A Capital Region tradition
By Rebecca Whalen
There is a simple festive scene that characterizes the Northeast during the holiday season. Parents and children in knitted hats and scarves, puffy jackets and boots laced tight at their feet stroll along their local downtown in search of hot cocoa, a warm bite to eat and the man in the red suit. Their breath shows wild in front of them in the brisk December air.
As Northeasterners, whether we are fans of the cold or not, we sure do like our holiday season. But there is one other facet of the above scene that seems to only be found in this area, setting the Capital Region apart during the holidays: day-long outdoor celebrations where entire communities come out to be together and celebrate.
From Victorian-era strolls in Troy and Saratoga to holiday walks in Lake Placid and Rhinebeck, the Capital Region has something for everyone this season. These strolls have made unforgettable first dates. They’ve enlivened families to spend targeted time together. And they’ve given couples whose children have long left the nest new traditions to carry on. Many in the region seem to have found comfort in the holiday traditions of the Hudson Valley. So let’s take a look:
Saratoga Springs Victorian Streetwalk
November 30 | 6-10pm saratoga.com/holiday
If Victorian-era clothing is sort of your thing, you’ll get double wear during the holiday season by heading to Saratoga the week before Troy’s stroll for the 31st annual Saratoga Springs Victorian Streetwalk. Broadway closes to traffic and the holiday comes to life during the evening. Imagine the already stunning main street transformed into a winter wonderland with activities for children and adults alike. It’s hard not to get chills just thinking about it. Pop from shop to shop to see all the entertainment the city has to offer that evening. While you enjoy the musical stylings of the Victorian-style carolers, take the kids to Santa’s Saratoga Cottage and let them tell him first hand how good they were this year. Then head to the Festival of Trees to admire beautiful displays of decoration and light. See something you like? Buy it! All proceeds at the Festival of Trees benefit a local nonprofit. Oh, and don’t worry if you don’t get to see Santa that night; he will be at the cottage throughout the month of December. See the website for a full list of hours.
Lake Placid Holiday Village Stroll
December 8 | 5pm-TBD
December 9 | 8:30am-9pm
December 10 | 8:30am-7pm holidayvillagestroll.com
Swap out Victorian-era carolers for the breath-taking views of a lake surrounded by woods and a small town covered in snow, and you’ve got yourself the Lake Placid Holiday Village Stroll. This three-day extravaganza is the perfect reason to sweep your sweetheart or your family away for a few days while not breaking the bank or venturing too far from home. Brought to you by the Lake Placid Business Association, the weekend kicks off with a skating party at the 1932 Arena and musical entertainment at locations throughout town. Much of Saturday will be perfect for the kids with breakfast with Santa, holiday storytime, crafts, music, and cookie decorating, but don’t forget there are wine and soup/chili tastings mid-day to give you a boost to keep going so that you can enjoy another set of musicians at night. On Sunday, join Santa for breakfast one last time before hitting a few last activities and heading home.
December 2 | TBD sinterklaashudsonvalley.com
Perhaps one of the region’s more eclectic strolls is Sinterklaas, which brings a slew of Dutch traditions to the Capital Region during the holiday season. While the Sinterklaas celebration kicks off in late November in Kingston, it’s the Festival Day in Rhinebeck that will specifically make for a fine outing with the family.
The celebration actually honors children as they are “transformed into kings and queens and honors them as the bringers of the light at the darkest time of the year.” Talk about a celebration! The day features workshops, dance, theater, and music, all woven with Dutch traditions surrounding the celebration of Sinterklaas. The festive day ends with the Children’s Starlight Parade at 6pm and Grand Final Pageant where children bring some of the items created earlier in the day to the parade to be part of the celebration rather than just a spectator. It’s a unique experience for all involved–children and parents alike.
Hudson Winter Walk
December 2 | 5–8pm hudsonhall.org
Hudson’s liveliest, largest, and most colorful event of the year is celebrating 21 years!
A cherished Hudson tradition, Winter Walk lights up the early December evening with stunning storefront displays, roaming carolers, Mr. Claus with live reindeer friends, and a magical firework display from the Hudson River. In its 21st year, the 2017 Winter Walk is the perfect way to celebrate and support the creative economy re-energizing Hudson. So layer up and join Hudson’s radiant community for a night of warm hearts and festive cheer!
