An Insider’s Guide to December Events in the Hudson Valley

December 1, 2020 at 11:53 am
An Insider’s Guide to December Events in the Hudson

Hudson River tourism directors share their top picks for places to go, sights to see, and things to do throughout the December holiday season.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. There are a ton of things to do in the Hudson Valley each month. Even though the holiday season may look different, there exist dozens upon dozens of ways to experience the best of what the region has to offer. While they might not be traditional per se (drive-through holiday light displays, anyone?), they are engaging, entertaining, and 100-percent #flattenthecurve-approved.

To help scout out the best events in the Valley, we reached out to local tourism directors from Albany to Westchester for their top picks for things to do. Check out their selections, then get planning!

Albany County

Discover Albany President and CEO Jill Delaney shares her top recommendations for the month.

Capital Holiday Lights in the Park

Washington Park, Albany
Throughout December

Albany gets the ultimate glow-up when Washington Park comes alive with more than 125 festive displays. Drive through the park with family and friends all December long, bumping to music curated by B95.5. This year’s special theme is hope to keep Hudson Valley nights merry and bright.

Ten Broeck Mansion Holiday House

Ten Broeck Mansion, Albany
Weekends in December

Marvel at shimmering lights, festive trees, and bright garlands in an immersive walk-through experience of Ten Broeck Mansion this holiday season. Make your reservations well in advance for safe and socially distant fun. Peruse the pop-up shop on the porch and enjoy photos with Sinterklaas on December 6 and 13 from 12-2:30 p.m.

Holidays at Pruyn House

Pruyn House, Latham
December 5-6

Looking for a classic setting for your next family picture? Take your holiday photos in an 1800s sleigh in front of the newly renovated and decorated Pruyn House. Seasonal crafts for kids will surely get everyone in the spirit.

Columbia County

Read up on Columbia County Tourism’s highlights for things to do in the Hudson Valley this month.

Samascott’s Indoor Craft Fair

Samascott’s Garden Market, Kinderhook
December 5, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Shop beautiful handmade crafts from some of the best artisans in the Hudson Valley. Wooden toys, ceramics, paintings, jewelry, and more festive offerings make for perfect gifts. Visit this free-to-enter fair located in Samascott’s gorgeous greenhouse to buy local this holiday season.

Festive Golf Cart Parade

Copake Country Club , Craryville
December 20, 1-7 p.m.

Who will be the holiday decorating champion in the Hudson Valley this year? If you have what it takes, deck the halls, so to speak, by tinsel-topping a golf cart at Copake Country Club for the chance to win a trip to Vermont. Families can come cheer on their friends and help select the most festive cart of the season in a parade kicking off at 4:30 p.m. Snacks and beverages will keep you warm throughout the outdoor event.

Dutchess County

Take a peek at the team behind Dutchess Tourism, Inc.’s top picks for things to do in Dutchess County this month.

Stroll through Kevin McCurdy’s delightful holiday world. Photo courtesy of Dutchess Tourism, Inc.

Winter Wonderland Walk at Kevin McCurdy’s Holiday Spirit Festival

Bowdoin Park, Wappingers Falls
Through December 27

If you’ve never been to Kevin McCurdy’s Holiday Spirit Festival before, prepare for an over-the-top (in the best way) celebration of the wintertime season. This year’s iteration takes the party outdoors for a festive Winter Wonderland Walk. Perfect for families, this magical holiday journey will take you through a Gingerbread Village, past a crew of marvelous misfit toys, and into a brand-new Christmas Canyon for a laser show. 

Holiday Illumination Weekend at Wilcox Park

Wilcox Park, Stanfordville
December 5 and 6, 6-9 p.m.

Drive through Wilcox Park during the Go Light Your World Holiday Illumination Weekend for some of the most dazzling displays in the Hudson Valley. Local businesses, non-profit organizations, fire departments, and town representatives contribute their own displays alongside public submissions. For another spectacular light display in Dutchess County, visit ERDAJT Holiday Christmas Display — with 670,000 lights and 1,770 individually-controlled items to over 250 songs — open through December 27 

Handel’s Messiah: A Virtual Sing-Along

Online through Bardavon Presents
December 19, 2 p.m.

Handel’s Messiah is a holiday classic. Join in on a glorious tradition by singing along to the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and Cappella Festiva’s renditions, all from the comfort of your home. The stream showcases shining moments from the 2019 performance, along with commentary by guest conductor Christine Howlett.

Greene County

Look no further for the coolest attractions and activities in Greene County during the month.

Story Walk in the Woodland

Mountain Top Arboretum, Tannersville
December 12 – 19, 10 a.m.

