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An Insider’s Guide to December Events in the Hudson Valley

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Staatsburgh State Historic Site | Photo courtesy of Dutchess Tourism

Hudson River tourism directors share their top picks for places to go, sights to see, and things to do throughout the December holiday season.

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. Even in the face of the coronavirus, there exist dozens upon dozens of ways to experience the best of what the region has to offer. While they might not be traditional per se (drive-through holiday displays, anyone?) they are engaging, entertaining, and a fantastic way to discover more about all the region has to offer.

To help scout out the best events in the Valley, we reached out to local tourism directors from Albany to Westchester for their top picks for things to do. Check out their selections, then get planning!

Albany County

Discover Albany President and CEO Jill Delaney shares her top recommendations for the month.

 

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The Magic of Christmas

Palace Theater, Albany
December 5, 3 p.m.

The best way to celebrate the season has to be with holiday music. In the Capital Region, the Albany Symphony performs classical tunes and timeless carols. David Alan Miller conducts at the Palace Theater, putting on one of the most beloved events of the holiday season. Tickets start at $45.

Ten Broeck Mansion Holiday House

Ten Broeck Mansion, Albany
Weekends in December until Christmas

Marvel at shimmering lights, festive trees, and bright garlands in an immersive walk-through experience of Ten Broeck Mansion this holiday season. Wind your way through the mansion’s halls and parlors adorned with wholesome holiday decorations. Get in the spirit of the season while gaining insight into the Hudson Valley’s storied past.

Capital Holiday Lights in the Park / Photo courtesy of Discover Albany

Capital Holiday Lights in the Park

Washington Park, Albany
Through January 2

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, bumping to music curated by B95.5. Each year, a special theme encapsulates the true spirit of the Hudson Valley.


Columbia County

Read up on Columbia County Tourism’s highlights for things to do in the Hudson Valley this month.

 

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Winter Walk 25th Anniversary

Warren St, Hudson
December 4, 5-8 p.m.

After 25 years, Winter Walk returns to celebrate this special time of year in Hudson. Breathtaking storefront displays light up Warren St, which hosts a lively street festival. Craft food and drink vendors provide merriment, while carolers and street performers spread holiday cheer. The entire evening ends with a bang at the riverfront, where a magical fireworks display illuminates the Hudson.

Chatham Winterfest

Village of Chatham
December 11, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Head to the charming community of Chatham for a festive weekend celebration. Winterfest gathers together small businesses and restaurants in Columbia County to ring in the season. Browse storefronts and elaborate window displays while taking advantage of sales and specials.

Valatie WinterWalk & Winter Parade

Village of Valatie
December 11, 5 p.m.

Shop ’til you drop in the scenic Village of Valatie. Live music sets the mood while holiday lights twinkle and shine. Snack on yuletide treats, gaze at roaring waterfalls, and explore a vast array of shops.


Dutchess County

Dutchess Tourism President and CEO Melaine Rottkamp shares her top recommendations for the month.

Sinterklaas-Starlight-Parade-Seven-Sisters-(2)

Photo courtesy of Dutchess Tourism, Inc.

Sinterklaas

Rhinebeck
December 4, starting at 10 a.m.

This fan-favorite Hudson Valley Christmas festival makes a grand return to Rhinebeck this year. Experience Dutch traditions, live music, dance performances, and tons of appearances from festive characters. The all-day celebration culminates in the children’s starlight parade at 6 p.m. There’s truly no family event quite like Sinterklaas.

Holiday Craft Fair

Mid-Hudson Civic Center, Poughkeepsie
December 18, 10 a.m.— 4 p.m.

If you’re stuck on what to get your loved ones for the holidays, start here. The Mid-Hudson Civic Center’s Holiday Craft Fair features one of the largest assortments of goods in the region. Fleece blankets, crocheted scarves, and handcrafted soaps round out the expected holiday fair fare. Find niche items like homemade dog treats, natural sea glass stones, CBD gummies, and accessories made from repurposed fabric. If you can dream it, you can find it at this Dutchess County destination.

