STOCKBRIDGE — For the last three decades, Stockbridge residents and visitors have been gathering on the town’s Main Street on the first weekend of December, re-creating Norman Rockwell’s iconic painting “Home for Christmas (Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas), 1967.”
But this year, as Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas celebrates its 31st year, Dec. 4 to 6, the festivities that in the past have earned it the title of “Best New England Christmas Town,” mostly, will be virtual.
“We decided in June to cancel and to go virtual,” said Barbara Zanetti, executive director of the Stockbridge Chamber of Commerce, during a recent phone interview. “With all the unknowns at the time, the Chamber was diligent in its decision making. First and foremost is the safety of our residents and business owners.”
Instead of gathering in person, the Chamber has decided to post two video compilations, honoring the celebrations of the past 30 years. A video of Holiday Concerts Past and another of past Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas celebrations will be available via links that will be posted at stockbridgechamber.org/visit/stockbridge-main-street-at-christmas/.
The Berkshire Botanical Garden’s Holiday Market, featuring its annual wreath sale, also will take place virtually this year, with sales taking place online beginning Dec. 3. Wreaths and other items will be available for curbside pickup through pre-arranged pickup times on Dec. 4 and 5.
The Stockbridge Library, Museum and Archives will host several events, both virtual and socially-distanced, as part of the celebration. The library will host a reading of “A Christmas Carol” by novelist and award-winning audiobook narrator Alison Larkin, 3 p.m., Dec. 6, over Zoom, as well as two “walks.” Children are invited to enjoy the “The Red Sled” story walk from Dec. 3-9, while the Winter Wonderland Walkway will be available from Dec. 4-31.
“The Chamber felt that it didn’t want to have everyone go to the Winter Wonderland Walkway all on one day, so we made it available all month long,” Zanetti said.
While the physical re-creation of the painting won’t happen this year, visitors and residents are still encouraged to head downtown to visit local boutiques, shops, restaurants and inns, all while following current state COVID-19 guidelines. Those patronizing business in the town should bring along a mask or face covering that goes over both the nose and mouth to wear indoors and out. They also should be prepared for shops to have reduced capacities and to practice social distancing of six-feet or more.
“We went out to all the business to have them put on outdoor or virtual events,” she said, noting the majority of businesses offer online shopping, through newly created websites, as well as curbside pickup.
Several other month-long events are happening alongside the Rockwell-inspired celebration, Zanetti said, all of which are considered part of the festival as well. Two light displays — NightWood at The Mount, in Lenox, and Winterlights at Naumkeag — are offering outdoor fun. Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum, decked out in holiday splendor is offering self-guided house tours, and Berkshire Theatre Group is performing “Holiday Memories” on an outdoor stage.
For a complete listing of events, visit stockbridgechamber.org/visit/stockbridge-main-street-at-christmas/