Wednesday, December 28, 2011

First Night Danbury -- Just Around the Corner!

This year, First Night Danbury enters its 22nd year as the city’s popular family friendly, alcohol free New Year’s Eve celebration, its “Looking Up & Moving Forward.” That’s this year’s theme, a nod to the fest’s venerable history and to the Danbury Main Street Partnership, for which First Night serves as a year-end acknowledgement of the ongoing excitement of what’s happening downtown.

Buttons, providing entry to all events, are $7.50 and may be purchased at City Center Danbury and at various local outlets Groups of 20 or more may purchase buttons at $5.00 each at the CityCenter offices until 8:00PM on Friday, December 30th. Phone: 203-792-1711 for details.

The City swings into action on December 31 with its popular Run into New Year 5 K race that begins at 3:00 PM on the Danbury Green. Runners sprint down Main Street, through Rogers Park and back to City Center where the race began. There aren’t any water spotters, so make sure you are hydrated before you start your run on this fairly flat course.

The entry fee is $20 through December 30th, and $25 on Race Day. Register on through Friday, December 30th. Or, register on Race Day from 1:30 to 2:30 pm at the Danbury Arena, 1 Independence Way, adjacent to the Green. There you can also pick up your Race packets and a First Night Danbury button to provide entrance to this year’s entertainments. All pre-registered runners will receive a 5K commemorative T-shirt. Overall Winners will receive trophies, and medals will be awarded to Winners in their Age Groups.

The fun continues throughout the afternoon with stilt walkers, giant puppets, storytellers, comic opera, gospel singing, Chinese puppet theatre, salsa dance classes, and much more, ending with a Grand Finale at 7:30 pm on Library Plaza. The centerpiece of the event, a vaudeville at the 1928 Palace Theatre features the Airborne Jugglers, that lets audience members steal the show; Boston funny man Peter Gross, whose interactive comedy has entertained visitors far and wide; and Israel’s Natalia Paruz, “The Saw Lady,” who has presented her contemporary vaudeville with major symphony orchestras worldwide.

Another highlight of First Night is being served up by the Danbury Museum and Historical Society. Colonial Dance Master, Fran Hendrickson offers family fun at the Danbury Museum and Historical Society by explaining colonial dancing, music and history from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM. This is a participatory activity and all are welcome to come in costume. This event is free and open to the public.

The historic Rider House, owned by the Danbury Historical Society and located in the heart of Danbury on 43 Main Street will provide the setting for a traditional, colonial meal. Dinner will include Butternut, Parsnip & Pear Soup, White Bean & Turkey Stew with Root Vegetables; Corn Bread and Indian pudding. The historical society will also offer a vegetarian version of this colonial feast.

The cost of the dinner is $15/adult and $10/child but will be discounted if you present a First Night Button to $10/adult and $6/child. First Night Buttons are now available for sale in the museum gift shop. Dinner will be served on a first come, first served basis. Reservations are recommended and can be made by emailing or calling 203.743.5200.

First Night Danbury concludes with fireworks at 8:30 p.m. For a complete list of venues and events visit

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Guided Tours of the Hotchkiss Fyler House through Dec. 30

The elegant Hotchkiss-Fyler House Museum, 192 Main Street, opened its doors to holiday visitors on Saturday, December 10, 2011. Tours will continue through December 30, 2011. The Hotchkiss- Fyler House was built in 1900 and was home to two generations of the family for more than half a century. THe home remains furnished as it was in 1956 when occupied by Gertrude Hotchkiss, daughter of Orsamus and Mary Fyler.

Christmas at the Hotchkiss-Fyler House Museum features turn-of-the-century holiday decorations and lavish displays of greenery and flowers. Exquisite floral arrangements are provided by the Garden Committee of the Torrington Historical Society and by local horticulturalist Gwenthye b.Harvey.

The dining room table is set for a Christmas dinner with fine china, crystal, silverware, and linens that belonged to Gertrude Fyler Hotchkiss. A number of trees are displayed in the house, including a table-top tree in the Sunroom which is decorated with late-19th and early 20th century ornaments on loan from a private collector and a full-size tree in the Reception Room that is covered in handmade Victorian-style ornaments and vintage ornaments from the Society’s collection. Antique toys, also from the Society’s collection, are displayed beneath the Reception Room tree. This year visitors will find decorations and displays throughout the house that feature birds and feathers, a tribute to Mrs. Hotchkiss’ love of animals and nature.