Staatsburgh-Christmas-2018

Staatsburgh State Historic Site | Photo courtesy of Dutchess Tourism, Inc.

Historic Holiday Mansion Tours

Historic places throughout Dutchess County
Various dates throughout December

Have you ever wondered how Hudson Valley families celebrated the holidays a century ago? Find out though festive mansion tours throughout December. Tour Locust Grove Estate on Saturdays and Sundays until the 19th. Check out an exhibit featuring the luxurious gifts exchanged by families of a bygone era. At Staatsburgh State Historic Site, vintage Christmas decorations transform the main floor. Mount Gulian Historic Site offers candlelight tours of the ornately decorated home.


Orange County

Check out Orange County Tourism Director Amanda Dana’s selections for the best things to do this month.

 

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Newburgh Market’s Holiday Pop-Up Shop

Newburgh Mall, Newburgh
Saturdays and Sundays through December 19 

Inside the Newburgh Mall, many skilled artisans and craft vendors from the Hudson Valley sell their wares. It’s a perfect environment to pick up stocking stuffers and gifts for that special someone. Browse handmade ornaments, local spices, ornate jewelry, and much more. Head to the former New York and Co. space, and bring your best tote bag to lug back your finds.

High Tea With Santa

The Thayer Hotel, West Point
December 4, 11, and 18; 3 p.m.

Who wants to ditch the milk and cookies and share a cup of tea with the man in the red suit? West Point’s historic Thayer Hotel serves up delicious teatime finger sandwiches and warm beverages from Harney and Sons Fine Teas in Millerton.

 

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Christmas in the Village

Museum Village, Monroe
December 11 and 12, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Spread some holiday cheer by exploring the Hudson Valley’s own Christmas Village. A stroll during the day is beautiful, but the entire Museum Village transforms into a winter wonderland when illuminated with twinkling lights at night. Visit with Santa and his elves at the playhouse, then check out the art show for specially themed boutique items. Tickets are $5 per person.

Outdoor Holiday Boutique

Clinton St, Montgomery
December 11, 1 p.m.

Santa comes to Montgomery this year, alongside many of the region’s popular small businesses. Singers from Valley Central High School provide the main entertainment, while shoppers browse the boutique. Eat fresh-baked holiday treats, and gear up for the village tree lighting after sunset. Plus, give back by donating a toy at the Toys-For-Tots train stop.

 

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Dinner Theatre: A Christmas Carol

The Meadowbrook, New Windsor
December 18, 4:30 p.m.

Travel to 19th century London with a Hudson Valley production of Charles Dickens’ classic holiday tale. Hosted at a gorgeous venue, The Meadowbrook, this rendition of A Christmas Carol features lavish costumes and a prix fixe dinner menu. Grab a chicken leg and watch as Scrooge is visited by three spirits of Christmas, warming both his heart and yours.

Putnam County

Read up on Putnam County Tourism Director Tracey L. Walsh’s picks for things to do this month.

 

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Putnam Arts Council Artisan Craft Sale Mahopac

Belle Levine Art Center, Mahopac
December 4 (with additional shopping opportunities December 5-19) , 3-5 p.m.

Still need to finish crossing off your holiday shopping list? Putnam Arts Council hosts an artisan craft sale in Mahopac on December 4. Find handcrafted pottery, jewelry, toys, clothes, ornaments, and Hudson Valley honey, among other items. However, if you can’t make the main event, there are additional opportunities to shop throughout the month. The center is open Wednesday through Sunday noon to 5 p.m., and by appointment.

Holiday-at-the-Lake

Photo courtesy of Putnam County Tourism

Holiday on the Lake: Parade and Tree Lighting 

Downtown Carmel
December 4, 5:30 – 7:45 p.m.

