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December in New York State

by Ohio Digital News

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Credit: @eulises74 on Instagram


It’s going to be a festive December in New York State, with a variety of activities and events to get you into the holiday spirit. Travel back to the Gilded Age, discover past holiday traditions from around the world, celebrate a classic holiday movie, be amazed by a magical light show, and more!


Masks are encouraged, but optional in most settings per New York State guidelines. Individual businesses or attractions may require mask wearing. Call ahead and check websites and social media to make sure attractions and amenities are open and available.






Through December 23


People ice skate at the Roc Holiday Village Winter Festival

Photo courtesy of Roc Holiday Village Winter Festival


Get ready to experience 17 days of festive fun as the Roc Holiday Village transforms Rochester’s downtown into a winter wonderland filled with enchanting events including visits with Santa, free ice skate rentals and skating, shopping for hand-crafted goods, cozy winter igloos, live music, kids’ crafts, fire pits and plenty of indoor and outdoor food and libations. It’s free to attend and perfect for creating a new family tradition! Rochester; Tickets and reservations needed for some experiences.






Through December 30





The sparkling lights of the holidays are bringing a whole new dimension to this year’s vibrant and festive poinsettia exhibit at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens! Be mesmerized by the vibrant plant-life under shimmering lights as hundreds of reflective surfaces transport you to an entirely different dimension. The beautiful world of flowers is sure to enchant you this holiday season as large reflective orbs and mirrors let you explore how reflections of our own world can cause us to view familiar objects and shapes in entirely new ways. Buffalo, Adult – $17.50, Senior 62+ – $16.00, Student 13+ – $16.00,  Child 3-12 – $9.50, Child 2 & Under – Free.




Through December 30


Three Christmas trees made of green lights at Jones Beach


It’s time to wind through the sparkling path of one of Long Island’s favorite holiday traditions, the Magic of Lights at Jones Beach State Park! This dazzling drive-through lights experience brings your favorite holiday scenes and characters to life. Make your way down Candy Cane Alley and through the Enchanted Tunnel before encountering a larger-than-life sparkling Christmas Barbie display, the supersized Bigfoot Monster Truck, life-sized dinosaurs celebrating a Prehistoric Christmas and more enchanting scenes! Jones Beach; $30-$35 per car; $65 limo.




Through December 31 


Christmas tree inside room at Staatsburgh State Historical Site


Staatsburgh State Historic Site, the former home of financier and philanthropist Ogden Mills and his wife Ruth Livingston, and one of the great estates of the Hudson Valley, invites you to experience a Gilded Age Christmas. You’ll marvel at the 65-room Beaux-Arts country home’s  beautiful interiors, with their original furniture, art, and décor lavishly decorated for the holiday season, and meet people within it dressed in Gilded Age garb! Special evening hours feature live music by the Hyde Park Chamber Ensemble. Staatsburg; $10/Adults, $8/Seniors & Students, Children 12 & under are free.. Reservations required.




Through January 5, 2024


Immerse yourself in the wonder of the season as you experience the lights, trees, and magic of a beloved Binghamton tradition. Featuring hundreds of elaborately decorated trees, and dazzling displays representing holiday traditions from around the world, the Roberson Museum and Science Center’s Home for the Holidays has been a community favorite for more than 60 years. The Roberson also offers mansion tours, craft workshops for kids, and live entertainment every weekend, plus seasonal planetarium shows (additional $4 fee). Binghamton; Adults: $8, Military: $6, Students: $6, Seniors: $6, Members and children 4 & under: Free.




