Look for the hidden jewel

Published 11:09 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2011

If you’ve ever complained that there’s not enough to do in Suffolk, this is your weekend to see a whole new side of the city, to learn just how busy things can get and to discover a hidden jewel that will have you proud of the place you call home.

Peanut Festival holds the distinction of being the best-attended event of the year in Suffolk, but the city’s new Holiday Open House, which connects some of Suffolk’s favorite holiday events with a variety of special attractions, entertainments and gustatory delights spanning the downtown area, could become the holiday equivalent in terms of popularity.

“A Storybook Holiday,” the city’s downtown open house, takes place Friday through Sunday and promises to be a feast for all the senses. Downtown merchants, restaurants, galleries, museums and venues have joined together for the event, which is part of Suffolk’s “Shop, dine and play locally” initiative.

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There will be live entertainment and special holiday readings during a “Festival of Fire and Light” at the Suffolk Art Gallery, which also will host its annual juried exhibition and a variety of other fun attractions. There will be the popular Candlelight Tour, hosted for the 35th year by the Suffolk Nansemond Historical Society and featuring a look inside some of Suffolk’s favorite homes, churches and public buildings. A special exhibit of the talent of regional artists will be on display at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, which also will host the wildly popular production of “The Nutcracker” by Ballet Virginia International, whose cast will be available to meet children of all ages during the annual Sugarplum Tea event that precedes the show both days.

But those are just the anchor events taking place downtown. Nineteen different merchants, restaurants, galleries, museums and venues have signed up to offer discounts, refreshments, workshops, door prizes, special events and menus, visits with Santa and even free pinball games to those who visit on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. And the city will offer a free trolley to transport visitors all over the downtown area throughout the day Saturday and Sunday.

In fact, there’s so much going on downtown this weekend that you just might find there’s no way to enjoy it all in a day. So you’d better plan to come on Friday or Saturday, so you can return the following day to catch the things you missed. And on Monday, go tell someone about that hidden jewel you discovered in downtown Suffolk.