Guided House Tours are offered Tuesday through Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m., tours are on the half hour, the last last tour is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.. Admission is $7 for adults, free for members and children under age 12. The house is closed on Mondays and will be closed on December 24th and December 25th.

An evening tour is scheduled for December 20th at 7 pm. Participants will be treated to a special tour of the House Museum decorated for the holiday season with wreaths, Christmas trees, garlands and flower arrangements. The Hotchkiss-Fyler House at night is a beautiful sight with candles glowing and a fire in the library fireplace. The museum never looks so magical as it does at night during this time of year.

After touring the museum visitors will be escorted to the Carriage House for coffee and dessert. The walls of the Carriage House Gallery display historic photographs of Downtown Torrington. The event will conclude at about 8:30 p.m..

Tickets for this special fundraising event are $20 per person ($15 for members of the Historical Society). Space is limited to about 25 people and reservations are required. To make a reservation call the Historical Society at 860-482-8260 or email at For more information about the Hotchkiss Fyler House visit

Friday, December 16, 2011

Unique Holiday Gift Ideas

The countdown to the holidays has begun! If you are trying to think of some off-the-beaten-track gift ideas, for special friends and family, below you will find a list of suggestions. So, if you are looking for a unique gift, you might want to check out the following institutions that work hard all year round to make our lives more culturally fulfilling.

The Fairfield Museum and History Center Gift Shop can be the ideal spot to find all of the gifts on one's list or special last-minute treasures. The shop, which will be opened until 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve, offers a range of unusual Christmas ornaments and stocking stuffers along with jewelry, books, note cards and a host of children's gifts. If you want to buy local, Fairfield artisans and jewelry manufacturers have created about 25% of the inventory. Museum members have already received a 20 percent discount card through the mail and non-members visiting the shop can still pick up a 20 percent discount card. All shop proceeds support the Museum's exhibitions and education programs and new members receive a 10 percent discount.

The Westport Historical Society offers a wonderful range of products including beautifully framed pictures, Westport dish towels, glass blown ornaments, jewelry, sweatshirts, books, mugs, stationary, postcards, and a new Westport calendar for 2012. Best of all there is no tax on anything you buy! The shop is open 10 to 4 Mon.- Fri. and Sat. noon to 4.

The New England Carousel Museum in Bristol offers a whimsical selection of carousel themed pieces, woodcarvings, books, Victorian gifts, jewelry, quilts, prints, and paintings. They even offer full size reproduction hand carved carousel pieces! The gift shop is open during Carousel Museum hours, Monday thru Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sundays from 12pm to 5pm. The Museum is located at 95 Riverside Avenue in Bristol, 860-585-5411.

The Bruce Museum in Greenwich is offers a unique blend of gift ideas from science kits for young experimenters and Josh Simpson contemporary glass planets, an other-worldly gift; to Jewelry from the sublime to the whimsical and Geode bookends for literature lovers. The gift of membership to The Bruce Museum is 50% off. Holiday shopping hours are: Tues. – Sat., 10 am – 4:30 pm, Sunday, 1 pm – 4:30 pm, and Mon., Dec. 19, 10 am – 12 noon.

The Bartlett Arboretum on 151 Brookdale Rd. Stamford is offering a stunning four season calendar that features beautiful images from the photography club of lower Fairfield County as well as a number of gift certificates that can be used for classes, events, plant sales and in the gift shop. A give one and get one free family membership to the Bartlett is being offered through 12/31/11 (please note, limit one per customer). This is a great way to save 50% and give a gift that will be treasured throughout the year.

If you are looking for original artwork, stop in at the Greenwich Historical Society's Storehouse Gallery Shop that is hosting a sale of works by 2011′s Greenwich Community artists through January 25, 2012. Art in a variety of media from paintings to photography to sculpture will be on sale and may be taken as soon as it is purchased. Fresh works will replace the pieces that are sold throughout the holiday shopping season. Buy one of these beautiful creations as a gift, and you'll not only be able to bestow something totally unique, you'll support the Historical Society as well.

