If you are from anywhere in New York, then you probably know that celebrating the holidays is one of our specialties. Each area of the state has its special way of getting festive or just finding a way to make the cold-weather fun. If you love winter, the holidays, or just simply having fun with friends and family, here are some activities around the state that you can’t miss!
Christmas Tree Lighting in NYC
What would a New York Christmas be without this remarkable and well-known event? The first tree lighting, which occurred about 80 years ago, was meant to be a small place for gathering with loved ones and reflecting on the rest of the world. Today, millions of people visit from around the world to view its incredible lights on Rockefeller Plaza. Either walk by and take a long minute admiring the world’s most famous Christmas tree, or go ice skating at Rockefeller Center with a loved one for the most romantic date as you gaze up at its lights!
You can either visit to watch the tree be lit for the first time on December 4th, or you can go at any point just to view the amazing sight until January 17th, 2020, when the tree is taken down and donated to Habitat for Humanity.
Location: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY
Ice Skating in Downtown Buffalo
This one is for my fellow Buffalonians who have no choice but to embrace the never-ending snow during our long winters! Bundle up and walk around the Canalside area and take in the beautiful Christmas lights, then head down to the rink and hop on the ice! The best part is you don’t even need to be halfway decent at ice skating because they offer cones and ice bikes for you to leisurely glide across the ice. Forget your skates? Just rent them!
The best part about this activity is how cheap it is. Ice skating is $5 for ages 13 and up, $4 for ages 6-12, and kids can skate for free under 5 years old. Skate rentals are $4 and ice bike rentals are $10 per half hour.
After skating, make sure to visit Tim Hortons directly across the street to warm up (personally my favorite part).
Location: 130 Main St, Buffalo, NY 14203
Holiday Valley Sky Flyer Mountain Coaster
Holiday Valley, which is well-known for offering skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and relaxing at the spa, has another attraction that not many people know about. The Sky Flyer Mountain Coaster, which is generally up-and-running year-round, offers a thrilling ride through the snowy woods of the Holiday Valley Resort! The coaster is low to the ground and follows the hills and paths of the terrain as you either ride alone or with a friend.
Make sure you bundle up before you zoom through the snowy hills!
Visit their website below for more information on ticket prices and ages able to ride this coaster.
Location: 6557 Holiday Valley Road, Ellicottville, NY 14731
Lights on the Lake on Onondaga Lake Park
If you live in central New York, you can’t miss this incredible light show! As you drive through the two-mile-long path, you will have the privilege of viewing towering holiday displays, entertaining animated scenes, and so much more from the warmth of your car. If you tune in to one of the local radio stations, you’re able to listen to holiday music as you pass on through for an extra bit of holiday spirit. You can even have a personal message displayed on one of their banners for birthdays, anniversaries, and even proposals.
Lights on the Lake runs from now until Sunday, January 5th, 2020. Tickets are available at all Wegmans in the area. For more ticket price information, visit their website down below!
Location: 6750 Onondaga Lake Trail, Liverpool NY 13088
World’s Largest Hanukkah Menorah
Get involved in the competition of the world’s largest Hanukkah Menorah and visit the Grand Army Plaza to celebrate the annual Jewish Festival of Lights. Standing at 32-feet high and 4,000 pounds, this beautiful event assists in kicking off the first night of Hanukkah in the biggest and best way possible. Whether you are of Jewish faith or simply want to join the celebration, this event is truly a sight to see in New York State.
The lightings take place around 5:30 pm Sunday-Thursday, 3:30 pm on Fridays, and 8 pm on Saturdays. Make sure you stick around for the music and potato pancakes!
Location: Grand Army Plaza, Fifth Avenue, and West 59th Street, New York, NY
Fairground Festival of Lights, Hamburg
Come take part in the largest holiday festival in WNY! As soon as you park, you are greeted with an incredible illuminated street. There are so many different buildings to visit for holiday activities, shows, and so much more. If you want a unique tour throughout the fairgrounds, make sure to board the trackless train and ride throughout the Festival.
Don’t forget to charge your phone to take pictures because not only are the sights incredible, but Santa is going to be there waiting for you!
Pre-Sale tickets are available at Tops from now until November 28th for $15 per carload. Normal gate admission is $25 per carload. Gates open at 5-9 pm, and the grounds and buildings are open until 10 pm. The festival days are November 29-30, December 1, 6-8, 13-15, and 18-23. Don’t miss it!
Saranac Lake Winter Carnival
As the longest-running winter event of this caliber in the eastern US since 1897, it has grown into a 10-day long festival of sports, performances, parades, and fireworks. Local or not, this incredible event is one to visit to avoid those post-Christmas blues and keep those high spirits and celebrations going. While you’re there, make sure you explore Saranac Lake’s historic downtown area where you’ll find galleries, gardens, gift shops, restaurants, and other small businesses that may run up to 100 years old.
The Ice Palace, one of their main events, is completely free and open to the public 24 hours a day. For more information on the schedule for each of the events, visit the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival website below.
The carnival runs from January 31- February 9, 2020
Location: Saranac Lake, New York 12983
Trans-Siberian Orchestra Winter Tour
I’m sure everyone is familiar with Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24” (you may not recognize the name but look it up—you’ve heard it). Attending one of their concerts in person, listening to the incredible music, and viewing the beautiful holiday-themed light show is a whole different story. This orchestra pushes the boundaries of traditional classical music and creates incredible progressive rock music, and, in turn, has been inspiring the public for generations.
If you are tired of listening to average holiday music on the radio and were looking for something new and exciting, be sure to book your tickets!
There are multiple different dates and venues in New York during their tour, including performances in Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, and Uniondale.
For more information about their tour, be sure to visit their website below to find the closest venue to you!
Location: View website
Taste NY Holiday Market
This one is for those who want to relax and indulge during the winter months, and for good reason! As you walk through this market, enjoy only made-in-New York wine and spirits, beer, cheese, chocolate, apple and maple products, and so much more! Multiple different vendors come to support this event with all different types of food, so there’s bound to be something that everyone in the family likes.
Don’t forget to take a detour to the chocolate fountain while you’re there!
This event takes place on December 8th, 2019 at 11 am-4:30 pm.
Location: New York State Museum Cultural Education Center, 222 Madison Avenue Albany, NY 12230
Lake George Polar Plunge
Ready to not only accept the cold weather but jump headfirst into its icy waters? Join the 1,000 others who feel the same way and participate in Lake George’s annual Polar Plunge! Come prepared in your bathing suit and swim trunks as you wait with the other participants, then feel the rush as you head into the water all at once. Don’t forget to bring a change of warm clothes and a towel after you head out of the water!
What better way to celebrate New Years Day than a freezing cold ice bath with the whole family? That’s right—the Polar Plunge is on January 1st, 2020 and there are several waves: 1 pm, 1:15 pm, and 1:30 pm.
Location: Shepard Park Beach, Lake George, NY 12845
Whether you decide to work off those Christmas cookies with the more physical activities, or intend to sit back and enjoy the gorgeous light shows with your hot cocoa, we are certain that you will get in the holiday spirit with whatever winter activity you choose!
Check out last weeks article: Snow Removal Safety
By: R. Kubek
December 5, 2019