Festive holiday activities this weekend in Bristol, Vergennes and Middlebury

ADDISON COUNTY — The holiday happenings kick into high gear in Bristol, Vergennes and Middlebury this weekend as all three of the county’s largest towns host many activities related to Christmas and the holidays.
From chocolate and caroling to Santa and shopping, there are events planned to suit just about everyone’s taste.
Check out the stories and listings below and then head out on the town and enjoy some fun with your friends and neighbors this weekend.
Big Night in Bristol
BRISTOL — Chocolate lovers and those who love the Christmas spirit are invited to come to downtown Bristol this Friday evening for a holiday season kickoff.
The evening starts and ends with the seventh annual Bristol Chocolate Walk, in which shoppers can come savor a complimentary chocolate treat at downtown businesses on from 5 to 8 p.m., or until the chocolate runs out. 
Shoppers can travel from store to store, sampling the decadent chocolate offerings, while browsing for gifts. There is no charge to participate, just an appreciation for the various attributes of chocolate  — to lift spirits, dispel economic woes, satisfy a craving, and send the stock market soaring.
Look for the “Chocolate Stop” sign on the doors of participating businesses. More information is online at www.discoverbristolvt.com.
Among the stops will be the WalkOver Gallery on Main Street, which will be hosting a small works show for the month of  December. Delicious offerings of  chocolate prepared by the gallery and the artists will be on hand.  Additionally, folks  will be bringing musical instruments for a music jam on Christmas carols and other  music.  The public is invited to bring their instruments and voices and their eye for  art.
Friday will also see the lighting of a Memorial Tree sponsored by the Bristol Recreation Department. The lighting ceremony on the town green will take place from 6 to 6:30 p.m. on the town green. Bring your flashlight, because Santa has hidden candy canes all around the green. After the tree lighting ceremony there will be a candy cane hunt. Use your flashlight and help find the goodies.
This is the start of a month of Bristol activities organized or promoted by the Bristol Downtown Community Partnership. Among those are:
•  Almost Home Music Series every Sunday morning of the December at Almost Home Market.
•  Gingerbread house making/decorating at Bristol Elementary on Sunday, Dec. 7, 1-3 p.m.
•  Holiday tea at the Inn at Baldwin Creek/Mary’s on Dec. 7 at 2 p.m.
•  High School Winter Concert at Mount Abe on Dec. 10 at 7 p.m.
•  Middle School Winter Concert at Mount Abe on Dec. 11 at 7 p.m.
•  Community breakfast with Santa at Holley Hall on Dec. 13 at 7 a.m.
•  Second annual Mr. Christmas Tree Pageant at Holley Hall on Dec. 15 at 6:30 p.m.
•  Phone calls from Santa on Dec. 16 and 18 (call 453-5885 for more information).
•  Community Christmas caroling on Dec. 19; meet at Holley Hall at 6 p.m.
•  Outdoor live Nativity at the First Baptist Church of Bristol on Dec. 20, 4-6 p.m.
•  Winter Solstice Celebration on Dec. 21 at the Watershed Center. Time TBA.
•  Bristol Best Night New Year’s Eve Celebration, Dec. 31, 5-11 p.m.
Stroll into the Holidays in Vergennes
VERGENNES — Holiday spirit will be bubbling over in the Little City of Vergennes this season starting off with the ninth annual Holiday Stroll this Saturday, Dec. 6. The month of December will see many activities in Vergennes to keep people in the holiday frame of mind.
Chat with Santa over breakfast, fill your gift bag with local crafts, and enjoy songs and music with friends at the Vergennes Holiday Stroll. Participants will enjoy a festive collection of activities ranging from a fantastic Winter Craft Fair to a stroll down Main Street ringing bells and singing songs with Santa and his elves.
On Dec. 6 the fun starts at 7:30 a.m. with a pancake breakfast at the Vergennes Union High School and go all day to 5 p.m. in Vergennes City Park as the winners of the first annual Gingerbread House Contest are announced.
A few of the event highlights include breakfast with Santa at Vergennes Union High School Cafeteria beginning at 7:30 a.m. The 14th annual Winter Holiday Craft Fair at Vergennes Union Elementary School will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Get in the spirit of the Holiday Stroll with a leisurely walk with Santa beginning at 10:30 a.m. at the Vergennes Opera House. The jolly elf will meander with a group of friends down Main Street to the Bixby Library. The 14th annual Winter Holiday Craft Fair at Vergennes Union Elementary School will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
In the meantime, the Bixby will be a hoppin’ place with its open house and silent auction of holiday baskets. Beloved Vermont singer/songwriter Jon Gailmor will make his annual performance at the Bixby at 11 a.m. The library will host more singing at 1 p.m. when the women’s a cappella singing group Maiden Vermont performs.
There’s more music at the opera house courtesy of the Champlain Brass Quintet and the Victory Baptist Choir
The stroll culminates a little after darkness falls with the lighting of City Park and the Memory Tree. The Addison County Gospel Choir will lead the caroling. Check out the full schedule for exact times and places.