Through January 15, 2024


The Statue of Liberty and other landmarks made of plant material at the New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show

Credit: @nybg on Instagram


Be amazed as model trains navigate meticulously crafted miniatures of New York City landmarks, all made entirely out of plant parts, at the New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show. The Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, and Rockefeller Center are just a few of the nearly 200 landmarks that form a fantastically rendered cityscape built from seeds, bark, leaves and twigs, serviced by a robust half-mile of track, and all set within the stunning and historic Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. Catch an all-new outdoor display on the conservatory lawn where you’ll see trains traverse towering mountainscapes. On select evenings, experience the gardens after dark as their magnificent landscapes and buildings are beautifully illuminated for NYBG GLOW and celebrate the return of Bar Car Nights, 21-and-over evenings featuring the Holiday Train Show and curated cocktails. Bronx; Adults: $35, Students (with valid ID)/Seniors (65+): $31, Children (2-12 years): $15. Patrons/Members and Children under 2: free.




Through March 3, 2024






Enter a land of arctic magic and wonder at the new Winter Realms coming to Charles R. Wood Park. Twirl on the ice, sip on frosty beverages at the Polar Ice Bar, marvel at whimsical sculptures crafted from snow and ice, wander through Santa’s Village, and more at this brand new event from the creators of Ice Castles. The fun kicks off November 24 as part of the 25th annual Lite Up the Village in Lake George and will run through March. Lake George, Off-peak prices: $17 General, $14 children ages 4-11; Peak Prices: $20 General, $15 Children ages 4-11.




December 1





Kingston is ushering in the holiday season with the annual Snowflake Festival, a free community celebration taking place in the city’s Historic Stockade District that promises to once again dazzle guests of all ages. Explore the charming and decorated historic streets while enjoying an array of holiday-themed activities and live entertainment including carolers, dancers, horse-drawn carriage rides, fire twirlers, jugglers, a Christmas tree lighting, ice sculpture carvings, a visit from Santa, and much more as stores open their doors offering treats and warm beverages to all. Kingston; Free.






December 2


Clayton is kicking off the holiday season in style with the 61st Annual Christmas Parade and Fireworks. The day features Breakfast with Santa (a ticketed event hosted by the Clayton Fire Department), hay rides with Santa, and festive tunes playing throughout the downtown as shops reopen to the delight of all, offering warm cocktails and gift options aplenty. Once night falls, it’s time for the beloved holiday parade, which illuminates the town with colorful hues coming from dozens of decked out floats. It all ends with a spectacular fireworks display and, of course, Santa. It’s a truly great “off season reason” to visit. Clayton, free.




December 2


For a fun and healthy activity, gather with friends and family and share your holiday spirit by dressing in your favorite festive gear for the Oswego YMCA 32nd Annual Reindeer Run. This 5k Fun Run and Walk can be enjoyed individually, or raced as a team of two or more, and prizes will be awarded to the top three finishers, both male and female, and for the best costumed teams and individuals. Following the run, enjoy holiday music, refreshments, and snacks! Oswego; Free to spectate.






December 2





The Festival of Trees lights up Schenectady with dozens of artistically decorated fir trees that transform the galleries of Schenectady County Historical Society and YWCA into a land of wintertide enchantment! When you stop in, be sure to vote for your top choices in eight categories, including Cutest, Most Glamorous, and Most Creative trees! Schenectady, $6 for adults 12+.




December 2-3, 8-10, 15-16


People in period dress stroll the snow-blanketed streets during Yuletide In The Country Tours at Genesee Country Village & Museum

Credit: @gcvmuseum on Instagram


The Genesee Country Village & Museum beckons you to explore a wintry village bedecked in holiday splendor and lit by candle light with its annual Yuletide in the Country Tours. You’re invited into theatrical vignettes that illuminate the link between today’s cherished holiday traditions and the cultural customs that newcomers to the region would have shared throughout the 19th century. Experience the Italian American tradition of Festi dei Setti Pesci, a special Hanukkah celebration, and moments of fika and hygge with Swedish settlers. You may even encounter St. Nick himself! Hungry? Pair your festive experience with a delicious dinner! Mumford; Prices vary.




