Newburyport’s 2021 Maritime Holiday Tree strung with life ring ornaments will light up the waterfront for the season beginning December 3rd at 5:30 pm at the annual maritime tree lighting ceremony on the Custom House Maritime Museum lawn adjacent to the Newburyport boardwalk. Visitors can arrive before the lighting at 4:45 pm to enjoy caroling lead by the Newburyport Choral Society, hot chocolate, and great company at this community event. Although the tree lighting is early in December, this stunning tree is kept up through the holidays for all to enjoy.
Unlike the coastal town’s traditional evergreen, the Custom House Maritime Holiday Tree features a nautical theme in keeping with the rich history of our port. The “tree” itself will be made of rope riggings resembling a tall ship and the decorative ornaments are replica boating life rings of various sizes. Equally as unique as the tree design is that the ornaments are all individually decorated by local residences and businesses. The idea for the Maritime Holiday Tree was developed in 2020 as a way to connect the community during a time when many people were experiencing isolation and or loss. The Maritime Tree provided hope and the start of what is certain to be, a long term Newburyport holiday tradition and an important ongoing fundraiser helping to support the Custom House. Sponsorships from local businesses help fund this fun the Maritime Tree in addition to the purchase of life rings. Thank you to Newburyport Bank, the Presenting Sponsor as well as the many other local businesses helping to support this maritime tradition.
The life rings, which will be strung on the Maritime Holiday Tree to illustrate tying our close community together, can be purchased in advance online to be picked up in person at the museum or by simply dropping into the museum gift shop during regular operating hours. While you are there, the museum gift shop is also a great place to shop local and discover unique gifts for that hard to shop for person on your list! The Custom House Maritime Museum is open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 10 pm to 4 pm and Sundays from 12 pm to 4 pm. In order to offer more flexible hours, folks are able to go to pick up life rings through Monday, 12/20. If you are picking up a life ring on a day that the Museum is closed, go to the back door and ring the doorbell. If you have a wreath to hang after the 20th, you are welcome to hang it on the tree.
Families, students, businesses, and nonprofits are encouraged to purchase and decorate their ornaments with anything that will sustain the weather and contribute to the festive Maritime Holiday Tree—creativity welcome! If you would like to have your life ring ornament returned to you, make sure to write your name on the back.
Along with the tree lighting ceremony, the Custom House Maritime Museum will also host numerous other events during the season, including the Newburyport PTO hot chocolate and spirit wear sale and the Salvation Army mitten drive. For a full list of all holiday events and dates make sure to check our Events Calendar. Special event or not, visitors are welcome to stroll past the tree nightly through the end of December to enjoy the lights and one-of-a-kind ornaments.