Bellefonte , Pennsylvania 16823
Every December, despite the whole 'most wonderful time of the year' thing, moms and dads like me are reminded of our own mortal essence in the rawest and cruelest of ways.
Because, come winter, every Saturday and Sunday turns into that most dreaded time when...ahem... the kids are bored out of their skin!
Even the most prolific planner can't ever seem to have enough activities on tap to avoid long hours on end stuck in the house listening to the wild thumps of restless children fighting each other for the sake of something to do. Fact is, there aren't always things to do. Unless spending $200 on movie tickets and popcorn is always an option, us Centre County parents often find ourselves wishing there was something...anything...we could take the kids to do.
Which is exactly why you absolutely do not want to miss Bellefonte Victorian Christmas this year. Falling on December 7th, 8th, and 9th, this holiday tradition has become more and more family-friendly through the years, to the point where nowadays moms and dads cry 'Hallelujah!' in the days leading up to it. It has become a bona fide tradition for a lot of families around here. And even quite a few who now come from far away to continue to be a part of it all.
"For many families, Bellefonte Victorian Christmas has been a tradition for 37 years," explains Sally Houser, Bellefonte Victorian Christmas co-chairwoman. "I know I have listened to many of the towns' folks talk about things that they remember from Victorian Christmas that have faded away for one reason or anther. Things such as the glass blower, the family that made and sold rock candy, carolers on the street, just to name a few. How when the event first started everyone dressed in period dress event the shop keepers and the restaurants."
Certain eras come and go, and yet the Victorian Christmas overall spirit remains high and strong. And this year is looking to be perhaps the best year in a long time for activities and events that the whole family can get in on.
There is, it turns out, an entirely different and separate Victorian Christmas Experience to be had for parents who bring the family along, one loaded with the sorts of things that help forster a lot of memories for years to come. And perhaps most importantly for most moms and dads? All of these activities, when you combine them into a big day out, they almost guarantee that most kids 9 and under will definitely be needing a nice long nap later on that day! So nuzzle up that added little holiday bonus, people!
Okay then. What's on tap for kids this year? Let's break it down.
Here Comes Santa Claus! (Courthouse Square)
First off, let's just start out with the big guy, shall we?
Of course, I'm not talking about Dad! I'm talking about Santa Claus!....or, Saint Nick, as they might have called him back in 1837. Santa will be marking his big arrival on Saturday, the 8th at 11:45am right on the diamond in front of the County Courthouse. That is, of course, where his beloved Santa Shack is located, a familiar sight to any kid who's been there before, and a welcome one even if they haven't. Every single boy and girl is invited to visit with Santa in that Magic Shack, to sit on his lap and whisper to him (much to his surprise!) that they want a bag of gold this year...hold the Legos! Haha.
He'll be holding court both Saturday and Sunday from noon until 4pm, so make sure the kids get up there to pay their respects and unleash their Christmas lists on him.
Breakfast with Santa! (Faith United Methodist Church, 512 Hughes Street)
Bright and early Saturday morning is typically a time that most kids are raring to go and most parents are wishing upon every star in the 6am sky that the kids would go back to sleep. But part of becoming a mom or a dad is coming to terms with the stark realization that they are not going back to bed. Kids don't go BACK to bed in the morning. They wake up...they are awake for a long time.
So why not just plan on taking the entire crew down to Faith United Methodist Church at 512 Hughes Street for their super cool Breakfast with Santa? Saturday, December 8th from 8:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m., the whole family can start the day off right with a delicious home-cooked style full breakfast prepared and served right there while you wait for 'YOU KNOW WHO!' There's also free crafts and activities for your little elves to enjoy.
Breakfast: $6 per adults $3 per child. Tickets at the Door.
Holiday Tunes! (Bellefonte Elementary School Auditorium, 100 West Linn Street)
Among the many concerts happening during Victorian Christmas, the Dan & Galla Holiday Show seems like the one kids would really love the best. According to the Victorian Christmas website, this duo's show "...captures the sense of wonder and joy of the holidays, from ‘Merry Olde England’, to the classic carols of the season with a few novelty tunes thrown in for good measure."
And because this show happens from 1-2:30pm in the Bellefonte Elementary gym, it's the perfect place to get the after-lunch kid crew in out of the fresh air, let them work off some steam with a sing-a-long or three.
Tea Time! (the Little House, 115 W Howard street behind the Centre County Historical Museum)
Maybe the most unique experience being offered for kids and parents alike this weekend will be the Victorian Teas for Children happening in the Little House out behind the Centre County Historical Museum. These have become a tradition during Victorian Christmas, a one-of-a-kind opportunity for parents and their kids to soak in the atmosphere and etiquette of a classic English tea with all of the traditions that come along with it.
Children ages 5-10 years are welcome for tea and cookies, but you need to make reservations in advance. $10.00 per child and $12.00 at the door. Children are also invited to bring their favorite stuffed “Cuddle” with them. Because 'Cuddles' like teat, too, you know. Saturday, December 8th. 1pm & 3pm. Sunday, December 9th, 2 pm.
For reservations contact Francy Shreve 814-278-5803.
