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In 19th century New England, the winter season was a time for gathering and socializing with family, friends, and neighbors. As the fields lay dormant in anticipation off the agricultural season, rural New Englanders used the cold season as a time for meeting friends, having conversations, and visiting with one another. Before the telephone or telegraph, visiting a friend’s home was a way to share news, gossip, and stories. Now with the invention of social media, automobiles, and blended fabrics, how do communities gather in the winter months, celebrating local culture and strengthening their sense of place?

Today in Western Massachusetts winter festivals provide a gathering space for friends, families, and neighbors to get together, visit with each other, tell stories and share news… just as our predecessors in this region did before us. Winter festivals provide the space and occasion for community members to enjoy the winter season through art collaborations, fairs, and winter-themed activities. Additionally, these festivals are a way to explore different art forms, such as ice sculpting, share skills with others, and learn about local history and cultural traditions. Celebrate winter at these annual festivities and start a new family tradition!

Think about this:

What are the tools used in sculpting ice? What are the challenges ice sculptors face that other sculptors of different media don’t?

How would families and neighbors gather in the winter before the invention of automobiles and highways? How did the inability to travel far distances impact communities and relationships?

How do winter festivals gather communities together? What types of activities do they host in order to foster connection and togetherness during the colder months?

Hilltown Families and Mass Appeal (a weekday, hour-long lifestyle program on NBC) have teamed up to offer a live monthly segment on WWLP 22News! Each month, Hilltown Families’ Founder & Executive Director, Sienna Wildfield, joins Mass Appeal hosts to talk about ways to engage in your community while supporting the interests and education of your children (and yourselves!).

This monthly segment continued with Sienna and Seth talking about explorations of New England culture in February during the season of winter festivals while engaging in community-based learning opportunities

Presenting the perfect opportunity to shake the winter blues, eight upcoming winter festivals bring community-based celebrations and educational opportunities to western Massachusetts during the coming month. From the Pioneer Valley through the Hilltowns and into the Berkshires, these winter celebrations are offering everything from sled races and bonfires to birding, ice harvesting, and live performances, these winter festivals are not to be missed – especially for families feeling stuck in the doldrums of winter.

Winter Festivals Warm Up Western MA Celebrates The coldest, bleakest stretch of winter upon us – and it’s time to celebrate! With the coming of February comes a host of community winter celebrations and festivals of all kinds, offering families a chance to enjoy time outside, try new foods, learn about cultural traditions, support local teams, and more! The town of Greenfield will be celebrating all weekend – Greenfield Winter Carnival takes… Read More

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