Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Challenger Learning Center at the Discovery Museum

This January will mark the 30th anniversary of the Challenger Shuttle Disaster, the abrupt and tragic end of what was meant to be NASA's first mission to promote science education. From this dark moment in NASA's history comes a legacy of learning and profoundly impactful experiences in the form of the Challenger Center - an international network of mock mission control and spacecraft  settings designed to give visitors the experience of conducting a space mission.

The Discovery Museum located on 4450 Park Ave. in Bridgeport Connecticut has a very unique Discovery Learning Center that was created by NASA.  In addition to this, the Discovery Center has a Planetarium and offers planetarium shows that are unique, informative and entertaining.

Discovery's Challenger Learning Center was the 6th in the nation, and remains the only one in Connecticut. Though there are 43 centers worldwide, Discovery's Challenger Learning Center is the only one that is capable of communicating with real satellites and payloads!  The Discovery Museum  will be utilizing their Challenger Learning Center to communicate with near space payloads that young learners and enthusiasts who participate in their programming design - including high altitude balloon and rocket payloads from their NASA funded Rockertry Program.  The space craft side of the Challenger Learning Center has gone through a complete renovation.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

First Night in Westport

First Night Westport/Weston is a community-wide celebration of New Year's Eve through the arts.  Over thirty events featuring performances for children, teens and adults are presented throughout downtown Westport.  The event begins New Years Eve at 4 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m. A special highlight this year will be a performance at 3 p.m. in the Great Hall
of the Westport Library with a performance by the Survivors Swing Band.

There will also be a performance at 6 p.m. at the Westport Historical Society by 2015 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, blues pianist Mark Naftalin, who was the original keyboardist in the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, has recorded and concertized with John Lee Hooker, Etta James, Percy Mayfield, Buddy Guy, Van Morrison and, many other blues and rock greats. Mark will be accompanied by longtime Fairfield County percussionist Barry Urich, who has backed Jose Feliciano and Lester Chambers (of the Chambers Brothers), and who is known for his many performances with area favorites Blue In The Face and The Twinkies.

This town wide event offers fun for the whole family.  Buttons cost $15 each and are available at: Saugatuck Sweets, 575 Riverside Avenue, Westport • 203-642-4615 • Town Hall, First Selectmen’s Office, 110 Myrtle Avenue • 203-341-1111 • Westport Public Library, 20 Jesup Rd., 203-227-8411 • Weston Hardware, 190 Weston Rd., Weston, 203-227-799 • Westport Senior Center, 21 Imperial Ave., 203-341-5099 • Trader Joe's, 400 Post Road East, 203-226-8966and • Oscar’s Deli, 159 Main St., 203-227-3705.

There will be a fireworks display over the Saugatuck river at 7:30 p.m. For a complete list of  events and performance times visit  For more area information

Monday, December 28, 2015

Trails and Art Show at the Bartlett Arboretum in Stamford

The Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens located on 151 Brookdale Road in Stamford has  a new center that is hosting an artshow through January 9, 2016 called "Natural Beauty".  The artist, Brigid Hume O'Brien was a loving mother, a doting grandmother, a passionate environmentalist, and a talented artist. She studied at several art centers from Rowayton to coastal Maine and with many different teachers including Diane Faxon, Barbara Nechis, Frank Webb, and Stanley Maltzman. Brigid loved to visit National Parks and other places of exquisite natural beauty, and to render their flowers and landscapes in her beloved watercolor paints.

The gallery in the Silver Educational Center showing her work is open Monday - Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., or by appointment.
The Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens is located on 90 plus acres of land in Stamford and has nine well marked hiking trails to explore including: Red Oak Trail, Brook Trail, Pond Trail, Black Birch Trail, Tulip Tree Loop, Wetlands Walk, Cemetery Trail, Azalea Road, and the Hemlock Trail  The trails are open dawn to dusk. Visit the website to download a map of the trails to make hiking easy before setting out.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Festival of Lighthouses Contest at the Maritime Aquarium Norwalk

Let 23 large model lighthouses light your way through the galleries of The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk and then vote for your favorite through January 18 at the Aquarium's 14th annual holiday "Festival of Lighthouses Contest." Seeing the lighthouses is free with Aquarium admission.

