Winter 2006

Litchfield, CT --
Contact: Janet L. Serra
Ph: 800-663-1273
Email: lhcvbnwct@aol.com
For Immediate Release

Connecticut's little town of Bethlehem, a quaint, quiet village in the Litchfield Hills, 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 gala Christmas Town Festival. The 26th Annual Festival takes place this year on the Village Green on Friday night, December 1st and Saturday, December 2nd. The buildings and churches surrounding the green will be decorated and will be brimming with holiday crafters, music, and delicious food.

The idea of mailing cards from Bethlehem dates to 1938, when a local Postmaster, the late Earl Johnson, realized that people were coming to town just to mail their cards and designed a "cachet," a special rubber stamp with a tree and lettering that said "From the Little Town of Bethlehem, Christmas Greetings." Each year since, new cachets are added. More than 60 are now available and thousands of cards are mailed annually from this small town post office. Post office hours from November 25 to December 30 are Monday to Thursday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

FESTIVAL FUN

Christmas Town Festival events begin Friday night with the tree lighting ceremony on the green and the arrival of Santa. A much-loved tradition at the annual festival is the candle light procession and a re-enactment of Mary and Joseph looking for Shelter. Caroling, bell choirs, chamber singers, bands and choral ensembles provide music, while some 75 exhibitors in seven buildings on the Village Green offer a host of gift ideas, many of them one-of-a-kind hand-crafted items. Children's toys, dolls, doll houses, trains, original ornaments, hand-dipped candles, hand-blown and stained glass, hand-knitted scarves and mittens, ceramics, needlework, paintings, baskets and jewelry are among the offerings, along with herb wreaths, gingerbread houses and homemade candies and fudge. Collectors can garner the annual pewter Christmas Town ornament.

Children can have their pictures taken with Santa and enjoy holiday story telling at the town library. Everyone can join in for hayrides and the ornament making workshops held at the town's historic Bellamy-Ferriday House and Garden, where Christmas traditions past and present will be on display.

The Bethlehem Christmas Town festival takes place on Friday night from 5 to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free parking is available at the Bethlehem Fairgrounds on Route 61, where free shuttle buses wait to take visitors to the Village Green. For further information, phone 203-266-5557.

For more information about Christmas activities in the Litchfield Hills and a free copy of UNWIND, a 112-page color guide to lodging and dining and other regional attractions in the Litchfield Hills of Northwest Connecticut, contact Northwest CT Convention and Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield CT 06759-0968, 800-663-1273, or check the Internet at www.litchfieldhills.com.