The greater Capital Region knows how to ring in the holidays. Over the decades, Schenectady, Hudson, Saratoga Springs, Troy, and Lake Placid have created special events that have been musts on the holiday activities lists for generations of area residents and visitors. This year, enjoy a repeat visit or experience the magic for the first time. To ensure you don’t miss anything, check out the schedules of events in advance for each holiday venue.
Annual Holiday Parade
November 17; 5pm
When the Annual Holiday Parade steps off this year, marchers and watchers will be enjoying a 50-year tradition with a new name – Fidelis Care Holiday Parade, as the title sponsor. This largest evening parade in the Northeast drew more than 15,000 people last year. The parade, on the theme of Golden Anniversary 1968-2018, will feature musicians, dancers, floats, vehicles, and Santa, who has made an appearance for a half century. In celebration of this milestone, floats are expected to be bedecked in lots of gold and glitter. Kick-off is at Schenectady County Community College, finishing at Franklin Street. An added feature will be a fun time for kids and families from 2-5pm downtown, with clowns, face painters, bounce houses and more.
Victorian Streetwalk and Tree-Lighting
November 29; 6 – 10pm
On November 29, Broadway in downtown Saratoga Springs will close to traffic (5 – 10pm) and transform into the 32nd annual Victorian streetwalk where you will meet carolers and strollers in costume, pass by brightly decorated shop windows and visit 35 venues with music, dance, and other entertainment. The annual tree-lighting ceremony will be held at 6pm. Don’t forget a visit to the Festival of Trees at the City Center, featuring more than 250 specially decorated trees, wreaths, and centerpieces. Santa not only participates in the Saratoga festivities, he also takes up residence in a little cottage on Broadway, a special treat for the kids, beginning on the 29th and through December (check his schedule). The streetwalk is presented by the Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association.
December 1; 5 – 8pm
Lively, colorful and clever. That’s how the Hudson Winter Walk has been described. Now in its 22nd year, the Winter Walk transforms the mile-long main street, Warren Street, into a holiday wonderland and features Santa arriving at 5pm outside Hudson Hall, roaming carolers, street performers, musicians, decorated storefronts, and fireworks at 8pm. Warren Street is closed to traffic from Front to Eighth streets during the Winter Walk, which attracts more than 20,000. Entertainment again will include “Rip the Nut,” a pantomime mash-up of the Hudson Valley Rip Van Winkle tale with Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite from the imagination of choreographer Adam H. Weinert. There will be three performances between 5:15 and 8:15pm at Hudson Hall. Explore Santa’s Village at the 7th Street Park and, in the Below 3rd district, see an eight-foot-tall traditional Ukrainian Winter Star sculpture installation by Ukrainian-born, Hudson-based artist Maryna Bilak.
December 2; 11am – 5pm
You never know what or who you are going to see at the 36th Annual Victorian Stroll – costumed strollers in Victorian costume (you may wish to dress up for the day, too), jugglers and other street entertainers, musicians, artists, vendors, and even Father Christmas. This is the largest free holiday festival in the Northeast, attracting more than 30,000 people and featuring more than 100 live performances, crafters, decorated boutiques and restaurants throughout downtown. The community is invited to take part in a poster design contest and businesses participate in window decorating.
Holiday Village Stroll
December 7 – 9 (Friday, 5 – 7pm; Saturday, 8:30am – well into the evening; Sunday, 8:30am – noon) holidayvillagestroll.com
A Lake Placid tradition, the Village Stroll is a family and couples weekend of entertainment in a fairytale winter wonderland featuring parties, dining specials, and shopping. The weekend includes lots of free kids’ activities. Santa will appear in several locations throughout the weekend. The weekend includes a skating party at the 1932 arena (glide in the boot-steps of past Olympians), a jingle bell run/walk, breakfast with Santa, story time for kids, the annual hunt for the Yule log (and lighting the log after it is found), tastings (beer, soup, chowder and more), cookie decorating, craft-making, sleigh rides, music, and more. Strollers also can enjoy dining specials and live entertainment at area businesses into the late evening.