We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. There are a ton of things to do in the Hudson Valley each month. In fact, when it comes to actually choosing between one event or another, there’s potentially too much to do. Food fest on Saturday? Great. But there’s also that play you wanted to see. Oh, and that workshop you RSVP’d for in the afternoon. And the…oh wait, that’s already two things too many!
To help scout out the best events in the Valley, we reached out to local tourism directors from Albany to Ulster for their top picks for things to do. Check out their selections, then get planning!
Discover Albany President and CEO Jill Delaney shares her top recommendations for the month.
Capital Holiday Lights in the Park / Photo courtesy of Discover Albany
Washington Park, Albany
Albany gets the ultimate glow-up when Washington Park comes alive with more than 125 festive displays. Drive through the park with family and friends all December long, then stop by the lake house for crafting, hot chocolate, and a visit with Santa.
New York State Museum, Albany
December 8, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Shop local this holiday season at the New York State Museum’s Sixth Annual Taste NY Holiday Market. Hudson Valley favorites like Albany Distilling, Fort Orange Brewing, Nine Pin Cider, and Nothing Bundt Cakes set up inside the museum, while historians in period garb lead colonial cooking and 18th century drinking chocolate demonstrations. Stick around at night, when Empire State Plaza sets the city aglow with a tree lighting and fireworks display.
Pruyn House, Latham
December 6-7, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Latham’s historic Pruyn House, which dates back to the early 1800s, decks the halls for the holiday season. This year, the “Festive Holiday Trees” theme includes live music from the Hudson Mohawk Recorders Society and a children’s holiday workshop with old-fashioned musical instruments and a visit from Sinterklaas. For grownups, the Fort Orange Garden Club Hosts a Greens Sale in the Verdoy Schoolhouse with free entry on Friday and Saturday.
Read up on Columbia County Tourism’s highlights for things to do in the Hudson Valley this month.
Valatie WinterWalk / Photo courtesy of Columbia County Tourism
Main St, Valatie
December 14, 5-9 p.m.
Who better than Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus to lead Valatie’s Winter Parade this December? After the march, which begins at 5 p.m. sharp, locals can stroll through the stores, munch on holiday treats, and listen to live music from Side Show Willie, Marty McDermott, and more. For the little ones, Santa sticks around for photo ops and wish list requests at the Valatie Community Theatre. Look out for his sleigh!
Main St, Park Row, and Hudson Ave, Chatham
Chatham comes alive this December as WinterFest wonder spreads through town. Over the course of the day, shops open their doors for workshops and specials, while community venues host fun to-dos for all. Register in advance for a wreath-making workshop with Flower Blossom Farm or head to Crandell Theatre for a free screening of Prancer at noon.
Take a peek at President & CEO of Dutchess Tourism, Inc. Mary Kay Vrba’s top picks for things to do in Dutchess County this month.
Bowdoin Park, Wappingers Falls
Through December 28
If you’ve never been to Kevin McCurdy’s Holiday Spirit Festival before, prepare for an over-the-top (in the best way) celebration of the wintertime season. Perfect for families, the fest features glowing holiday light exhibits, a magical holiday train display, and marvelous misfit toys. Don’t forget to stop by Peppermint Palace for sweets, treats, and the festival’s famous peppermint hot chocolate.
Sinterklaas Festival / Photo courtesy of Dutchess County Tourism, Inc.
Nothing kicks off the holiday season in the Hudson Valley quite like Sinterklaas Festival. A hyperlocal happening, the village-wide to-do draws hundreds of visitors from New York and beyond for a full day of strolling musicians, dancing Grumpuses, and even a few fire jugglers. Wander through town to take in the wonder of the day, then watch in awe as Sinterklaas leads the Children’s Starlight Parade from atop his magnificent white steed.
Photo courtesy of Dutchess County Tourism, Inc.
The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park
December 12, 6 p.m.
How’s this for a Hudson Valley dinner? The Culinary Institute of America pulls out all the stops with a six-course meal dedicated to the world’s most luxurious ingredient. After a presentation and tasting led by Sabatino Tartufi, diners can linger over an unforgettable supper filled with black and white truffles. Four of the courses pair with wines from Piedmont and Campania wines to create an unrivaled food experience this December.
Look no further for the coolest attractions and activities in Greene County during the month.
December 1, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Venture into charming Coxsackie for a day of Christmas festivities along the river. Beginning at 10 a.m., locals can share a breakfast with Santa, shop from craft vendors, hop on a horse-and-carriage ride, and listen to a holiday concert at St. Mary’s Church.
Mountain Brauhaus, Round Top
December 7, 5 p.m.
Throw on your favorite Christmas sweater or, better yet, your festive lederhosen before heading off to the Christmas party at Mountain Brauhaus. The Greene County eatery gets the party started with hors d’oeuvres at 5 p.m., then keeps the holiday spirit alive with a cabaret performance during dinner.
Check out Orange County Tourism Director Amanda Dana’s selections for the best things to do this month.
Brotherhood Winery, Washingtonville
December 7, 7 p.m.
