Winterlights: A Labor of Light

Discover the labors of love that go into our Winterlights events.

As part of the Winterlights season at The Trustees, Founders Circle events are happening across the state this year.

“Tickets sold out in just 24 hours at two locations! We had to reserve all the tickets for the rest of the night before the Founders Circle Pre-Sale ended,” said Kirsten af Klinteberg, Managing Director, Development, who oversees the Founders Circle program. “Our first event was at the Bradley Estate on Dec. 2 and it was simply amazing! I can’t wait until our next Founders Circle Winterlights event at Stevens-Coolidge House & Gardens in North Andover on Dec. 16, and tickets are still available for our Grand Finale at Naumkeag in Stockbridge on Jan. 6!”

In the run-up to our Winterlights extravaganza, Trustees staff and volunteers have transformed three of our properties from foliage-festooned forests into illuminated winter wonderlands.

“We had weddings here that ran through the end of October, so we can start decorating some trails and wrapping fence lines in mid-September, but on Nov. 1–it’s all hands on deck,” said Vidya Tikku, director of The Trustees Greater Boston properties who has been running Winterlights at the Bradley Estate, in Canton, since it launched there in 2019. “There’s about 12 miles of lights and over 115,000 bulbs here at Bradley,” she said.

A before and after collage of Winterlights set up activities and final lighted walkways

Dedicated Trustees volunteers hard at work setting up thousands of lights by hand for Winterlights—and the finished result.

Trustees staff and a rotating cast of dedicated volunteers from across the state have worked to place every inch of lights, props, and signage on the 90-acre Bradley Estate. The Trustees premiered Winterlights in 2018 at Naumkeag in Stockbridge and Stevens-Coolidge House & Gardens in North Andover. All three locations will host Winterlights this season.

“We were closed last year because of all the construction at the property,” said Jared Bowers, property director at Stevens-Coolidge, which underwent an extensive redesign and revitalization effort this past year. “With all the new garden areas finished, along with the Gateway Center and parking lot, we were able to light all of them and create some really beautiful displays.”

According to Jared, about two dozen people worked together putting on Winterlights at Stevens-Coolidge, and staff started hanging the estimated 100,000 lights on the property around the beginning of November.

“It’s always amazing to see visitors’ reactions as they wander through the colorful displays and to think of the memories families are creating together as they experience Winterlights,” he said.

“It’s an extremely popular event and it’s an opportunity, especially last year, for families to reconnect safely, to do something for grandparents who hadn’t seen their grandkids,” said Peter Bowne, engagement manager for The Trustees.

Last year at Bradley, the house was closed to guests and there was a shorter route for people to walk, due to COVID. This year, the house is partially open, with alcohol and snacks available, and the walking path has returned to its original, longer route. Additionally, many popular pieces of Winterlights are back for another year, such as the reindeer scavenger hunt.

The entire spectacle is so awe-inspiring that from its very inception, Winterlights has served as the backdrop for multiple marriage proposals, one of Vidya’s favorite annual occurrences at the event.

“The first time it snowed during the event we were worried people might not show up, but a half-hour into the event someone ran up to me and said ‘Vidya, there’s a woman being proposed to in the light tunnel!’ and the whole staff ran over to see it,” she said.

There have been multiple wedding proposals at Winterlights each year, and two people have already called ahead to alert the staff of their intentions this season, according to Vidya.

“Eleanor Cabot Bradley threw a lot of parties here, and Winterlights is really in the spirit of welcoming visitors and enjoying and gathering and celebrating the holidays together,” Vidya said.

Tickets are almost sold out! Winterlights runs from Nov. 26 to Jan. 9, and you can purchase general admissions tickets. We are also offering special Winterlights evenings for Founders Circle members at Stevens-Coolidge House and Gardens on Dec. 16, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and at Naumkeag on Jan. 6, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Contact Trustees Managing Director of Development Kirsten af Kilnteberg at for more information.