This all-new display, open through Jan. 18, works like a juried art show except that thousands of Maritime Aquarium visitors are the jury. Guests follow the homemade beacons through the Aquarium and cast a vote for their favorite. The lighthouse that gets the most total votes wins $1,500. There are cash awards for five runners-up too.
This year's 23 lighthouses were built by local artists looking for a challenge, by hobbyists with a vision and by students fulfilling a school assignment. Some lighthouses are modeled after actual lighthouses; others are wildly whimsical.
Entering the annual contest seems to be an addiction for some: 17 of this year's 23 entrants are return competitors; many of them are "regulars." Three have won the contest more than once. Rules of the "Festival of Lighthouses Contest" are kept to a minimum to allow for maximum creativity. Lighthouses must be 3 to 6 feet tall and have a working light, and may not include animal remains, such as shells. Beyond that, it's up to the creators' imaginations.
Contestants this year are from both near (Norwalk, Darien, Stamford and Bridgeport) and far (Monroe, West Haven and Shelton in Connecticut, and Cortlandt Manor, Katonah, White Plains, Yonkers, New Rochelle and Hartsdale in New York).
Besides the contest's $1,500 top award, other prizes are: $750 for second place, $375 for third; $300 for fourth; $225 for fifth; and $150 for sixth. Winners will be announced at an evening reception on Jan. 21.
The 2015 "Festival of Lighthouses Contest" is free with Maritime Aquarium general admission, which is $19.95 for adults, $17.95 for youths (13-17) & seniors (65+), and $12.95 for children ages 3-12. For more details about Maritime Aquarium exhibits, IMAX® movies and programs, call (203) 852-0700 or go online to
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Friday, December 18, 2015

A Billion Bricks 3: Galactic Travels Exhibition at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center

An amazing new LEGO® universe has opened at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center celebrating the 15th anniversary of LEGO Star Wars®. See the completely re-designed LEGO galactic landscape and enjoy an up-close view of a universe made completely out of LEGO bricks. The new design encourages visitors of all ages to inspect the details and construction methods used to create an entire galaxy from a "billion" bricks.

Five hundred mini-figs (LEGO mini-figurines), one of every Star Wars mini-fig ever produced, and authentic LEGO Star Wars spaceships, vehicles, and original set boxes are featured. Additionally, a selection of photographs of Star Wars mini-figs from Dale May, a New York based, award-winning, advertising, entertainment and editorial photographer, are on display in the Museum gallery.
The Stamford Museum Galleries are open, Monday – Saturday 9 am – 5 pm; Sundays 11 am – 5 pm. Members: Free | Non-Members: Free with gate admission. A Billion Bricks 3: Galactic Travels runs through February 7. For more information visit or call 203.977.6521.
The Stamford Museum will host a series of A Billion Bricks interactive family workshops!
Saturday, January 9: Space Race, Two sessions: 10 am – noon & 2 – 4 pm
Build and race a LEGO brick spaceship or car. Recommended for ages 6 and up.
Sunday January 10: Rebel Alliance Battle, Two sessions: 10 am – noon & 2 – 4 pm
Build and fly a LEGO X-Wing fighter or design your own spaceship. recommended for ages 6 and up.
Saturday, January 23 & Sunday, January 24:: Lights! Camera! Action!,
Two sessions: 10 am – noon & 2 – 4 pm
LEGO animation with I LUG NY facilitators. Led by Alex Kobbs, of KooberzStudios, learn and film stop-action animation with LEGO creations and mini figures. Recommended for ages 10 and up.
Members: $40 (one adult & one child), $25 for each additional adult/child | Non-Members: $55 (one adult & one child), $25 for each additional adult/child (includes Museum admission). Pre-registration and pre-payment are required for all workshops. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Space is limited. Call 203.977.6521 to register.

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Performances of the Nutcracker at the Warner Theatre by Nutmeg Ballet and at The Klein

It would not be the holiday season without the timeless joy of The Nutcracker! Join Clara on a magical journey to the Land of Snow and the Land of Sweets where nothing is impossible and little Clara’s most whimsical dreams become reality. Meet a brave Nutcracker prince, fairies, kings and queens, and little toy soldiers who face an evil Mouse Queen in this timeless holiday classic.

The Nutmeg Ballet Company will be performing this classic tale, this weekend, December 19 December 20. There is something for everyone in this charming interpretation of ETA Hoffman’s story set to the music of Tchaikovsky with choreography staged by the artistic staff of The Nutmeg Ballet. This production features The Nutmeg’s professional trainees with cameo roles performed by students from the children’s program at The Nutmeg’s Torrington School of Ballet. This is a holiday tradition sure to enthrall audiences of all ages!

Performances of The Nutcracker are Saturday, December 19 at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm and Sunday, December 20 at 2:00 pm. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Warner Box Office at 860-489-7180 or Group discounts are available.

