While others hibernate through winter, New Yorkers and friends make the most of frozen waterfalls and lakes, towering slopes, holiday celebrations and mid-winter festivals to warm the spirit.
The hills at Belleayre, Cortina, Hunter, Windham, Holiday and Plattekill offer challenges for every skier, sledder and snowboarder. Winter fishing contests create ice shanty villages. Downtowns welcome visitors with non-stop shopping events, parades and carnivals, and not a holiday or anniversary passes without parties to celebrate. Be prepared to break some New Year’s resolutions as you follow the glow to New York’s countless cities, towns, villages and hamlets—each offering its own calendar of winter events to light up your season.
December: Christmas Parade and Fireworks, Clayton
A half-century tradition, downtown Clayton breaks out the skyrockets for Christmas in Clayton with an evening parade and fireworks, craft show, Holiday Food Fair and Dickens Christmas Festival.
February: Warm up Oswego, Oswego
Scavenger hunts, a Crazy Costume Sled Race, merchant vendors, snow sculpting and music, bonfires and riverfront fireworks warm up downtown Oswego at this annual mid-winter celebration.
February: Great Eastern Whiteout, Fulton
The largest antique snowmobile show in the east returns annually with antique and vintage sled displays, drag racing and breakfast rides. Race your own vintage sled or just watch the action.
November: An Adirondack Christmas, Old Forge
Before you dive into the malls, holiday-shop Old Forge’s downtown for unique gifts. Santa and Mrs. Claus come to town for a Light Parade.
February: Winter Carnival, Lake George
This February-long celebration features a polar lunge, helicopter rides, snowmobile poker runs, parades and bonfires, and the ever-popular Outhouse Race. A great way to warm up.
February: Empire State Winter Games, Lake Placid
Watch the cream of winter athletes compete in Lake Placid as the state’s best skiers, bobsledders, skaters and lugers vie for top honors in New York’s premiere winter sporting contest.
March: Maple Days, Thurman
Maple farms throughout Thurman open their sugarhouses for free tours and sweet tastings during March Maple Days. Enjoy a hot pancake breakfast with real maple syrup. Just follow the road signs.
November: Capital Holiday Lights, Albany
Drive past 125 spectacular themed holiday displays in Albany’s Washington Park during this annual favorite that runs through the holiday season. Your cruise ends at the Washington Park Lake House with fun, food and visits with Santa.
December: Victorian Streetwalk, Saratoga Springs
Stroll back to Victorian Saratoga with period costumes and over 45 downtown stops where you can enjoy carolers, magic shows, bands and live reindeer, Santa and Mrs. Claus, all free to the public.
December: Victorian Stroll, Troy
Watch the streets blossom with holiday splendor, sidewalk shopping, festive music and dining in Troy’s historic downtown. More than 100 free attractions include musicians, dancers, magicians and storytellers.
January: Winterfest, Saratoga Springs
Celebrate the spirit of winter in the Spa City with a weekend of music, nibbling, snow sports and fun like wine tastings and bonfires, skiing and snowshoeing, plus free hot cocoa.
February: Chowderfest, Saratoga Springs
Take the chill off in no time at Chowderfest, the spicy center of Saratoga’s Winter Weekend, with signature chowder and soup tastings at restaurants throughout town. Vote for your favorite.
March: Capital District Garden and Flower Show, Troy
Spring is in full bloom at Hudson Valley Community College. Visit acres of trickling waterfalls, colorful gardens and manicured landscapes, floral displays and vendors at this annual welcome to spring.
December: Candle Light Evening, Cooperstown
The Farmers’ Museum decks out in greenery and candlelight for this illuminating night of wagon rides, wassail, caroling, carousel rides, children’s crafts and candle-lit museum tours. Plus Old Saint Nick.
March: St. Paddy’s Parade, Old Forge
This rousing celebration marches down Main Street with creative floats and costumes featuring Old Forge Redheads, Synchronized Snowplows, Precision Shopping Cart drills and local chefs competing for Best Irish Stew. Break out the green.
November: Deck the Halls Weekends
Discover the Seneca Lake Wine Trail in November and December with festive stops at participating wineries to sample each vintner’s food and wine. Collect the holiday recipes and ornaments at each stop, and don’t forget your designated driver.
December: Lights on the River Festival, Owego
Downtown Owego lights up for the holidays with sparkling downtown festivities. Candlelit mansions, choirs, carolers, strolling entertainers and Santa are on hand to welcome families, with dazzling fireworks after dark.
