Strolling by Candlelite
Strawbery Banke 27th annual Holiday Stroll
Just imagine that holiday traditions are great stitches, binding years of the past together like pleats in the fabric of time. Well, nowhere in New Hampshire is the holiday fabric richer or more colorful than Strawbery Banke, where events of 350 years are gathered and displayed. And the patterns of history literally glow each December at the Banke, when hundreds of candle luminaria light its paths for the annual Candlelight Stroll.
Costumed role players demonstrate the traditions of times past. Carriage rides, traditional hearth-cooking demonstrations, winter crafts, storytellers and live musical performances across the 10-acre site stimulate the senses. Roasted chestnuts, hot cider and a warming bonfire offer respite from the chilly air.
Houses are adorned in period-appropriate holiday finery of live greens and dried flowers, and the scents and sounds of the season abound. Visitors can browse 18th-century sweets in the 1795 Shapley store — then cross the hall to Drisco House, where young ladies in curlers admire gifts that were all the rage in the 1950s. Mrs. Shapiro makes Hanukkah goodies in her 1919 kitchen to share with her family and visitors. At the Governor Goodwin Mansion, Sarah Parker Rice Goodwin welcomes visitors to her capacious 19th-century home for an elaborate Victorian Christmas. At the WWII-era Abbott Store, wartime festivities are modest; period candy will be for sale so visitors can put some history in their stockings.
Sundays are Family Days at Candlelight Stroll. Children can participate in such special activities as a site-wide treasure hunt for historical items with a prize at the end. Miniature garden trains will delight young and old. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand and available for photos. Staff cooper Ron Raiselis will demonstrate his craft, and children can take up their own holiday crafts under the skillful direction of the education staff. The potters at Strawbery Banke will also be demonstrating throughout the event, and will offer for sale one-of-a-kind mugs, bowls, pitchers and plates.
The annual gingerbread house contest will showcase the architectural confections of individuals and groups. Music of all kinds — from holiday classics and caroling to Celtic and bluegrass — will heighten the holiday mood. Visitors can stroll the candlelit museum grounds on foot or travel in style in a horse-drawn carriage.
The newly renovated Thomas Bailey Aldrich House will be adorned in the spirit of Colonial Revival and open for viewing of its magnificent new rooms. In Stoodleys Tavern, the staff and volunteers will demonstrate how to make period decorations. The Revolutionary-era Pitt Tavern will be transformed into a Colonial café, where savory hot soups and fresh baked goods will be available for sale.
So this winter — when the days seem short, the world seems dim and the sun is in short supply — all you really need is a little historical candlelight to brighten your world. And that’s advice you can take to the Banke. NH