As we travel through another autumn, the changing scenery informs us that, not only is it time for the beginning of the holiday season, it’s also a time to experience a winterized Hudson Valley with all the trimmings. And with any luck, we can all hopefully hold on to the holiday cheer to last beyond just the holiday season.
Sinterklaas in Rhinebeck and Rhinecliff
November 3–December 5
Rhinebeck has a rich heritage in Old Dutch customs, and the secular Sinterklaas holiday event celebrates the town’s earliest roots. The month-long celebration begins on November 3 with workshops on Wednesdays through Sundays to build giant puppets in preparation for the Children’s Starlight Parade. November 28 marks the arrival of Sinterklaas by boat at the Rhinecliff dock at 3:30pm, followed by musical and theatrical performances at the Rhinecliff Hotel. The celebration leads up to December 5, with a parade and performances beginning at noon around Rhinebeck by the Vanaver Caravan, Arm of the Sea Theater, and the Bindlestiff Family Circus. Free. www.sinterklaasrhinebeck.com
Downtown Unwrapped in New Paltz
November 20, 5–8pm
It’s the beginning of the holiday season, and New Paltz will be decorated for the occasion with window displays and special discounts for shoppers. Historic Huguenot Street will host an open house at DuBois Fort. Fine arts by local artists will be featured all weekend, along with guided candlelight tours of historic houses.
www.huguenotstreet.com; (845) 255-3022
A Gilded Age Christmas & Holiday
Whodunit at Mills Mansion
November 27–December 31; weekends and select dates
Ornate turn-of-the-previous-century decorations highlight Christmas at the Mills Mansion, when this Greek Revival structure will be designed to reflect 19th-century living during the holiday season. Tours will be given every half hour from 12 to 5pm. $5 for adults; children under 12 free.
www.staatsburgh.org; (845) 889-8851
Catskill Mountain Winter Holiday Train
November 27–December 26; weekends and select dates
Take a train that brings the North Pole to Kingston with the Catskill Mountain Railroad. Ride the recently restored RS-I engine adorned with wreaths and lights on a two-mile loop departing on the hour from 1 to 6pm from Westbrook Lane. $6; $4 children ages 4-11; children under 4 free with paying adult.
www.catskillmtrailroad.com; (845) 688-7400.
Dutchess Community College Holiday Craft Fair
November 28–29, 10am–4pm
Just in time for the holidays, the 38th annual craft fair will take place at Dutchess Community College. The event will include vendors specializing in candles, soaps, oils, wood sculptures, paintings, paper, photography, pottery, Ukranian eggs, leather goods, glass, jewelry, and food. Admission benefits student scholarships.
www.sunydutchess.edu; (845) 431-8400.
Frosty Fest Festival of Lights in Ulster Park
November 27–December 27; weekends and select dates
Thought hayrides were only for Halloween? They’re for the holiday season too. Ride or drive through a vivid display of lights, displays, and animation within Frosty Fest, featuring an enchanted forest, a candy cane factory, a snow village, Santa’s Workshop, and more.
www.frostyfest.com; (845) 339-2666.
Poughkeepsie Celebration of Lights and Fireworks
December 4, 6:30pm
Thousands of tiny lights illuminate Poughkeepsie as people fill the downtown streets to invite the winter season. The decorated trees, light poles, and windows along the parade route adorn the streets to make way for marching bands, giant puppets, classic cars, community groups, and Santa. The night will conclude with fireworks and a showing of It’s a Wonderful Life at the Bardavon.
www.bardavon.org; (845) 473-5288.
Martin Van Buren Winter Celebration
December 4, 5:30–8:30pm
Enjoy the holidays at the home of America’s eighth president! It’s an 1840s holiday season for the Lindenwald farm at the Martin Van Buren State Historic Site, where the estate will be specially adorned for the season. Keep warm with hot cider under the winterized tent, join friends around a bonfire on the front lawn, or take part in Kinderhook Village’s Candlelight Walk. Free.
www.nps.gov/mava; (518) 758-9689.
