Why Visit Mystic Seaport this Winter.

Sure our Mystic Country region is well known for all the great things to “sea” and do during the warmer summer months, but that reality is changing with the ongoing development of new attractions in the region suited for winter time visitors to the area. And nothing currently reflects this more than Mystic Seaport’s new Thompson Exhibition building and inaugural “Sea Change” exhibit.

Mystic Seaport

Its very shape of the new Thompson Exhibition Building mirrors the sea. The breathtaking new Thompson Exhibition Building, now open at Mystic Seaport takes its design inspiration from the geometry of the sea and the curved hulls of the ships that sailed from the town of Mystic. With sweeping views of the Mystic River, it captures the soothing movement of the ocean in its graceful arch design, reflecting skeletal forms of marine animals while welcoming guests as the anchor of the Museum’s Gallery Quad.

The Thompson Building is the cornerstone and final element of the McGraw Gallery Quadrangle, a project which integrated existing buildings and grounds with new construction and unified the buildings of the north end of the Museum by focusing on their common role as formal exhibition galleries.

Thompson Exhibition Building at Mystic Seaport

With a grand and welcoming lobby, the state-of-the-art 5,000-square-foot exhibition space will allow Mystic Seaport to host major exhibitions and take the experience of America’s maritime story to new levels. The bold design reflects a distinct departure from the Museum’s traditional architecture. Relying on inspiration from the sea is a wholly new approach to the design feel at Mystic Seaport and introduces the Museum into a new, modern, and exciting exhibition era.

Wade Thompson, the which the new building was named after, was a Mystic Seaport trustee for 27 years who believed passionately in the need for contemporary exhibition space and its importance for the future of the Museum. The Thompson Building houses the Collins Gallery, a 5,000-square-foot hall featuring soaring ceilings and a flexible layout that provides the caliber of conditions required to curate not only exhibits from the Mystic Seaport collections, but also permit the borrowing of outstanding art and artifacts from other museums around the world.

Mystic Seaport Sea Change Exhibit

A green building, it includes geothermal heating and cooling systems and recycled roof material and carpet tiles. It is constructed with Douglas fir, red cedar and mahogany. Douglas fir is the wood used on the spars on the Charles W. Morgan, the world’s last wooden whaling ship. The first exhibit featured in the Thompson Building is titled “Sea-Change,” a dramatic presentation of a range of beautiful and unique objects drawn from the collections of Mystic Seaport. A special grouping of these intriguing artifacts will be on display for the first time, and all will be presented in a new setting which reveals surprising stories of transformation that continue to impact a contemporary audience and its experience with the sea.
The new Thompson Building and “Sea Change” exhibit opened on December 10, 2016. Come check it out.

Mystic Seaports Thompson Exhibition Building

Winter Fun ~
  The Niantic Light Parade

Looking for something fun to do during this holiday season?  Come feel the excitement and anticipation in the air on a dark December night. Feel a little Jack Frost nipping at your nose! See thousands of people streaming into our normally quiet winter-clad town. Notice the chairs that have been placed in line for the best views from the sidewalks. See children riding high atop adult shoulders, mesmerized by the sights, and sounds of the holidays. The tinsel, lights and carols surround Main Street. Check out the reviewing stand erected on the town green.

Light Parade 2015 logo

What’s happening? It’s our 27th Annual Niantic Light Parade! The Light Parade features beautifully built and lighted parade floats, dance groups and Santa himself as they parade down the beautifully decorated Main Street in Niantic. This year’s Niantic / East Lyme Light Parade will be held on Saturday night December 12th at 6:00 p.m. (with a Rain Date of Sunday, December 13th at 5:00 p.m.)

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This is a favorite for everyone! Folks come from far and wide to attend this celebrated event. There is something for everyone! Even a down right cold December night does not cause this event to be cancelled! There have been as many as seventy, beautifully built and lit floats cruising down Main Street with Marching Bands and dance groups during any number of parades. Many floats reflect current movies or themes of the times, local businesses and some floats carry non-profit service groups. The participants put forth their best ideas and creations to celebrate this important holiday event.

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Today’s Light Parade is a far cry from the original parade started in 1988 by the town and a few local businesses. In the beginning it was a parade of decorated town dump trucks and fire trucks and some local private citizens all showing the holiday spirit while bringing people out to enjoy our Main Street. As the years progressed the parade became a local tradition and continued to grow larger every year with the addition of new businesses, service organizations and non-profits, private citizens and interested groups from other area towns. Anyone wanting to enter a float can do so by completing an application and submitting with the appropriate entrance fee.

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Celebrating its 27th anniversary in 2015, the Annual East Lyme / Niantic Light Parade is the largest holiday light parade in all of New England, and maybe one of the most unique events you will find anywhere.
Come see it for yourself; you won’t be disappointed.

Winter Escapes and Sleighrides

Yes, this year’s early Winter season has been a delight to many of us warm weather lovers with temperatures hovering in the 40’s and 50’s since Winter officially began back on December, 21st, but as we New Englander’s know, things change quickly and winter’s chill is just around the corner.

While we’re primarily known for our warmer weather getaways, don’t count us out as a winter getaway destination during the winter season. Chill and all, it’s still beautiful here in southern New England during the winter season and particularly by the seashore where you’ll see sights not seen at other times during the year. (Photo below is that looking up the Niantic River from our 3rd floor Balcony room #7  in the Main Inn)
01 Winter Niantic River Jan 2011

For instance, the ocean doesn’t freeze (LOL) so the beach and the waves and the gulls and all of the other shoreline accouterments never go away. There’s still beach combing/walking and some of the greatest things we’ve found while beach scavenging have been in the winter. Unusual driftwood and shells that are brought to our shores from faraway places during out to sea storms are aplenty. It’s just an entirely different experience to walk the boardwalk or feel the solitude of the docks with the boats safely tucked away in the marinas.

Additionally, we have warm rooms just waiting to envelop you as you sink into a steamy tub or cushy bed with a glass of wine, a good book or some wandering seasonal thoughts. Think back to a time long gone to days when the main form of transport was horse and carriage or sleigh as the season might warrant. Within a half hour drive from the inn we have wonderful Allegra Farms where your fantasy can become reality. Listen for … the clomping of heavy hooves as you’re squired around the farm in a beautiful winter carriage or snow permitting, a sleigh with all of the tinkling bells and comforts of furry warm lap robes as you are swooshed along the countryside in your grand historic splendor perhaps to stop for a wintry bonfire along your way. John Allegra is the owner and curator of the historic coach and sleigh museum on his farm and a wealth of knowledge on the subject. His historic transports have been used in many movies and for many more special occasions. John is the quintessential New England livery driver, guardian of historic time and his museum keeps those times and memories alive for all of us.

Horse Drawn Sleighride DINE

So, just because it is winter time don’t count us out for a winter destination getaway! The wineries remain open, the movie theaters begin showing some of the best films of the year and simple walks along the beach are just as beautiful as they are in the summer albeit with a lot less heat! And oh yea, when the last time you and your honey took a private horse-drawn sleigh ride together? So, think about coming for a winter visit. We are here and the possible adventures are only limited by your imagination!