This all-day celebration features parades, live music, and much more. Holiday on the Lake returns this year, kicking off with performances by local musicians along Gleneida Ave. Then, embark on a “Santa Stroll” downtown to raise funds for the American Cancer Society. After that, a parade of festive floats helmed by local businesses makes its way through Carmel. The lights turning on caps the itinerary, illuminating the night.

NY Craft Beer/Cider Try and Buy

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Cold Spring
December 5, 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

More than 20 Hudson Valley breweries and cideries participate in this outdoor holiday market. Sample the region’s best in craft beverages, and pick up perfect adult stocking stuffers. Reserve your tickets online. Tasting passes cost $35, while non-alcohol ticketed guests are $15.

Photo courtesy of Putnam County Tourism

Holidays on the Farm

Boni-Bel Farm & Country Store, Brewster
Through December 29, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

You won’t want to miss Green Chimney’s fresh-cut Christmas trees, handmade wreaths, and gift baskets specially made to order. Shop the store all season long for local produce and presents from Hudson Valley artisans, including festive birdhouses, glass ornaments, and beautiful pottery. Hot cocoa, tea, and fresh cookies keep the store especially merry this holiday season. Plus, every purchase supports a student with special needs.

Cockburn Farm in Garrison. Photo courtesy of Putnam County Tourism

Holiday Decorating at Cockburn Farm

Cockburn Farm, Garrison
Everyday through December 24, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Nothing beats walking through gorgeous Hudson Valley scenery – unless you can add a cup of hot chocolate to the mix. Cockburn Farm is a one-stop shop for all your decorating needs, and that includes Christmas trees. Still need to get that holiday card photo taken? Sit with Santa on weekends before he heads back to the North Pole. Prices start at $75.


Rockland County

Take a browse through the hottest things to do in Rockland County throughout the month.

 

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Hike Through History at Harriman State Park 

Jackie Jones Mountain, Stony Point
December 4, 9:30 a.m.

Ready to get back on Hudson Valley hiking trails? Embark on this guided exploration of Harriman State Park, specifically the Jackie Jones Mountain fire tower. On a clear day you can make out the famous Manhattan skyline from the summit. This three-mile hike tackles the 60 ft fire tower, the ruins of the Orak Mansion, and more.

 

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A Very Cocomama Holiday Celebration

Penguin Rep Theatre, Stony Point
December 4

Holiday music is one of the best parts of the season, but, for some, it can get extremely repetitive (especially on the radio). Cocomama brings a Latin jazz twist to traditional Christmas tunes, to great effect. This all-women world group combines cultural influences from around the globe for one unforgettable evening of music.

Victorian-Holiday-at-Harmony-Hall

Photo courtesy of Rockland County Tourism

Victorian Holiday Event 

Jacob Sloat House, Sloatsburg
December 5, 1-5 p.m.

Enjoy holiday crafts, appearances from Santa and Mrs. Claus, and live music performances at an 1848 Greek Revival mansion. Head to the Jacob Sloat House for Victorian-style holiday festivities. You won’t want to miss the signature hot mulled cider or any of the food and fresh bakes available.

Nyack-Holiday-Promenade-Poster-2021-scaled

Photo courtesy of Rockland County Tourism

Nyack Holiday Promenade

Main St and Broadway, Nyack
December 12, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

One of the hottest Hudson Valley towns closes its downtown streets for a day of holiday fun. Nyack offers crafty activities, tree decorating, live music and carolers, unique holiday shopping, and much more.


Ulster County

Read up on Ulster County Tourism’s event highlights for December.

SnowflakeFestival2019-8-Santa-and-Tree-Credit-Verofass-Photography-Courtesy-of-Ulster-County-Tourism

Photo by Verofass Photogaphy, courtesy of Ulster County Tourism

Snowflake Festival

Uptown Kingston
December 3, 6-8 p.m.

This Uptown Kingston tradition brings together fire twirlers, fiddlers, ice carvers, singers, and dancers. Main stage performances are a highlight of the event, while smaller happenings add to the charm of the Snowflake Festival. Stick around for the festive tree lighting, and hopefully get in a visit with Santa.

