Bristol’s Christmas Festival is Back and More Beautiful Than Ever

This year's theme is an al fresco European-style holiday market.
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Jamie Coelho.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas again. Bristol is staging an intimate European-style holiday market as part of its annual Christmas Festival. The town’s Grand Illumination takes place Dec. 4 from 5:30 to 7 p.m., including the lighting up of the downtown and tree. The following weekend, on Dec. 11 and 12, visitors can spend Festival Weekend browsing the holiday market that includes six handmade huts in front of the Burnside Building at 400 Hope Street. Vendors will sell everything from gingerbread cookies and specialty foods to hot chocolate and grog (for the adults). The market continues next door at St. Michael’s Parish, where there will be more holiday-themed gifts made by local craftspeople. Visitors can watch live wood-carving and ice-sculpting demonstrations, enjoy performances by Irish dancers, carolers and a brass quartet, and purchase treats from Sarcastic Sweets. Inside the Burnside Building, there will be crafts projects available for kids as well as visits with Santa. “The town will be lit up and shops will be encouraged to stay open on that Saturday and Sunday,” says Michael J. Rielly, chairman of the Bristol Christmas Festival committee. “There will be lots of music and singing. I am hoping this becomes a tradition and we can continue to do this every year.” Dec. 11, 10 a.m.–8 p.m.; Dec. 12, noon–6 p.m. 400 Hope St., Bristol, christmasbristolri.com