking poles, or your own snowshoes are advisable for the hike. Snowshoes will be available to try out during the Snowshoe Demo for ages 8 and up. Free and open to all ages. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Mount Greylock Visitor Center. 413-499-4262. 30 Rockwell Road, Lanesborough, MA.

Saturday, December 28, 1-2pm – PALEONTOLOGY/FOSSILS: Rocking with the Fossils: A Family Program. Examine a simulated version of Dinosaur Footprints Reservation and make inferences about the trackmakers. Photos and investigations demonstrate what it takes to become a fossil and where they are most likely found. Make your own “fossil” to take home for children age 6-12 with their grown-ups, siblings, and curious adults. Meet inside the Great Hall. Great Falls Discovery Center. 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA.

Saturday, December 28, 1-2:15pm – MUSIC STUDIES/SONGWRITING WORKSHOP: Youth Singer/Songwriter Workshop & Open Mic. If you are a young singer/songwriter or the caregiver of one, this is an opportunity to gain valuable performance and songwriting experience and learn from a pro. BJ Korona leads this monthly singer/songwriter workshop and an open mic for ages 7-16. Each session begins with a songwriting workshop and is followed by an open mic. All levels are welcome. Bring the whole family and enjoy delicious house-made beverages, local brews, snacks, and meals. Mill 180 Park.180 Pleasant Street, Easthampton, MA.

Saturday, December 28, 1-3pm – SPORTS/GYMNASTICS: Hampshire Gymnastics School has an open gym during the holiday break. Try out the air bag, practice your skills, swing on the rings, and burn off some energy with your friends. All kids ages 5yo+ are welcome. You don’t need to be a student to attend. Hampshire Gymnastics School. 413-256-6990. 461 West Street. Amherst, MA.

Saturday, December 28, 2-3:30pm – ART STUDIES/MONET: Film: Water Liles of Monet. Voyage through the masterpieces and obsessions of the genius and founder of Impressionism, Claude Monet. An art-world disruptor at the turn of the twentieth century whose obsession with capturing light and water broke all convention, Monet revolutionized modern art with his timeless masterpieces. An in-depth, exclusive tour led by Monet scholars of the museums that house the largest collections of the prolific artist’s lilies paintings including the Musée Marmottan Monet, the Musée d’Orsay, the world-famous panels at the Musée de l’Orangerie and concluding with Monet’s own house and gardens at Giverny, the site where his fascination for water lilies was born. Run time: 80 minutes. Clark Art Institute. 413-458-2303. 225 South St, Williamstown, MA.

Saturday, December 28, 3-8pm – HISTORY/CHRISTMAS: Saint Francis of Assisi is credited with having created the first nativity scene, in Greccio, Italy, in 1223. Francis’ nativity scene used live actors and animals and reenactments of this kind became enormously popular throughout Christian Europe. Eventually statues and miniatures took the place of live actors. In England, it became customary to bake a mince pie in the shape of manger and fill it with a baby Jesus. After the Puritans banned Christmas in the 17th century, these pies were prohibited as “idolaterie in crust.” Old Sturbridge Village’s Christmas by Candlelight features a wide variety of old fashioned historical Christmas activities, including, of course, the famous nativity scene. This is a great opportunity to learn about how Christmas would have been celebrated in colonial New England. Old Sturbridge Village. 800-733-1830. 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge, MA.

Saturday, December 28, 5-8pm – PLACEMAKING/FESTIVAL: From Hanukkah to Diwali and Christmas, communities all over the world mark the coming of winter with a festival of lights. There is something deep and powerful about creating light in the midst of the darkness, and it is no surprise that this ritual inspires such faith and hope to people around the world. This holiday season, Naumkeag in Stockbridge will be illuminated by thousands of shimmering lights and displays. Embrace the holiday spirit and the continued presence of light amidst the darkness with an evening of music, community cheer, and fun children’s activities. Naumkeag. 413-298-3239. 5 Prospect Hill Rd, Stockbridge, MA.


