Christmas Towns and Festivals to Explore Near NYC

Drive by the whimsical Whoville installation at Wegmans Lights on the Lake in Liverpool, New York, this holiday season.
Drive by the whimsical Whoville installation at Wegmans Lights on the Lake in Liverpool, New York, this holiday season.

New York City may be one of the most iconic holiday destinations but there are plenty of cities, towns, and villages across New York state that also get into the Christmas spirit and make for a great holiday day trip or seasonal weekend getaway. From Santa’s Workshop in North Pole, N.Y., to the Snowflake Festival in Kingston, here are six New York-state Christmas towns and holiday festivals where you'll find plenty of magic of this season.

Subscribe to our newsletters to get stories like this delivered directly to your inbox.

Wegman's Lights on the Lake – Liverpool

Approximately 4 hours, 15 minutes from Midtown Manhattan
Through Friday, January 14
Returning as a drive-thru experience, Lights on the Lake is a two-mile marvel of towering holiday displays featuring the magical Land of Oz, a twinkling fantasy forest, animated scenes, and a fairytale-inspired final scene. Visitors should tune to Sunny 102.1 to hear synchronized the sounds of the season while driving through the show!

RELATED: 12 Must-do Holiday Activities and Christmas Events in NYC for Kids in 2021

Santa’s Workshop
Visit Santa’s Workshop at the enchanting theme park of the same name in North Pole, New York.

Santa’s Workshop – North Pole

Approximately 5 hours from Midtown Manhattan
Open weekends through Sunday, December 19, plus Sunday, December 26
If you can’t make it to Alaska, you and your family can still mingle with the elves and Santa himself at Santa’s Workshop in North Pole, New York. Santa’s Workshop is an enchanting amusement park that has been operating since 1949, making it one of the first theme parks in the United States. In addition to rides, visitors can ogle at Santa’s toy shop, where kids can help make and test toys, and visit the blacksmith shop in this Christmas town where reindeer shoes are made. Don’t forget to drop off letters to Santa and have your mail postmarked North Pole, N.Y., at a U.S. Post Office located at the entrance to the park.

RELATED: Guide to Holiday and Christmas Events

Kingston Snowflake Festival ice sculpting
The Kingston Snowflake Festival features tons of holiday cheer, including ice carvings, caroling, visits with Santa, and tons of free treats.

Kingston Snowflake Festival – Kingston

Approximately 1 hour, 45 minutes from Midtown Manhattan
Friday, December 3
A Christmas tree lighting, fire twirling, ice carving, juggling, fiddlers––oh my! The city of Kingston goes all out for the holidays. Kick off a weekend in this upstate New York Christmas town with a visit to the annual Snowflake Festival for s'mores, carolers, a meet-and-greet with Santa, and more. Bookmark this map of the festivities to ensure you don’t miss a thing.

RELATED: Rockefeller Center Tree in 2021: All You Need to Know

Sinterklass Festival Day parade
Join in the Children's Starlight Parade during the Sinterklass Festival Day in Rhinebeck.

Sinterklass Festival Day – Rhinebeck

Approximately 2 hours from Midtown Manhattan
Saturday, December 4
Sinterklaas Festival Day returns to the Mid-Hudson Valley after a pandemic-induced hiatus. A tradition brought by Dutch settlers who arrived in Rhinebeck centuries ago, the special day brings more than 250 performers to Rhinebeck, including tightrope walkers and fire jugglers. Capping off the celebration, Sinterklaas leads the Children’s Starlight Parade, which culminates in the center of town with the Sinterklaas pageant.

Annual Troy Victorian Stroll – Troy

Approximately 2 hours, 45 minutes from Midtown Manhattan
Sunday, December 5, Saturdays December 11 and 18
For nearly 40 years, the Troy Victorian Stroll has been a holiday tradition that transforms the streets of historic downtown Troy into a Christmas town of the bygone Victorian era. Locals get gussied up in Dickensian apparel and join in the concerts, street performances, and other events. Be sure to play Stroll Bingo while you’re in town. Squares include, “I voted in the window decorating contest,” “I found saxophone Santa,” “I engaged in an activity or hobby downtown,” and many more. While there is entertainment on the above dates, expect to find shopping and dining specials throughout downtown all month long.

RELATED: Best Things To Do in Westchester and the Hudson Valley This December

Holiday Village Stroll Santa and elves ice skating
Hit the ice in Lake Placid at the village's annual Holiday Village Stroll.

Holiday Village Stroll – Lake Placid

Approximately 5 hours from Midtown Manhattan
Friday, December 10-Sunday, December 12
A Lake Placid tradition, the Holiday Village Stroll is a fun weekend packed with activities and events. Drop by the Olympic Center's 1932 Rink for a skating party; watch (or participate in) the annual Adirondack Health Jingle Bell Walk/Run (prizes include best holiday costume), and snap a photo with the Grinch at the Little Blue House. Santa makes an appearance at Mid’s Park ahead of the tree-lighting ceremony and leads a fire truck parade on Sunday. For even more ways to get into the holiday spirit, check out the full schedule of events.

Photos courtesy of the festivals/venues

Songbook: Broadway's Future New Holiday Songs
New York Public Library for the Performing Arts - 6:00 PM Pick
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights - various times Pick
Let's Learn Circuits Online Camp
Zoom - Online - 9:30 AM
Online MIT App Making Camp
Young Gates - Kids Online Personalized Classes - 9:30 AM
Neighborhood Guides
Activity Guides