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Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Holidays Lights at Lake Compounce - Bristol, CT

We have been going all out with holiday events this season. From a weekend in the Berkshires to light displays and cookie swaps to holiday dinners, it has been a fun Christmas season. We were looking to plan a fun family holiday event for my mother-in-law's 70th birthday and ended up at Lake Compounce on a Sunday night for their Holiday Lights event. 

Lake Compounce is the oldest, continuously-operating amusement park in the country, opening 176 years ago in 1846. The park is famous for its wooden roller coaster, water park, and New England charm. The park operates as your standard amusement park in the spring, summer, and fall before switching gears to Phantom Fall fest for a month in the fall and Holiday Lights in December. 

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Winter Lights at Naumkeag in the Berkshires (Stockbridge, MA)


Winter Lights at Naumkeag

The month of December is when tiny towns across New England turn into a Hallmark movie. The coffee shops and storefronts are decorated with lights and garlands. Carolers sing through the firelit dining room of historic restaurants. Tree lightings and winter festivals bring in the crowds while light parades close down wreath-lined Main Streets. Holiday events take over our weekend calendars and we all bundle up to sip cocoa and enjoy the season.

Stockbridge, a small town home to Norman Rockwell in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts, does all of this with a heightened level of charm. Not only do they turn their town into a snowglobe backdrop, but they offer one of the best light shows in the country. Winterlights at Naumkeag offer a magical outdoor holiday experience at the famous estate which is a New England holiday event that cannot be missed. 

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Providence Water Fire

Someone mentioned recently how much Adam and I have done relative to the timeline of our togetherness. I guess you can look at the timeline and say we were on a fast track in our mid to late 30s. In just a few short months (February of 2023), Adam and I will have been together for four years. In those four years we sold two houses, bought one together, renovated that house, got engaged and married, had our son, and will have had our daughter. It's a lot of life events in a relatively short timeframe but the truth of the matter is, we felt no need to linger. The beauty of meeting later in life is that we had truly lived full, rich lives before meeting each other. While there is a beauty is growing together (and we'll do that too), there is a fullness in showing up as that best version of yourself. We had established careers, developed goals, and knew what we wanted and needed going forward. We both did our fair share of dating, both short term and long term relationships, and felt ready to reach for those goals with no need to meet imaginary timelines.

This phase of life is awfully quiet right now, the calm before the storm if you will. Travel has been on a standstill as we manage a rambunctious almost 2 year old and finish up a few big house projects before the arrival of our daughter. Between cleaning up the remnants of tree work to renovating and creating a laundry room and master bathroom, it's been busy. We've relied on evening getaways and adventures close to home to get us out of the house and together without power tools in our hands. 

Before I met Adam, I went on a few dates with a sweet guy we'll call "The Dentist". While things didn't work with the Dentist, I had to hand it to him for planning some of the most adventurous and sweet dates. We went apple picking and through corn mazes, brunch and fall walks through New York City, wandered and hiked around the northwest corner of Connecticut, and down to Providence, Rhode Island for their water fire event. I had heard of water fire but had never been myself and it turned out to be a lovely way to spend a Saturday evening in the slower New England month of November. 

About Waterfire
It's a pretty simple event - a few streets in downtown Providence along the three rivers are shut down and turn into an open street fair of sorts. It is free and open to all but donations from visitors help to sponsor the event. It's technically an award-winning sculpture by Barnaby Evans where over eighty bonfires are lit in the river. Gondolas take visitors through the scene by boat and volunteers motor up and down the river, feeding the fires and keeping the flames lit. The fires are paired with themed music from around the world and street performers and other light displays line the streets. If you want to make an evening of it, grab dinner downtown and bundle up before heading back out. Grab a hot chocolate and walk the streets, enjoying the scene, music, and vendors. Sit for a bit along the banks before finding dessert and wrapping up the evening. If you want to ride the gondolas or have a specific restaurant in mind, I recommend making reservations in advance. 

Need to Know 
This was my second time visiting, Adam's first, and it was the perfect little date night away before the chaos of the holidays. I've only visited the event in the fall but the fires are lit from through December. Check the schedule when planning your event as the event is held on certain nights in the fall, and some nights are partial vs full lightings along the rivers. A full lighting includes all the braziers in the installation (85), a partial lighting is usually a single or two-section(s) of the river (approximately 1 city block). Programming along the river inclues ood vendors, an arts/crafts festival, and musical or theatrical performances. 

The lightings start at sunset which is obviously much later in the summer, and earlier in the fall/winter months. While I think this would be a fun event with kids, it does get very busy so navigating crowds with little ones could be tricky. Some people do bring their dogs to walk around the city but again, it's a pretty busy event and I think dogs are best left at home. While the event is free, parking in the city can be a bit pricey so plan on budgeting for a donation if you can, dinner, parking, and cocoa/dessert. 

Event Map 

On-street metered parking is your most cost effective parking option but will definitely be the hardest. There are parking garages throughout the city that are pricey but convenient. The Rhode Island State House offers short-term parking at One Capitol Hill and the Providence Place Mall also offers short-term parking in their garage.

Last Lighting of 2022
The last lighting of the year is coming up, three nights Thursday through Saturday December 1-3. It will be a partial lighting from 5:30 to 9:00, coinciding with the City of Providence's Three Nights of Light celebration. If you are looking for something festive and fun this holiday season, the last lighting of the year is a great way to kick off the holiday season.