Sunday, December 29

Sunday, December 28, 7-8am – FAMILY RADIO: Hilltown Family Variety Show City Songs of Hope & Healing Episode with Guest DJ, Alastair Moock. Alastair and his twin girls guide us through a selection of songs that remind us of the small joys and sometimes difficult moments that pull us together. These new and old rootsy tunes — from Pete Seeger to The Okee Dokee Brothers — will have you and your kids dancing, singing, and hugging! Click here select from over 13 years of archived shows! It’s better than Saturday morning cartoons and commercial radio! ♥ Hilltown Families eNewsletter subscribers are invited to an exclusive sneak peak every Thursday of the upcoming show. Check your eNewsletter to listen any time. Not a subscriber? Click here to subscribe to our free Weekly eNewsletter!

Sunday, December 29, 10:30am-2pm – HOLIDAY VACATION PROGRAMMING: With schools out for the holidays, the New England Air Museum is hosting a series of daily interactive workshops. Activities will be offered from 10:30am-2:30pm each day and are included with admission (unless otherwise noted). Workshops include: Straw Rocket Challenge (12/29), and a Model Airplane Workshop & Demonstrations (12/30). For more information about these and other events, visit www.neam.org or call 860-623-3305. NEAM is located at 36 Perimeter Rd., Windsor Locks, CT.

Sunday, December 29, 1-3pm – SPORTS/GYMNASTICS: Hampshire Gymnastics School has an open gym during the holiday break. Try out the air bag, practice your skills, swing on the rings, and burn off some energy with your friends. All kids ages 5yo+ are welcome. You don’t need to be a student to attend. Hampshire Gymnastics School. 413-256-6990. 461 West Street. Amherst, MA.

Sunday, December 29, 1-3:30pm – AYURVEDIC/HINDU MEDICINE: Ayurvedic Self Care for Winter. John AYN Founder Michelle Ryan for an afternoon of rejuvenating, restorative yoga and Ayurvedic daily practices that you can do for yourself or share with those you love, to help reboot after the holidays, prepare for the New Year, and help calm the body’s reaction to the coldest, darkest, and often most stressful time of the year in New England. The workshop fee includes workbook and supporting materials. All are welcome. Ashtanga Yoga Northampton. 25 Main St Ste 210. Northampton, MA.

Sunday, December 29, 3-8pm – HISTORY/CHRISTMAS: Saint Francis of Assisi is credited with having created the first nativity scene, in Greccio, Italy, in 1223. Francis’ nativity scene used live actors and animals and reenactments of this kind became enormously popular throughout Christian Europe. Eventually statues and miniatures took the place of live actors. In England, it became customary to bake a mince pie in the shape of manger and fill it with a baby Jesus. After the Puritans banned Christmas in the 17th century, these pies were prohibited as “idolaterie in crust.” Old Sturbridge Village’s Christmas by Candlelight features a wide variety of old fashioned historical Christmas activities, including, of course, the famous nativity scene. This is a great opportunity to learn about how Christmas would have been celebrated in colonial New England. Old Sturbridge Village. 800-733-1830. 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge, MA.

Sunday, December 29, 4-5:30pm – MENORAH LIGHTING/LEGOS: LEGO Menorah Lighting, hosted by Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy. This year’s menorah will be made out of LEGO and will be 6 feet tall! The activities begin at 4pm and the menorah lighting at 5pm. There will be Chanukah activities, music, dreidels, hot cocoa, donuts, hot latkes, and hot coffee. Free and open to all. Longmeadow Shops. 690 Bliss Road. Longmeadow, MA.

Sunday, December 29, 4:30-7pm – HANUKKAH PARTY: Annual Hanukkah Party at Holyoke Hummus. Come play dreidel, light some candles, eat some latkes, sing some songs and more! Holyoke Hummus Company. 413-225-1755. 285 High Street. Holyoke, MA.