December 3


Winter shot of the ice rink at empire state plaza with views of the Christmas tree, the Egg, and Corning Tower lit up against a dark blue sky


Get into the holiday spirit as the Empire State Plaza flips the switch on the 5,600-pound, 38-foot Norway Spruce that has the honor of being this year’s New York State Holiday Tree. The annual tree lighting ceremony lights up an evening of festivities in downtown Albany with live music, figure skating performances, a visit from Santa, and a dazzling fireworks display. Albany; Free admission.




December 3


A saxophone-playing Santa and elf delight crowds at the Troy Victorian Stroll

Credit: @enjoytroy on Instagram


Step back into the Gilded Age at the Troy Victorian Stroll! For 40 years, this community tradition has transformed the streets of historic downtown Troy, which served as a filming location for the HBO series The Gilded Age, into a bygone Victorian era, complete with visitors in period dress strolling the city. There’s something of interest for people of all ages with the stroll’s activities and entertainment strategically spread throughout the streets amidst unique shops, storefronts, restaurants, bars, and parks. Troy; Free admission.




December 8-10


Lake Placid Holiday Village Stroll


Celebrate the spirit of the holidays in the fairy-tale winter wonderland of Lake Placid at this annual tradition that’s back for its 14th year. Lake Placid will be merry and bright with a weekend full of festivities including a skating party at the Olympic Center ice rink, an ugly sweater party, a free matinee showing of The Polar Express at the Palace Theatre, holiday wine tastings, a Santa fire truck parade, and a fun event at Whiteface Mountain where those dressed in a full Santa suit ski for free! There will also be dining specials, live entertainment into the late evening hours, plus tons of great shopping in this amazing and historic storybook village! Lake Placid; Free.






December 8-10


It’s A Wonderful Life Museum


Celebrate the 77th anniversary of “It’s a Wonderful Life” in Seneca Falls, also known as “The Real Bedford Falls” — the fictional setting of the iconic Frank Capra film. The annual festival honors the movie’s release with an array of paid and free events ranging from movie showings to author talks to autograph signings by cast members, plus a parade, dinners, a 5K run, free screening of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and traditional ringing of the bells to close out the ceremonies. Seneca Falls, prices vary.




December 8-March 31, 2024


Embark on a magical winter journey and create memories that will last a lifetime as you immerse yourself in the enchanting ambiance of Winter’s Dream at Fort William Henry Historical Fortress! Step into a fantastical winter paradise where lights twinkle, music fills the air, sounds resonate, and interactivity awakens your senses. Lake George; $29.90 for adults, $22.90 for children (4-12), $23.90 for seniors (65+).




December 9


Athens Annual Victorian Stroll


Get ready for a free, fun-filled day of celebration featuring family-friendly activities, free goodies to eat, and entertainment galore in a northern Catskills village as it gets transported back to its Victorian roots at the annual Athens Victorian Stroll. Don’t be surprised if you run into a stilt walker leading a caroling group of Victorian-garbed revelers or see a chainsaw-wielding ice carver transforming a block of ice into a wintery sculpture. And don’t forget to bring your skates – there’s family ice skating at Athens Riverfront Park! Athens; Free admission.




December 9


The Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History in Jamestown, a nature center, gallery, and library dedicated to the life’s work of famed ornithologist and wildlife artist Roger Tory Peterson, is decking its halls with boughs of holly, festive garland, and other trimmings for Holidays at The Lodge. Everyone will enjoy bird ornament decorating, fresh hot chocolate and cider, a visit from Santa Claus, and choral groups singing holiday classics. Jamestown; $5 per person and includes admission to the entire museum; free for museum members.




December 31


A seal holds a New Year's Eve noise maker at the Long Island Aquarium

Photo Courtesy of Long Island Aquarium


Ring in the year 2024 at the Long Island Aquarium! Bring the kids and join in on the fun at this family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration! The event includes a cocktail hour, DJ and dancing, buffet dinner, dessert, ice cream bar, animal meet and greets, crafts, and even a mock midnight toast! Riverhead; Adults: $145 (Members: $130.50) + tax, Children 3-12: $90 (Members: $81) + tax, Children 2 and under: $10 + tax.



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