Stockbridge Gets Lit For Holiday Season

Nov 21, 2018

A historic Berkshire residence is unveiling a holiday light spectacular this weekend.

Stockbridge is about to be lit up like never before.

“So we’ve got a 120,000 lights spread throughout our eight-acre garden," said Brian Cruey. He's the general manager of Naumkeag, a 19th Century estate in the hands of the Trustees. They’re a non-profit, member supported conservation group that maintains land and places of note in Massachusetts.

“We have 117 properties across the state of Massachusetts," Cruey told WAMC. "Here in the Southern Berkshires, I’m lucky enough to manage eight of those, including Naumkeag, where we’re at now. Monument Mountain, which you can see in the distance, some properties in the Tyringham Valley over in Sheffield, Bart’s Cobble, and Ashley House, and Mission House here in Stockbridge as well.”

The wood shingled Naumkeag sits on a hillside overlooking Stockbridge and the land beyond it to the southwest.

“I think that Naumkeag really embodies everything that’s great about the Berkshires," said Cruey. "It’s this idea of gracious living in nature. You’ve got the views of Monument Mountain and the Berkshire hills all around you. It’s about art, it’s about the gardens here, that are truly just inspired and unlike anything you’ll see around.”

Cruey says that the estate’s garden is one of most famous midcentury gardens in the country, if not the world.

“It’s a really iconic world famous garden designed by Fletcher Steele and Maybel Choate over a 30-year collaboration while she was alive and here at the house," he said, "before she gave it to us in 1959 to take care of and invite the public to as a public museum and garden.”

The lights – which will blanket each section of the famous garden in everything from laser shows to a long walkway of trees Cruey and his team have dubbed “Rainbow Road” – are a new addition to Naumkeag’s seasonal celebrations.

“We just came off the heels of our haunted house and pumpkin trail, which have become really popular October events for us, and then right after that we began planting about 65,000 daffodil bulbs for a daffodil festival that we’re going to be launching in the spring of next year,” said Cruey.

It’s the Trustees’ first foray into offering winter activities at Naumkeag. Normally, the property closes before the holidays.

“We also wanted to find a way to introduce people to Naumkeag in new ways," he said. "Sometimes we find people are kind of intimidated by coming to a historic home or garden and taking a tour – we really wanted to show people that there are many ways to enjoy a place like Naumkeag, from recreation to family time to the different programming that we do.”

Cruey says this may be the biggest event the Trustees have attempted at Naumkeag to date, with ample programming to accompany the lights – as well as partnerships with local businesses like Berkshire Mountain Distillery.

“We’ll welcome people in the first floor of the house," he explained. "We’ll have Santa here, live music – depending on the weekend – and then we’ll invite people to go on a self-guided tour of the garden where it will be lit with all of these lights.”

Cruey says the Trustees are expecting between 5,000-10,000 attendees for what they hope will be a new area staple.

“We really feel that this is going to become a new Berkshires holiday tradition,” he told WAMC.

The Winterlights at Naumkeag opens Friday and runs through December. For more, click here.