In addition to these events, the Holiday Stroll kicks off a week-long collection of food items for the Vergennes Community Food Shelf. Several area businesses are collection points for non-perishable food items. Items will be collected between Dec. 6 and 13.
Very Merry Middlebury
MIDDLEBURY — Holiday magic has once again come to Middlebury, with A Very Merry Middlebury, which started Dec. 1.
The Better Middlebury Partnership’s Very Merry Middlebury committee has a festive and fun-filled month of December planned, complete with visits from Santa, horse drawn wagon rides, Stag and Doe night, a breakfast with holiday characters, an “I Spy” contest with prizes, the Hot Chocolate Hut and free gift wrap for items purchased in Middlebury.
Dec. 1-31: I Spy 10 Tiny Reindeer
Try to find the 10 tiny reindeer hidden in ten store windows in downtown Middlebury and be entered to win $100 in Middlebury Money. Rules and contest details are displayed in the window of the Vermont Book Shop. This year’s reindeer are miniature framed original illustrations by renowned children’s author Ashley Wolff. Ten entrants will be drawn at random to win the reindeer illustrations at the conclusion of the contest. The contest is free.
Dec, 1-31: Be Your Favorite Christmas Character
Ever wonder what you’d look like as a snowman? Or a gingerbread girl? Your family can pose for pictures with an assortment of adorable character cut-outs around town, including Santa, a nutcracker, gingerbread siblings, and snowmen (or ladies!). Posing with the character cut-outs is free.
Saturday, Dec. 6: Santa’s Arrival
Kick the holiday season off with a fun-filled morning in Middlebury. At 9:45 a.m., welcome Santa to Middlebury as he arrives via firetruck, over the Cross Street Bridge and up Main Street, going around twice to give everyone time to see him. Then, enjoy a visit with the right jolly old elf himself at the Middlebury Community House from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. A juggler will be on hand to entertain families waiting in line and families can take an old-fashioned horse-drawn wagon ride through downtown Middlebury. Visits with Santa and the horse-drawn wagon rides are both free.
Don’t leave Middlebury without doing a bit of holiday shopping. Anything purchased in Middlebury can be wrapped for free at 51 Main from noon-4 p.m. — just show your receipt. And, of course, make time for a cozy cup of hot cocoa from the always-popular Hot Cocoa Hut in Cannon Park; just 25 cents for a cup with all the fixings. The Hot Cocoa Hut will be open from 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
And, of course, there will be all of your old favorites in Middlebury this Saturday.
The Festival of Wreaths in Middlebury will run 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at Town Hall Theater. Mary Johnson Children’s Center holds its 22nd annual festival, with over 100 wreaths made by Addison County merchants and friends of the center. Suggested donation at the door.
Sheldon Museum Holiday Open House is Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday noon-4 p.m. at the museum in downtown Middlebury. The annual event feature an elaborate model train layout, craft activity, and carols played on the Sheldon’s 1831 piano. Current exhibits: a retrospective of watercolors by Arthur Healy, and “Charity & Sylvia: A Weybridge Couple.”
And don’t forget to check out the entrants in the annual Gingerbread House competition nearby at the Vermont Folklife Museum.
Thursday, Dec. 11: Stag & Doe Night
Your favorite Middlebury shops will be open late for extended shopping on Stag & Doe Night. In addition to great shopping, you can enjoy restaurant and drink specials and tastings by Woodchuck Cider, App Gap and more during your night out. To really make it festive, the S.D. Ireland Cement Truck will be on hand downtown to wow with their display of holiday lights.
The Hot Cocoa Hut (Cannon Park) and Gift Wrap Station (51 Main) will both offer extended hours as well — everything is open from 5-8 p.m. The tastings and gift wrap are all free.
Saturday, Dec. 13: Visit with Santa & Character Breakfast
Did you forget to ask Santa for something on your list? Catch him again at Maple Landmark Woodcraft from 10 a.m. to noon. This is a free event.
Gather your family for a delicious pancake breakfast, complete with a cast of characters that include Anna and Elsa from “Frozen,” a gingerbread man, a snowman and a reindeer, all sure to entertain the little ones. This event will also include balloons, a photo booth (with props) and a placemat to color featuring all of the Very Merry Middlebury characters. There will be two seatings, at 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. Tickets are on sale at the Middlebury Inn, $8 per adult and $5 per child.
And remember: Anything purchased in Middlebury can be wrapped for free at 51 Main from noon-4 p.m. — just show your receipt. The Hot Cocoa Hut in Cannon Park will be open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; just 25 cents for a cup with all the fixings.
Saturday, Dec. 20: Visit with Santa
This is it — your last chance to visit Santa before he heads back to the North Pole to get things ready for the big day. See Santa one final time at Danforth Pewter from 10 a.m.-noon. This is a free event.
And, finish up any last-minute shopping in Middlebury, with free gift wrapping from noon-4 p.m. at 51 Main for items purchased in town. (Don’t forget your receipt.) The Hot Cocoa Hut (Cannon Park) will be open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., 25 cents per cup with all the fixings.
For more information visit experiencemiddlebury.com or contact Very Merry Middlebury at [email protected] with any questions.

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