The state of New York celebrates the holiday season in style by featuring breathtaking Christmas light displays that will delight your whole family. From the legendary Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in New York City to the mind-boggling avenue of lights at Hamburg’s Fairgrounds Festival of Lights, this state rings in December with a burst of sparkle and shine. As you plan your Christmas getaway, look for New York vacation rentals near these great cities — each one puts on an unforgettable light show.
1. New York City
New York City sparkles with legendary Christmas light displays during the holidays. Start off at Rockefeller Center, which comes to life each December with an avenue of twinkling angels and snowflakes that leads to an enormous, brilliantly lit Christmas tree. While you’re there, bundle up to participate in a New York City tradition: ice skating on the rink that sits below the tree. Then, stroll past Saks Fifth Avenue; the 10-story building serves as a canvas for a dramatic annual Christmas light show. Other famous yearly light installations include the Luminaries at Brookfield Place Winter Garden and the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights. After your light tour, try sledding in Central Park, strolling past the fanciful window displays at Bloomingdale’s, and enjoying an evening out at the New York City Ballet’s production of ‘The Nutcracker.’ Little ones love Macy’s Santaland and the Rockettes’ Radio City Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall.
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Albany’s Washington Park sparkles with thousands of Christmas lights during the annual Capital Holiday Lights in the Park. Load your little ones in the car for this drive-through experience, which covers two miles and more than 125 individual vignettes. If you prefer to walk through the lights, check out one of the park’s Charity Walk Nights. Downtown vacation rentals sit an easy stroll away from the breathtaking Christmas tree at the New York State Capitol Building. The Albany area offers plenty of kid-friendly holiday events to fill your vacation, including ice skating at the Empire State Plaza rink and visits with Santa at the old-fashioned Christmas Land in Altamont. During the month of December, the Palace Theatre features a steady lineup of Christmas performances; kids love the Music Hall Movie Series and the classic ‘The Nutcracker’ ballet.
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3. Lake Placid
Take your little ones on a trip to the Village of Lights at the North Pole, which sits high in the Adirondacks near Lake Placid. Each year, the Santa’s Workshop village dresses for the season in a dazzling array of Christmas lights. Bundle up for an evening of fun as you visit the Reindeer Barn, visit with the elves at Santa’s Toy Maker, and satisfy your sweet tooth at The Candy Shop. Finish your wintry adventure with photos at Santa’s House. The Christmas fun continues in the surrounding region; take a sleigh ride with Santa at the Lake Placid Holiday Village Stroll, go ice skating at Whiteface Lodge, and warm up with a specialty hot chocolate at Temptations from Lake Placid Gourmet. The local mountains offer plenty of outdoor activities, including snowboarding at Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort, cross-country skiing at Mt. Van Hoevenberg, and riding a bobsled at the Olympic Sports Complex.
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4. Ulster Park
Take a hayride through the Christmas lights in Frosty’s Enchanted Forest during the annual A Frosty Fest in Ulster Park. As you ride, keep an eye out for animatronic guides and live actors that bring the lighted scenes to life. In the Glistening Gardens, the Dancing Trees of Nature perform a choreographed light show to popular Christmas tunes. Don’t miss Frosty’s Adventure, a walk-through 3-D experience that’s a delight for both kids and adults. After you explore the village, check out the ‘Jingle the Elf’ stage show, stop by the Sugar Plum Shack bakery for a gingerbread man, and get a jump on your holiday by shopping at Tinker Toys gift store. During the month of December, the area around Ulster Park booms with Christmas events such as A Gilded Age Christmas at Staatsburgh State Historic Site and the Nativity Scenes Display at Mariapolis Luminosa.
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Drive through towering Christmas light displays and stroll through a magical Christmas tree forest at the Fairgrounds Festival of Lights in Hamburg, an adorable small town located 20 minutes from Buffalo. The festival buzzes with activity each December, providing a one-stop holiday experience. Plan a full evening out with your kids to ride the Upstate Farms Express train, navigate the Frosty’s 3D Adventure maze, and catch the Kandy Kane Holiday Magic Show. Don’t miss the North Pole Experience, where you can walk through an elf village on your way to Santa’s house for a visit with the jolly old elf himself. Take a break at the craft stations in the Tops Winterland Workshop, and go for a spin on the kid-sized carnival rides on Santa’s Magical Midway. Within a short drive of Hamburg vacation rentals, you can check out the life-sized gingerbread village at the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute in Niagara Falls, or head to the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens in Lackawanna to watch model trains wind through a forest of poinsettias.
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