By Henry Higgins
To many, winter means that the party is over and it is time to hunker down for a few months before we come back out and look if we can see our shadows. But it doesn't have to be that way! Winter can be just as, if not more fun than the rest of the seasons especially during the holidays. In my opinion, making the most out of the cold puts winter in the running for the best season. When else can you have fun, and feel like you are living in "The Polar Express." Winter possesses a magic that the other seasons fall short of. In Western Massachusetts, our proximity to the mountains and our culture makes it a great place to be. Here is a list of a few things for you and your family to do this season.
In Northampton, on Saturday December 1st we enjoy the Holiday Stroll as the city shuts down its main corridor to allow for citizens and vendors to gather on Main street and explore by foot. This is a great event to walk around and experience the holiday charm and take in the sights and sounds with your neighbors, friends and family. Local vendors and restaurants have tables set up so you can shop and eat your way around town! It's a great way to support our local businesses.
Friday, December 6th, the Amherst community comes together for the Lighting of the Merry Maple tree on the Amherst Town Common. The event is hosted by the Amherst Business Improvement District and Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce and features the Amherst Regional Middle School Chorus singing on the town hall steps, carriage rides from Muddy Brook Farm and ends with Santa arriving with the UMass Marching Band. Show up at 3 for apple cider and treats and stay until 8 culminating in the lighting of the Maple. Check out this video.
For those of you who are looking to get some holiday shopping done, check out the first annual red ticket month in downtown Amherst with the Amherst BID and Amherst Chamber of Commerce. For every $25 spent at participating businesses in Amherst, they will give you a red ticket and on December 21st, the red tickets will go into a pool and be drawn for prizes. There will be five drawn total, with the first 4 being a prize of $250, while the last one will be a prize of $1000. Additionally, on December 7th, participating businesses will be a part of the 20% off day. December 7th also features a Santa and Elf Stroll beginning at 12PM!
Also in Northampton, the Chabad-Lubavitch features the lighting of the Grand Menorah on Sunday December 2nd at 4PM. This year, Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz will be in attendance. According the the Chabad-Lubavitch, the event features "Sufganiyot, hot cocoa, hot latkes, live music and singing w/ Brian Bender, dancing, friends and — of course — the annual lighting of the Giant Menorah!". The menorah that will be lit will stand 10 feet tall and is one of 10,000 public Menorahs worldwide that stand to signify a universal message of religious freedom.
If you are looking for local gifts for your family, stop into the Northampton Winter Craft fair from December 7th-8th at Northampton High School. The event benefits Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County. The craft fair features 90 local artisans, live music, a children's book sale, and food from Hillside Organic Pizza. The price of admission to this event is $5 for adults and free for children. It's a fun way to support local artisans while helping a wonderful cause.
Though the frigid air may make you want to stay inside, remember that there are many great events taking place here in Western Massachusetts that you do not want to miss. Bundle up and enjoy - Happy Holidays everyone!