For racing fans, Lime Rock Park, the Road Racing Center of the East in Lime Rock CT is offering a holiday 15% discount for 2012 events at the Park through Dec. 31! By ordering online or by calling 860.435.5000, you can save 15% on all General Admission tickets for 2012. If you purchase Lime Rock Park tickets and Season Passes before December 31 you won't have to pay the new 10% surcharge.

Just in case it's fallen off your radar screen, starting January 1, 2012, the state of Connecticut requires most entertainment venues, including Connecticut's race tracks, to collect a 10% Admissions Tax on tickets, whether purchased in advance or at the gate.

Happy Shopping!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Lime Rock Park’s Christmas Holiday Discount Ticket Sale is Underway!

Lime Rock Park, the Road Racing Center of the East is offering special discounts for 2012 this holiday season! By ordering online ( or over the phone (860.435.5000), you can save 15% on all General Admission tickets for 2012.

You can even buy a 2012 Season Pass, which gets you into the track every day of every major event. That's 12 days of admission, plus three SCCA Race Days, PLUS Premium Parking, for just $230. (That's a $156 savings compared to the gate weekend ticket prices!) Doesn't that sound like a great Holiday Gift? If you are undecided, you can even purchase a Lime Rock Park gift certificate in any dollar amount.

If you are looking for something really unique and unusual for the person that has everything... then you might want to consider two of Lime Rock Park's "high-end" offerings!

Do you know someone on your shopping list who's been dying to drive on Lime Rock Park's famous track? Why not surprise that person with a BYOC Track Day, courtesy of the private Lime Rock Drivers Club. BYOC? That's "Bring Your Own Car!" Yes, for $995, you get a gift certificate for four hours of track time, driving your car, coached the whole time by a racing driver/instructor. Lime Rock will provide a wonderful lunch and will even provide the helmet. If you have a "car nut" that you're buying a Christmas present for, this tops the list.

Another option is to make someone a member of the aptly named "Insider's Club". For every race day of every major event, Insider's Club members get the VIP treatment in the beautiful Lime Rock Chalet, near the top of the Infield Spectator Hill. "Insiders" get wonderful catered food beautifully presented by Lime Rock's own chefs, terrific personal service, souvenir programs, VIP Parking... and even the chance to get to know some of the more famous Insider's Club members such as Sam Posey and John Fitch. Only a small, limited number of Insider's Club memberships are available every year at $975, so if this sounds appealing, call soon. This will be a gift that will be appreciated all year long!

Looking ahead to 2012 Lime Rock has already scheduled the following events:

May 25-27- * Sports Car Championships (main event Trans-Am) & Royals Car Show

July 6-7- (no Monday races) * American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Northeast Grand Prix

July 21- Ferrari Challenge

Aug. 31 – Sept. 3- Historic Festival 30 & Sunday in the Park Concours

September 28-29 - * Grand-Am Rolex Championship Finale

Friday, December 9, 2011

2nd Annual Wine and Chocolate Holiday Party at White Silo Winery

White Silo Winery has organized its' annual end of the year holiday party...around chocolate and wine on December 17th! What better way to celebrate the holidays than with a wine and chocolate pairing featuring Guittard chocolate selections imported from all over the world!

There will even be a chocolate expert from Guittard Chocolates on hand to help guide participants through the chocolate and wine pairings and answer any chocolate questions that are asked. Cheese, fruit, and White Silo mustards and jams, and other finger foods will also be served.

The event offers three separate tastings, one at 12 PM, one at 2PM and one at 4PM. Spots are limited at each session to 40 guests so it is suggested that you reserve your spot early to be on the safe side.

Tickets are $10 per person and must be purchased on-line in advance. For more information and to purchase tickets go to and select the tab Gallery/Events then click on the Dec 17th event.

