You’d think we’d grow numb to the constant stream of cancellations and postponements, but the cancellation of this month’s Lambertville-New Hope Winter Festival still stings.
Even in a region where there’s always so much going on (the last year excluded), January — a.k.a. the dead of winter — can feel particularly still. For the better part of the last 25 years, the winter festival has broken that silence and lured us outside, sometimes in snow and bitter cold, with ice sculptures-in-the-making, a parade, and, our favorite part, various walking tours of two of the Delaware River Towns’ most diverse communities.
While the winter festival surely draws its fair share of tourists, it always felt like it was designed with locals in mind. Because, as many of us know, you can live in or around New Hope and Lambertville and still be surprised by what lies around the corner. The festival’s tours are an opportunity to become better acquainted with those nooks, whether it’s an intimate restaurant, a communal drinking hole, or a piece of forgotten history you’re after.
(As further proof that the winter festival is, foremost, an event by and for the community, it’s generated more than a half-million dollars through the years for local nonprofits and agencies.)
Carve out your own walking tour
With the festival paused until next year (hopefully), should we just cut our losses and head into a post-holidays hibernation? Attractive as it would be to wake up one morning in the near future and have this whole pandemic behind us, giving up would mean the virus wins. Not to mention, the winter is prime time to enjoy New Hope and Lambertville in relative isolation.
Bundle up and lose yourself for a couple of hours strolling Lambertville’s side streets and alleys. You’ll encounter impressive examples of Victorian- and Federalist-style architecture, the kinds of quirky nuances that are quickly disappearing from small towns, and maybe a handful of other people walking their dogs.
Or do some slow-paced window shopping across the river. Try it at almost any other time of the year and you’re bound to be immediately swallowed up by one of the many masses of day-trippers overflowing the sidewalks.
Or sink into the tranquility
If you’re desperate for more of an escape, head to one of the towpaths on either side of the river. Both qualify as the rare spot where you can indulge in feeling completely alone without actually being alone. Nature can be humbling like that. And the towpaths, once they move beyond the reaches of New Hope and Lambertville, offer some of the best vantage points around of nature doing its thing.
We’re all craving company right now (some of us are, at least), but there’s still deep pleasure to be found in the soft crunch of freshly fallen snow underfoot and the distant roar of the river. Yeah, a lot’s missing from our lives, but there’s still plenty to experience.