Woodstock’s Wassail Weekend: Celebrating Christmas the Vermont Way

One of Vermont’s most iconic winter events, Woodstock’s Annual Wassail Weekend is a unique window into many of the things that make the Green Mountain State so special. Taking place on the second weekend of December when the Ottauquechee has begun to freeze over and wreathes and Christmas trees dot the town, the three-day festival is a celebration of traditional local culture. With a wide range of eclectic activities for all the family, from carol singing on the steps of the library, to ornament-making at Billings Farm & Museum, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Many of Woodstock’s most iconic and beautiful homes are opened to the public for charity and almost every local business and organization is involved in some way.


The high point of Wassail Weekend is Saturday’s horse-drawn parade through downtown Woodstock. A wonderful showcase of rural expertise and culture with more than fifty horses from all around the town and further afield taking part, the parade is truly a must-see. There’s something magical about the procession, the crisp winter’s air alive with the clomp of hooves and clinking of harness straps as horses clatter down streets packed with both locals and tourists; tiny ponies wearing Santa hats and reindeer antlers, massive Belgians and Percherons pulling heavy carts, their drivers in top hats and bonnets, red-cloaked riders steering excited stallions, children laughing from the sidelines, the smell of mulled wine and wood smoke coming from somewhere close by. Behind the passing horses, wearing tails, bow tie, and top hat, the designated Pooper-Scooper roller-skates by with his shovel, pirouetting as he deposits their leavings into a waiting hopper. Only in Vermont…

This year, 2016, marked the thirty-second anniversary of Wassail Weekend, and the parade featured many high points, from a rare three-abreast draft horse hitch to Billings Farm’s seventeen-year-old Percheron Jim pulling a wagonette with Santa Claus waving to huge cheers from the crowd.

You’re going to have to wait a while till the next Wassail Weekend, but make sure to mark the date in your calendar, and check out the photos below to see more of this year’s event…

One thought on “Woodstock’s Wassail Weekend: Celebrating Christmas the Vermont Way

  1. Great to see such a wonderful parade and Heritage breeds like Sufflock horses and Poitou donkey. Learn more about heritage breeds of all sorts of livestock at the livestock conservancy. http://www.livestockconservancy.org The Conservancy was founded in New England and where many members live and keep their livestock.

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