Wawarsing Wassail

Wawarsing Wassail / Photo courtesy of Ulster County Tourism

The Wawarsing Wassail

Wawarsing
December 5, 5 p.m.

A full day of winter fun in Wawarsing, the town’s Wassail commences with a holiday market that extends through the evening. The main event is the Joshua R. Peters Memorial Electric Fire Truck Parade, with a longer route than ones in years past to encourage social distancing. The festive trucks and all that come with them wind through the villages of Ellenville, Napanoch, and Kerhonkson.

Catskill Mountain Railroad Christmas Express

Westbrook Lane Station, Kingston
Weekends through December 23

The Hudson Valley’s magical holiday train returns this year. Catskill Mountain Railroad invites visitors on an hour-long ride through the Catskill forest to Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole. Bundle up and ride in open-air flat cars illuminated by lights.

December events

A Frosty Fest / Photo courtesy of Ulster County Tourism

A Frosty Fest

778 Broadway, Ulster Park
Weekends through December 19

Just for the holiday season, Headless Horseman Hayrides transforms into a drive-through 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. It’s even possible to get a photo with Santa Claus himself while there. Check out an all-new light show choreographed to hit pop tunes.

December. Saugerties-Holidays-Nighttime1-Credit-Michael-Bloom

Photo by Michael Bloom

Saugerties Christmas Celebrations

Saugerties
Through January 3

Saugerties is the place to be this holiday season, with family-friendly celebrations all month long. It kicks off with the Saugerties Annual Christmas Jingle at the Frank Greco Senior Center on December 4 and 5. Local vendors sell their wares, while Hudson Valley musicians serenade the audience. Also on December 5, Market, Main, and Partition streets host Saugerties’ Holiday in the Village celebration. The outdoor community building event starts at noon. Throughout the month, families can embark on the Town of Saugerties Christmas Light Trail. For a rundown of the locations featured, please visit the Facebook page.

New Year’s Eve at The Haunted Shanley Hotel

The Haunted Shanley Hotel, Napanoch
December 31

You may be getting more holiday spirits than you bargained for at this New Year’s Eve bash. Join a ghost hunt at The Haunted Shanley Hotel. Plus, Scotty the NJ Medium brings his own brand of psychic entertainment to the mix. The party is Great Gatsby-themed, so don your best attire and muster the courage to enter this paranormal property. Will you come face to face with the Ghost of Christmas Past?


Westchester County

Discover the hottest happenings according to Westchester County Tourism this month.

Westchester’s Winter Wonderland

Kensico Dam Plaza, Valhalla
Through January 3

Right after Thanksgiving, Westchester’s Winter Wonderland arrives to set the county aglow all holiday season long. This year, the fest takes on a 1.2-mile drive-through format that leads visitors along a path filled with thousands of twinkling lights. Expect dancing trees, a candy cane lane, a 40-foot Christmas tree, and more show-stopping scenes. Who better than Santa to close the festivities?

2021 Grand Holiday Illumination

Untermyer Gardens Conservancy, Yonkers
December 10 through January 2

What do 100,000 Christmas lights adorning a breathtaking walled garden look like? Find out at Untermyer Gardens Conservancy’s Grand Holiday Illumination. Seasonal music from around the globe sets the scene as families stroll the verdant paths with hot cocoa in hand. This event is free to the public, and no reservations are required.

The Octagon House: Victorian Christmas Tour

The Armour-Stiner Octagon House, Irvington
Thursdays-Mondays through December 27 (closed Christmas weekend)

Celebrate the holiday season in Victorian splendor at an eight-sided historic home. This restored Hudson Valley landmark is decorated with garlands, wreaths, and ornaments. Book a tour to get a glimpse at The Armour-Stiner Octagon House of holidays’ past.


Related: Every Hudson Valley Happening to Get You in the Holiday Spirit

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