In Fairfield County at the Klein located on 910 Fairfield Ave. in Bridgeport, the  Nutcracker is being performed by the New England Ballet Company on December 19 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m and Dec. 20 at 1 p.m. For tickets 800-424-0160x2 or visit  Tickets range form $20-$50.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Get in a holiday mood at the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury Dec. 20

The Mattatuck Museum is pleased to celebrate the holiday season with a concert featuring renowned tenor Michéal Castaldo and guest soprano Marissa Famiglietti on Sunday, December 20, 2015 at 3:00 p.m.

Michéal Castaldo, a classical crossover tenor and light Italian opera singer, songwriter and composer, is an Italian-born Canadian who currently resides in New York. Castaldo studied voice with Maestro Pisapia, a protégé of the great Italian operatic tenor, Enrico Caruso. He also studied at Oakwood Collegiate Institute in Toronto and Berklee College of Music in Boston. Opening and performing with Castaldo is Waterbury native Marissa Famiglietti. Ms. Famiglietti has been featured as a guest artist with the Concert Pops of Long Island and has been heard on tour throughout the East Coast as duet partner to renowned tenor and recording artist Michael Amante. She is a graduate of the Bachelor of Music and Master of Music programs at the esteemed Manhattan School of Music in New York City, where she was featured in numerous leading operatic roles.

A limited number of tickets will be available at the door so purchase your tickets early. Before December 18, tickets are $15 for Members, $20 for Non-Members. On or after December 18, tickets are $25 for Members and $30 for Non-Members. VIP (1st or 2nd rows) are $35 each. Cash bar. Light food and one drink are included in admission. Full payment must be received by December 18 for the discounted price. To register contact (203) 753-0381 x 130 or email 

Located in the heart of downtown Waterbury’s architectural district, the Mattatuck Museum is a vibrant destination known locally and regionally as a community-centered institution of American art and history. The Mattatuck Museum hosts numerous changing exhibitions each year as well as a permanent collection, which features 300 years of work by American artists. Explore the region’s history through interactive displays in the history exhibit and examine the intriguing Button Gallery featuring 10,000 buttons from all over the world.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Polar Express Pajama Party @ Maritime Aquarium Norwalk

Make a special holiday family memory on the weekend before Christmas with tasty treats and a giant-screen thrill ride to the North Pole during The Maritime Aquarium’s “‘Polar Express’ Pajama Parties.”

–  Share a gourmet hot chocolate and other delicious treats with the train conductor during “ ‘Polar Express’ Pajama Parties” for families on Sat., Dec. 19 and Sun., Dec. 20 at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.  Activities begin both days at 9 a.m., followed by the feature-length holiday IMAX® movie “The Polar Express” at 10 a.m. For prices, reservations or more details, go to or call (203) 852-0700, ext. 2206.

The  “‘Polar Express’ Pajama Parties” on Sat., Dec. 19 and Sun., Dec. 20 begin at 9 a.m. with a hot chocolate bar courtesy of South Norwalk’s renowned Chocopologie Cafe & Bistro. Guests can decorate their handmade artisan hot chocolate with whipped cream and a selection of exotic toppings provided by The Village Market in Wilton. Plus, choose from a delicious spread of holiday cookies by J&L Bakery in Norwalk. 

“Pajama Party” partiers also can pose for photos with the Aquarium’s train conductor and visit with Aquarium educators whose hands-on displays will explore strategies that animals use to keep warm in winter – all before the feature-length movie starts at 10 a.m.

“The Polar Express” movie expands on the 1986 Caldecott Award-winning book by Chris Van Allsburg. The story follows a young boy who doubts the existence of Santa Claus.  On Christmas Eve, a locomotive magically arrives to take him and other doubtful children to Santa's North Pole headquarters. Tom Hanks provides the voices of five characters, including the train conductor and Santa Claus.

“‘Polar Express’ Pajama Party” tickets are $17 for adults and $15 for kids 3-12 ($15 and $13 for Aquarium members). Each show is limited to 310 seats, so advance purchase is strongly recommended. Buy online at or call (203) 852-0700, ext. 2206.

Can’t make it that weekend but still want to see “The Polar Express?”  The animated film plays on the Aquarium’s six-story screen at 4 & 7:30 p.m. Fridays & Saturdays and at 4 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 20.  (Note that it will play only at 4 p.m. on Dec. 4.)  From Dec. 26-Jan. 3, “The Polar Express” will show at 4 & 7:30 p.m. daily.

Because “The Polar Express” is an hour and 40 minutes long, tickets are specially priced at: $11.50 for adults; $10.50 for youths (ages 13-17) & seniors (65+); and $9.50 for children 3-12.  Maritime Aquarium members save $1.

To include a visit to the Aquarium with “The Polar Express,” tickets are $31.45 for adults, $28.45 for youths & seniors, and $22.45 for children.

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