Christmas, Connecticut, Festivals, Journal

41st Annual 2022 Christmas Town Festival in Bethlehem, Connecticut

Watch the full video on YouTube | Bethlehem’s 41st Annual Christmas Town Festival.

While attending the Garlic Festival earlier this fall, I received a flyer for the 41st Annual Christmas Town Festival in Bethlehem, Connecticut. I’ve never had the chance to attend so I immediately marked it down on my calendar. The flyer stated that it would be for two days. Friday, December 2nd & Saturday December 3rd.

During the days leading up to the festival, I grew more and more excited to attend. I was curious to see what previous festivals were like, but I couldn’t find much information online. During my mini research, I found out that this festival originally started in 1981 as a result of needing to raise money to rebuild Memorial Hall which at the time had burned down. To this day, this festival is still used as a way to raise funds that help with the maintenance of Memorial Hall, which is the town’s community center.

The festival started at 5pm but due to rush hour traffic I left an extra 30 minutes earlier than needed. I don’t trust evening traffic, especially on a Friday. I got there at approximately 5:02pm. Parking was at the Bethlehem Fairgrounds and from there we waited in line and took shuttles (school busses) to the actual event which was on Main Street.

The wait wasn’t long at all, especially because there were multiple shuttle busses. I also underestimated how cold it would be. I’m glad I thought to wear my scarf and gloves, but my ankles suffered. Instead of wearing my warm and cozy Uggs, I wore my running sneakers in anticipation that I’d be doing a lot of walking. About 20 minutes in, I realized it was totally unnecessary.

The ride from the fairgrounds to the festival couldn’t have been more than 5 minutes. I got there with much time to spare as the Christmas Tree lighting wasn’t until 6pm. I immediately made my way over to the Gazebo on the Green and watched the performances of Gus’ Gang. Fife and Drum Band & Region 14 Band and Singers.

The Opening Ceremony began at 6pm sharp and had Irene O’Connor from WFSB Ch.3 News as the honorary emcee. We were given a little background on the festival & the tree before joining together and singing “O Little Town of Bethlehem”.

I learned that the tree is 85 feet tall and the star had been blown off earlier this year in March due to high winds. It was then replaced with a 6ft star from a grant provided by Thomaston Savings Bank. It was nice to learn how everyone could come together in the spirit of Christmas to keep the festivities going.

After the ceremony, I walked across and looked at the Little Town Llamas. Then walked along Main Street to look at the vendors and eventually went inside Memorial Hall. There was a good variety of food options. I saw a seafood truck, a burger stand, kettle popcorn stand, and even a soup & hot cocoa stand. Unfortunately, I wasn’t that hungry and just bought a corndog.

Of course, I made a few stops for selfies. I’m still trying to learn the proper settings for nighttime photos on my camera. These will have to do for the time being.

It was announced that there would be a Fire Truck Christmas light procession around 7pm which was moved up a half hour sooner than last year since quite a few people left early due to the cold weather.

Honestly, by this point, my ankles felt like two ice blocks. It’s only because I’ve never seen a “fire truck parade” why I decided to stick around. And I am glad I did.

The parade started a little after 7pm and was a fascinating thing to see. All of the vehicles were covered in bright, festive Christmas lights and played music while slowly making way down Main Street. If you didn’t feel the Christmas spirit before, you were definitely feeling it now.

After the parade, I went to the bus stop and waited for the shuttle to take me back to the fairgrounds. It was a bit of a wait. In the meantime, I was able to watch the procession for a second time while they circled back and made their way down Main Street.

I’d definitely attend this Christmas festival again.

Watch the full video on YouTube | Bethlehem’s 41st Annual Christmas Town Festival.


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