Being cooped up in the winter months can make it difficult to find fun, creative ways to get out of the house. For a family on a budget, it can be even harder to find affordable activities. Connecticut offers a variety of free activities during the winter season including ice skating, town gatherings and seasonal attractions. Bring your family to one of these five free activities to enjoy your weekday or weekend.
60 Elm St.
Hartford, CT 06103
Date: Nov. 28, 2014 through Feb. 1, 2015
Every year, the capital of Connecticut provides a unique opportunity not only for Hartford residents but for all visitors. Its annual Winterfest Hartford kicks off free ice skating for the winter on November 28, 2014, and continues until February 1. Visiting with Santa and receiving a free 5×7 photo will be an option every Saturday and Sunday until Christmas at the Pump House. Due to these events being free, they are in high demand and it is recommended that you plan accordingly.
524 Brooksvale Ave.
Hamden, CT 06518
Non-locals might have never heard of Brookvale Park. This spot has activities to enjoy year round including visiting animals on the farm, outdoor sports, playgrounds and open space to do your own thing. In the winter months, Brookvale waits for the pond to freeze over so visitors can ice skate. Before visiting Brookvale Park, be sure to call for a status update on the ice to ensure safety before skating.
Home Depot Kids Workshops
575 Bank St.
Waterbury, CT 06708
Every Saturday, Home Depots around the state host Kids Workshops. Each week has its own theme and project, for example building an item or fire truck. These workshops are free and designed for children ages five to 12. Each workshop runs from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Children will receive their own kit, apron and get to bring their project home with them. Registration is available online. Enrollment in the workshop is first come, first served.
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Chester Winter Carnivale
Chester, CT 06412
Date: Feb. 15, 2015
On the third Sunday of February every year, crowds gather in Chester Center for the Winter Carnivale. Mark your calendars for February 15, 2015. Visitors can watch the ice carving competition and tractor parade. Other attractions include the chili cook-off, shopping and face painting. This event kicks off at 11 a.m. and goes until 5 p.m. and will run no matter the weather condition.
Santa’s Workshop at Wickham Park
1329 West Middle Turnpike
Manchester, CT 06040
Date: Dec. 13-23, 2014
Who knew your little ones could enjoy a visit with Santa at his workshop for free. Thanks to Wickham Park, children of every age will enjoy their chance to experience Christmas like no other. From December 13-23, 2014, this special event will host its 32nd anniversary of bringing smiles to children’s faces. Visit with Santa, Mrs. Claus and Santa’s elves but prepared to stand in line at high traffic times. Hours of operation are 3 to 6 p.m. during the week and 1 to 5 p.m. on weekends. Donations are accepted in the form of non-perishable food items which will be donated to local food pantries.
Kimberly Ord is a freelance writer and lifetime resident of Connecticut. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.