Albany, N .Y. - Celebrating the holidays in NY State can feel larger than life. Whether you have kids, are a kid at heart, or long to step into traditional holiday scenes that seem right out of a Norman Rockwell painting, New York State is filled with delightful ways to celebrate the Holiday season. Here's just a sampling of ways to celebrate the holiday season. Join the Party: Historic mansions in the Hudson Valley and across the state offer holiday events that make it easy to imagine that you've stepped back a century or two in time:
- A Whale of a Party: Enjoy cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and sweets at the former home of successful whaling merchant Captain Albert Rogers in Southampton on Long Island. His 19th century Greek Revival Mansion, now a museum, will have a pianist performing in the Music Room, and parlors and sitting rooms will be strewn with garlands of fresh winter greens and flowers, while throughout the mansion, trees will be dressed with colorful antique holiday ornaments. For reservations, call 631-283-2494 or visit www.southamptonhistoricalmuseum.org/.
- A Gilded Age Murder Mystery: Visitors step into the gilded age at the lavishly-decorated, 79-room Mills family mansion, adorned for the season with authentic turn-of-the-century decorations. Open from now until December 31, the mansion is part of the Staatsburgh State Historic Site in the Hudson Valley. But for kids, the most exciting time to come is on Sunday afternoons in December, when children aged 6 to 11 are invited to question servants and guests (costumed interpreters) to solve a mystery. For details, call 845-889-8851 or visit www.staatsburgh.org.
- Cookies and Holiday Cheer: Visitors are invited to listen to holiday music and enjoy cookies and punch as they admire the beautiful Christmas decorations at the Richardson-Bates House Museum, housed in a 19th century Italian Villa in Oswego in the Thousand Islands-Seaway region. The special holiday open house will be held on December 2. For details, call 315-343-1342 or visit www.rbhousemuseum.org.
Deck the Halls-and the Towns: Across the state, historic mansions and towns large and small don their holiday finery:
- Drive the Light Fantastic: Monday through Saturday between now and January 5, Albany's Washington Park will come alive with more than 125 light displays at the 16th Annual Capital Holiday Lights Festival in the Capital-Saratoga region. Drive through while tuning your radio to holiday music created specifically for this event, then stop by the Lake house for hot cocoa, cupcakes, crafts, and, until December 23, a visit with Santa and his reindeer. Visit www.albanycapitalholidaylights.com.
- Home for the Holidays: Curious about Holiday traditions in France, China and other countries? Visit the Roberson Museum & Science Center in Binghamton in Central NY. Here, from now until December 31, the center will celebrate the ethnic diversity of the area with activities and displays showcasing traditions from around the world. For details, call 607-772-0660 or visit www.roberson.org.
- And All Through the House: At the Locust Grove Estate in Poughkeepsie in the Hudson Valley region, each room features Christmas trees decorated by leading florists that showcase different passages from "Twas the Night before Christmas." The decorated Italianate Villa is open for tours on Saturdays in December and the week after Christmas. Guides are on hand to interpret the museum's collection as well as the displays and decorations. For details, call 845-454-4500 x17 or visit www.LGNY.org.
Spend quality time with Santa: Sure, your kids can send Santa a wish list by mail or meet him at the local mall, but think about the thrill of skiing with hundreds of Santas, whispering wishes to him over lunch or taking a train to his home at the North Pole:
- Ski with Santa: Prepare your little ones to see hundreds of Santas at Windham Mountain in the Catskills on December 16th when, starting at 10 a.m., 300 spirited Santas and Mrs. Clauses will come snowboarding and skiing down the slopes. While there's only one real Santa, these Santa look-a-likes, dressed in full regalia, show their holiday spirit by donating $20 to the Salvation Army, and in return, receive free lift tickets. For details, visit http://www.windhammountain.com/.
- Meet Old St. Nick for Lunch: It turns out that Santa loves horses as well as reindeer, as kids who join him for lunch at the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum in North Tonawanda in the Greater Niagara region will learn. Kids can visit with Santa over lunch every Saturday at 11 a.m. from now until Christmas Day, then join him for rides on the carrousel horses, and stay for afternoon crafts and entertainment. For details, phone 716-693-1885, or visit www.carrouselmuseum.org/.
- Ride the Polar Express: A magical journey departs from Utica's Union Station, in the Central New York region, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from now until December 12 as families ride the Adirondack Scenic Railroad and listen to Liam Neeson's reading of The Polar Express by Chris van Allsburg. The train stops at the North Pole (Holland Patent, NY) where Santa boards, spending time with each family during the return trip. Each child receives a silver bell, just like in the story. Suggested attire is pajamas. For details, phone 800-819-2291 or visit www.adirondackrr.com.
- Christmas at Sea: On the afternoon of December 9, Santa will arrive by boat and then meet with children at the H. Lee White Marine Museum in Oswego, in the Thousand Islands-Seaway region. Kids will also enjoy traditional holiday decorations, music, refreshments and miniature train displays. For details, phone 315-342-0480 or visit http://www.hleewhitemarinemuseum.com/.
Light up the Holiday Season: The tree-lighting in New York City's Rockefeller Center is televised every year, but at village gatherings across the state, there's a grand sense of togetherness that is truly magical:
- An Olympic Event: The host of two Winter Olympic Games, Lake Placid, in the Adirondacks region, is playing up its sporting appeal with a "Jingle Bell Charity Run" and a free skating party at the Olympic Center during its annual Holiday Village Stroll from December 7-9, 2012. A tree lighting as well as free story times and crafts for kids, wine tastings, and a Yule log hunt are all on tap. For details, visit http://www.lakeplace.com/holidays.
- Caroling and crafts: On December 1 and 2, the Victorian village of Fredonia in the Chautauqua-Allegheny region will celebrate "Miracle on Main Street." Highlights of this annual tradition include a tree-lighting with caroling in the park, free family films, and a Santa's workshop with craft events and storytelling. Visitors can tour the village in horse-drawn wagons and see the lights. For more information, visit www.festivalsfredonia.com.
For more holiday events and some unusual shopping ideas, please visit iloveny.com/winter in late November. New York also has a number of events celebrating the spirit of "A Christmas Carol" and its author, Charles Dickens. About New York State New York State features 11 beautiful vacation regions. New York's attractions span from landmarks such as Niagara Falls to the wine trails of Hudson Valley and treasures like the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Whether it's wide-ranging outdoor activities for the whole family like ice-fishing, snowmobiling, skiing and snowboarding, culinary wonders and farm-to-table fresh foods, or the rich history and culture of one of the 13 original colonies, New York State offers big excitement and tons activities for all travelers. Big Happens Here in New York State. For more information, visit http://www.iloveny.com/winter in late November for all of our winter activities. Media can find press releases and more at thebeat.iloveny.com.
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