Great Trains Holiday Exhibit

Trains, Trains, Trains – and Santa, too, for the holidays at the Wilton Historical Society!

After the familiar Thanksgiving rituals of parades, turkey and football, keep the family fun going, and enjoy the beginning of the holiday season. Take the children in your life to an entrancing afternoon with trains and live entertainment. Dressed for the holidays, the Wilton Historical Society’s historic 18th and 19th century buildings are transformed into a train-lovers delight with many different train layouts winding through tiny towns with a variety of different kinds of buildings, tunnels and two working Ferris Wheels! The interactive display enchants visitors of all ages with lots of buttons to push and knowledgeable “train engineers” on hand to “talk trains”. An expanded new Lego set up makes its debut this year. In a special train room for the youngest guests, there are buttons galore plus Thomas the Tank Engine and Brio for hands-on fun. The Wilton Historical Society is the place to be – come enjoy the ever-popular Great Trains Holiday Exhibit!

The trains are open Wednesday to Saturday from 10:00 – 4:00, and Sundays 12:00 – 4:00.

The Great Trains Holiday Exhibit will run from Friday, November 24, 2017 through Monday, January 15, 2018. Wednesdays – Saturdays, 10:00-4:00; Sundays 12-4. No charge for children under 12. Admission is free for adult members of the Society, and $10 for non-member adults.

Enjoy a preview of this seasonal delight:


Video created for the Society by David Riss from Greyskye Marketing. Thank you, David!


Saturday, November 25

Puppets, too! Special Puppet Performance by Jim Napolitano 2:00 – 3:00

For thousands of years, man has manipulated puppets for a variety of reasons: religion, education, and entertainment. One of the oldest and most wonderful forms of puppetry is shadow puppetry. People don’t recognize Jim Napolitano even though he has been broadcast to millions of television sets nationwide. That’s because he’s a puppeteer. He’s performed for the PBS show Between the Lions, Disney’s The Book of Pooh and Nickelodeon in A Show of Hands. His puppetry has taken him across the country and around the globe. No charge.

And even more on Saturday, November 25!

See the Great Trains Exhibit on Saturday, and leave some time for the kids to enjoy an art project. From 11:00 – 1:00 they can paint a wooden train engine, perfect for using as an ornament. Art project fee: Members – $5 per child, max $15 per family; Non-members $10 per child, max $30 per family.


Saturday, December 2

Gift Customs and Wrapping Holiday Gifts Workshop for Kids, 11:00 – 12:30

From reusable cloth still utilized in Japan, to today’s decorative rolls of paper, the custom of covering a gift is a longstanding tradition in many cultures. According to the Atlantic “Upper-class Victorians regularly used elaborately decorated paper—along with ribbons and lace—to conceal gifts. In the early 20th century, thick, unwieldy paper gave way to tissue that would similarly work to conceal offerings until they were opened. The practice was echoed in a slightly more practical form by stores, which would wrap customers’ purchases in sturdy manila papers.” And how does one respond to all that giving? With a nicely written thank you note! Museum Educator Lola Chen will be discussing gift giving customs from wrappings to thank you notes, Boxing Day, and more. Potato stamping some wrapping paper or note card paper is the workshop project. The kids will help make their snack, Hasselback potatoes.

Suggested for ages 6 – 12. Wilton Historical Society members $10 per child, maximum $25 per family; Non-members $15 per child, maximum $35 per family. Please register: info@wiltonhistorical.org or call 203-762-7257.


Saturday, December 8

Santa Visits the Wilton Historical Society, Saturday, December 8, 11:00 – 2:00
Silhouette artist Deborah O’Connor Creates Portraits

Plus, Holiday Trains! Pomander and Gingerbread Cookie Workshops!
Song with Santa and Music on the Hill!
Shopping – Pop up Holiday Market all day!

What could be more in-the-holiday-spirit than a chance to confide in Santa, see chuffing trains run, savor the scent of cloves and gingerbread, and find one-of-a-kind gifts for family and friends? Saturday, December 9 is a Holly Jolly day at the Wilton Historical Society, with something for everyone. From 11:00 – 2:00 Santa will be visiting, and workshops in pomander-making and gingerbread men cookie decorating will be open for drop-in fun during the same time. Workshop charge: $5.00 per child per activity.

Have a Silhouette Portrait Made!
Artist Deborah O’Connor Creates Heirloom Silhouette Portraits 12:00 – 4:00

silhouette-art-deborah-oconnorRenowned silhouette artist Deborah O’Connor will create individual portraits cut entirely freehand from paper, using scissors as her only tool. Subjects pose for silhouettes, created in a matter of minutes, which they can take home–the perfect holiday gift, and a future cherished family heirloom. “Cutting silhouettes is basically drawing with a pair of scissors. The only difference is you can’t make any mistakes, as there is no erasing,” Ms. O’Connor says. Check the Society’s website for details. Please call 203-762-7257 to book your reservation — a deposit is required.

