The Ultimate Guide to Holidays in Syracuse
Friday, December 6, 2019 12:00 PM by Elizabeth Judge
Whether local or visiting for the holidays, you won't want to miss out on any of our favorite holiday activities this season! From musical and theatrical performances to the must-hit shopping spots, you'll be having the most wonderful time of the year.
Delight in glittering light displays
Add a little sparkle to your life this December. Drive down a two- mile stretch of Onondaga Lake Park to view one of the area’s top winter attractions at Lights on the Lake, featuring several themed and animated displays. If you’re looking for a walking option head to downtown Syracuse and check out the festive lights throughout the area. The holiday Christmas Tree and Menorah reflect bright off the ice rink at Clinton Square, the Downtown Star offers a “selfie spot” in Hanover Square and local businesses proudly show off their holiday spirit with their Window Wonderland displays. The area’s newest winter festival, Winterloo, will also offer an extravagant fireworks display set to holiday music two Saturday evenings in December.
Catch a classic holiday theater production
The Syracuse arts and cultural communities shine during the holiday season with a slate full of performances of every kind. The Oncenter, War Memorial Arena and Civic Center bring in some holiday classics with performances including: Dasher’s Magical Gift, The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Musical, Disney on Ice presents Celebrate Memories, Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker and new this year, The Hip Hop Nutcracker. Also performing at the Civic Center is the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, a part of the Broadway in Syracuse Season.
The Landmark Theatre features the timeless story of Eliza Doolittle with My Fair Lady as well three Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legends – The Drifters, The Platters and Cornel Gunter’s Coasters – for a one night performance.
Redhouse Arts Center will put on a first-ever experience with the show A Syracuse Christmas Carol, a twist to the classic Charles Dickens tale, featuring Syracuse landmarks and historical figures.
Find the perfect Christmas tree
No pine scented candles here, bring your loved ones out to the farm to pick out the best homegrown Christmas trees of the season. Kids will love picking out and cutting down a tree all their own at area farms such as Springside Farm and the Syracuse Christmas Tree Farm. Find a full list of choose and cut tree farms here. Looking to save some time and arm strength? Pick up a pre-cut tree at Rockinghorse Farm, Chuck Hafners or Marble Farms.
View your favorite holiday movies
Relive your favorite holiday classic or discover a new one! The Landmark Theatre will present An Evening with Chevy Chase, including a screening of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, on December 17th, followed by the timeless It’s a Wonderful Life, showing on December 19th. Syracuse Parks and Rec will also sponsor a free showing of the family favorite, The Grinch, on December 22nd at the Landmark Theatre.
The Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology has brought back their popular showings of The Polar Express, showing in its domed IMAX theatre throughout the month of December.
Regal theaters at Destiny USA offers a holiday movie series, featuring four different classics showing Saturdays at 1p.m. for just $5 per ticket.
Check off your gift list
Explore and purchase locally crafted items for your loved ones this season. Art Mart Syracuse, a pop-up art show lasting two months leading up to Christmas, features 45 or more artists and including items such as jewelry, paintings, ceramics, pottery, glasswork and more! Newly re-located Wildflowers Armory is another multi-vendor marketplace that offers regionally made artwork, homegrown products, Syracuse inspired apparel as well as workshops, performances and gallery exhibitions.
Visitors and locals alike will enjoy the shopping experience available during a Dickens Christmas in Skaneateles. Named as one of Travel Channels 10 Best Small Towns to Visit This Christmas, this idyllic town offers several holiday gift shops, retail clothing, baked goods and more all set amongst the backdrop of a Dickens Christmas, including a local cast of characters, street performances and interactive scenes.
For a traditional shopping experience head to Destiny USA, the region’s largest retail shopping and entertainment center. Spend the day shopping your favorite major retail brands then kick back with a drink and bite to eat at one of their many restaurant options. Don’t miss out on this year’s Incredible Indoor Snow Show, occurring weekends throughout December.
Listen to spectacular musical performances
The Palace Theatre comes alive with the sounds of the holidays in December. On December 8th CNY ensemble The DeSantis Orchestra kicks off the season with their Christmas at the Palace performance. Then on December 14th Christmas From Dublin brings over 40 performers to the stage to celebrate the tradition of Irish Christmas music.
Join 93Q for a free family event featuring holiday music, arts and crafts prizes and more at Ted and Amy’s Christmas Spectacular, located at Destiny USA. The music line-up includes Scars N’ Stripes, Pop Rox, Stephen Phillips Band and more!
Experience the magic of a Symphoria Holiday Pops performance featuring holiday favorites and including the Syracuse Pops Chorus, Lizzie Klemperer and dancers. A family tradition, kids under 18 are always free. The Messiah offers listeners spectacular soloists, the Syracuse University Oratorio Society and more at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.