The Stevens-Coolidge Place is being transformed into a magical, glittering winter wonderland this holiday season thanks to Winterlights, a brand-new light installation and event series that’s sure to warm and brighten even the chilliest winter evening. Beginning the last Thursday in November and running through the end of December, the vast gardens at the early-20th-century “country place”–style estate in North Andover will be filled with thousands of LED lights and meticulously designed light installations.
As visitors make their way through the illuminated gardens, they’ll also enjoy snacks, warm cups of cocoa, and special surprise guests and performances that will change throughout the month. “Maybe you’ll bump into Elsa and Anna when you walk through the gardens, or listen to the North Andover High School choir,” says Kate LaChance Bibeau, engagement site manager for The Stevens-Coolidge Place.
“There might be a fire dancer one night,” chimes in Kevin Block, stewardship manager of the Andover/North Andover management unit for The Trustees of Reservations.
The light installations will be full of surprises, too, say Bibeau and Block, although they are hesitant to give away too many of them. “You might see a penguin here and there, maybe icicles…there might even be a Trustees igloo, you never know,” Block says.
The Stevens-Coolidge Place is a property of The Trustees of Reservations, which manages more than 100 properties throughout Massachusetts, including North Shore gems like Crane Beach and Castle Hill at the Crane Estate, Appleton Farms, and Salem’s Misery Islands. Among its properties is Naumkeag, a National Historic Landmark and Gilded Age mansion in Stockbridge in the Berkshires that just got a $3.3 million garden and landscape restoration, and which will be the site of another Winterlights installation in the western part of the state. “It’s just another way to get people here and experience the outdoors and our properties in different ways,” Block says.
Trustees president Barbara Erickson echoes that. “We hope this series will encourage our members and visitors to experience these iconic garden properties in a new light during this magical time of year,” she says.
The Stevens-Coolidge Place’s Winterlights installation is a super-charged version of Illumination Nights, a previous holiday event that saw the estate’s gardens strung with holiday lights. Bibeau calls Winterlights a “5.0 version” of Illumination Nights. “2.0 doesn’t justify it,” she says, as visitors will discover. “This will really blow them away.”
Winterlights will take visitors along a lighted trail through The Stevens-Coolidge Place’s many gardens and outdoor spaces, including the rose garden, French garden, perennial garden, orchard, and greenhouse, which boasts tropical plants. Plus, more than 500 feet of hedging will be lit up with string lights. The lights—colored, white, twinkle, sculpture, globe—will change throughout the month, giving visitors “a lot of reasons to come back,” Block says.
Another reason to come back throughout Winterlights’ run in North Andover is the different themes that will pop up, from meeting Santa Claus to at least one visit from Salem-based Notch Brewing, which partnered with The Trustees over the summer for a popular traveling beer garden. “Notch will be making a guest appearance opening night,” Block says, “and hopefully other appearances, too.”
Aside from being a spectacular sensory display for families, Winterlights accomplishes something else for visitors: giving them a different look at The Stevens-Coolidge Place property from the one they may be used to. “I think people just like getting into the property at night,” Block says.
Winterlights is also a reminder of how much there is to do at The Stevens-Coolidge Place throughout the year, even beyond its signature gardens. The house opens its doors monthly for seasonal open houses and guided tours and hosts events throughout the year, like the annual tulip festival, summertime yoga in the garden, and Mother’s and Father’s Day events. Even in winter, the roughly 110-acre grounds are ready to be explored via hiking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing among the ornamental trees and shrubs.
Surely Winterlights will make that landscape even more striking. “We are looking forward to sharing these spectacular Winterlights illuminations at two of our signature garden sites this holiday season,” Erickson says. “The holidays are all about enjoying the best of the season with family and friends.
Buy tickets online at thetrustees.org/winterlights.