The holidays are the ultimate feel-good time of year--but this weekend, downtown New Bedford will be taking the experience up a notch!

The annual "Holiday Shop and Stroll" is an event that can provide something unique for your shopping list in a unique festive atmosphere duplicated nowhere else, all the while breathing greater life into the local economy.

Courtesy downtown New Bedford, Inc.

On Saturday, December 1 and Sunday, December 2, more than 90 downtown stores will open their doors to offer goods and services, most of which cannot be found anywhere else.

It is also a holiday environment found nowhere else. The Holiday Stroll has kicked off New Bedford’s seasonal calendar for more than 20 years, and is expected to be bigger than ever with more businesses and volunteers becoming involved.

“There’s a sense of community about this event; it’s family friendly,” says Elissa Paquette, owner of Calico and President of dNB Inc, the organization spearheading the event. “People who shop downtown are contributing to something vibrant. You don’t have to wake up at 5:30 in the morning to get in line. You can buy something from a small business and directly support the local economy.”

From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, visitors have the opportunity to explore downtown. A particularly enticing feature of this year’s Stroll is “Deck the Windows.” More than 40 businesses will decorate their windows with holiday images, contributing greatly to the festive atmosphere of the area. The windows will be on display through New Year’s, and visitors will be able to use their phones to vote for their favorite windows in a variety of categories. “Deck The Windows” also provided a $100 stipend to local art students to help create many of the project’s seasonal displays.

“People like to see their city look beautiful,” says Terry Wolkowicz, coordinator for “Deck the Windows.” “We’re inspiring business owners to make their windows as creative as possible. There may even be a little bit of friendly competition.”

“For me, this season recreates the landscape of my childhood when you went to a downtown area with the streets that were full of happy people,” says Lee Heald, Director of AHA! New Bedford for the past 10 years and a contributor to the production of the Stroll.

“New Bedford was built so that people can walk around, it has an intimate personal feel,” Heald says. “With its cobblestone streets and wonderful lights, there is the holiday feeling of being in a small village-like location. People are delighted to enjoy the environment. This is an opportunity to see New Bedford at its best.”

“Shopping small” can have big rewards. It’s likely to introduce visitors to businesses to which they will return after the holidays. Popular items are gift cards to restaurants, museums, theaters and other local establishments that will continue to bring people downtown. A delicious meal can be the conclusion of a full day of shopping, or it can be the precursor to an evening at a local theatre.

“Shopping local makes people feel good,” say Paquette. “It’s rewarding to invest in your city’s small business community—while you’re splurging on that new dress or holiday gift.”

Paquette’s women’s clothing boutique, Calico, is just one of the many shopping destinations found downtown, offering stylish women’s clothing and accessories. Among the other downtown holiday shopping hot spots is be jeweled, for fun and festive jewelry, Solstice for one-of-a-kind t-shirts, The Bedford Merchant for an array of unique giftables, and The Landing, where you can have a custom t-shirt silk screened while you wait.

Some additional event highlights include firetruck rides (Saturday 12-4), photos with Santa at Mare Studios, located at 27 Centre Street (Saturday 12-3:30, Sunday 12-4), and the annual tree lighting at the New Bedford Public Library on Saturday at 5 p.m.

Another Saturday opportunity is an Art Market being held on Union Street at the Co-Creative Center, where 13 regional vendors will be selling everything from hand-crafted leather goods to natural soaps and skin care.

Saturday will also include music from the South Coast Brass Band, performing at Custom House Square at Acushnet and William Streets.

“When you come downtown, everything you find is hand-picked by a local small business owner, from the products on the shelves--right down to the font on the menus,” quips Paquette. “It’s that personal touch that makes downtown New Bedford special!”

For further information on the Holiday Stroll, please visit www.downtownnb.org.

Holiday Shop and Stroll in Downtown New Bedford


dNB Inc. Is a grassroots non-profit organization here to spread the word about our hip, historic downtown in New Bedford, MA. Follow @dnbinc on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Visit them online at DowntownNB.org