Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy second helpings of turkey, stuffing, and pie before the hectic holiday season sets in.
Black Friday is the biggest—and busiest—shopping day of the holiday season. Instead of fighting the crowds today, shop for unique gifts tomorrow, when local stores participate in Small Business Saturday.
Kick off the holiday season with Armonk’s annual Frosty Day Parade. While the parade is the main event, the festivities start at noon with a scavenger hunt down Main Street, cookie and ornament decorating, and other kid-friendly activities.
Don’t forget that Christmas is a religious holiday. The TreasureHouse Chorale holds its annual “Round Yon Virgin” Advent Concert celebrating the Virgin Mary at Annunciation Church in Crestwood tonight, ending with a Festival of Carols. If you can’t make tonight’s performance, they’ll also be performing at other county locations in December.
Back to work after the long weekend. Get a jump-start on your holiday shopping during the daily commute with a stop at the Grand Central Holiday Fair, featuring vendors selling clothing, jewelry, accessories, and home items.
You could always pick up a Fraser fir at one of the many lots scattered across the county—but isn’t it more fun to make a day of visiting the farm, finding the perfect pine and cutting it down yourself? Wilkens Fruit & Fir Farm in Yorktown Heights says now is the time to stop by for a cut-your-own tree.
Start your Hanukkah celebration early (the holiday begins December 6) with Chabad of the Rivertowns’ Hanukkah Wonderland, which runs November 25 to December 9 in Dobbs Ferry and features crafts, food, music and entertainment, and fun for all ages.
Grammy-nominated jazz pianist David Benoit performs a special holiday concert at Paramount Hudson Valley Theater tonight. His Tribute to Charlie Brown features music from the beloved cartoon’s holiday special, plus other seasonal classics.
Famed Austrian musicians the Vienna Boys’ Choir return to the Tarrytown Music Hall for their Christmas in Vienna concert.
Yorktown’s main drag becomes the route for an old-fashioned electric lights parade of wacky floats and trucks. Expect everything from fire engines wrapped in Christmas lights to flatbeds complete with decorated trees and inflatable snowmen. Interested in participating? Get some friends together and sign up at yorktownholidayparade.wordpress.com.
Plus, meet Miracle on 133rd Street author Sonia Manzano (of Sesame Street fame) at Bartow-Pell's Annual Holiday Family Day in Pelham Bay Park, named one of the "top 5 places to see Christmas trees" in 2014 by NBC's New York Live.
Forget shimmying down the chimney. At Stamford’s annual Heights & Lights party and tree lighting, Santa kicks off the celebration by rappelling down the side of the city’s tallest building.
Also, have brunch with Santa at Benjamin Steakhouse in White Plains. Reservations required (adults: $49.95; children 2+: $24.95). Seatings begin at noon
Hanukkah began last night at sundown. Treat yourself to sweet treats like gelt and chocolate dreidels from Blue Tulip in Rye, sufganiyot (jelly donuts) from Heisler’s in New Rochelle, and rugalach from Suzanne’s Sweets, sold throughout the county.
There are decorated Christmas trees all across the county, but the ones at Pelham’s historic Bartow Pell Mansion are exceptional, designed by local artists and inspired by Michael Storring’s book A Very New York Christmas.
“I’m eating junk and watching rubbish!” Indulge your inner child with a screening of Home Alone at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Yonkers. This all-you-can-eat pizza party has an adult edge, with a full bar and a selection of beers on tap.
After its inaugural showing at Kensico Dam last year, Winter Wonderland is back and even better this year, with a new, expanded ice rink sponsored by the New York Rangers and a convenient pay-one-price entrance fee.
Don your holiday finest for a unique dining experience at X2O Xaviars on the Hudson in Yonkers. The annual Christmas Cabaret features an elaborate dinner from Chef Peter Kelly, with rousing entertainment served up as festive side dishes. The event routinely sells out, so be sure to make reservations for one of the eight shows.
X2O Xaviars on the Hudson
The Stamford Symphony Orchestra and Pro Arte Singers perform the iconic Christmas portion of Handel’s Messiah (the opus was actually written to celebrate Easter, tracing Christ’s life from birth to resurrection). Besides its fitting setting, performing at the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist in Stamford provides spectacular acoustics, giving the work even greater resonance.
Basilica of St. John the Evangelist
Work off some of those Christmas cookies at the third annual Holiday Hustle 5K in Dobbs Ferry. Participants are encouraged to dress in holiday costumes (though they're not required); proceeds from the event are used to buy gifts for disadvantaged children in the community.
