31 Community Highlights: Victorian Crafts to Holiday Traditions. Winter Yule to The Nutcracker.

9 Chanukah events are featured for the next week in our post, Chanukah Highlights in Western MA. Families of all backgrounds are welcome and many events can serve as a celebration for Chanukah or a family exploration of Jewish history and traditions.

Quarry Hikes to Animal Adaptations. Victorian Crafts to Holiday Traditions. Winter Yule to The Nutcracker… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play!  And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week. Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!


On Saturday morning families can preregister for one of two hikes. The first hike takes place at Peaked Mountain in Monson where participants can learn to search for signs of animals who are still around for the winter. The Trustees of Reservations – and local naturalist Kevin Kopchynski – will guide the exploratory hike.

Also on Saturday morning, Connecticut River Valley Sanctuaries will sponsor a hike at the historic Becket Quarry. Families can look for moose tracks and industrial archaeology at the 300-acre Historic Becket Quarry and Forest Preserve. Located high atop the Berkshire Highlands and preserved by the Becket Land Trust, this former granite quarry offers a feast of fauna, glacial erratics and rich helpings of cultural history. This site features artifacts of the former Hudson-Chester Company that was in operation for almost a century until the 1960s and is often called a “ghost quarry” for its spooky, abandoned appearance. Best for ages 10yo and older.


Historic Deerfield continues their celebration of the holidays with traditional decorations, open hearth cooking demonstrations, silhouette making (a historic craft), and craft making for visitors all weekend.

In the afternoon on Saturday, the Wistariahurst Museum invites families to make Victorian crafts at their Holiday Crafts for the Family event in Holyoke. Learn how to make Christmas crackers, beautiful beaded ornaments, lanterns and more.

In the evening, families can celebrate the holiday season the old-fashioned way at Old Sturbridge Village while learning about the history of many holiday traditions. The historic village’s Christmas by Candlelight series offers families a chance to enjoy non-commercial, relaxed holiday festivities and activities and takes place Fri-Sun through Dec. 23.

Other opportunities to explore local history this weekend is at the Lenox Historical Society‘s annual Holiday Open House, a tour and lecture at the Shaw-Hudson House in Plainfield, and a tour of Arrowhead, home of Herman Melville, in Pittsfield.


This week there are a number of holiday theater and dance performances happening throughout Western MA to get your family into the holiday spirit! On Saturday evening in Northampton, the Northampton High School presents their Fall One-Act Festival and Smith College students present Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and on Sunday, Ventfort Hall in Lenox hosts a Christmas handchime concert.

On both Saturday and Sunday, Mill City Productions in North Adams presents, “Fireside Yuletide,” a theatrical reading of classic family holiday tales, and the Shea Theater in Turners Falls hosts “Welcome Yule,” a performance of stories, songs, and dance to drive away the dark of winter.

There are a couple of ballet productions of The Nutcracker all weekend too. The Pioneer Valley Ballet presents “The Nutcracker” at the Academy of Music in Northampton, and the Albany Berkshire Ballet present “The Nutcracker” at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield.

Later in the week on Wednesday & Thursday, Dec. 12 & 13, the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Academy presents an annual Holiday Jubilee Winter Showcase, also at the Academy of Music in Northampton.

Looking for a Parents’ Night Out? Shakespeare and Company presents David Sedaris’ Santaland Diaries at the Bernstein Theater in Lenox, every Friday-Sunday through Dec. 30.


The 7th annual holiday celebration, “A Special Day in Northfield,” happens all day on Saturday. This non-commercial community holiday celebration offers families an opportunity to explore, be creative, and enjoy what Northfield has to offer! Local artists and antiques stores will be open, too, so if you want to do any holiday shopping, you can shop locally and/or handmade. Another holiday stroll that happens on Saturday is the 4th Annual Dickens Days Village Stroll happening all day in downtown Westfield.

Later in the day on Saturday, explore downtown Great Barrington during their Holiday Stroll – the town is decorated for the holidays, the air is cool and crisp, and the town is alive with holiday spirit. Visit locally owned shops to get a jump start on shopping locally (and potentially handmade!) for the holidays.

On Thursday evening, Dec. 13th, downtown Turners Falls comes alive for the holidays for, “It’s a Wonderful Night!” The town will be filled with festive storefront displays, roving musicians, caroling, a tree lighting, and a free screening of, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” at the Shea Theater at 8pm. Some shops will have extended hours for the evening, in order to encourage visitors to shop locally for the holidays.


The annual Lenox Caroling Festival takes place this weekend – and competition will take place on Saturday at numerous locations throughout the town. Visit one – or all! – of the locations to hear a variety of beautifully performed holiday music.

On Sunday afternoon in Northampton, the Whole Children Chorus and the Florence Community Band perform Songs of the Season at Northampton High School, and in Pittsfield, Berkshire Lyric presents, “Deck the Halls,” at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, featuring the Blafield Children’s Chorus, the Monument Mountain High School Chorus, the Spartones, and Guademaus.

The Northampton Community Music Center brings together choral groups from all over the Pioneer Valley for an evening Holiday Choral Festival for all ages on Monday, Dec. 10 at the Helen Hills Hills Chapel in Northampton.


On Monday evening, the Northampton Parents Center is hosting a free workshop titled, “Talking To Your Kids About Sex: A Workshop for Parents of Young Children,” at Bridge Street School in Northampton.

The Collaborative for Educational Services host a free Active Child workshop on Tuesday evening at the South Hadley Family Center for parents to get advice and learn strategies for parenting a spirited child.


Archaeologists must often apply a skill set similar to those used by forensics experts – they look at remnants of lives (caves, basements, stone walls, etc.) and use tiny clues in order to deduce the use of the place, item, etc. On Monday evening, Dec. 10th, older students and their parents can learn how archaeologists have used these skills to determine information about the history of the earliest European settlers in New England at Greenfield High School, where Central Connecticut State professor Ken Feder presents, “Monk’s Caves, Sacrificial Altars, and Wandering Celts.”


Whole Foods Market in Hadley is hosting a cooking class for 8-12yo kids on Tuesday evening, Dec. 11. Participants will make whole-grain cookies and bread while learning about making healthy choices for eating and developing healthy eating habits.


Visit Art Party Studio in Easthampton on Wednesday, Dec. 12th for an evening of wintry holiday crafts. There will be all sorts of special holiday materials to use – experiment with unique media (like glittery twigs, bells, and more!), and create a holiday masterpiece.


How do New England animals survive the winter? They all have unique adaptations that allow them to deal with the cold temperatures and changing food landscape. Learn about these adaptations and the creatures that you may see in the winter at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls on Friday morning, Dec. 14th.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events. All of our listed events are “suggested.” Please take a moment to confirm that these events are happening as scheduled, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before heading out.


[Photo credit: (ccl) Jordan Chark]

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