Bristol holidays feature craft fair, sweets, lights and Santa

BRISTOL — Community gatherings, musical entertainment, crafts, magical lighting, horses — what does Bristol NOT have for this holiday season?

The 5-Town area has a lot going on this holiday season, and here’s a taste of it.

It starts this weekend with a good, old-fashioned craft fair on Saturday, Nov. 26. The Brendon P Cousino Med47 Foundation will host its 2nd annual Holiday Craft Fair & Shoppe at the New Haven Town Hall at 78 North St. in New Haven. The event, from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., is a good chance to support your local crafters on Small Business Saturday. There will be more than 20 artisans selling their wares, a white elephant holiday table, baked goods and holiday treats for sale. More details are online at

Also that day, the Bristol Federated Church at 37 North St. will host an event it is calling “Messy Church: Messy Christmas!” beginning at 4 p.m., where participants explore the Christmas story and share a meal together. This free event is a collaboration of 5-Town churches and is being put on as an ecumenical event

Organizers said Messy Church is a way of doing church that incorporates creativity, celebration and hospitality for people of all ages, while making sure Christ is in the center of everything. It is set up to be inviting for those who haven’t been to church in a while, never been to church before, or who attend a church on a regular basis. To pre-register, head to online to It’s OK to just show up if you don’t get a chance to pre-register.

Then in rolls December and holiday activities really pick up. The Bristol Recreation Department looks to draw folks to the town green for the Memory Tree lighting on Friday, Dec. 2. Honor those who have passed on by having their name displayed next to the beautifully lit tree. The brief tree-lighting ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. Register a name for the Bristol Memory Tree at the Recreation Office or in the town office downstairs at Holley Hall. Please make out checks for $5 to Bristol Recreation Department and list your honoree on the memo portion. Drop off checks at the town office by Nov. 28.

Perhaps the sweetest promotion this season will take place after the Memory Tree lighting when downtown will be the site of a Chocolate Walk. Browse at participating stores, nibbling on a delicious chocolate treat (or two or three) while getting your holiday shopping on. Many Bristol stores will have extended hours.

AT A HOLLEY Hall event in 2017, little Francesco DaBica was excited to get a high-five from Mr. Claus. Santa will be in Bristol a couple times in December.
Independent file photo/Trent Campbell

If you’re in the mood for a little holiday music that night, Dec. 2 is “Christmas Music Night” at the New Haven United Reformed Church. Join in at 7 p.m. for a time of Christmas songs, readings, and refreshments as we prepare for the holiday season. All are welcome. 

And local shopping returns the next day, Saturday, Dec. 3, with the Christmas bazaar, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., at Bristol Federated Church. It’s the church’s first in-person bazaar since 2019. In the tradition, there’ll be attic treasures, a silent auction, craft tables, bake sale and luncheon. 

If you thought the Chocolate Walk was sweet, how about candy canes? The Rec Department will stage an outdoor candy cane hunt on Friday, Dec. 9, on the town green. 

Bundle up and join your friends and neighbors as they help Santa find his lost candy canes. The candy cane hunt is at 5:30 p.m. Prizes will be awarded to kids who find 10 candy canes and a special prize will be awarded to the person who finds the golden candy cane!

This event is free and open to the public

Santa will be arriving at the town green with his friends from SD Ireland aboard the company’s lit holiday cement mixer at 6 p.m. They say this incredible holiday truck has 25,000 light bulbs on it — you have to see it to believe it.

A holiday arrival of a more traditional sort will take place on Sunday, Dec. 11, when there’ll be a Live Nativity on the Bristol Town Green from 3-4 p.m. Every 10 minutes, there’ll be guided walking tours through the town of Bethlehem. Refreshments and music will be offered concurrently at Bristol Baptist Church. The tours are free, but food and monetary donations for the Have A Heart Food Shelf will be collected at the event.

PAT PALMER LEADS his team of horses away from Holley Hall turn a traditional holiday wagon ride a few years back. Pat and the team will be back in Bristol on Dec. 18 — make your reservations early.
Independent file photo/Trent Campbell

Santa will be back for one more quick stop in Bristol before his big return visit on Christmas Eve. This time it’s for “Story Time with Santa” on Friday, Dec. 16. Kids are invited to join the old elf from 3:30-4:15 p.m. at Holley Hall where he will familiarize them on the spirit of Christmas. Santa will be reading holiday-themed stories. Cost: $0.

The Bristol CORE organization is finalizing the details for a renewal of the Lumen Celebration of Fire and Light. We’re not sure exactly what will be shown, but people are invited to come experience fire performers, perhaps a lighted walk down Main Street, and cozy fires. Watch this newspaper for updates on this event.

And it hardly seems like the holidays without at least one opportunity to be pulled around in a horse-drawn vehicle. In Bristol you’ll get your chance on Sunday, Dec. 18, when Pat Palmer will give free winter trolley rides around town from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Rides start and end at Holley Hall following a loop around town. 

There will be a maximum of 15 people per trolley ride and reservations are required. Make reservations by calling 802-453-5885, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., beginning Dec. 13

And when the ride is over, put the finishing touches on your holiday preparations, because Christmas will be just a week away!

The holiday season in the 5-Town community wraps up with the reprise of Bristol Best Night on Dec. 31. The craft, music and entertainment event starts in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve and stretches until 1 p.m. A smaller format this year means the entire Best Night program will take place in Holley Hall.

Look for hat-making and other crafts for the kids, a professional magic show, coffeehouse-style music and great entertainment from Patrick Fitzsimmons and Scarlet Annie’s Jazz Quartet. See more detail in the story on the next page.

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