Kids Free During School Vacation Week at Old Sturbridge Village Starting Dec. 26, 2012

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Free admission for children extends through Jan. 31, 2013

Indoor crafts and performances, plus sledding, skating, and outdoor fun

(STURBRIDGE, Mass. (Dec. 5, 2012) – Old Sturbridge Village is celebrating the season by offering free admission for children starting Dec. 26 for school vacation week and extending through Jan. 31, 2013. During this time, all kids age 17 and younger get free admission to the Village (an $8 value per child) when accompanied by a paying adult. There is no limit on the number of free youth admissions per adult, but the offer does not apply to school groups or Discovery Adventure programs.

OSV historians and educators have planned lots of indoor and outdoor activities to keep the kids busy – and happy – during December school vacation week (Dec. 26- Jan. 6) and beyond. Outdoor fun includes ice skating (weather permitting - bring your own skates), sledding on 1830s-style sleds, and horse-drawn sleigh rides (snow permitting).

School vacation week visitors can also meet the OSV oxen, dip candles, and enjoy a host of puppet shows and family-friendly entertainment performed daily throughout the week. Hands-on activities include making an 1830s-style birch twig whisk for the kitchen, whipping and tasting whipped cream, making a cider mulling spice bag, and making a 19th-century animation toy, called a thaumatrope.

In addition, Old Sturbridge Village is offering Winter Warmth, a two-day Discovery Adventure set for Dec. 27-28 and open to children ages 6-17. Children learn first-hand what life was like in the 1830s by dressing in authentic period costume, learning to cook food over the hearth, and celebrating winter festivities. Older children will piece small quilts and younger children will make 1830s-style toys, and take part in early New England children's winter games and pastimes. Discovery Adventure hours are 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., with extended day care available until 5:30 p.m. For details: 508-347-0285 or register online:

Old Sturbridge Village celebrates New England life in the 1830s and is open year round. The museum is open daily during school vacation week from 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Admission: adults $24; seniors $20; children age 17 and under, free (from Dec. 26 – Jan. 31, 2013). For details on all programs listed: or call 800-733-1830.

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Did you know:

Dipping candles – Making candles was a messy chore that most farmwives did on one day set aside for the task each winter. Animal fat (tallow) was rendered and melted in a large kettle over hot water. Most candles were made by repeatedly dipping wicks tied to multiple sticks until enough fat was deposited on the wicks to make candles of the desired size. The candles were then laid away safe from mice to cure and further solidify.

Birch twig whisks – Birch twig whisks were the wire whisks of the 19th-century and they still do a wonderful job of whipping things in the kitchen. Even after manufactured wire whisks became readily available, many farmwives preferred to use old-fashioned birch whisks because they were inexpensive – children could make them using materials on hand.

Horse-drawn sleigh rides – Visitors to Old Sturbridge Village are often surprised to learn that in early New England, getting about in winter over snow-packed roads was easier and smoother in a sleigh than navigating bumpy roads at other times of the year in a wagon. Also, sleigh bells were for safety, not just decoration. The jingling sound prevented collisions, since sleighs slid so silently over the snow.

Ice skating – Ice skating was a long-enjoyed and well-loved winter pastime in the early 19th century, and by midcentury special excursion trains ran to Boston's Jamaica Pond carrying 1,000 to 1,500 skaters daily. The earliest skates were made some 5,000 years ago from animal bones. The word "skate" is from the Dutch word "shaates" for leg bone.

Sledding – Sledding, or "coasting" as it was called in the 19th century, is another classic activity that hasn't lost its charm. Visitors to Old Sturbridge Village use Village-made 1830s-style wooden sleds, and many guests prefer these to modern sleds, saying these old-style sleds go faster!

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Ann Lindblad
VP Communications
Old Sturbridge Village

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