The state of Vermont -- always beautiful -- really shines in December, when the snow has fallen, ski slopes are open, and the charming little villages are Christmas-decorated to the hilt. Come up and enjoy:
From now through December 30 in Bennington, the Festival of Trees "Around the World" is community created exhibit of 20 uniquely designed and decorated holiday trees. Also in the exhibition are traditional and tabletop trees created by local schoolchildren. www.benningtonmuseum.org.
Wednesdays through December 23 in Randolph, arts and crafts and local specialty food products made by 40 artisans are showcased in a festive holiday setting. Open Wednesdays 6 to 8 p.m., Thursdays through Saturdays 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. http://chandlergallery.blogspot.com/
Make your own candy cane, with demonstrations beginning at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday through December 22. Additional 2 p.m. demonstrations take place on Saturdays. www.laughingmoonchocolates.com
A unique "star party" with an evening of stargazing usingthe Northeast Kingdom Astronomy Foundation's telescopes takes place on December 6 in Peacham. www.facebook.com/nkaf.org
Eat breakfast with Santa, shop at a craft fair, rind rare gifts at the Biby Library silent auction, grab a wreath and sing carols as you take in the Vergennes Holiday Stroll on December 7. The Champlain Brass Quintet and Victory Baptist Church Choir, in addition to the Dickens carolers and Addison County Gospel Choir perform. www.addisoncounty.com/holiday stroll.
The Christmas Fair of the Stowe Community Church on December 7 features decorated wreaths, needlecrafts, baked goods, historic Stow afghans, and jewelry, with a queen-sized quilt being raffled. www.stowechurch.org
Woodstock's Wassail Weekend, December 13 through 15, has been voted one of Vermont's Top Ten Winter events. The ale brewed with spiced apples and sugar was the warm drink given to the singers of Medieval England who went door to door during the Solstice. Parades, theatre, dining events and carolers. http://www.woodstockvt.com/wassail.php
Winter's Eve on December 14 in Burlington features group dances, live music, historical craft demonstrations and a lantern tour of the Allen House with historical re-enactments for the season. www.ethanallenhomestead.org
Here's an unusual activity for the Solstice: on December 21, in East Charleston, you can do the Solstice Snowshoe over Moose Mountain. Hike four miles along the mountain trail, which runs through hardwood forest and rolling terrain. The journey to the peak offers scenic vistas of the northern range of the Green Mountains, Lake Willoughby and Wheeler Pond. Bring lunch, a hot drink and warm layers. Registration is required and snowshoes are available. www.northwoodscenter.org