Embark on a journey through Hudson Valley woodlands at Mountain Top Arboretum. This month’s featured story is The Lonely Polar Bear by Khoa Le, a tale that teaches guests of all ages about how climate change affects polar bears and their habitat. The free program is part of the Story Time in the Shade series, a collaboration between Mountain Top Arboretum and Mountain Top Library.

Orange County

Check out Orange County Tourism Director Amanda Dana’s selections for the best things to do this month.

Christmas in the Village

Museum Village, Monroe
Sat & Sun December 5 – 13, 1-6 p.m.

Spread some holiday cheer by exploring the Hudson Valley’s own Christmas Village. A stroll during the day is beautiful, but the entire Museum Village transforms into a winter wonderland when illuminated with twinkling lights at night. Visit with Santa and his elves at the playhouse, then check out the art show for specially themed boutique items. Tickets are $5 per person.

Orange County Holiday Lights Spectacular

Orange County Fairgrounds, Middletown
December 7 and 8, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Visit the Orange County Fairgrounds for a socially distant drive-thru holiday celebration. Traverse through lanes of dazzling light displays as you wind your way to the centerpiece, a multimedia light show. Hudson Valley food vendors bring delicious treats right to each car, so guests never have to leave their seats.

Brunch With Santa

The Thayer Hotel, West Point
December 6, 13, and 20; Reservations start at 10:30 a.m.

Who wants to ditch the milk and cookies and share a mimosa with the man in the red suit? West Point’s historic Thayer Hotel serves up delicious seasonal cuisine like lemon tarragon baked cod, chicken scaloppine, and a magical chocolate fountain. Children under 12 eat for half the price, so bring the whole family to dine with ol’ Saint Nick.

Dinner Theatre: A Christmas Carol

The Meadowbrook, New Windsor
December 19, 5:30 p.m.

Travel to 19th century London with a Hudson Valley production of Charles Dickens’ classic holiday tale. Hosted at a gorgeous venue, The Meadowbrook, this rendition of A Christmas Carol features lavish costumes and a prix fixe dinner menu. Grab a chicken leg and watch as Scrooge is visited by three spirits of Christmas, warming both his heart and yours.

New Year’s Eve Bash

Cedar Lakes Estate, Port Jervis
December 31, 7 p.m. – 1 a.m.

Ring in the new year at Cedar Lakes Estate. Come for the evening or stay overnight at one of the gorgeous cottages onsite. Several chefs have put together a multi-course tasting menu, along with thoughtful drink pairings and a special toast at midnight. Don your best apparel and celebrate the arrival of 2021 in the Hudson Valley.

Putnam County

Read up on Putnam County Tourism Director Tracey L. Walsh’s picks for things to do this month.

Holidays on the Farm

Boni-Bel Farm & Country Store, Brewster
Through December 29, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

You won’t want to miss Green Chimney’s fresh-cut Christmas trees, handmade wreaths, and gift baskets specially made to order. Shop the store all season long for local produce and presents from Hudson Valley artisans, including festive birdhouses, glass ornaments, and beautiful pottery. Hot cocoa, tea, and fresh cookies keep the store especially merry this holiday season. Plus, every purchase supports a student with special needs.

Seasonal Salinger’s

Salinger’s Orchard, Brewster
Through December 31, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Salinger’s Orchard transforms into a winter wonderland around the holidays. Of course, select freshly cut Hudson Valley trees, but stay for incredible baked goods. Gift boxes with holiday cakes and fresh apples can be shipped anywhere in the Northeast, allowing you to send Salinger’s wherever your family may be.

A Kent Countryside Christmas

Kent Countryside Nursery, Carmel
Through December 29, Mon-Fri 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., Sat 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., Sun 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Is that Santa? Have a socially distant visit with the jolly, bearded man while browsing delightful holiday ornaments and decorations. Utilizing fresh greens from the nursery, make your own one-of-a-kind wreath in the Hudson Valley this year.

Holiday Decorating at Cockburn Farm

Cockburn Farm, Garrison
Everyday through December 24, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Nothing beats walking through gorgeous Hudson Valley scenery – unless you can add a cup of hot chocolate to the mix. Cockburn Farm is a one-stop shop for all your decorating needs, and that includes Christmas trees. Too tired to deck the halls this year? Cockburn’s decorating service will turn any space into a holiday paradise.

Rockland County

Take a browse through Director of Economic Development and Tourism Jeremy Schulman’s picks the hottest things to do in Rockland County throughout the month.

Let There Be Light! Drive-Through Art & Light Show

Garner Arts Center, Garnerville
December 12, 13, 18, 19, and 20; 5-9 p.m.

Searching for heaps of festive fun in Rockland County? Drive through a bright, inspiring, and elegantly decorated art path within one of the Hudson Valley’s most unique historic sites, a repurposed 19th century mill complex known as the Garner Historic District. The holiday season-themed art and light show features a decorated art path with illuminated window art, video projection mapping, music, sight-specific installations, immersive light displays, and more.

