Months of preparation are coming to fruition in expectation of Rockport's annual Holiday on the Harbor, which will take place Saturday, Dec. 9. The celebration, which takes place in downtown Rockport and at the water's edge, will feature horse-drawn carriage rides, festive receptions at local businesses, musical performances and a crowd favorite: an elaborate fireworks display in the middle of the harbor.

First conceived by a group of Rockport residents and business owners eight years ago, Holiday on the Harbor initially centered around a display of white paper luminaria that lined the streets of downtown Rockport. Although the luminaria are still a mainstay of the festival, four years ago the light display was expanded to include the fireworks, which are shot into the sky from a barge in the center of the harbor.

Each year a core group of volunteers work together to organize a schedule of events aimed to bring residents and visitors into the center of town, and engage them in demonstrations by local artisans, retailers and performers. This year's roster includes downtown restaurants Nina June and 18 Central Oyster Bar & Grill opening their doors to host happy hours, a slideshow and print signing at Ralston Gallery, an open house hosted by the De'Corum Hair Studio and a wine-tasting at RAYR wine shop.

Rockport Harbormaster Abbie Leonard has been busy decorating her boat, which now carries a pre-lit Christmas tree, and even the granite sculpture of Andre the Seal is adorned with a festive fir wreath. The tall pine tree that stands in Rockport's Marine Park has also been decorated for the season, and its branches bear wooden lobster bouy ornaments donated by Goodridge and Lermond Tree Service.

The tree will play a pivotal role in Saturday's festivities: its lighting at around 5 p.m. will signal the commencement of the fireworks display. All shapes and sizes of colorful fireworks have been stockpiled at the Rockport Harbormaster's office, and were purchased in part through contributions made by Rockport residents and business owners.

A campaign started by members of the Holiday on the Harbor Committee has sought donations from local business in the amount of $100 to help fund the night's festivities, and all those who donate will be highlighted on a large banner to be strung over the bridge in downtown Rockport. Volunteers will be working in unison on Saturday night to set up and light the hundreds of luminaria that will trail down Pascal Avenue and into town.

"This can be kind of tricky, depending on the weather," said Leonard Dec. 5. "But they add so much charm to the event, and you can't help but feel part of the holiday season."

Last year's Holiday on the Harbor saw approximately 2,000 attendees — the largest turnout in the event's history, and this year committee members hope for an equally robust crowd. Visitors arriving by car are strongly encouraged to park at the former Rockport Elementary School, where they will be ferried into town in style via horse-drawn carriage or van.

A concert will be presented by students of the Bay Chamber Music School at Union Hall from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., followed by an opportunity to have pictures taken with Santa at the hall from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Bay Chamer Concerts will present a performance by the Songs of Solomon Gospel Choir of Harlem at the Rockport Opera House at 3 p.m., and the Odeon Brandenburg Ensemble performs at Union Hall from 4:30 to 5 p.m.

More information on the events and businesses featured at this year's Holiday on the Harbor may be found at