A performance by Leesa Sklover-Filgatece will be featured at the 4 PM event. She will be performing songs from her new CD.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

“Turtle Family Day” at The Bruce Museum Dec. 11

The Bruce Museum celebrates the International Year of the Turtle with "Turtle Family Day" on Sunday, December 11, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Fun-filled activities for the entire family include explorations of the Museum's natural history galleries in search of turtles and turtle-themed crafts in the Education Workshop.

The afternoon event features a live "Turtle and Tortoise" program at 3:00 p.m. presented by Erik Callender of Erik's Reptile Edventures. Erik and his crew work with turtles from around the world including the African Spur Thighed Tortoise, Chinese Box Turtle, Mata Mata Turtle from South America, and Gopher Tortoise from the southeastern United States.

All activities are suitable for people of all abilities, ages 5 years and up, and are free with Museum admission. The Bruce Museum is located at 1 Museum Drive in Greenwich, Connecticut. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and students. Bruce Museum members are free. For information, call the Bruce Museum at (203) 869-0376, or visit the Bruce Museum website at

Friday, December 2, 2011


One good place to start is Connecticut's own little town of Bethlehem, a quaint, village that is transformed each December, when it becomes New England's favorite Christmas Town. Thousands of visitors arrive to mail their Christmas cards with a Bethlehem postmark and to enjoy the 30th annual gala Christmas Town Festival, set this year for Friday night December 2 and Saturday, December 3. The town green is transformed for the occasion with some 70 vendors offering crafts and good food. Bring the family for musical entertainment, hayrides and the chance for a photo with Santa. Find the complete schedule at

Bethlehem's historic Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden will be festively decorated for the weekend, with themed decorations in each of the first floor rooms. Children will enjoy games, prizes and surprises and refreshments in the Visitor's Center. This house will be open during festival hours, December 2 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and December 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For details, phone (203) 266-7596.

Bethlehem also offers the chance to visit a rare museum-quality 18th century Neapolitan Crèche housed in a barn at the Abbey of Regina Laudis. Check the hours at

Family Fun

Kids will love the Grinch Festival a the Imagine Nation Children's Museum in Bristol on December 2, where the Dr. Seuss world of Whoville, complete with crafts, sing-alongs and special visitors--including the Grinch.

December 3 marks the opening of the Winter Indian Arts & Craft Market at the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, and from 1 to 2 p.m. parents can shop in peace while their children are happily occupied making cornhusk holiday angels to decorate the tree at home. The market continues the whole month of December.

More holiday ornament-making for kids will take place at the Sharon Tree Lighting on the green and Sharon Historical Society Open House starting at 4:45 on December 3. Everyone is invited to enjoy hot chocolate and homemade cookies furnished by Sharon residents at the society's headquarters, the historic Gay-Hoyt House, which is beautifully decorated for the occasion.

The Merwinsville Hotel and Museum is transformed into a winter wonderland every year for Christmas in Gaylordsville, a world of snow villages, model trains around the Christmas tree, caroler's displays of snow globes, nutcrackers and music boxes. Art, crafts, jewelry, weavings, birdhouses, and photography by local artists are among the tempting items for sale. A special Story Time for children will take place on Saturday and Sunday at 11AM.

Festive Shopping

This will be the 22nd year for St. John's Bazaar in Woodbury December 2 and 3. A live auction will take place at Friday night's preview party, with offerings such as a week in Tuscany or a Nantucket getaway. The Bazaar continues on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with festive gift shopping and delicious treats from the famous St. John's Larder.

Another favorite historic celebration is the annual Holiday Festival at the Glebe House in Woodbury, also Friday, December 2 and Saturday, December 3. Free tours will be offered of the museum house, beautifully decorated for the holidays with wreaths, holiday lighting, and garlands, all for sale. A bazaar offers many original gift ideas.

The Holiday Tea at the historic Rider House is a happy tradition presented by the Danbury Museum and Historical Society from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. on December 3. A variety of teas and an assortment of sandwiches, savories and sweets will be served and the Danbury Museum's Holiday Bazaar will be open with a host of gift ideas. Reservations are required--space is limited. Call (203) 723-5200 for further information.

The Bethel Holiday Craft Festival at The Best Western Berkshire Inn on December 3 will be another opportunity to find unique gifts made by many talented artisans. Phone (203) 261-2414 for hours.