February: Native American Winter Games, Victor
Celebrate a Native American winter at Ganondagan State Historic Site with snowshoe walks, dogsledding and storytelling in an authentic bark longhouse and hunting lodge. Self-guided tours wind through 600 acres.
December: Canalside Holiday Celebration, Buffalo
Buffalo welcomes the season at this annual Holiday and Tree Lighting Celebration. Highlights include a dramatic Santa Claus arrival, kid crafts, a chili cook-off featuring Buffalo Fire Department chefs, free horse-drawn carriage rides and tree lighting.
December: Festival of Lights, Hamburg
The warm glow of holiday lights fill The Fairgrounds in Hamburg with an amazing drive-thru display, Holiday Magic Show, Santa’s Magical Midway, reindeer carriage rides and kids’ game show.
December: Holiday Happenings, Various
Sixteen Niagara Wine Trail stops team up for this spirited holiday outing on select dates in December. Sample the season’s top wines as you collect keepsake ornaments and fond memories along the trail.
December: First Night, Buffalo
Few cities outside of NYC do First Night as big as Buffalo. The energy radiates from downtown’s Electric Tower to venues throughout the city with concerts and dance, theater and comedy, and ice skating at Rotary Rink in this alcohol-free, family friendly celebration.
March: St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Buffalo
A proud day for Buffalo’s Irish, this annual march from City Hall to North Street draws huge crowds for Irish dancers and bands. Free ice skating, clowns, face painting and good green fun.
December: Silver Bells Festival, Salamanca
Named for hometown Silver Bells lyricist Ray Evans, this month-long schedule of community concerts, caroling, craft shows and family events kicks off with the Lighting of the City at Jefferson Street Park.
March: Holiday Valley’s Winter Carnival, Ellicottville
Winter Carnival just keeps growing. Squeeze the last few flakes out of winter with cookouts, pony races, skijoring and scavenger hunts, a Mardi Gras Parade, beauty pageant, and live music everywhere.
December: Winter Walk, Hudson
Watch Hudson’s Warren Street turn into a holiday wonderland with twinkling lights, brightly decorated shops, horse-drawn wagon rides, bagpipers, live reindeer, carolers and general mayhem.
December: Holiday Spirit Festival, Wappingers Falls
Families will find Christmas spirit to spare throughout December at this themed festival with Magical Christmas Village, an Enchanted Forest of Lights, Santa’s Workshop and A Dicken’s Tale that sweeps you into Victorian London with live actors.
December: Holiday in the Village, Saugerties
Holiday spirit arrives in the friendly Village of Saugerties with horse-drawn wagon rides, kids’ crafts, carolers and choirs, living mannequins, downtown shopping and a visit from Saint Nick.
December: Holiday Torchlight Parade, Hunter
New Year’s Eve at Hunter Mountain kicks off with torchlight parades down the mountain, followed by a fireworks show, fun and prizes.
February: King of the Ice Fishing Contest, Monticello
Hear plenty of fish stories at this annual winter anglers bash at White Lake. Fish for trout, pickerel, perch, crappies and walleye. Win prizes and compete for the King of the Ice crown.
November: Christmas Spectacular, Radio City
Holiday spirit kicks in with The Rockettes, festive music, dancing and lights in this must-see-it-once Christmas tradition through the end of December. Bring the kids to greet Santa.
December: Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square, Dante Park
Starting at Dante Park, New York City’s biggest holiday festival offers free entertainment, tastings and shopping with street musicians, jugglers, stilt-walkers and fun for kids and adults all through the neighborhood.
December: Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting, 30 Rock
You’ll know it’s officially Christmas when they throw the switch at Rockefeller Center. Be there to watch NYC’s tree burst into life with 25,000 multicolored lights, then stay for tons of live entertainment.
December: New Year’s Eve, Times Square
There’s nowhere more famous to be than Times Square on New Year’s Eve when the ball drops under the gaze of a million partiers and a billion televised viewers. Star-studded music, confetti, pyrotechnics. Why be anywhere else?
February: Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Madison Square Garden
The Garden hosts America’s first and foremost champions-only dog show, since 1877 showcasing the most beloved—and rarest—breeds of man’s best friend.
December: Christmas At Sagtikos Manor
Learn the history of Christmas carols as you tour this elegant manor, splendidly turned out for the holidays. Each room is themed to a different Christmas carol, and hot beverages and cookies are offered.
February: Long Island Winterfest, various venues
Long Island’s east end breaks out in jazz for six weekends in February and March with live jazz from top performers in the island’s top winery tasting rooms. Fine wines and smooth jazz will quickly cure your mid-winter doldrums.