Naumkeag Announces Third Annual Winterlights Event
STOCKBIRDGE, Mass. — Winterlights, an immersive holiday light display, will be returning for its third year at properties of the Trustees of Reservations beginning Thanksgiving weekend.
This event has attracted tens of thousands of people and is a tradition for many.
Winterlights will be held at two of the Trustees' beloved properties:Naumkeag in Stockbridge and the Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate in Canton.
Naumkeag, the former mansion and gardens of Mabel Choate, is also celebrating their 60th anniversary as a museum this year.
The displays will run Tuesdays through Sundays from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. from Friday, Nov. 27, through Saturday, Jan. 2, at both locations. Naumkeag will be hosting two additional Mondays -- Dec. 21 and 28 -- from 4:40 to 8:30 p.m.
Brian Cruey, director for the eight Southern Berkshire properties of the Trustees of Reservations, said that the Trustees feel responsible to provide this festive event during COVID-19 times because they have beautiful outdoor properties that can safely accommodate people.
"We are really fortunate here where we manage an incredibly beautiful very large outdoor space," he said in a recent interview. "And there’s a real responsibility in these times to be open and provide programming that is really fun for the whole family so that we can have things for people to do, traditions that people want to continue, and be open and here and available to provide that."
The novel coronavirus has required museums and other cultural venues to be somewhat create in providing safe access to patrons. Naumkeag's grounds designed by Choate and renowned landscape artist Fletcher Steele, has offered opportunities for the historic site to remain open. It recently concluded its popular Incredible Naumkeag Pumpkin Show.
That has been a nice trial run for Winterlights, Cruey said, as turnout has been great. "It's going wonderfully, it’s been fantastic," he said.
This will be the second year that the Eleanor Cabot Estate in Canton will be featured in Winterlights. This gives more visitors the chance to experience the show at a different property of the Trustees.
'We're proud and grateful that we can provide a moment of normalcy by safely welcoming guests back to Winterlights again this year,' said Trustees Executive Vice President Jocelyn Forbush.
Ten of thousands of attendees usually come to Naumkeag for the light show each year. Last year, Cruey said they welcomed 26,000 guests.
“We have been really happy to welcome so many people from the Berkshires here every year," he said. "And it's quickly become a family tradition that people look forward to.”
Naumkeag has to cut down the number of people it can welcome for Winterlights because of pandemic protocols instituted by the state Cruey hopes to be able to welcome 8,000 visitors this year, which is two-thirds less than the previous year's count.
To ensure the safety of visitors, Winterlights will be a oneway display through the gardens so that staff can get people cycled through and welcome the next batch of visitors. This aims to keep things working smoothly.
Due to COVID-19, Naumkeag will not be providing a parking shuttle as all parking will be on site. Cruey says this has been working out well during the pumpkin show. Masks are required while on the property for anyone above the age of 2 and social distancing should take place at all times.
Additionally, the Trustees have extended the Winterlights schedule to run six days a week from Tuesday to Sunday. In previous years, the show only ran four days a week from Thursday to Sunday. Because of restrictions on the number of people allowed in the display per night, this will enable them to welcome more socially distanced people over a longer period of time.
Cruey says that though the numbers of Winterlights attendees have to be lessened, the experience itself will not be. Naumkeag staff and volunteers work hard to grow these shows every year and make them bigger and better. Currently they have about 170,000 lights to dazzle visitors.
"It's not something we take lightly, and we are doing our best to keep everything up running and just as magical and fun as people are used to coming and enjoying here across these events," Cruey said.
The Trustees are encouraging people to buy tickets for Winterlights quickly, as they are already almost sold out. They plan to release more tickets down the road but expect that those will sell out quickly as well.
"We are very conscious of the demand for Winterlights," Cruey said. "And we felt a responsibility to welcome as many people as we can.”
For more information and to purchase tickets in advance visit thetrustees.org/program/winterlights.