Woodstock Holiday Open House
December 4, 5–8pm
The 28th annual event in Woodstock will feature more than 70 participating stores and businesses with lighted decorations and window displays, and even elegant ice sculpture. Shops will be open for book and CD signings, wine and cheese tastings, fresh popcorn, and hot cider.
www.woodstockchamber.com; (845) 679-6234.
Holiday House Tours at Olana
December 4–January 3, 11am–4pm; weekends
Take an hour-long tour and see how Frederic Church’s family spent the holiday season in their magnificent house, lavishly decorated for the season. Hear a reading of Church’s oldest son Frederic Joseph’s letter to Santa Claus. $9; $8 students and seniors; children under 12 and Olana Partnership members free.
www.olana.org; (518) 828-0135.
Winter Walk in Hudson
December 5, 5–8pm
Bundle up for an evening of winter celebration, when Warren Street overflows with music, dance, and costume to welcome the season. Businesses exhibit their best holiday window shows and invite festival-goers inside to begin their holiday shopping. Street-corner musicians will play everything from carols to jazz to African drumming. Horse-drawn carriage rides are offered up until the evening closes with fireworks at 8pm.
www.hudsonoperahouse.org; (518) 822-1438.
Holiday Open House at Springwood and Val-Kill
Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Springwood and Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kill, both in Hyde Park, will be decorated for the December holidays. Experience the holiday season in a 1950s presidential style from 9am to 6pm at the FDR site, or attend the evening open house at Val-Kill, with viewing and refreshments from 4 to 7pm. Free.
www.nps.gov/hofr; (845) 486-1966.
Cold Spring by Candlelight
December 5, 12–6pm
This annual holiday celebration to benefit children and adults with developmental disabilities features historic homes and sites that will be open to the public, as well as holiday music, discounts at local stores and restaurants, and visits with Old Saint Nick. Enjoy walking tours of historic sites or take a trolley for a one-of-a-kind view. $30; $25 seniors; $15 children under 12.
www.partnerswithparc.org; (845) 278-PARC, ext. 287.
Pine Bush Festival of Lights
December 5, 4:30–7:30pm
This family-oriented event will transform Pine Bush into a winter carnival. English carolers will roam the streets as the town enjoys free hot chocolate and snacks while listening to the Middletown Chorale. Laurel Hollow Horse Farm and Friends of Equine Rescue will bring Clydesdales and a miniature horse, and the Not Just Country Line Dancers will perform until the 7:15pm tree lighting.
www.pinebushchamberofcommerce.org; (845) 220-8125.
Vanderbilt Mansion Holiday Open House
December 12, 9am–5pm
Hyde Park’s Vanderbilt Mansion dressed up as the most elaborately decorated mansion in the Hudson Valley. Music and refreshments will be provided by the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt Historical Association. Free.
www.nps.gov/vama; (845) 229-7770.
Yuletide High Tea at Wilderstein
December 12, 1pm
Celebrate the holiday season in high social fashion with this afternoon affair featuring traditional holiday cakes, open-faced tea sandwiches, and music. $25; $10 children. Reservations necessary. (Victorian holiday tours are offered on select dates from November 27 through December 27.) www.wilderstein.org; (845) 876-4818.
Newburgh Candlelight House Tour
December 13, 12–5pm
Before icicle lights and garlands were used to decorate, there were fresh greens, flowers, and fruit, which will be used for this 1830s holiday celebration. The opulent Captain David Crawford House will hold its annual house tour, highlighting the best of Newburgh’s rich architectural history. Advance tickets: $20; day of event $25.
www.newburghhistoricalsociety.com; (845) 561-2585.
Winterfest in Historic Chatham Village
December 13, 5–8pm
Chatham gets in touch with its past as it transforms into a winter wonderland for this holiday celebration. A tractor-drawn stagecoach will provide a view of the festivities, and an appearance will be made by Santa himself. www.chathambusinessalliance.org; (518) 392-4710.