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 model train layouts winding through tiny towns with a variety of different kinds of buildings, tunnels and even a working Ferris wheel! The display enchants visitors of all ages with lots of buttons to push and knowledgeable “train engineers” on hand to “talk trains”.
New this year – model trains are toot, toot, tooting upstairs in the Toy Loft, which is filled with the favorite toys of yesteryear. In a special train room for the youngest guests, Thomas the Tank Engine and Brio trains are ready for hands-on fun. The Wilton Historical Society is the place to be – come enjoy the ever-popular Great Trains Holiday Show!

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

The Great Trains Holiday Show will run from Friday, November 23, 2018 through Monday, January 21, 2019.

Wednesdays – Saturdays, 10:00-4:00; Sundays 12-4.

Admission is free for members of the Society; $5 per non-member child and $10 for non-member adults.

Saturday, November 24


Puppeteer / Singer / Storyteller Tom H. Hanford

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.


See the Great Trains Show on Saturday, and leave some time for the kids to enjoy an art project. From 11:00 – 1:00 they can decorate 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 1


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 Laurie Walker will be discussing tree traditions and the history of ornaments. A penny rug inspired felt ornament is the workshop project. Snack of pretzels dipped in white chocolate.

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: or call 203-762-7257.

Saturday, December 8


Plus, Holiday Trains! Pomander and Gingerbread Cookie Workshops!
Song with Santa and Music on the Hill!
Shopping – Pop up 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 8 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.


Renowned 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.



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

Saturday, December 15

Mercury Glass Votives WORKSHOP FOR KIDS, 11:00 – 12:30

In this fun and festive workshop, kids ages 6 – 12 will use paint and water to make shiny mercury glass votive candle holders. While decorating their votives, Laurie Walker, Museum Educator, will talk with the children about the origins of mercury glass, which was originally created as a replacement for sterling silver — and contains neither silver nor mercury! The children’s second project will be to make their own snack of fruit dipped in white chocolate, decorated with silver dragees. Very jolly!

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: or call 203-762-7257

Saturday, December 22

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 Laurie Walker 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: or call 203-762-7257.

Saturday, December 29


According to food historian Tory Avey, writing for PBS’s History Kitchen ”Gingerbread arrived in the New World with English colonists. The cookies were sometimes used to sway Virginia voters to favor one candidate over another. The first American cookbook, American Cookery by Amelia Simmons, has recipes for three types of gingerbread including the soft variety baked in loaves. This softer version of gingerbread was more common in America. George Washington’s mother, Mary Ball Washington, served her recipe for gingerbread to the Marquis de Lafayette when he visited her Fredericksburg, Virginia home. Since then it was known as Gingerbread Lafayette. The confection was passed down through generations of Washingtons. At this Colonial Cookery and Customs Workshop for Kids, Museum Educator Laurie Walker will be showing the children how to make Gingerbread Cakes, which are a cross between a ginger snap and a soft cookie, based on a recipe published in Hannah Glasse’s cookbook, “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple” published in 1796.

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 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 Pop-up Market on Saturday, December 8, 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