For the past 26 years, Wassail Weekend in Woodstock has welcomed
people from near and far to celebrate in unique ways. This
traditional ceremony involves singing and drinking the health of
trees in the hopes that they might better thrive. Wassailing is an
action, the purpose of which is to awake the cider apple trees and
to scare away evil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the
Voted one of Vermont's Top Ten Winter events, the term has
its roots in medieval England referring to the Norse, "ves heill"
meaning "to drink to the health." Ale brewed with spiced apples and
sugar was the warm drink given to the singers who went door to door
during the Solstice. Christmas became interwoven with celebrations
during the darkest time of the year.
The highlight of the weekend is the Wassail Parade through the
center of Woodstock with over 50 horses and riders dressed in
holiday costumes and period dress from the early 19th Century. The
High Horses Therapeutic Riding Program welcomes riders from all
over with wagons, surreys and sometimes sleighs, if weather
permits. Mr. Claus himself usually puts in an appearance and then
heads on to our Little Theater where he greets the children at the
magical "Christmas Visions."
Troupes of singers and revelers parade the streets and gather
around a fire after the parade to enjoy cider and sing carols. The
local arts council, Pentangle Arts, offers a horse-drawn tour of
Woodstock's notable historic homes in all of their festive glory.
Later in the day, enjoy vibrant holiday concerts presented at the
Woodstock Town Hall Theatre or in churches around the Village, or
experience seasonal entertainment provided by The YOH Players at
Woodstock Union High School/Middle School.
A reading of "A Child's Christmas in Wales" will take place at
noon at the Norman Williams Library. An open house at the Woodstock
Historical Society on Friday night offers historic music through
the beautifully decorated Dana House.
Throughout the Christmas Season, Billings Farm & Museum is
decorated and offers the perfect opportunity to see what the
holidays were like in Vermont in the 19th Century complete with
wagon or sleigh rides around the farm.
Shops are often open late, the streets are decorated with white
lights and usually Mother Nature provides a dusting of snow.
Rarely can you experience the holidays in such a picture-perfect
place. Join in and learn to Wassail in Woodstock this weekend.