First Parish Church in 2020

Hot chocolate and the lighting of the Friendship Tree at the First Parish Church on the Town Common is typically what closes the Christmas-By-The-Sea weekend of festivities.  This year the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce has a plan to extend the program, to celebrate while staying safe.

As the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce this year set about to plan its annual Christmas-By-The-Sea celebration in Manchester six weeks ago, the team knew things would have to be different.  Well, it is different, and organizers are hoping it’s different in a good way 

Typically, the event takes place over a tight, three-day weekend, starting with the annual Friday night downtown Holiday Stroll, a popular kick off that draws hundreds to downtown businesses.  Same for the close out event, organized by the Manchester Womens Club and its lighting of the Friendship Tree at the Town Common, complete with hot chocolate for everyone, prepared by the Manchester Masons.   

This year, with the pandemic, avoiding crowds was critical.  So was creating a sense of community celebration around the holiday.  So, this year, Christmas-By-The-Sea has been stretched out a bit. The extended celebration begins next week, on Friday, December 4 with the Holiday Stroll, and will extend over three days until Sunday.  The Chamber has also worked with others to create a series of activities.  A downtown Holiday Scavenger Hunt is being run in partnership with Manchester community center.  SantaFire Truck Tour is typically hosted from the Fire House in mid-December.  This year it will take place on December 6. (Details in the separate article.)  Also, new traditions, like Christmas Carolers from the Manchester Essex Middle and High Schools will stroll down downtown, spreading holiday cheer over two days Finally, Winter Lights of Cape Ann is a new tradition initiated by the Town of Rockport and sponsored by the Chamber, Discover Gloucester, and The Cricket and features bright and festive holiday lighting displays throughout Cape Ann from now until January. 


Christmas By The Sea Schedule Of Events 

The Manchester Holiday Stroll 

December 4-6 

Friday 4-6 p.m. 

Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 


Holiday Open House at the Manchester Historical Museum 

December 4-11 

(check museum website for hours) 


Downtown Holiday Scavenger Hunt 

December 5 

12-2 p.m. 


Santa’s Tour by Fire Truck 

December 6 

12-2:30 p.m. 


Christmas Carolers 

December 12 -13 


Winter Lights 

November 27-January 2 


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