It’s all happening.
In Essex, there are three pre-Thanksgiving events designed to spark the holiday spirit. First, Anna Hardy Interiors is hosting Harvest Elegance: Table Decorating & Block Printing Extravaganza! from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 16. Participants will master the art of table decorating and block printing onto fabrics. The workshop is part of a series of holiday themed events at Anna Hardy’s Eastern Avenue studio. Wine and nibbles will be served, and the cost is $95.
On Saturday, November 18 at 9 a.m. the Annual Christmas Fair is at St. John the Baptist Church on Main Street kicks off a weekend long holiday crafts and gift fair. There will be a themed basket table where attendees can make their own personalized basket of favorite items; a baked goods table; a craft table; a plant table; and a used books table. The Knights of Columbus will serve breakfast and lunch, and Woodman’s will be offering clam chowder. Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and again after 5 p.m. Mass. Then on Sunday, the Christmas Fair opens again after 10 a.m. Mass. No cost to attend, of course, but that is so you can spend a lot on the goods.
That same Sunday, November 29, it’s the 48th Annual Essex Turkey Trot, which has been organized and hosted ably by the Essex Lions Club since 1978. They say it’s the longest running turkey trot in America, and it’s also a great way to preemptively run (or walk) off that turkey and mashed potatoes (not to mention the stuffing and pie) before the big day while also raising money for a good cause. The fun starts Sunday, November 19 at 10 a.m. Check in is at Woodman’s, the cost is $25 and a bit cheaper if you buy your tickets early.
Right after Thanksgiving, on Wednesday, November 29 (5-7 p.m.) at the Essex Shipbuilding Museum, it’s the Essex Shipbuilding Museum will host Wreath Decorating with Susie Talbot. It’s become an annual popular event with floral designer Susie Talbot. Tickets $50, and you get to take home your masterpiece.
Over in Manchester, the Thanksgiving Eve Dance Party at the Legion promises to bring you back to the 80s with cover band The Lisa Love Experience. It’s Wednesday, November 22 (7:30 to 10:30 p.m.) at the Amaral Bailey American Legion Hall on Church Street. Just a $15 cover and, of course, there’s the legendary cash bar at the Legion. Celebrate homecoming with the town’s only Thanksgiving Eve party, and support local veterans. The 80s music will take you back in time, and since it’s Thanksgiving Eve in Manchester, you might think you’re at the Harborside eating bean dip and knocking back Rusty Nails.
Then, it’s not too early to starting talking Christmas by the Sea, which is packed this year. It’s the weekend long celebration in Manchester from the Greater Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce. The event formally kicks off Thursday, November 30 with the Chamber’s Manchester Division Holiday Party (5 to 7 p.m.) at Bravo by the Sea. Come on down and enjoy food, friends, and a cash bar.
The following day is the big Holiday Downtown Stroll (Friday, 1 Dec. 4-8 p.m.). There are several events that night, so be sure to check out the full schedule on the Chamber’s website. The Manchester Historical Museum Open House runs 4 to 8 p.m. (worth it just for the décor!), and businesses will be open late with treats to welcome shoppers to the season. Be sure to punch your Chamber Holiday Stroll Passbook to be entered to win a prize! From 5 to 8 p.m. the Cornerstone Church will host Parents Night Out. Drop your kids (pre-K to Grade 5) off in their holiday pajamas for an evening of fun activities, free pizza, and a showing of a holiday movie. Then from 4 to 8 p.m. it’s the Friends of the Library Holiday Book Fair at the First Parish Church Community Hall on Chapel Street behind Santander Bank, hosted by the Friends of the Manchester Library to peruse the hottest new book titles from The Book Shop in Beverly Farms. (Hannah Harlow, owner of the Book Shop will be there and a portion of all the shop’s proceeds that night benefits the library.) There will also be stocking stuffers, wrapping paper, cards, and more for sale.
The fun continues on Saturday, Dec. 2 with the Lindsay and Her Puppet Pals, starting at 10:30 a.m. at the First Parish Church Community Hall, hosted by the Friends of the Manchester Public Library. After the show, head to the Manchester Public Library for treats. Following this, head to Masconomo Park for Santa Claus and the Jingle Bell Walk (Saturday, 2 Dec. 1-3 p.m). Santa will arrive by boat and lead the children in a parade around the park and then be available for pictures. There will also be a petting zoo, crafts, face painting, a candy cane hunt, refreshments and a visit from Mrs. Claus! This is all sponsored by the Manchester Community Center, the GCACC and the Manchester Mother’s Club. Rounding out Saturday is the Night of the Stars Talent Show at the ME Regional High School (4 p.m.), which will feature programs from local youth talent.
The weekend ends with a high energy program, starting with Breakfast and Photos with Santa (Sunday, 3 Dec. 9 – noon) at the Manchester Masonic Lodge, a Manchester Library Meet and Greet (1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.) and then the ever-popular Community Carol Sing (2:30 to 3:15 p.m.) followed by the epic annual Friendship Tree Lighting at the Town Common (Sunday, 3 Dec 3:30 p.m.), hosted for decades by the Manchester Women’s Club with community hot cocoa provided by the Manchester Masons. The outdoor program this year will include a concert by the ME High School Band and the Memorial School Chorus, and a dance performance by students of Manchester’s Ballet de Mar School. Beautiful!
Next week, the Cricket will publish its seasonal supplement, the 2023 Manchester Cricket Holiday Book with 40 pages of gift ideas (all local!), a sit down with chef Rosalie Harrington, a look into holiday traditions of locals, new books coming out this season, and design ideas. Oh yes, and a preview of holiday events around Cape Ann as a reference.