Special Santa Speeder Train Rides! (Bellefonte Train Station, Talleyrand Park)
Boy, does old Santa Claus have his hands full this weekend, huh?! On Friday, the 7th, from 5-9pm, he'll be down at the station in Talleyrand Park taking part in the Bellefonte Historical Railroad Society's excellent speeder train rides! This is something that practically every kid will want to be able to try. The speeder train is a small motorized vehicle used on railroads for maintenance and transport. They speed along the tracks for short fun rides that are simply unforgettable. This is a very rare opportunity for you and the kids to have a thrill most people never get the chance to have, so follow in Santa's thrill-seeking footsteps and come on down.
Rides a just $1 each. That is a steal!
Make Stuff! (Centre County Library, 200 N Allegheny St)
Something that I think is absolutely key to having any kind of success with outings that involve the kids is that you simply MUST have some hand-ons participation creativity at some point. Otherwise most children begin to get restless as mere observers. Think about it: we want fun experiences to stimulate our kids' imaginations, right? But then if we expect them to just sit still and watch other people perform or create, that doesn't seem right, now does it? Heck no.
Luckily, Victorian Christmas is not that kind of show. Head over to Centre County Library, 200 N Allegheny St, on Saturday and Sunday from 9am-4pm, to find an Ornament Craft Station . This will be the place to be for activities where kids can get their hands a little dirty while creating their very own holiday decorations!
Festival of Trees! (The Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology, 540 North Harrison Road, Pleasant Gap)
If you've never been to this event before, then you are in for a serious holiday treat. Kids love it too. Imagine a room literally bursting at the seams with what seems like a thousand decorated Christmas trees. Now imagine you're a toddler again. Or you're 7. Or 12. It really doesn't matter their age, pretty much every single kid or adult who walks into this enchanted forest of joy feels giddy right away. So much work goes into this event; you'll recognize that immediately. And the trees themselves? Well, they are the end result of the generosity of many.
"The tree are sponsored and decorated by local Centre County Businesses , Civic, and Non-profit organizations," says Sally Houser. Led by Festival of the Trees chairperson, Theresa Brickley, preparation for the fest takes place months before the actual event."
Just go. Seriously. Your kids will love it so much they won't want to leave when you do, trust me. So be ready for that.
Friday, December 7th, 4pm-7pm Saturday, December 8th, 9am-6pm Sunday, December 9th, 12pm-4pm.
Adults $2; children $1
A free shuttle for Festival of Trees available at Bellefonte High School and on the Diamond on Saturday, December 8th. 9am to 6 pm.
Breakfast!!!!! (Bellefonte Knights of Columbus Hall, 315 Stony Batter)
Need to get everyone up and out of the house on Sunday? I know that feeling very well.
Well, you are in luck because the Bellefonte Knights of Columbus are hosting an “All You Can Eat Breakfast” to benefit Toys for Tots on Sunday, December 9th. Breakfast will be served from 8:30 until noon at the Bellefonte Knights of Columbus Hall, 315 Stony Batter. And check this out: anyone who brings a new unwrapped toy can eat for FREE. That's right...FREE!!!! Otherwise all proceeds will be donated to the Toys For Tots Program. Adults: $8.00, children 12- under: $4.00. Little diners under the age of seven years may eat for free. That's a wonderful deal, huh? So bring a toy or two, okay? Make someone's holiday a little brighter. Buffet Includes: Fresh Waffles, Eggs to Order, Blueberry or Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Bacon, Home fries, Sausage, and French Toast.
Gather up your family and friends and come out to enjoy a great breakfast while supporting Toys for Tots!!!
Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides! (Weather permitting, Carriage Rides depart from the Brockerhoff on Allegheny Street.)
Of course, nothing seems to say 'Bellefonte Victorian Christmas' quite like a horse-drawn carriage ride around the festive downtown as you pass by all the shivering Victorians on their way to and fro. Obviously, most young people are ecstatic when given the chance to ride in an old-style carriage being pulled along by a real live horse, so this is almost a no-brainer. If you even mention it to your own kids then you'd better be prepared to make it a reality, I think, because otherwise you have dangled a priceless carrot in front of their young and tender eyes only to yank it away like a Scrooge!
They're super popular too, as you might expect.
"The Horse-drawn Carriage Rides sell out every year," says Houser. "I think it's because this is one of the events that takes it all back in time to the days gone by."
By the way, from the website: "In addition to the regularly schedule carriage rides offered Friday evening, we they will be available on request to provide unique and intimate rides, whether you would like a special tour of the town, a carriage ride to your dinner reservation, or to the Opening Ceremony at the Elementary School.For pricing and reservations contact Melissa at Melissa.email@example.com"
So if you want a custom carriage waiting for your family, it looks like you might be in luck this year.
Otherwise, regular carriage rides will be happening:
Friday evening, December 7th, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday, December 8th ,11 am. to 4 p.m.
Sunday, December 9th, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Weather permitting, Carriage Rides depart from the Brockerhoff on Allegheny Street.
Tickets may be purchased in the Brockerhoff foyer or in advance from Melissa.firstname.lastname@example.org Adults $10.00 per person Children 2 & under FREE.
A perfect little companion to the weekend's esteemed Victorian Christmas celebration happening all over town.
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