Come wintertime, New York State offers tons of seasonal and holiday fun to be had, from light shows to meeting Santa Claus and shopping in decorated downtowns. If you're looking for a weekend trip with new festive experiences to get your family into the holiday spirit, here are four winter festivals not to miss during this jolly time of year:
‘Crystal City Christmas’ in Corning
The city of Corning has long been dubbed the “Crystal City” due to its legacy as a center for glassmaking, and on Fridays through Sundays from Nov. 25 and Dec. 24, Santa will be available for visits in his own glass house. The holiday events take place in the city’s Gaffer District, which will be decorated with festive décor. Other events not to miss include the “Parade of Lights” (Nov. 26), a procession that rolls down Corning’s Market Street, featuring floats, marching bands and Santa. Another event to check out is “Sparkle,” where Market Street is closed, the Christmas tree that stands in the city’s Centerway Square will be lit, live choral performances will take place, and all can explore the stores and restaurants located along the road.
Located around 30 minutes from Corning, the Black Sheep Inn, constructed in 1859, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the T.M. Younglove Octagon House. The vegan inn (serving plant based breakfasts) features five rooms (each with a different theme) and an on-site spa. Guests receive a complimentary bottle of Champagne and chocolates as a welcome gift. Nightly room rates start at $189.
INFO 8329 Pleasant Valley Rd., Hammondsport; 607-569-3767, stayblacksheepinn.com
'A Frosty Fest’ in Ulster Park
Kicking off on Nov. 25, 'A Frosty Fest' will feature several holiday characters and Santa to meet, greet and take pictures with. Guests can check out the midway dotted with gift shops and food stops and a drive-through “Enchanted Forest” that combines lights with animated exhibitions. Explore the “Magical Mansion” filled with thousands of letters to Santa, see Dasher the Reindeer and enjoy a stage show featuring magic and comedy. Open Fridays through Sundays (plus Thursday, Dec. 22) through Dec. 23. Advanced tickets available: $21.95, ages 1-11 are $18.95, under 12 months free; on-site: $27.90, $25.90 ages 1-11, under 12 months free.
INFO 778 Broadway, RT. 9W, Ulster Park; 845-339-2666 (Ext. 10), afrostyfest.com
Mohonk Mountain House is holding its “Victorian Holidays” celebration Nov. 27-Dec. 31, an experience that will include carolers, gingerbread house tours, Christmas tree tours and a walkable outdoor holiday light installation. The resort will also host the annual Hudson Valley Gingerbread Competition (Dec. 11), plus celebrations for Hannukah (Dec. 18-26), Christmas (Dec. 23-25) and New Year’s Eve-New Year’s Day.
INFO 1000 Mountain Rest Rd., New Paltz; 845-765-3286, mohonk.com; nightly rates start at $675.
'Ice and Lights Festival’ in Downtown Ithaca
Taking place over two weekends (Dec, 2-3, 9-10), this soiree takes occurs across the city’s four-block, pedestrian-only downtown district known as the Ithaca Commons. The first day features an ice speed-carving contest along with a DJ playing music. Guests can enjoy beverages at the ice bar serving wine, beer, cider and hot cocoa. Day Two includes the annual Chowder Cook-Off, where visitors can try samples from more than 30 restaurants. A silent disco happens Dec. 9 that will also include interactive light exhibits, aerialists and fire dancers. The final day includes a visit from Santa, followed by a second silent disco and a lightsaber combat demo by Ithaca Sabers (ithacasabers.com).
The Inn at Taughannock Falls is a boutique hotel surrounded by Taughannock Falls State Park, home to the 215 foot-high Taughannock Falls waterfall and borders Cayuga Lake, the longest of the Finger Lakes. Nightly stays in the Inn’s Edgewood Lakeview rooms start at $205.
INFO 2030 Gorge Rd., Trumansburg; 607-387-7711, inntfalls.com
‘Dickens Christmas’ in Skaneateles
Found about 20 miles outside Syracuse on the Finger Lake that shares its name, Skaneateles, hosts an annual street theater jubilee where actors appear around town in the guise of characters from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” The event launches Nov. 25 with “Bright Friday,” followed by "A Christmas Carol" singalong where 12 groups vie for a silver teasel from “Queen Victoria.” Visitors can also see “Washington Irving” and “Charles Dickens” perform versions of their holiday stories during trunk shows. Guests can also try horse-drawn wagon ($4 or $15 per family up to six people) and private carriage rides ($50, up to four people) and enjoy live music. Dickens events will continue Saturdays and Sundays though Dec. 24, with more live music, horse-powered rides, free refreshments (including roasted chestnuts plus eggnog on Saturdays), holiday stories read by “Mother Goose” (at Loft 42: 42 E. Genesee St.) and treats handed out by “Father Christmas” (at the Masonic Temple: 13 E. Genesee St.).
Visitors at The Sherwood Inn may see characters from the Dickens festival drop by and lead guests in impromptu caroling. Nightly rates start at $250.
INFO 26 West Genesee St., Skaneateles; 315-685-3405, sherwoodinns.com