BERLIN — The North Country is celebrating the holidays in a big way this year.
The Parade of Lights will be held in downtown Berlin on Friday night, kicking off a holiday season of craft fairs, Christmas concerts and other events.
The event returns after being canceled for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Starting at 7 p.m., the parade, which will include floats, walkers, fire trucks and other vehicles, and to usher in the arrival of Santa on the Kiwanis float at the end.
The parade, which will start on Glen Avenue and proceed north on Main Street to the Berlin Bowling Center, is organized by the Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Refreshments of doughnuts and hot chocolate will be sold at a food truck.
Chamber Executive Coordinator Paula Kinney said Monday that they have more entries this year than in previous years. Now, she said, “I’m just hoping everybody will come out and watch it. It’s going to be a great parade.”
On Saturday, a craft fair is planned from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Service Credit Union Heritage Park at 961 Main St. in Berlin. A benefit for Special Olympics athletes, the fair will feature crafts, woodworking, holiday gifts, mini-doughnuts, hot cocoa, baked goods, jams and jellies. There will also be a chance to take a photo with Santa.
Gorham’s big holiday season kick-off is the following Friday (Dec. 2), with events planned at venues around and near Gorham Common under the umbrella of Winterfest.
The Gorham Parks and Recreation Department will hold a Festival of Trees with displays and a raffle of decorated Christmas trees.
The Parks and Rec Department will be open from Nov. 28-Dec. 1 for businesses and individuals assemble their decorated and lighted Christmas trees for the festival. The trees (or sometimes just the decorations) are donated to be raffled off on Dec. 2 from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. People are welcome to stop in and simply view the trees or purchase raffle tickets and enter to bring a tree home.
The Festival of Trees is a fundraiser for the town’s limitless playground for handicapped children with inclusive play and the updating of the information booth bathroom to be accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Last year’s festival raised over $12,000 for these projects. For more information, contact Jeff Stewart at (603) 466-2101 or email email@example.com, go to gorhamnh.org/parks-recreation-department/pages/festival-trees.
Three other festivals round out Gorham’s Winterfest celebration:
• Salve Regina Academy will hold a St. Nicholas Festival in the Holy Family Church parking lot at 9 Church St from 3-5 p.m. People can buy Christmas trees, kissing balls, view a live nativity, listen to Christmas music and the story of St. Nicholas, and take part in the 50/50 raffle and the blessing of the trees.
• Gorham Public Library at 35 Railroad St. will hold its holiday craft fair from 4-7 p.m., with about a dozen local crafters selling their wares.
• The 34th annual Santa’s Workshop will be 6-8 p.m. at the Medallion Opera House at Gorham Town Hall, 20 Park St. The Gorham Common lights will be on and Santa will arrive at town all.
There will be refreshments, ornament making and you can get your picture with Santa. This event is free and is presented by the Gorham Fire Dept. Auxiliary, Gorham EMS and area business community.
Doors open at 5:45 p.m. People are asked to arrive during the time slot that aligns with the age of their youngest child: 6-6:30 p.m. for newborn to age 3; 6:30-7 p.m. for ages 4-6; 7-7:30 for ages 7-10; and 7:30-8 p.m. for ages 11+.