It’s the Christmas season in, and for, every sense at the Dole Mansion in Crystal Lake.
With art displays, ice sculpting, wagon rides, caroling, cookie decorating, crafts, dance, music and more, this year’s festivities have flourished, organizers say.
“It’s a wonderland here,” said Siobhan Cottone, executive director for Lakeside Legacy Arts Park, which joined this year with the city of Crystal Lake and the park district to host Christmas at the Dole and a Centennial Winter Festival.
The events take place Dec. 6 and 7 at Crystal Lake Main Beach, the Dole Mansion and Lakeside Legacy Arts Park, 401 Country Club Road.
“We put in a lot of hours and teamwork, and we’re very excited about what Winterfest is going to be this year,” Cottone said.
Beginning Dec. 6 with a First Friday Art Show from 5 to 8 p.m., the festivities include “Dream” and “Winter Reflections” exhibits created by the Lakes Region Watercolor Guild. The exhibits feature more than 80 watercolor paintings creating by 30 members of the guild and chosen by a jury.
Putting the exhibit together was a year-long process, guild members say.
“If people are looking for Christmas gifts, it would be a great idea to come, but just to come and see it is going to be a fantastic evening,” said guild co-chair Angie Boe of Woodstock, who is among the artists featured in the show. “It will definitely get you in the Christmas spirit.”
The 100-member guild brings in renowned artists once a month to work with area artists so all can learn from one another.
The exhibit allows local artists to display their work, members say.
“Even thought it’s all watercolor, there’s such a wide variety of styles,” co-chair Kathy Weber said.
The First Friday Art Show also will feature caroling and holiday musical performances by the Marian Central Catholic High School Madrigals, the McHenry County Youth Orchestra, Martin Lopez Academy, Four Strings Attached, Summers Academy of Dance and Marti Bonne & Together Again.
Free appetizers will be served, and a 7 p.m. tree lighting will take place, and at 8 p.m., Cassandra Vohs-Demann and John Hegner will take the stage in The Listening Room for “Songs of the Season.”
Among the attractions Dec. 6 are ice sculpting demonstrations, a reindeer petting zoo, holiday vendors, S’mores-making stations, wagon and trackless train rides, crafts and other free events. At 11 a.m. Dec. 6, the winner of a contest between area high schools will be revealed.
Area high schools took part in a voting competition to have their mascots carved into an ice sculpture.
“An ice business was part of the history here at the Dole Mansion,” Cottone said. “The Dole at one time operated an ice business out of the lake.”
Inside Dec. 6, visitors will be able to decorate cookies, visit with Santa, make crafts and create mini-music videos to take home at a “Dancing Heads” station.
Along with all that, Cottone said, they’ll simply be able to take in the historic Dole mansion all decked out for Christmas.
“It’s absolutely beautiful here, and we’re so excited to share it with the community,” she said.