Christmas season is definitely one of the best times in the year. A time to be home with friends and family and celebrating with decorations and food! Every town, city, and village has their own traditions for the holiday season, and Christmas in Syracuse is no different. We’ve already talked about our favorite activity: Lights on the Lake, but there’s so much more! From the typical tree lighting to a festival of trees and a gingerbread gallery, there are plenty of events to fit any personality for Christmas in Syracuse, New York.
Christmas Tree Lighting
Black Friday in Syracuse means more than shopping before the sun rises. It also is the beginning of the holiday season and celebrations of Christmas in Syracuse with the lighting of our Christmas tree. Located in the heart of downtown at Clinton Square, the tree is the center of Christmas celebrations. The fountain that is so beautiful in the summer has been transformed into an ice rink, for beginners and advanced skaters alike. While it’s no Rockefeller Center, it is perfect for us. Ice skating next to a giant Christmas tree is the epitome of holiday activities. While you’re there, check out some other things to do in downtown Syracuse.
Festival of Trees
One of my favorite Christmas traditions in my hometown is the Festival of Trees at Syracuse’s Everson Museum of Art. Each year the museum is filled with decorated Christmas trees and wreaths for the beginning of December. The trees are decorated and donated by companies, schools, organizations, and individuals around the community. The trees and wreaths are then on display for a week and a half for museum visitors. People may purchase one (or more!) with the cost being a donation to the museum. Sold trees stay on display through the end festival before they are delivered or picked up to be brought home as a decoration.
Throughout the festival are various events, including a fashion show, a teddy bear tea party for children, and a visit from Santa! Live music is there for your enjoyment as you look at the displays. Choirs and bands perform on the stage downstairs, so support your local groups! There is also a café serving desserts and drinks to snack on. This year some of my favorite trees included the travel tree (of course!) decorated with globe ornaments and photos from around the world and the Girl Scout cookie tree. The Girl Scout tree was covered in actual cookies! And it had a rainbow of ribbon wrapping from the tip to the trunk. It was adorable.
Another plus of visiting the Everson for the Festival of Trees is being able to see the current exhibitions as well. There were some beautiful sculptures on display which I loved. Visiting the museum is just $8 for adults, $6 for students and seniors, and FREE for children under 12, military, and museum members. This includes the festival! Throughout the year the museum offers “pay-what-you-wish” night on Wednesdays and FREE admission on the third Thursday of each month from 5-8pm with FREE docent tours. The first Friday of each month the museum stays open late (until 9pm). In the summer the Everson projects movies on the outside of the building for a great FREE summer activity. Local craft markets and music happen throughout the year as well.
Another Syracuse historical museum is host to another great Christmas in Syracuse event: the Gingerbread Gallery! An event that began in 1987 has grown so much over the years. Originally just a one day event is now a six-week celebration also beginning the day after Thanksgiving. You can submit your interest in building a gingerbread house earlier in the year and the museum will call in September to get confirmation from potential bakers. Like the festival of trees, the gingerbread gallery holds several special events throughout the season. These events include a grand opening, a local author’s book signing, children gingerbread house workshops, and an adult build and sip event!
Admission to the gallery is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, and $2 for children. The museum is open daily from 10am-5pm, with exceptions for the holidays. It’s a great activity for the whole family between Christmas and New Years!
Does your hometown have any special Christmas traditions? Share them in the comments! I’d love to check them out in future years. 🙂