From the enchanting It’s a Wonderful Life Festival in Seneca Falls to a decadent Gilded Age Christmas tour at the Staatsburgh State Historic Site and the fabulous bounty of trees and vintage trains in New York City, there is an array of remarkable experiences to uncover during this holiday season.
You’ll find festivals, charming holiday villages, holiday tours, and even a mesmerizing train show happening across the state throughout the season.
These are some of the best holiday events in New York State.
The town of North Pole is a frozen fantasy land filled with holiday spirit. Families can experience Santa’s Blacksmith where magical reindeer shoes are made, a Reindeer Barn and even stop by Santa’s House.
It is the oldest continuously operated theme park in the United States.
This year, is the 50th Anniversary of Yuletide Family Weekends catering to children ages 2 – 10, and Village of Lights events for all ages. Yuletide Family Weekends are from Friday to Sunday, November 10 – December 17 and Village of Lights are held December 3, 10 and 17-23.
Located in Adirondak Park near Whiteface Mountain, 3,400 miles south of the real North Pole.
Dec. 7 – 10, Seneca Falls
Each year. the town throws an It’s a Wonderful Life themed festival with a variety of celebrations related to the iconic film. It is believed that filmmaker Frank Capra was inspired by Seneca Falls to create the fictional Bedford Falls, home to George Bailey’s family in the holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Seneca Falls boasts many similarities to Bedford Falls, including similar town architecture, street layout, and both being mill towns.
During the festival, visitors can stop by the It’s a Wonderful Life Museum, participate in specialty dining events, run the It’s a Wonderful Run 5K and attend a screening of the beloved film.
Through Dec. 24, Skaneateles, Finger Lakes
Every weekend up until Christmas, Skaneateles hosts Dickens Christmas, a variety of events and happenings throughout the town. A full cast of characters from A Christmas Carol roam the village streets interacting with visitors and singing carols, and complimentary eggnog and roasted chestnuts set the scene.
Enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides, a snowman building contest and meeting Father Christmas. The village has a Hallmark feel with little shops and restaurants near beautiful Skaneateles Lake.
Through Dec. 23, Rochester
With twinkling lights, swags of pine, fire pits, hot cocoa and holiday carols floating through the air, Rochester’s Roc Holiday Village runs for 17 days and it’s entirely free to attend.
Meet Santa in his magical workshop, go ice skating with the family and create free crafts with the kids. The Lodge Bar gives off a warm chalet feel and features live holiday music each evening, and the shopping village offers unique artisan gifts as well as tasty treats.
Through Dec. 31, Rochester
Each winter, the George Eastman Museum in Rochester transforms into a holiday delight with a trio of seasonal décor collections on display.
More than 50 decorated gingerbread houses fill the mansion with color and sweet aromas. Dozens of ornate wreaths and tabletop tree displays complete the scene, all available for purchase via an online silent auction.
Through Jan. 2, Irvington, Hudson Valley
Step into the enchanting world of Christmas in 1872 at the Armour-Stiner Octagon House, a National Landmark in the town of Irvington, in the Hudson Valley.
Chose a Victorian Christmas tour for a nostalgic holiday visit, or the interactive Spirit of Christmas Past tour complete with a series of performative readings of “A Christmas Carol.”
The unique shape of the Octagon House dazzles with ornate holiday decorations, wreaths, garlands and a magnificent Christmas tree in the salon. Immerse yourself in a bygone era of yuletide charm and traditions of 19th-century Christmas through original feather trees and antique ornaments.
Also, nearby, is Sunnyside, the historic home of Washington Irving, who wrote about Rip Van Winkle and the Headless Horseman and other classics.
Through Jan. 7, Chappaqua, Hudson Valley
Nestled in the heart of downtown Chappaqua, the historic Horace Greeley House is transformed into a locomotive wonderland.
The grand holiday tree stands over six feet tall with multiple model trains chugging along six levels of tracks. Delightful trains wind through miniature landscapes and villages in every room. Explore the new enchanting Harry Potter LEGO scenes, including the Hogwarts Express and Platform 9¾
Through Dec. 31, Staatsburgh, Hudson Valley
Take a mansion tour that is over the top at the Staatsburgh State Historic Site, decked out for the holidays as it may have been during the Gilded Age (1876 – 1917).
The estate sits atop a grassy hill overlooking the Hudson River and the Catskills Mountains, its interior lavishly decorated in turn-of-the-century holiday décor and staffed by docents. For those who love history and old-world charm, this holiday mansion tour is elegant in both day and night settings.
New York City
Holiday trees at Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park, Central Park, Prospect Park and Wall St. Lightings of the World’s Largest Menorah on Fifth Ave, and the world’s second largest menorah in Brooklyn. Kwanzaa at the African Burial Ground National Monument in Lower Manhattan. Rides on vintage subway cars from the 1950s.
New York City is pure holiday magic.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter is a journalist with 20+ years of experience as a newspaper and magazine writer, radio & TV news producer & reporter, and author of guidebooks and smartphone apps – all focusing on travel, automotive, the environment and your rights as a consumer.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter currently serves as President of the International Motor Press Assn. (IMPA), a former Board Member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and a current member of the North American Travel Journalists Assn. (NATJA) and the North American Snowsports Journalists Assn. (NASJA).
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright (C) Evelyn Kanter