I turn into a different person during any sort of holiday season. I just love the festivities, the activities and the things that you’re able to go out and do just once or twice a year. So, in the middle of having to write four different final papers, I thought it was the perfect time to spend my entire weekend doing fun festive things by discovering all the campus and surrounding areas had to offer this season. 

I first started with the Fairfield University’s Glee club concert Friday night, who put on a very festive winter concert called “See Amid The Winter’s Cold”. I was lucky enough to snag tickets for their Friday night show on Dec. 3. 

It was an incredibly fun time. I grabbed some friends and we were able to sit and listen to some holiday music. I’m going to be honest, we had the most fun during the songs we all knew by heart. When the choir sang “Night of Silence/Silent Night,” the conductor even turned around to include the audience in the song. 

The Bensonians, the all-male acapella group, also had a stand out performance with their remixed version of “12 Days of Christmas”. It was fun, festive and had me and my friends crying with laughter in the back row. 

All in all, the show was phenomenal and if you missed it this year, then make sure to grab tickets for their performance next year!

After the show, I was sure my festive weekend was going to come to an end. But, shortly after, I received a text from an amazing fellow festive festival lover, Fairfield University librarian Lisa Thornell, who notified me that the annual Scandinavian Christmas Market was set to take place on Dec. 4. 

I rallied the troops, or just one troop (my sister), and we set off the next morning. 

Saturday started with some breakfast and lattes at Candlewood Market. But, it was during our travels towards breakfast when I saw a sign on the side of the road highlighting another Christmas festival: the Celtic Christmas Festival held by the Gaelic-American Club in downtown Fairfield. 

So, after our lattes and egg sandwiches, we headed off to the Celtic Festival first. 

Maybe it’s just because my grandmother is Irish and all the wall decor reminded me of my childhood, but it was just so warm with all the Christmas lights, decorated trees and a realistic Santa’s “ho, ho, hos” echoing around. They had about a dozen vendors selling a variety of crafts, many of which were connected to Ireland in some way. 

My sister bought me a ring made in Ireland with a “This is your Christmas gift kid, enjoy it.” We also bought some raffle tickets to support The Lenihan Dancers’ Fund, which even if we’re still waiting patiently by the telephone line to get notified of our win, it was a nice cause to support. 

We “wrapped” up our Celtic time and headed over to the Scandinavian Christmas Market hosted by the Scandinavian Club. 

As I was driving down South Pine Creek Road and towards where the GPS was directing me, we couldn’t believe the traffic. “Is this all for the market?” My sister asked, and I told her there was absolutely no way… but I immediately was proven wrong as all of the traffic and blocks of parallel parked cars was indeed for the Scandinavian Christmas Market. 

Unlike the Celtic festival, the Scandinavian festival had both an indoor and an outdoor aspect. We started with the indoor section and heard a lovely live band playing Christmas music on stage as we walked around looking at all of the beautiful handmade crafts. We then headed outside and peeked at all of the craft tables with amazing hand-blown Christmas ornaments and jewelry. There was nothing in particular that caught my attention enough for a purchase, but we did a loop around to the food tent to purchase some cardamom and almond buns, with some little gingerbread men, so I’d say it was a beyond successful stop. 

Apparently, the Braided Cardamom Bread is the most popular purchase at the festival and it goes so fast that they ask people to pre-order and just pick it up at the festival. Who knew?

With two stops out of three completed, we headed over to the Pop Shop Market. It’s an incredibly large craft fair that was held inside and around the Fairfield Theatre Company in downtown Fairfield. I was warned that it was going to be a bit pricier than our other stops of the day, but a fun place to stop and look. 

Like the Scandinavian Christmas Market, we had a nightmare parking for this one. But, after we were all secured, I was in awe of all of the lovely booths. We stopped and saw a man who was a concert photographer and would make candles with QR codes connected to albums. You’d scan the code, burn the candle with the specific scent and be drawn into an entire experience. 

We then headed inside and saw that they were serving mimosas and bloody mary’s at the bar. Which is an incredibly genius idea. Those are two things that mix best: craft fairs and alcohol. So, even though I didn’t partake, as I was the designated driver, it was a great addition to the atmosphere of the room.

My sister and I walked around a bit, looking at all of the beautiful clothing from all of the boutiques in the area, all of the small jewelry shops and random assortment goods until a polite, a “Have you had your fill, Molly?” from my sister pushed me to wrap up the trip. 

 I dropped her back off at home and then scooped up my roommates and friend for the afternoon section of my festive day. 

We headed to the Fairfield Museum for a festive card printing activity. Tickets were just $8 per person and included access to the museum itself. Which, around Christmas time with their festive train exhibit, was an absolute steal.

We met Heather Maxson, the deputy director of programs for the Fairfield Historical Society, who showed us some vintage Christmas card examples to get started on our prints. She then gave us some paper, a piece of styrofoam and sent us on our merry way to make cards. 

The tricky thing about making cards from a styrofoam printing block is that you’ve got to keep the design very simple and any writing has to be written backward. This was something I only figured out after my first attempt, but the second time around I was able to create something quite cute. 

When the styrofoam printing block was done, we went over to the ink station, coated the little block and could create as many cards, in as many different colors, as we wanted from that print. I failed on the first two attempts, but was able to take a very cute print home and Maxson gave us some envelopes for our cards. 

We said goodbye to Maxson and headed in to see the beautiful train. It looped around different buildings, and around a cute Christmas tree and little figures waving. If you looked closely at one of the sets, you could even see little Fairfield landmarks. My friends and I had so much fun pointing out the BJ’s water tower and the Fairfield Theatre company, as well as all of the local landmarks we’ve gotten to know so well in our nearly four years at Fairfield. 

We left with our cards in hand, a festive spirit streaming through our veins, Ed Sheeran and Elton John’s new Christmas tune in our heads and an overwhelming excitement for the season to come!

 

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