9 Can't-Miss Holiday Events Happening This December

Don’t get caught up wrapped in a blanket in front of the fire; get out and get festive!

Kwanzaa at the Opera House

Enjoy a beautiful celebration of African-American culture and unity with friends and family. This festive afternoon includes arts and crafts for children, dancing, drumming, a candle-lighting ceremony, and the sharing of Nguzo Saba, the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Presented in partnership with Operation Unite NY. Dec 16, 3:30-5 p.m., free. Hudson Hall at the Historic Hudson Opera House, 327 Warren St, Hudson, www.hudsonhall.org


Winter Walk 

For the 21st year, Warren Street is decked out for an annual holiday celebration with a festive parade, live reindeer, Mr. & Mrs. Claus, strolling carolers, decorated window displays, live music, vendors, and fireworks. Dec 2, 5–8 p.m., free. Sponsored by Hudson Hall at the Historic Hudson Opera House; 518.822.1438; www.hudsonhall.org

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Nyack’s Annual Holiday Lights

A highly anticipated village tradition, The Annual Holiday Lights of Nyack gets everyone excited for the winter season. Join in for some festive caroling, a holiday tree lighting, readings of classic story favorites, live entertainment, free cocoa and cider, and a visit from Santa Claus, of course. This is sure to get you and your family into the holiday spirit. Dec 2, 4–5:30 p.m., Veterans Memorial Park, Main St & Cedar Ave, Nyack, 845.353.2221; www.nyackchamber.org

Related: 16 Different, Off the Beaten Path Winter Activities to Try This Season

All Aboard The Polar Express!


Get whisked away to the North Pole on a magical train ride inspired by the popular book and movie. Passengers are encouraged to wear pajamas to recreate the magic of the story and see their favorite characters come to life.  Tickets will be punched by the whimsical conductor as hot chocolate is served to all the guests amid a sing-along and special reading of this holiday classic. At the “North Pole,” Santa will board the train to give a special sleigh bell to all those who believe. Weekends, Nov 17–Dec 28, see website for times, $32+. The Catskill Mountain Railroad, Westbrook Lane Station, 149 Aaron Court, Kingston, www.catskillmtrailroad.com 

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Chester Hosts a Hanukkah Jubilee for Soldiers

This Hanukkah season there will be a Military Menorah Community Celebration in honor of all soldiers, to arm them with light and love. Feast on a delicious buffet dinner featuring latkes and donuts; enjoy dreidels, Hanukkah cards for soldiers, bowling, music by the Hebrew school choir, and amazing entertainment. Bring a gift for the soldiers. Dec 13, 5–8 p.m., $15 advance tickets prior to Dec 6 or $18 at the door. Colonial Lanes, 78 Brookside Ave, Chester, 845.782.2770; www.chabadorange.com 


Winding Through Warwick

Every December generous homeowners in Warwick open up their beautifully decorated properties for the self-guided Bon Secours Warwick Health Foundation’s Holiday House Tour, which benefits St. Anthony Community Hospital, Schervier Pavilion, and Mount Alverno Center. Dec 2; registration 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. at 20 Grand St, Warwick; tours are 10 a.m–4 p.m. $40; www.bschsf.org/windingthroughwarwick

Related: Here’s Where You Can Go Skiing, Skating, Snowshoeing and More in the Valley

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Light up the Night With Frosty Fest 

Slide into winter with glistening lights, Santa, and peppermint candy canes at Frosty Fest this month. Take an illuminated hayride through Frosty’s Enchanted Forest and count how many times you can spot Rudolph the Reindeer. Visit Santa at the North Pole, marvel at Jingle the Elf’s stage show, and have a snowflakey good time in the Magical Mansion while enjoying some yummy treats. Nov 24–Dec 23, Fri 6–8 p.m., Sat 4:30–8 p.m., Sun 4:30–7 p.m., $16.95 adults, $13.95 children. 778 Broadway, Route 9W, Ulster Park, 845.339.2666; www.afrostyfest.com


The Nutcracker Ballet — a Holiday Favorite

The much-loved holiday classic The Nutcracker will be performed by The Rockland Youth Dance Ensemble. A two-act ballet set to the musical score of Tchaikovsky, it beautifully recounts a dream of a young girl and her love for a handsome nutcracker in a magical world where he turns into a prince and rescues her from the Mouse King. Tickets online at www.Showtix4u.com or cash only at door if seats are still available. Dec 2–3, 1 p.m. & 4 p.m., $25, North Rockland High School, 106 Hammond Rd, Thiells. Senior Ensemble,  Dec 8–10, Fri. 7 p.m., Sat. & Sun. 1 p.m. & 4 p.m., $25, SUNY Rockland Community College, 145 College Rd, Suffern, 845.624.7933, www.rocklandyouthdanceensemble.org

Related: Do You Know the History Behind the Sinterklaas Festival in Rhinebeck?

A Dutch Winter Festival 

An old Dutch tradition, the Sinterklaas Festival is a day-long colorful celebration of children, art, and the light of the winter season that features more than 250 musicians, actors, and magicians. Not to be missed is the Children’s Starlight Parade featuring costumed revelers with two-story-tall animated puppets. Parade begins at 6 p.m. on Traver Lane and ends with a spectacular pageant. Dec 2, all day, free. The festival takes place along West Market Street and throughout the entire village of Rhinebeck, www.sinterklaashudsonvalley.com

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