Sunday, December 29, 5-8pm – PLACEMAKING/FESTIVAL: From Hanukkah to Diwali and Christmas, communities all over the world mark the coming of winter with a festival of lights. There is something deep and powerful about creating light in the midst of the darkness, and it is no surprise that this ritual inspires such faith and hope to people around the world. This holiday season, Naumkeag in Stockbridge will be illuminated by thousands of shimmering lights and displays. Embrace the holiday spirit and the continued presence of light amidst the darkness with an evening of music, community cheer, and fun children’s activities. Naumkeag. 413-298-3239. 5 Prospect Hill Rd, Stockbridge, MA.


Monday, December 30

Monday, December 30, 10:30am-2pm – HOLIDAY VACATION PROGRAMMING: With schools out for the holidays, the New England Air Museum is hosting a series of daily interactive workshops. Activities will be offered from 10:30am-2:30pm each day and are included with admission (unless otherwise noted). Today’s workshop: Model Airplane Workshop & Demonstrations. For more information about these and other events, visit www.neam.org or call 860-623-3305. NEAM is located at 36 Perimeter Rd., Windsor Locks, CT.

Monday, December 30, 11:30am-12noon – NEW YEAR’S CELEBRATION/PreK: Baby New Years Party at the library! Join Sarah and Kat for an extra special New Year’s countdown… it’s going to be the smallest party in town! Zero to two-year-olds, along with parents and caregivers, are invited to a very special baby storytime and party! Ring in the new year (just a little bit early!) with songs, stories, puppets, and bubbles! Join in for a countdown to noon, and an apple juice toast. Formal attire for babies encouraged, but not necessary! Forbes Library. 413-587-1011. 20 West St, Northampton, MA.

Monday, December 30, 12-4pm –MOVEMENT/LOCAL HERITAGE: Some kids love, and benefit from, vestibular input. This term refers to our detection of motion, which is connected to the inner ear. All movement affects vestibular receptors, but some activities such as spinning, swinging, and hanging upside down, are particularly intense. The Holyoke Merry Go Round, known as “Holyoke’s Happiness Machine,” is a sensory treat for the young and old. This antique carousel with brightly painted wooden animals and calliope music was once part of Mountain Park, an amusement park on the side of Mt. Tom, and was moved to Holyoke Heritage Park when Mountain Park closed in 1987. Holyoke Merry Go Round. 413-538-9838. 221 Appleton St, Holyoke, MA.

Monday, December 30, 12:30-1:30pm – CULINARY ARTS/COMMUNITY MEAL: Love to cook? Join the Evening Cookbook Club at the library! Pick up a copy of this month’s cookbook, The Home Cook by Alex Guarnaschelli, select a recipe to prepare at home, and then bring it in for a taste testing and book discussion. This popular cookbook club meets monthly; new members are always welcome. Please register: Storrs Library. 413-565-4181. 693 Longmeadow Street, Longmeadow, MA.

Monday, December 30, 1-3pm – SPORTS/GYMNASTICS: Hampshire Gymnastics School has an open gym during the holiday break. Try out the air bag, practice your skills, swing on the rings, and burn off some energy with your friends. All kids ages 5yo+ are welcome. You don’t need to be a student to attend. Hampshire Gymnastics School. 413-256-6990. 461 West Street. Amherst, MA.


Tuesday, December 31

Tuesday, December 31, 10am-5pm – MUSEUM ADVENTURES/HOLIDAYS: Springfield Museums, home of The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss, invites you to celebrate with the Gingerbread: Hollywood and the Holidays exhibitand Family Fun Holiday Happenings/Countdown to Christmas from November 29 through December 31, 2019. An annual event, the Gingerbread exhibit puts everyone in the holiday spirit. Gingerbread features a multitude of artistic culinary creations accented by creative murals, festively decorated trees, and other enchanting elements. Stop in also to view Sweet: A Tasty Journey for a history of candy and a chance to experience hands-on FUN while learning. And don’t forget to visit the Grinch, the beloved curmudgeon who helps us all remember, “Maybe Christmas means just a little bit more!” Springfield Museums. 413-263-6800. 21 Edwards Street, Springfield, MA.

