t’s the setting that makes the difference for many of those who enjoy the Maitland Christmas Festival.
The village, which is Nova Scotia’s first Heritage Conservation District, is holding its 25th Christmas festival this year and June Duckenfield has been involved in organizing the festivities since the beginning.
“It started in 1995, when somebody said Truro wasn’t doing house tours any more, and suggested we do it,” said Duckenfield, who is a member of the Maitland and District Development Association (MDDA). “We didn’t think we could do it at first, but we did. People who went on the tours wanted to have a hot drink, so we added the Victorian tea. Then the artisans’ market and tree stroll were added.”
She opened up her own home, the stone house in Selma, which was built in 1825, to tours many years.
“Shops used to come and decorate, and they’d get a percentage of the ticket sales,” she recalled. “The florist on Inglis Place (Jean’s Flowers and Gifts) and Wittenburg Nurseries decorated my house. Later, groups started decorating.”
Although house tours aren’t part of the festival this year, there are many other festive events, one of the most unusual being a performance of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ as a radio broadcast.
“It’s being done much like it would have been in the 1940s,” said Cathrine Yuill, another MDDA member. “At that time, they would have had a live audience and capture people laughing, cheering and gasping. The actors, rather than being in costume from the show, will be dressed as 1940s actors. They may have something to help identify their character from ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ because they’ll be playing more than one character. They’ll be able to put their heart into the performance but will still have scripts and microphones.”
There will also be a sound effects table, so audience members can the items used to make various noises.
Other activities include a Victorian tea, a craft and artisan show, a Christmas tree stroll – with trees decorated by various groups, a wreath and bake sale, a tree lighting, and wood turning.
“I live in Truro now, but Maitland is still my home and I’m hoping lots of people come out to enjoy things this year,” said Duckenfield.
Yuill believes there’s something very special about the Maitland festivities.
“There are a lot of great Christmas festivals around the region, but this is in a historic district with beautiful old homes,” she said. “It creates a nice setting for a festival that reflects and old-fashioned Christmas.”
Event times are Thursday, Nov. 21 from 7-9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 22 from 5-9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 23 from 10- a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 24 from noon-5 p.m. unless otherwise listed.
Tree lighting, with Santa, at the fire hall
Thursday, Nov. 21 – 7-9 p.m.
Christmas craft and artisan market
Friday, Saturday and Sunday
High Tides Community Hall, 11 Church St
Wreath, craft and bake sale
Friday - 6-8 p.m.
Saturday - 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Anglican Holy Trinity Hall, 4 Church Hill
Inklings Artistic Wood Turning
9007 Highway 215
It’s a Wonderful Life
Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.
High Tides Community Centre
$10 at the door or Eventbrite
Christmas tree stroll
Friday, Saturday and Sunday
18 Cedar Road (old elementary school)
Maitland Fire Hall Supper
Saturday 4-6 p.m.
Homestead Lavender Christmas shop
With lavender hot chocolate
11640 Highway 215, Urbania