Brotherhood Winery delivers a dark twist on Yuletide cheer with this holiday-themed murder mystery dinner. As the ho-ho-ho-homicide unfolds, guests can dig into dinner and grab a glass at the open wine bar while puzzling through the murder on the set of Kringle’s Variety Hour Christmas Special.
Devitt’s Nursery & Supply, New Windsor
Through December 26
The Hudson Valley’s iconic egg is back! Eggbert takes to his throne at Devitt’s to talk to little visitors about all their Christmas wishes. After chatting with the all-knowing egg, locals can make the most of a visit with a meander along the holiday trail and a browse through the winter shop. Visit the Devitt’s website to see exactly which days Eggbert makes appearances in Orange County.
OCNY West Winter Fest / Photo courtesy of Cedar Lakes Estate
Cedar Lakes Estate, New Windsor
December 7-8, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Now in its second year, Cedar Lakes Estate’s Winter Fest is a two-day celebration of holiday cheer. Local is the name of the game, with Hudson Valley drinks, food, and wares spread across the grounds. Stop by the Pavilion, which transforms into a seasonal snow globe, then enjoy live music and wood-fired pizza from Potenza Old World Pizza as night begins to fall.
Blue Arrow Farm, Pine Island
After an opening day on November 30, the Sustaining Grace gift market returns to Blue Arrow farm for a second round of non-traditional shopping for the holidays. With goods from artisans like Mayamam Weavers, which stocks handwoven accessories from Guatemala, and Hidden Pastures, a 4H group that sells fair trade alpaca items, the event is a fun way to support meaningful causes while checking items off the winter gift list.
Jersey Ave, Port Jervis
Port Jervis embraces European holiday tradition with its Christkindlmarkt on the first day of December. As twinkling lights and seasonal sounds fill the landscape, shoppers can browse the stands from more than 100 vendors and take a break for specialty treats along Jersey Avenue. Kids will love spotting the wandering oompah band and saying hello to the man in red when he arrives at 5 p.m.
Take a browse through Director of Economic Development and Tourism Jeremy Schulman’s picks the hottest things to do in Rockland County throughout the month.
Rockland Gaelic Athletic Association, Orangeburg
December 7-8, 2-10 p.m.
If you’re looking for a little bit of everything this December, Orangeburg’s Wonderland Festival is the place to be. Not just an artisan market, the two-day to-do features a winter-themed beer garden, live music, who-ville, visiting reindeer, and meet-and-greets with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
December 7, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
An evening parade, Suffern’s march heads up Lafayette Avenue to the Suffern Community Center. Santa Claus waits at the end to greet young participants and smile for the camera.
December 8, 12-6 p.m.
Sloatsburg goes all out with Winterfest this year. A true family-friendly shindig, the event weaves in gift shopping, children’s crafting, a visit from Santa, and seasonal bites. In the afternoon, holiday tunes and a carol singing competition add even more spirit to the day.
Nyack Village Theater, Nyack
December 13, 7-11 p.m.
Holiday music lovers will have a blast at this live Christmas show in Nyack. The evening concert has an open mic format to give the floor to local performers who enjoy crooning classic and original holiday melodies. The show will be streamed on three different radio and video media sites, so RSVP ahead if you plan to attend as an entertainer or a guest.
The Antrim Playhouse, Wesley Hills
Appropriate for the whole family, Snow is all about holiday fun. Seats are $15 per person, making it an affordable way to spend a December day with loved ones.
Read up on Ulster County Tourism’s event highlights for December.
Westbrook Lane Station, Kingston
Through December 28
Nothing sets little eyes aglow quite like a ride on the Hudson Valley’s very own Polar Express. Based in Kingston, the train takes a cue from the hit holiday film with a thematic interior, a meeting with Santa, and heaps of hot chocolate.
A Frosty Fest / Photo courtesy of Ulster County Tourism
778 Broadway, Ulster Park
Through December 22
Just for the holiday season, Headless Horseman Hayrides transforms into a glowing, seasonal spectacular. The hit happening includes attractions like Candy Cane Lane, Frosty’s Enchanted Forest, Glistening Gardens, Magical Mansion, and more. After adventuring through the wonderland attractions, families can swing into the gift shop and pick up a few tasty wintertime treats, too.
December 6-8, 12-5 p.m.
Held throughout Saugerties, the December fest loops music, toy raffles, free horse and carriage rides, and crafts into one festive occasion. After saying hello to Santa, kids can pet four-legged friends at the Kiersted House petting zoo.
Wawarsing Wassail / Photo courtesy of Ulster County Tourism
December 7, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
A full day of winter fun in Wawarsing, the town’s Wassail commences with a holiday market that extends through the evening. In the afternoon, visitors can speed through the Holiday Hustle Fun 5K, then watch the Joshua R. Peters Memorial Electric Fire Truck Parade cruise along. At 7 p.m. the village comes together to light the community tree.
Port Ewen, Town of Esopus
A parade through town leads to a meet and greet with Santa and Mrs. Claus in Esopus this December. With a DJ, a tree lighting, and chocolate chip eating scheduled for the day, the parade is a diverting way to get the kids out, about, and in the holiday spirit.