Light it Up

A grand Illumination: Wentworth by the Sea lights up with family event on Dec. 8

Special to the Sunday News
November 27. 2015 7:41PM
Thousands of lights at the Dec. 8 “Illumination” celebration will signal the start of the holiday season at the Wentworth by the Sea Hotel in New Castle. (Focus Photography)

One of the “100 best hotels in the world,” according to Travel & Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler, will soon kick off the holiday season with thousands of lights, family-focused festivities and Santa's arrival by horse and carriage.

Wentworth by the Sea's annual “Illumination” is much more than simply lighting up the grand Victorian hotel for the holidays. The landmark hotel, constructed in 1874, opens its doors to the community each December for quintessential holiday activities and sights that spark the beginning of the holiday season in New Castle.

This free family event is set for Tuesday, Dec. 8, from 5 to 7 p.m. and will include strolling carolers, a horse-drawn carriage with Santa, an 8-foot-tall gingerbread house, the Portsmouth High School Marching Band Ensemble, glittering ice sculptures, costumed members of the Great Bay Ballet's “An 1836 Portsmouth Nutcracker” cast, and complimentary holiday refreshments.

According to Marketing Director Stephanie Seacord, the historic Victorian hotel will also offer crafts and games for children, just before the big unveiling of its giant gingerbread house. Throughout the month the hotel also hosts a Santa brunch each Sunday, a holiday dinner and a lavish Christmas buffet.

As an extra gift of the season, the hotel partners with the New Castle Fire Department to collect toys for disadvantaged children on the Seacoast. Toys can be dropped off at the Fire Truck on the night of the Illumination and throughout the month of December.

People are asked to donate a new, unwrapped stuffed bear, to be placed under the lobby Christmas tree, where they will be collected and distributed by the New Castle Fire Department.

Seacord said Wentworth by the Sea Hotel starts its extensive holiday decorating in late November. Decor includes a large Christmas tree in the main lobby, animated “Winter Wonderland” figures of elves and carolers in the ballroom where the Santa Brunches are held each Sunday, mantel garlands and accents throughout the public spaces, and an 8-foot-tall gingerbread house. “The strings of tiny white lights that outline the roof and three towers stay up year-round,” Seacord said. “But the bulbs and systems are checked to ensure that the magic happens when the switch is flipped on Dec. 8.”

Plans for each Illumination start as each holiday season ends — confirming the participation of the dozens of musicians and dancers, the New Castle Fire Department's toy collection and more.

Seacord said hundreds of families from the greater Portsmouth community turn out.

“Since it's an outdoor nighttime event, weather (rain or very cold weather) is a factor,” she said. “Significantly bad weather can cause postponement. But the perennial favorite part of the Illumination is the countdown that ends with the instant illumination of all the lights. ... It is quite spectacular.”

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