With the holiday season upon us, an opportunity presents itself to appreciate the plenty that quietly exists in our Hudson Valley. If we all skip the mall and keep our money in the local economy, we could create a more peaceful wealth for ourselves and our neighbors that would follow us into the new year. Removed from that stress of last-minute buying sprees at enormous, impersonal chain stores, we might even enjoy the holiday season that much more. Think, Destination Shopping, where you wander the streets of a neighboring village, discover a new restaurant, enjoy the region’s rich history, and casually shop in local stores. With towns offering open houses and traditional winter festivals, updated and specifically designed to bring us all a sense of community, you just may find that being a tourist in your hometown restores your sense of giving.
2nd Annual Downtown Unwrapped
in New Paltz
November 21, 5-8pm
Stores will dress up their windows for the holiday season and officially unwrap them on Friday night to start off the holiday shopping season. All weekend, there will be meet-the-artist receptions in the shops which feature jewelry, hats and fine art by local artisans, as well as special sales and door prizes. Vintage Studio will hold a holiday tea and hat party, and Historic Hugenot Street’s Museum Shop will be open and docents will be guiding tours of the historic houses by candlelight. On the street there will be fresh, hot apple cider stations to warm shoppers. There will be special sales and refreshments at participating stores all weekend. Additional events are planned for Christmas week.
A Gilded Age Christmas at Mills Mansion
November 28-December 31
Weekend tours every half hour at the mansion, a 25-room Greek Revival structure built in 1832 by the firm of McKim, Mead, and White for Morgan Lewis. The mansion features elaborate turn-of-the-century holiday decorations, Christmas trees festooned with Edwardian-style ornaments, elegant flower arrangements, and other decorations based on historic themes. The museum gift shop will also be open. On December 26, there will be special evening hours from 6pm to 8pm. Admission fees are $5 for adults, $4 for senior citizens, students, and groups; children 12 and under are free.
37th Annual Dutchess Community College Holiday Craft Fair
November 29 & 30, 10am-4pm
Dutchess Commnuity College hosts its 37th annual Holiday Craft Fair, featuring candles, soaps, oils, wood sculptures, decorative paintings, paper, photography, pottery, Ukranian eggs, leather goods, glass, jewelry and sumptuous vittles to eat on-site and take home. Proceeds from admission and raffle sales benefit student scholarships.
Poughkeepsie Celebration of Lights
December 5, 6:30pm
The 14th annual Celebration of Lights begins with a parade down Main, Academy, and Market streets, featuring marching bands, dancers, classic cars, fire engines, floats, scouts, students, and—of course—Santa. Poughkeepsie’s Christmas trees will be lit along the way, and the fun culminates in the largest firework display of the year. There will also be an 8pm screening of Frank Capra’s holiday masterpiece It’s a Wonderful Life at the Bardavon Opera House.
Sinterklaas Holiday Parade in Rhinebeck
December 6, 6pm
This year brings the return of Sinterklaas to Rhinebeck, an ecumenical, secular holiday personifying the Dutch tradition of tolerance, combining the folk traditions of Dutch, Native American, German, Irish, Jewish, African, and Russian culture. The month-long program of events beginning November 2 and culminating in the festival on December 6 will include the arrival of St. Nicholas by boat to the Rhinecliff Dock on November 29 at 3pm. On December 6, there will be performances all day long throughout the village, including puppetry by Arm-of-the-Sea Theater, storytelling by Jonathan Kruk, a Morris team will dance Abbot’s Bromley Deer Dance, as well as fire jugglers, music, and street performers. The evening culminates in the Starlight Parade, led by St. Nicholas on his white horse. Stores will participate by presenting various solstice traditions from around the world.
12th Annual Winter Walk in Hudson
December 6, 5-8pm
Hudson closes its streets every year for the thousands of visitors it receives for this marquee holiday events. There’s horse-drawn carriage rides, animated window scenes, Victorian carolers, African drumming, face-painting, and clowns, and members of the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus. The Hudson City Department of Youth will welcome Santa and Mrs. Claus, parading them from the Opera House to the park as they hand out presents to children (new books donated by publishing companies). Stores will hold a window-decorating contest and musicians will perform as people shop. The evening culminates in a fireworks show and dance performances.
Woodstock Open House
December 5, 5-9pm
More than 70 participating stores and businesses in Woodstock will be decorated with lights, festive window displays, and even culinary ice sculpture. Tour the shops and enjoy book and CD signings, wine and cheese tastings, fresh popcorn, and hot cider. Mrs. Claus will offer her face-painting skills and Santa will be available to take gift requests. Many bands and ensembles, including the Woodstock School carolers, will perform throughout the evening.
Cold Spring by Candlelight
December 6, 12-6pm
For its sixth annual holiday celebration, the town of Cold Spring will be offering tours of 13 historic sites and houses. You can either bundle up and enjoy the self-guided walking tour or hop on the 10-cent trolley for a memorable experience. There will be concerts and carolers, visits from Old St. Nick, holiday storytelling, horse-drawn carriage rides, arts and crafts, and holiday shopping (stores will be open late). Free parking is available throughout the village. Advance tickets for the event are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, and $12 for children under 12. All proceeds support children and adults with developmental disabilities.
Vanderbilt Mansion Open House
December 12, 6-9pm
Tour the most lavishly decorated mansion in the Hudson Valley as Hyde Park’s Vanderbilt Mansion becomes “The House of Light.” This year, for the first time, the Christmas trees will be lit by thousands of eco-friendly LED lights.
Holiday Open House at the Home of FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kill
December 13, 6-9pm
Visitors can get an intimate glimpse at a typical Roosevelt family Christmas as it was celebrated during the 1950s. The Stone Cottage at Val-Kill will be decorated and open for viewing and refreshments. At the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt, an FDR impersonator will be reading excerpts of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.
Winterfest in Historic Chatham Village
December 19, 5-8pm
The main streets of Chatham will be lined with luminarias as carolers wander the streets and a tractor-drawn stagecoach offers visitors a special view of the festive decorations. Stores will provide free gift wrapping and exceptional old time service as well as baked treats. This is a wonderful opportunity for last minute shopping.