Rockland Online Holiday Shopping Expo

December 5 – 9

Did Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials pass you by? There’s still time to get your holiday shopping done in the Hudson Valley thanks to Rockland County’s fully online Holiday Shopping Expo. Support local retail and service businesses, restaurants, and non-profit organizations. The full list of available booths posts online when the event kicks off on December 5.

Christmas Rocks Concert With EKKquinox Steel Band

Live Stream
December 19, 12-4 p.m.

The EKKquinox Steel Band has been fueling the holiday season with music for eight years. Support this Hudson Valley-based youth steel band and tune into the live stream, which is full of festive jams and merry melodies.

Piermont Open-Air Holiday Bazaar

Flywheel Park, Piermont
Weekends through December 20, 12-5 p.m.

More than 30 vendors gather to celebrate the holiday season in the Hudson Valley at Piermont’s picturesque Flywheel Park. A wide array of shopping options like foodie gift baskets, fine art, hand-crafted pottery, and so much more await. Hot cocoa and apple cider will keep you warm throughout the safe and festive open-air experience. Free pedicab rides can take ferry visitors from the bazaar to the newly decorated Christmas tree to any one of the shops and restaurants that line Piermont’s northern riverfront.

Holiday Affordable Art & Pottery Bazaar

Rockland Center for the Arts, Nyack
Weekends through December 5 – 23, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. (closed on Sundays)

From inventive wreaths made of recycled materials to jewelry forged from silverware, mezuzahs, or ceramics, Rockland Center for the Arts presents some of the most unique holiday gifts and decorations you’ll see this season. Shop onsite or online for a safe and festive experience.

Ulster County

Read up on Ulster County Tourism’s event highlights for December.

Catskill Mountain Railroad Christmas Express

Westbrook Lane Station, Kingston
Through December 28

The Hudson Valley’s magical holiday train looks a little different this year, but no less festive. Catskill Mountain Railroad invites visitors on an hour-long ride through the Catskill forest to Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole. Bundle up and ride in open-air flat cars illuminated by lights.

A Frosty Fest

778 Broadway, Ulster Park
Through December 27 (closed Christmas Day)

Just for the holiday season, Headless Horseman Hayrides transforms into a glowing, seasonal spectacular. The hit happening includes attractions like Candy Cane Lane, Frosty’s Enchanted Forest, Glistening Gardens, Magical Mansion, and more. After adventuring through the wonderland attractions, families can swing into the gift shop and pick up a few tasty wintertime treats, too. It’s even possible to get a photo with Santa Claus himself while there.

The Wawarsing Wassail

December 5, 5 p.m.

A full day of winter fun in Wawarsing, the town’s Wassail commences with a holiday market that extends through the evening. The main event is the Joshua R. Peters Memorial Electric Fire Truck Parade, with a longer route this year to encourage social distancing. The festive trucks and all that come with them wind through the village of Ellenville, Napanoch, and Kerhonkson.

Saugerties Holiday Lane

The Dutch Ale House, Saugerties
December 11, 2-7 p.m.; December 12, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.; December 13, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Fueled by food and drink from the Dutch Ale House, Hudson Valley visitors can shop for local jewelry, clothing, accessories, and more at this holiday themed event. After shopping, spend the rest of the day in town for strolls through local storefronts and a bite to eat from one of the scrumptious restaurants in the region.

Westchester County

Discover the hottest happenings according to Westchester County Tourism this month.

Westchester’s Winter Wonderland

Kensico Dam Plaza, Valhalla
Through January 3

Right after Thanksgiving, Westchester’s Winter Wonderland arrives to set the county aglow all holiday season long. This year, the fest takes on a 1.2-mile drive-thru format that leads visitors along a path filled with thousands of twinkling lights. Expect dancing trees, a candy cane lane, a 40-foot Christmas tree, and more show-stopping scenes. Who better than Santa to close the festivities?

Wolf Photo Session

Wolf Conservation Center, South Salem
December 6, 9-11 a.m.

Are you an aspiring wildlife photographer? Take incredible photographs of wolves from unique vantage points normally off limits to the public. The Wolf Conservation Center raises awareness about endangered species of wolves and how human actions can impact the environment. Attendees have the chance to meet three rare wolves, Nikai, Alawa, and Zephyr.

Wings Air Helicopter Rides

Westchester County Airport, White Plains
December 27

Glide over the Hudson Valley this Christmas season in a helicopter. Wings Air offers 12-minute rides for the price of $90 per person (normally $300+). These incredible excursions depart from Westchester Airport, and two to three people can enjoy this monthly seasonal sightseeing from above the clouds.

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