Tuesday, December 31, 3-5pm – NEW YEAR’S EVE/FAMILY: New Year’s Eve Celebration. It’s time to celebrate and ring in 2020! Join the library for an afternoon of Minute to Win It games, a festive craft, and a live showing of countries around the world ringing in the New Year on the projector screen. There will be snacks and sparkling juice to toast in a brand new year, just in case you can’t stay awake till midnight! For all ages. Springfield City Library: Brightwood Branch. 413-263-6805. 359 Plainfield St. Springfield, MA.

Tuesday, December 31, 5-11pm – NEW YEAR’S EVE/LIVE MUSIC: Franklin County Last Night – NYE 2019. Come one, come all to the first-ever Franklin County Last Night for live music. All ages welcome. Ring in 2020 together and support the prolific art-making born out of Franklin County. Shea Theater Arts Center. 413-648-7432. 71 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA.

NEW YEAR’S EVE CELEBRATIONS: A contemporary New England tradition, First Night is celebrated throughout the region but began in Massachusetts with Boston hosting the first First Night in 1975. Today, towns all over New England celebrate the new year with community festivities, including live music shows, gallery openings, art activities, performances, and more. In Western Massachusetts, several towns host First Night celebrations as a way to connect the community, support the local economy, and preserve the local history that makes this region unique and special. Northampton, in particular, organizes a sizeable First Night celebration that includes a full schedule of events and activities. During a First Night celebration, participants usually pay for a button to wear that allows them to discover all that the festival has to offer. You can expect to explore the local character of a town through its art community and civic organizations. Many First Night festivities include live performances of dance and music as well as gallery show openings of local artists’ work. Attending First Night events helps to support the arts in a community while connecting interests with the repeating patterns of seasonal celebrations.

First Night Northampton – Northampton, MA
In downtown Northampton, First Night Northampton is host to a variety of venues, performances, art, and activities. Afternoon activities are family-friendly with fireworks at 6pm and an evening filled with events for an older audience.

First Night Jr. – Holyoke, MA
An afternoon event on New Year’s Eve for families. Past activities have included magic shows, world-class juggling, face painting, balloon sculpture, and special craft activities.

Starry Starry Night – Orange, MA
Annual celebration throughout Orange that includes live performances, outdoor activities, and fireworks.

First Night Southwick – Southwick, MA
An afternoon and early evening of fun family activities! Highlights will include a bonfire, fireworks display, s’mores, crafts, and activities for kids, music for teens, and much more!

 


Wednesday January 1

Wednesday January 1, 9:30am & 12:30pm – GUIDED HIKE: : Mount Greylock First Day Hikes. Each year, DCR hosts guided hikes on New Year’s Day, offering individuals and families a chance to enjoy healthy outdoor activities at our Massachusetts state parks. Join friends, neighbors and DCR State Park staff for a guided First Day Hike at Mount Greylock State Reservation. This program is free, open to the public and recommended for ages 7 and older .Hike an easy to moderate 1.8 miles (90 minutes) on the Bradley Farm Trail. Explore remnants of an old orchard, farmland, forest succession and perhaps see evidence of wildlife. Afterwards enjoy hot chocolate by the fireplace. Be prepared for cold weather: dress in layers and wear winter boots. If conditions permit, bring snowshoes and hiking poles. Dogs are welcome on a 10 foot maximum leash. Preregistration recommended by Dec 30. Mount Greylock Visitor Center. 413-499-4262. 30 Rockwell Road, Lanesborough, MA.

