Home Travel Unique Ways to Celebrate Winter Holidays in New York

Unique Ways to Celebrate Winter Holidays in New York

by Ohio Digital News

Originally published 12/04/2020

The holiday spirit shines brightly throughout New York State. This year, you can find drive-through light displays, Santa sightings, classic holiday performances, and much more. Get ready to celebrate the season with these winter holiday happenings across New York

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.

Holiday lights at GLOW at the New York Botanical Garden

Credit: Marlon Co/The New York Botanical Garden

The New York Botanical Garden‘s favorite holiday train show is back! This beloved 30+ year tradition returns with a miniature wonderland in the warmth of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, showing more than 190 replicas of New York landmarks artistically crafted out of natural materials and more than 25 model trains and trolleys. Walk the grounds at night and take in the sights of NYBG GLOW, returning for its fourth year with more illuminated displays. It expands across even more of the Garden’s magnificent collections with the Haupt Conservatory and Mertz Library Building as the glowing centerpieces. On special evenings, adult-only Bar Car Nights offer exclusive night viewings of the Holiday Train Show and NYBG GLOW complete with light bites and curated cocktails. Open through January 15, 2024. Train and GLOW combination ticket, $54 adults, $39 children (2-12), and free for children under 2. Bar Car Nights are $54 per adult. The Bronx

Holiday lights reading "Winter Wonderland"

Credit: Nick Rouke / @nick_rouke_photo

This 1.2-mile drive-thru experience features thousands of lights spread out across Kensico Dam Plaza, as well as characters, Christmas tree displays, and more. Maneuver through festive surroundings in your vehicle, pass glittering peace angels and glowing snowballs, drive down Candy Cane Lane and through a 100-foot light tunnel, and wave at friendly elves at their playground. New for 2023, meet Snowball the Elf, drive through the 175-foot glowing Transporter Tunnel, and journey to the North Pole on Rudolph’s Runway. Open select days through December 31, 2023. $35 per car; Valhalla

An illuminated outline of a bus and candy canes at sunset in the Catskills

Credit: Courtesy of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts

Say “Hippie Holidays” at this colorful drive-thru light show on the site of the original Woodstock music festival. Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has created a 1.7-mile drive through a “Twinkle Tunnel” and themed areas including “Holidays Around The World” and “Groovy Way,” a nod to this historic site. Keep an eye out for Santa and other holiday favorites, and get some shopping done at the holiday pop up market on weekends through December. Various dates November 24, 2023–December 31, 2023; tickets start at $30 per car; one ticket per carload. 5-10 pm with last entry at 9 pm. There is no drive-thru on Mondays, and instead, Sullivan 180 Walk-Thru Mondays will take place 5-9 pm (Last Entry at 7:30 pm). Bethel

Three Christmas trees made of green lights at Jones Beach

Drive through illuminated holiday scenes and favorite holiday characters at Magic of Lights in Jones Beach. The displays employ the latest LED technology and feature imaginative and inspiring digital animations, creating a wonderful, winding path for you to enjoy from inside your vehicle. Open select days through December 30, 2023, tickets start at $30 for weekdays when purchased in advance online or $35 at the gate, Wantagh

Just five minutes from Lewiston and 20 minutes from Niagara Falls, the glass-domed Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady Fatima sits on 35 acres featuring statues and monuments. During the holidays, the grounds are home to a spectacular festival of lights and an international nativity display, both open for self-guided tours. Open select days 7pm-9pm through January 7, free, Youngstown

Experience a holiday light show extravaganza at the Farmers’ Museum. Explore an enchanting illuminated wonderland and admire the museum like never before. Take the whole family through the self-guided walking tour through the museum’s Country Village and other areas creatively illuminated with unique brightly-colored themes. Thursday – Sundays, 5pm – 8pm, November 24 – December 30. Closed December 24. $15 for adults (18+), $10 for juniors (3-17), free for children under 2, Cooperstown

Santa's Workshop - Photo Courtesy of Santa's Workshop

Credit: Photo Courtesy of Santa’s Workshop

The Fenton History Center is spreading cheer with a “sensory-friendly” Santa Claus on December 16 from 4pm-6pm. Tailored for children and families who may find traditional Santa encounters overwhelming, Fenton’s sensory-friendly Santa is well-versed in working with individuals with disabilities, creating a festive and peaceful experience for all. Holiday Open House on December 9 when the mansion’s halls will be fully decked out for the holiday. Live music is played in the dining room and refreshments will be served. Both events are free and open to the public; Jamestown

Glowing yellow lights decorate treesCREDIT: @RICKGODINPRODUCTIONS ON INSTAGRAM

The Adirondacks’ dazzling wintertime tradition returns—bigger and brighter. The Wild Center’s Wild Lights, an enchanting and illuminated winter wonderland featuring hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights and festive music. Be sure to check out Forest Music, an original immersive 3-D music and light experience, and, of course, take a wintertime Wild Walk on the 1,000-foot elevated walkway with bridges and platforms overlooking the forest canopy. Bask in the glow of Stickwork, an all-natural twig sculpture that has been adorned with enough light to make the forest canopy glow. New this year, interactive lighting on the Wild Walk, a new Forest Music soundtrack, and a hot cocoa bar. Fridays and Saturdays from November 24, 2023 to February 24, 2024; open daily December 26-31 and February 16-24; for members, $5 adults, and free for children under 18; for non members, $10 adults, $5 youth, and free for children 4 and under. Tupper Lake

Santa’s Workshop features a holiday light show amid the Yuletide setting at North Pole, NY, a family favorite for generations. Come see Santa Claus, candy canes, and reindeer as this beloved village transforms into a true Christmas Winter Wonderland, complete with caroling and roasted marshmallows. A Nativity Pageant is presented on a hillside. Select evenings through December 3, 10, and 17-23; $24.95 per person, children under 2 free; tickets can be bought in person; North Pole 

From November 24, 2023 to December 31, 2023, see the New York City Ballet’s iconic Nutcracker performance, where 90 dancers, 62 musicians, 40 stagehands, and 125 children, in two alternating casts, join forces in presenting The Nutcracker, with elaborate stage elements and intricate lighting unleashing the viewer’s imagination by bringing a Christmas tree that grows from a height of 12 feet to 41 feet. Appropriate for ages 5+; all patrons must have a ticket to enter the theater. Tickets start at $70; Manhattan

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