One of the greatest experiences of a lifetime is winter in New York. Of course, New York City in the winter has been the location for every romcom it would seem, and the little lights are magical. But there are little (and large) lights to be seen all over New York State. Every one of the 11 regions that make up the state has something unique to offer and we thought we would bring you a smattering of things to do this time of year in each of the regions. As a rule, we don’t always pick the biggest event in the state to talk about but rather an eclectic, often serendipitous mix of events that are within the reach of most people
The Lake George Winter Carnival is a month-long winter celebration is held at Shepherd Park and occurs every weekend in February. There’s great food. Chowder, chili, BBQ and chicken wing cook-offs. Of the many distractions are the popular outhouse races, ATV races, polar plunges, and of course, fireworks. The Lake George Winter Carnival is also family-friendly with children-specific activities.
This season, the 23rd Annual Price Chopper/ Market 32 Capital Holiday Lights returns with an all-new, drive-through spectacle. It spans over more than 125 displays and scenes in Albany’s Washington Park. Lights are open from Nov 29, 2019 through Jan 03, 2020.
The Cooperstown Winter Carnival is a three day long winter festival that works to bring together the community in the wintery magic. With brunch, hot cocoa, snowshoe hikes and a host of events this modest winter celebration is sure to make you feel warm on the inside. This year the Carnival is scheduled between 7th- 9th February 2020.
The Village of Ellicottville is heaven for fans of the blues. On Jan 17 and 18th, 2020, Ellicottville’s venues and establishments will feature the music of some of the top blues musicians for the winter Blues Weekend.
The Winter Lights Festival in the Finger Lakes region is a unique year-long festival that began last year on December 5, 2018 and is set to run through December 15, 2019. The festival celebrates the holiday season by lighting up the Ithaca Commons with “Prismatica”, a display of interactive prisms. One can touch and turn the prisms and witness their colors change. The modern Ice Palace changes color from day to night and has been described as intriguing and magical.
The Fairgrounds in Hamburg is back with its annual wintery magic with the Fairgrounds Festival of Lights. The North Pole production is set to transform the space into a drive-through light display. Illuminated streets are to be explored; each building lit uniquely. This year Kandy Kane returns with their Holiday Magic show. One can also climb aboard the trackless train for a short ride through the festival grounds. The festival is scheduled on specific dates between Nov 29 and Dec 23, 2019
The Hudson Valley is home to the Sinterklaas Rhinebeck, a dutch Christmas tradition is scheduled on December 7. The festival sports a parade in the village of Rhinebeck where Sinterklaas, a predecessor to our beloved Santa Claus, is accompanied by Grumous, a half-man, half-beast. It is followed by a day-long celebration that has children’s workshops, dance, theater, and music.We’d recommend that you do not miss the Dancing Bear, the Pocket Lady, mother holly, and of course, the Children’s starlight parade where two-story-tall animated puppets will be carried by volunteers closing the festival.
On the days of the Dickens Festival, scheduled for Dec 7 and Dec 8, Port Jeffersonwill transform itself into a Dickensian era town. Characters in costume are to be seen roaming the streets. CCharacters such as Father Christmas, Scrooge, the town criers and of course the chimney sweeps. All events are open to the public and most are free of charge.
Of course, there are the tree lighting in Rockefeller Centre, the Times Square ball drop on New Year’s Eve and the Radio City Christmas special. But there’s also the Bryant Park Winter Village. It sports food, fun and a 17,000 square foot ice rink free to visitors, the village welcomes in Christmas and is definitely worth braving the cold for. This year the rink opened on Oct 31, 2019 and will stay open through Mar 1, 2020. The holiday stores will be open through Jan 5, 2020. The rink is open throughout the season along with the stores. The festival offers food and artisanal boutiques as well as The Lodge by Urbanspace, the Winter Village’s rinkside bar, and food hall with a dozen new and classic NYC restaurants.
An interesting festival to check out will be the Hanford Mills Museum’s February Ice Harvest Festival. The festival recreates the region’s tradition, where visitors can participate in helping cut blocks of ice from the frozen pond with vintage ice saws and then have a horse-drawn sled haul the sculpted ice to an ice house. In addition, the festival has kids’ activities.
The Salmon River Winter Festival is scheduled between Jan 24 - Jan 26, 2020. The festival is set on the salmon river and presents a host of activities bound to be enjoyable by all ages. The entrance to most events is free and the festival includes an opening reception, snowshoeing, ice skating, sled dogs, snow sculptures, multiple children’s activities, crafts vendors and refreshments.
You should check our events listing regularly for details of some or all of the events we have mentioned above: https://www.destinationsofnewyorkstate.com/upcoming-events/. Also check out the New York State Tourism Directory https://www.destinationsofnewyorkstate.com/directory/
Here are links to the official (or semi-official) websites of the different regions.
Also, iloveny.com is a great website for more info.