Wednesday, January 1, 10am-12pm – NEW YEAR’S DAY MUSIC PARTY/PANCAKE BREAKFAST: Mark your calendars! On the first day of 2020, Hilltown Families and Flywheel are partnering again in the beloved annual New Year’s Day Morning Dance Party, a breakfast bash featuring food, dancing, and diversions for kids held at Flywheel Arts Collective. New this year, local storyteller, Tom McCabe, will spin a yarn while folks enjoy a community pancake breakfast. After breakfast, families can join DJ Youthelectronix for the “best ever dance party before noon.“. This annual event is a fundraiser to benefit the work of Flywheel Arts Collective. Minimum suggested donation: $6/person. Start the new year with a New Year’s Day Music Dance Party. Save on the babysitter and dance away on the first morning of the new year! So much cheaper than a night out on the town and just as much fun! Flywheel Arts Collective. 413-527-9800. 43 Main St, Easthampton, MA.

Wednesday, January 1, 1-3pm – GUIDED HIKE: Enjoy a leisurely three-mile stroll down the Canalside Rail Trail and get the New Year started off on a Great Falls note. This family-friendly hike follows a gentle route. It provides an opportunity to discover the abundant natural, historical, and cultural features that make the Center and rail-trail such an amazing State Park! Be prepared for cold weather: dress in layers and wear winter boots. Dogs are welcome on leash. Afterward, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate in the Discovery Center’s Great Hall. Meet at 1 p.m. in Great Hall. Hike begins at 1:15 p.m. Great Falls Discovery Center. 413-863-3221. 2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA.


Thursday, January 2

SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING/BOTANICAL ILLUSTRATION: Taking a class with an artist that specializes in botanical illustration provides the scientific and artistic instruction needed to learn how to create botanical drawings. Botanical illustrations are not just limited to painting flowers, but also include sketching trees and other plant specimens. Not only is botanical illustration a creative outlet, but also a scientific one that lets you explore a plant species at an observational and focused level! The American Society of Botanical Illustrators provides different resources and tools to help students locate classes in their area or informational books on doing an individual study of botanical illustration. Gardens and wayside growing flowers offer an opportunity to engage with the landscape through art, literature, and community. Whether it’s botanical watercolors, illustrations, photography, or a relaxed visit to your local public garden, flowers blooming in a community support interests and connect residents to their public parks and the patterns of the seasons.


Friday, January 3

Friday, January 3, 9:30-10:30am – PreK/MUSIC & STORYTELLING: Community Music School of Springfield presents Little Notes, a fun and accessible event that includes elements of storytelling and exposure to a variety of instruments. This engaging community music experience is designed for children infant to 5 years and a caregiver. Register online. Storrs Library. 413-565-4181. 693 Longmeadow Street, Longmeadow, MA.

Friday, January 3, 11am-3pm – AGRICULTURE/WINTER FARMERS’ MARKET: Downtown Springfield Winter Farmers’ Market. Winter farmers’ markets provide a fresh and colorful oasis during the winter months, reminding us that despite the blustery, snow drift-covered fields that surround us, farm-fresh foods of all kinds are still available. Connecting to the local food chain year-round is not only healthy for your body, your family, and your community, but it can be educational as well! Exposing children to the vast array of foods available from winter farmers’ markets can help them to recognize that there are many different methods for growing and producing food while connecting to where their food comes. 1391 Main Street, 1st Floor. Springfield, MA.

Friday, January 3, 11:30am-1:20pm – ICE SKATING: Are you a homeschool or unschooling family? The Mullins Center offers a weekday public ice skate for families to attend. Great opportunity for physical activity while making community connections. Ice skate rentals are free and guardian’s skates for free. All families are welcome. Mullins Center. 413-545-3040. 200 Commonwealth Ave. Amherst, MA.

Friday, January 3, 5-8:30pm – WINTER SPORTS/OUTFITTING: Amherst Historical Society Annual Ski Sale. Offering great discounts for the beginner skater to the expert skier, all in adult and youth sizes. Experts will be on hand to help with sizing and selection. Held at the Pacific (Masonic) Lodge. 99 Main Street. Amherst, MA.


Hilltown Families’ list of Suggested Events is supported in part by grants from the Bernardston, Chester, Heath, Montgomery, Pelham, Rowe, South Hadley, Amherst, Hatfield, Russell, Shutesbury, and Springfield Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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