Songs with Santa featuring Music on the Hill 2:00 – 4:00

A singing Santa makes his debut at the Abbott Barn! Join Music on the Hill with their cheerful hand bells and holiday songs! No charge.


Saturday, December 16

Ornaments and Tree Traditions Workshop for Kids, 11:00 – 12:30

Today, evergreen trees decked out in a colorful array of ornaments, garlands, shiny glass balls, all topped by a star, and are a universal sign of the holiday, along with cards, wrapped gifts, wreaths, and Santa. According to Emma Powers of Colonial Williamsburg “Most of the ways Americans celebrate the midwinter holiday came about in the nineteenth century . . . . Decorations consisted of whatever natural materials looked attractive at the bleakest time of year–evergreens, berries, forced blossoms–and the necessary candles and fires. . . As for the tree, it is German in origin. “Tannenbaum” gained acceptance in England and the United States only very slowly. The first written reference to a Christmas tree dates from the seventeenth century when a candle-lighted tree astonished residents of Strasbourg. I have found nothing recorded in the eighteenth century about holiday trees in Europe or North America.” Museum Educator Lola Chen will be discussing tree traditions and the history of ornaments. A stained glass ornament is the workshop project.

Suggested for ages 6 – 12. Wilton Historical Society members $10 per child, maximum $25 per family; Non-members $15 per child, maximum $35 per family. Please register: info@wiltonhistorical.org or call 203-762-7257


Saturday, December 23

Holiday Sweets: Mendiants and Chocolate Bark Workshop for Kids, 11:00 – 12:30

A mendiant is a traditional French confection composed of a chocolate disk studded with nuts and dried fruits, usually made during the holidays, and often given as a gift. Like chocolate bark, they can be made with dark, milk or white chocolate. Museum Educator Lola Chen will be discussing these holiday sweets as the children make – and sample – some (nut-free)!

Suggested for ages 6 – 12. Wilton Historical Society members $10 per child, maximum $25 per family; Non-members $15 per child, maximum $35 per family. Please register: info@wiltonhistorical.org or call 203-762-7257.


Saturday, December 30

Colonial Cookery and Customs for Kids This Month: Pound Cake with “Oranges” Juice, 11:00 – 12:30

A Pound Cake is a rich, dense cake said to have originated in the 1700s in England – and was first introduced to the American populace by Amelia Simmons in her cookbook “American Cookery” published in 1796. The name Pound Cake comes from the fact that the original pound cakes were made from equal portions (a pound each) of butter, sugar, eggs (about 8 large eggs weighing 2 oz each), and flour. Museum Educator Lola Chen will be showing the children how to make Pound Cake with “Oranges” Juice. While they are sampling some fresh and warm from the oven, perhaps they will hear about why oranges are associated with the holidays.

The Colonial Cookery and Customs for Kids workshop at the Wilton Historical Society teaches kids a “reciept” (recipe) used in the Connecticut region. While the food is prepared, they hear about Colonial manners, morals and way of life. The monthly workshops feature relatively simple dishes made with local, seasonal ingredients, adapted for modern kitchens. All participants will sample their own cooking and take home recipe cards – as well as any leftovers! The children will learn how a Colonial kitchen would have operated, in order to appreciate the modern conveniences we take for granted. Previous sessions have made bannock cakes, pease porridge, pickles, an amulet of green peas, apple tansey, fairy butter, pumpkin bread, cranberry shortbread, New Year’s “cakes”, New England chowder, hand pies, cheese and ramp soufflé, and pea and watercress Rappahannock, blackberry maslin and thirded bread.

Suggested for ages 6 – 12. Members: $10; Non-members $15. Space is limited — please register by contacting info@wiltonhistorical.org or call 203-762-7257.


More great programs to come! Check our Calendar for more fun activities related to the Great Trains Holiday Exhibit!

And for gifting, don’t miss the Betts Store Museum Shop- Sip and Shop on Saturday, December 2, 10:00 – 4:00

The Society’s Museum Shop, like the original 18th-century Betts Store, always features locally-made and one-of-a-kind items, many hand-crafted. The store is freshly stocked for holiday shopping, and is brimming with an eclectic and interesting collection of affordable finds and follies! At the Betts Store you will discover beautiful gifts for holiday giving, including jewelry, scarves, books, puzzles and letterpress note cards plus nifty toys, games and crafts for kids. There is an excellent selection of home accessories and hostess gifts…unusual candles, honey, artwork, mugs, bowls, cups and tea towels, including a good selection of Wilton-themed items featuring local landmarks. The store is committed to supporting local craftsmen and businesses; some items are made in Wilton, some in Connecticut, and all are made in the U.S.A.


Great Trains Holiday Exhibit 2017-2018 Sponsors



  • Anytime Fitness
  • Bridgewater Prep
  • Canine Company
  • Cannondale Animal Clinic
  • JM Painting
  • MCL Piersall, LLC
  • Melissa & Doug
  • NLC Insurance
  • Perry and McKendry
  • RBC Wealth Management
  • Realty 7
  • Security Solutions
  • Wilton Hardware