The enchanting wonder of the holidays is once again coming to Fairhaven with the return of Winterfest. The much-loved annual Christmas festival ushers in the season of merry and bright, transforming downtown historical Fairhaven into a holiday dreamscape. Step through time and experience the kind of warmth, delight, and twinkle you can only find in a winter fairytale. 

The Fairhaven Association will present Winterfest as November wanes and December begins in earnest. Enjoy a brimming schedule of holiday happenings from November 26 to December 18, inspired from the minds of the Winterfest Committee, led by Scott Ward, executive director of the Fairhaven Association. Year after year, Winterfest continues to establish its roots at the heart of Fairhaven’s holiday celebrations.

The holiday market will be in full swing at the Village Green during Winterfest. Photo credit: Royal Reinsch

This winter tale begins the weekend after Thanksgiving with the Grand Tree Lighting Ceremony and presentation of Father Christmas. Carriage rides will be available to enjoy, and Father Christmas will be in attendance every Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. during the month-long festival. The holiday market at the Village Green will also be open for visitor’s perusal.

“The ultimate goal is that from Thanksgiving to December, no matter what day you come into Fairhaven, something festive is happening,” says Ward. Winterfest is sure to be an abundance of holiday splendor, spreading warmth and cheer throughout every festive activity planned.

New this year will be two nights of holiday-themed movies screened at the Firehouse Arts and Events Center. “One of the movies will be family centered,” says Ward, “The other one will be a little more nostalgic and geared toward adults.” Movie magic has always had a special place at the heart of the holidays, making these screenings a go-to plan for a night out.

The Lighted Bike Parade rolls through Fairhaven. Photo credit: Scott Ward

Community and creativity go together like marshmallows and hot chocolate at Winterfest. Storefronts will be holly, jolly, and decorated for the annual Window Display contest—the highly anticipated Tales of the Season returns, as well. “Authors submit 500-word stories, and then a jury selects the top ten,” Ward says. “Those stories are presented by the authors themselves or actors. I just love that event because it feels so intimate and special.”

For those who prefer something a splash more naughty than nice, Winterfest cocktail kits will once again be available for purchase from local restaurants and bars. “Last year was the first year we did the holiday themed cocktail kits,” says Ward, “We had the Fairhaven restaurants and bars each design a holiday themed cocktail to sell.” The kits were a great success and Ward anticipates the same for this year.

Trees all around Fairhaven will twinkle with a candescent Christmas glow, illuminating the town in a whimsical aura. The Firelight Stroll will imbue the same romanticism as last year and once again be an experience worth trying.

The Firelight Stroll offers an intimate and peaceful setting for wanderers. Photo credit: Scott Ward

“The Stroll is so magical,” Ward says. “Having that path lit through old Fairhaven—it’s so beautiful and peaceful and feels so special.” The lights will be taken on the go with the Lighted Bike Parade, an emblazoned journey that takes place in partnership with Downtown Bellingham Partnership and several other groups.   

At the core of the holiday season is a giving spirit and in this time of recovery, the gift of the holidays presents a renewed hope for the village of Fairhaven amid a time of understanding and support for small businesses. Winterfest is a reprieve to the village after a time of trying to keep local businesses thriving and the magic that is Fairhaven, alive.

“The hope is that folks will spend time in the village, do some holiday shopping, eat at the restaurants, drink at one of the bars, and have a full village experience,” says Ward. “But really, it’s about supporting the businesses in the village. For the past year and a half, that has been the challenge. It has been an interesting journey in being creative with how we are managing and planning events that still honor safety guidelines. Fortunately, with Winterfest, most of the events happen outside.”

Father Christmas waves to visitors on the village green. Photo credit: Royal Reinsch

Winterfest continues to be a truly unique way for Fairhaven to celebrate the holiday season and welcome visitors into the village. “We’re so fortunate to have the historic character at the core of who and what we are as a village,” Ward says. “To then add the holiday lights, the sound of the carriage rides, all of the festival elements…it’s a special kind of experience that you can’t have many other places.”

Visit a fairytale come to life this holiday season and return to a simpler time where you can be free to eat, drink, and be merry.

Check for updates on events and more details at Fairhaven Winterfest – Enjoy Fairhaven.

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