Valatie WinterWalk and Winter Parade
December 9 | 5-9pm veravalatie.com
Santa Claus accompanied by a Winter Parade will ring in festivities throughout the village. Shop stores, sample holiday food and enjoy live music and entertainment until 9 pm.
WinterWalk, sponsored by the Village of Valatie, the Valatie Santa Claus Club, and the Valatie Economic Redevelopment Association (V.E.R.A.) begins with the Winter Parade at 5pm. There will be sales at local stores, holiday treats, artisans, raffles, live music, dancers, entertainment and more.
The parade will be populated by firetrucks and rescue vehicles from several local fire departments, as well as carolers from regional organizations, and parade-stopping performances from KJ’s Gymnastics and the Roz Dancers. A classical feature of Valatie’s winter parade is Santa Claus riding through the village on his sleigh.
Victorian Holiday Celebration, Sharon Springs
December 9 | 10am-5pm
December 10 | 10am-4pm sharonspringschamber.com
Sharon Springs celebrates the holidays and its past with a Victorian Holiday Celebration. Kissing beneath the mistletoe, Santa Claus or St. Nick, exchanging gifts, caroling – all wonderful traditions embraced by the Victorian Era – are some of the celebration’s best loved traditions. This is a wonderful weekend for making memories with family and friends.
Local shops are imbued with holiday cheer and everything you will need to complete your holiday shopping. Local restaurants offer delicious holiday fare. Plus, shop the holiday vendors at The Roseboro – over 40 vendors! Peruse a fantastic selection of handmade wooden toys and gifts, handcrafted jewelry and ceramics, traditional Christmas decorations, candies, jams and jellies, and stunning household items and much more!
Troy’s Victorian Stroll
December 3, 2017 | 11am-5pm. victorianstroll.com
This year, Troy’s Victorian Stroll celebrates its 35th year as a staple Capital Region holiday tradition. And if this is the year you’re looking to take your first holiday walk, this is the one to start with. While the stroll is characterized by the countless residents dressed in Victorian-era attire (not required, but encouraged), the Rensselaer County Chamber of Commerce, host of the event each year, brings all the bells and whistles—pun intended—to make this an activity-packed day in the city.
Musicians, dance groups, rides, an arts and crafts show, and more entertain attendees for the full six hours, while shop and restaurant owners, eager to invite you in, dress up their storefront windows for your viewing pleasure and make holiday shopping a breeze with special sales and unique cuisine. Add in a streetscape dressed with light-laden trees and decorations that never disappoint and this will without a doubt be an afternoon you won’t want to miss.
Charity Walk Nights at Lights in the Park
While riding through Albany’s Capital Lights in the Park has proven to be a holiday tradition in the region, don’t forget about the park’s Charity Walk Nights. These happen at various dates throughout the Lights season (November 24, 2017-January 2, 2018) and are a perfect opportunity to see the displays up close while supporting some worthy local nonprofits. If you can only make one of the nights, do try the Chili, Chowder and Soup Fest night. Sample the best hot meals from the area’s most loved restaurants and delis. And a word to the wise? Come hungry. Your stomach won’t be disappointed.
Schenectady Holiday Events
November 18 | 5pm
The Annual Daily Gazette Holiday Parade is the 50th anniversary of the Capital Region tradition. This event is treasured by tens of thousands of Capital Region residents who look forward to the parade every holiday season. The theme for this year is “The Parade of Lights: 125 Years of Schenectady.” The floats, dancers, bands, vehicles, and parade attendees will be the biggest and the brightest! The parade will be adorned with lights, sparkle, and all the shine the holiday season offers.
Night of Lights and Festival of Trees Sneak Preview
Schenectadyhistorical.org | 32 Washington Avenue December 1 | 7pm
The Festival of Trees is back, lighting up Schenectady! This year, we’re kicking off the season with the Night of Lights, a special evening of radiant fir trees, live music, great food and cocktails and more. $20.
Festival of Trees
December 2 through December 17 | 10am–5pm
$6, under 12 free. Celebrate the season as the Historical Society fills its galleries with lighted fir trees! Decorated from classic to kooky Christmas styles, the trees glow with the enchantment of the holidays and a shimmering, festive season.