Whether local or visiting Central, New York for the holidays, you won't want to miss out on any of our favorite holiday activities this season! From beautiful holiday lighting displays to top local shopping spots, you'll have the most wonderful time of the year when you visit Syracuse, NY.
Festive Light Displays
Add a little sparkle to your life this December. Drive down a two-mile stretch of Onondaga Lake Park to view Lights on the Lake, a top holiday attraction for locals and visitors alike. The light show runs through the entire holiday season and features 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 city streets. The holiday Christmas Tree and Menorah reflect bright off the ice rink in Clinton Square. The Downtown Star offers a “selfie spot” in Hanover Square where local businesses proudly show off their holiday spirit with their Winter Wonderland displays. Make sure to stop by the Visit Syracuse office front to see our theme this year.
Bonus: Instead of a festive light display, check out an indoor festive snow display at Destiny USA. The Center Atrium experiences the magic of winter indoors with an enchanting snowfall at 5pm every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday until Christmas Eve
Pick the Perfect Tree
This holiday season a pine-scented candle is just not going to cut it. If that's the case for you and your family, plan a trip to one of the many farms in the Central New York area to pick out, or cut down, the perfect Christmas tree for this season.
Kids will love choosing their special tree and helping cut it down. Check out area farms such as Springside Farm and the Syracuse Christmas Tree Farm to create your favorite tradition. Here you can find places to cut down your own tree this season.
Get your Gift On
Shop local this year for one-of-a-kind gifts from across the region of Central New York.
Check out J Michael Shoes located on the Hill near the Syracuse University campus, or Manny’s on Marshall Street. Here you’ll find top brands and high-end clothing for both men and women and the best sports gear for game day.
Head west to explore the "Syracuse Local" section at Witty Wicks in Camillus, NY, or spend some time downtown and explore the shelves of Mixed Methods. When you’re done there, pop over to the McCarthy Mercantile in the city. There are plenty of Syracuse shops, boutiques, and gift stores that will offer that perfect gift for this holiday season. Maybe you want to share what Syracuse means to you with someone special, or you want to remind them about the love they have for home. Either way, a local gift will have the perfect bit of sentimental value.
For a traditional retail shopping experience head to Destiny USA, the region’s largest shopping and entertainment center. Spend the day perusing your favorite major retail brands, then kick back with a drink and bite to eat at one of their many restaurant options.
A Dickens Christmas
Named as one of Travel Channel's 10 Best Small Towns to Visit This Christmas, Skaneateles offers several holiday gift shops, retail clothing, baked goods and more all set amongst the backdrop of a Dickens Christmas on beautiful Skaneateles Lake.
Dickens characters can be found walking around the area and performing throughout the streets every weekend for 5 weeks. Special events occur on certain days so be sure to check their schedule. Skaneateles Dickens Christmas kicks off the weekend of Thanksgiving and runs through the Sunday of Christmas.
Other Syr-iously Fun Holiday Events
North Pole Pajama Party
On December 7th, the Museum of Technology and Science (The MOST) is hosting the North Pole Pajama Party throughout the month of December. With 4 available dates to attend, kids can enjoy their famous hot cocoa bar, and explore our North Pole activity stations, from arctic animals to snowflakes and more. Then, end the evening in the National Grid ExploraDome with an exclusive showing of the 2023 Night in the Arctic planetarium show! December 2, 8, 9, & 16 (sensory-friendly party).
Festival of Trees and Lights at the Everson Museum
Now in its 38th year, the Festival of Trees and Lights will offer more performances and activities than ever! A wide variety of trees, wreaths, and other seasonal items will be available for purchase, and the Museum Gift Shop will have plenty of selections for your holiday gift-giving. Plan on making the Festival of Trees & Light part of your holiday season. Pre-lit decorated trees of all sizes, decorated wreaths, unique seasonal and winter-inspired décor items, representing Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Years, winter solstice, or any seasonal celebration.
Head to Crazy Daisies Winter Art Market on December 9th to find that perfect homemade craft perfect for the festive season. There will be 30+ local art vendors in their unique greenhouse. Shop pottery, jewelry, apparel, pendulum readings, paintings & more. Enjoy fresh & local food from The Garden Cafe and listen to live music from McArdell & Westers during the market and then join us in the lawn for our annual tree lighting at 4:45 PM!
Beaver Lake Nature Center
Take the family and enjoy breakfast with the big guy…Santa Claus that is at Beaver Lake Nature Center. You have a couple opportunities to do so, Santa’s going to be there December 2nd and 9th. Breakfast includes fresh pancakes, sausage, and local maple syrup. The price varies between $3 and $7 depending on appetite. All proceeds benefit The Friends of Beaver Lake. Park admission fees ($5/vehicle) apply.
On December 2nd and 3rd shop unique holiday gifts, support local vendors, and try delicious food at the St. Elias Orthodox Church Holiday Bazaar. December 2 from 10-6 & December 3 from 1-6. It’s the perfect way to support local!
Harvey’s Garden Holiday Paint and Sip
Saturday afternoon from 1:30 - 3:30 Harvey’s Garden is hosting a holiday paint and sip which will be instructed by a local artist and no experience is needed. Looking for that perfect holiday activity to do with your friends? Pre register to reserve your seats and have a blast with friends and family while enjoying a number of different pour your own craft beers.
Royal Holiday Dining
Join Royal Promise Productions for our most unique & elegant character event, Royal Holiday Dining at the Marriott Downtown Syracuse. Meet Santa & his Elves, and seven famous Princesses in their festive Holiday Wardrobe, while enjoying a breakfast buffet in the stunning Persian Terrace Ballroom at the historic Marriott Syracuse Downtown! Get your tickets to this event on Saturday December 9th - it will sell out.
Head to the CNY Regional Market on December 23 for their annual Holiday Market. Open all day long, this is the perfect time to grab your holiday feast ingredients and enjoy some last minute shopping. Find fresh local produce, holiday decor, and hand-crafted gifts.
There’s something happening every day in December in Syracuse, New York so be sure to stay up to date with the Visit Syracuse Events Page and enjoy the holiday season with your loved ones.