Drop your kids off for a few hours while you shop or enjoy a night out. Simply Sweetz Boutique in Pelham is hosting a Polar Express Movie Night—complete with dinner, hot cocoa, and cookies—designed to give parents a little time off.
Simply Sweetz Boutique
Only 10 days until Christmas! If you haven't seen Santa yet, swing by Ridge Hill and check him out—along with Shrek!—at DreamWorks' Adventure to Santa. It’s worth going even if only for the virtual sleigh ride right to Santa’s front door.
Don’t just give gifts to family and friends during the holidays—give back to those less fortunate by helping out local charities. Open Door Foundation holds an annual toy drive and gift-wrapping sessions to benefit children. And while volunteer slots at the county’s soup kitchens were likely filled months ago, you can still set up a food drive in your community to benefit Lifting Up Westchester, White Plains’ largest soup kitchen.
Grab a cup of hot chocolate (Mast Brothers Hot Chocolate from Coffee Labs Roasters in Tarrytown and Belgian hot chocolate from Cocoa in Larchmont are two of our favorites) and take a driving tour to find the best Christmas lights and decorations.
Turn cocktails into special-occasion drinks at the New York Botanical Garden’s Bar Car Nights. A ticket includes nighttime admission to the beloved train show, one complimentary drink, and extras (ice-sculpture demonstrations, Bavarian-themed outdoor dining, and jazz) that you don’t get during the day.
New York Botanical Garden
It’s not the holidays without The Nutcracker. You don’t have to splurge (or deal with gridlock) to introduce your kids to its sugary dances, with family-friendly performances by the Westchester Ballet Company at the County Center this weekend. Looking for something more interactive? The Dance Gallery in Tuckahoe holds its annual Sugar Plum Party today, featuring interactive dance workshops, photo ops with the Sugar Plum Fairy, crafts, and Nutcracker-themed snacks, like chocolate bonbons and marzipan. Tuckahoe holds its annual Sugar Plum Party today, featuring interactive dance workshops, photo ops with the Sugar Plum Fairy, crafts, and Nutcracker-themed snacks, like chocolate bonbons and marzipan.
Westchester County Center
By now, you’ve probably seen your share of sappy made-for-television holiday movies. Instead, see a black-and-white Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, on the big screen at Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville.
Jacob Burns Film Center
Need a hostess gift or a decadent sweet to christen your Christmas table? Order a special holiday treat, like a bûche de Noël from La Renaissance Bakery in Scarsdale or a freshly baked Italian panettone from Villa D’oro in Croton-on-Hudson.
Santa gets cookies, but what about his reindeer (they do all the flying, after all)? Play hooky today and take your kids to one of the twice-daily feedings at the Greenwich Reindeer Festival. Afterward, stroll Greenwich Avenue in search of last-minute holiday gifts.
McArdle's Florist & Garden Center
The Neo-Gothic Lyndhurst Mansion decks its halls in rich reds and golds for the holidays. See the finery with a special performance of A Christmas Carol, which moves through the main rooms and floors of the mansion.
Celebrate Christmas Eve Italian style at Tarry Lodge in Port Chester. The restaurant serves diners its interpretation of the traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes.
Avoid returning gifts today (it’s one of the busiest mall days of the year) and catch a movie instead. Some of the year’s most anticipated movies came out last week, including Carol (which is already garnering Oscar buzz for lead actress Cate Blanchett), Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, The Hateful Eight, and, of course, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
If you haven’t done so already, secure a reservation for New Year’s Eve now.
Celebrate Kwanzaa at the Slater Center in White Plains with traditional drummers and entertainment, a candle lighting, dinner, wreath making, and a fashion show of African wear.
Thomas H Slater Center
Did you make it down to New York City this holiday season? If not, consider visiting now, when there’s slightly less craziness. Decorations are still up, and favorite holiday shows are still going strong.
Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you can’t get outdoors. Try one of the county’s cold-weather activities, like ice skating, sledding, platform tennis, or just a winter walk at one of our local nature preserves.
If your kids can’t stay up until midnight, take them to the popular Ring in the New Year at Noon event at New Roc City, complete with a “ball drop” of more than a thousand balloons. Then, celebrate New Year’s Eve with the adults in White Plains (above). This year, the city is pulling out all the stops for its annual ball drop. Afterward, catch a free—and safe—ride home from one of the taxis sponsored by White Plains-based Heineken USA.
Happy New Year! Kick off the year with a Polar Bear Plunge at Rye’s Oakland Beach. MAC Angels—a local ALS foundation—sponsors this annual run into the freezing-cold Sound.