Orange County, N.Y. - Like a child's Christmas stocking, Orange County is filled with holiday events and activities to make everyone feel festive, joyful, and ready to celebrate the merry season.

With fresh glittering snow blanketing the charming countryside, Orange County is only a seventy minute ride from Manhattan, two and a half hours from Philadelphia, three and a half hours from Boston, and one of Santa's most favorite stops.

"We're a favorite destination for people who want a sophisticated country weekend at our charming Hudson River villages, farm to table restaurants, and terrific holiday events," said Susan Hawvermale, Orange Tourism director.

Looking for the Sugar Plum Fairy? You'll find her at the Sugar Loaf Performing Arts Center where five performance of The Nutcracker are presented from December 18 to 21. Clara, Fritz, the Snow Queen, the Mouse King, and the stately Nutcracker welcome you to this time-honored holiday classic performed by graceful professional dancers from the Artisan Dance Company with a 22-piece orchestra. www.sugarloafpac.org

Humbug! Ebenezer Scrooge is taking up residence at the Theatre at the Historic West Shore Station in Newburgh for Just Off Broadway's production of A Christmas Carol on December 5, 6, 7 and 12, 13, and 14. Treat the family to Charles Dickens' Christmas classic and see how Scrooge learns the meaning of Christmas from Tiny Tim and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. www.justoffbwy.com

Dazzling holiday lights are waiting to delight visitors, too. Take a ride to the Orange County Arboretum for its free annual Holiday Lights in Bloom at Thomas Bull Memorial Park in Montgomery (enter Hamptonburgh for GPS directions). Open December 5 through 28 from 5 to 8pm on weekends, this spectacular light show features beautiful garden-inspired light displays in the shapes of flowers, animals, and insects. In addition, the 9/11 Memorial Garden will be lit in patriotic splendor.

Children and adults can stroll down paths lined with twinkling trees, walk through illuminated gardens, and stop at the water's edge of a pond created in lights and teeming with life. Complete your visit with a free cup of hot cocoa and finalize your shopping with a stop at the group's Holiday Boutique. www.orangecountynyparks.com

More festive lights are found at the Watt Christmas Wonderland in Goshen, open through December 28 from 6 to 9pm (weather permitting). Travel through a dreamland adventure and find yourself surrounded by an astounding array of brightly glowing displays. Hundreds of Christmas inflatables and thousands of lights adorn the almost one mile path; so many that you'll want to drive through more than once! www.wattschristmasonwonderland.com

A memorable holiday event adults can really savor is Wreath Fineries at the Wineries, the Shawangunk Wine Trail's fun wine tasting excursion on December 6, 7, 13, and 14. Talk about holiday spirits!

All the wineries are beautifully decorated to add to the merriment. You'll be given a souvenir wine tasting glass and a handmade grapevine wreath at the first winery you visit. Then travel along the Wine Trail and receive an ornament to add to your wreath at each winery. www.shawangunkwinetrail.com

Kids will enjoy their own farm-themed Christmas trail to visit Eggbert, The Talking Egg at Devitt's Nursery and Supply in New Windsor, through December 21 from 10am to 4:30pm. And just like Santa, don't be surprised if Eggbert knows the names of all the children who come to see him. www.devittsnsy.com.

Delightful holiday events take place throughout Orange County during the Christmas season including: A West Point Holiday with the West Point Band at Eisenhower Hall, December 6 and 7 (www.ikehall.com); Christmas in the Village at Museum Village in Monroe on December 7 (www.museumvillage.org). and a Mother Daughter Holiday Tea at West Point's Historic Thayer Hotel on December 7 (www.thethayerhotel.com). You'll find the complete list of sparkling happenings at www.OrangeTourism.org.

Deck the halls! There's no place like home for the holidays and the perfect Christmas tree can be found in the fields of nine Orange County tree farms. Cut your own or choose one fresh from the field. It's a real old-fashioned experience with hay rides, hot chocolate, and barns turned into gift shops filled to the rafters.

Santa's elves are happily posting up-to-the minute information about all of the area's fabulous holiday events on tourism's Facebook page: Orange County Tourism NY. It's your guide to great times and memorable experiences. Come share the warm holiday cheer in Orange County during the most wonderful time of the year!

About Orange Tourism
Orange County Tourism, based in Goshen, N.Y., is the county's tourism headquarters and a participant in the I LOVE NY program. A comprehensive listing of area attractions, lodging, and events can be found at www.OrangeTourism.org. For a free copy of the Orange County Travel Guide, e-mail tourism@orangecountygov.com, or call 800-762-8687.

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For more information, contact:
Mary Ann McCarthy
Orange County Tourism
845-615-3860
MMcCarthy@orangecountygov.com