7 Great Things to do in New York in December

Please do your best to limit your travels around New York during this time. If you decide to travel, please check the status of the places you are going. Some places around the state are temporarily closed or have changed their hours We will not be updating individual articles to note these changes. Stay safe and wear a mask!

Without a doubt, December is a great month to travel in New York. There are so many great things to do throughout the state whether you are looking for non-holiday season events, something festive, or wanting to ring in the new year.

Here are a few of our favorite things to do in New York in December.

(Article updated November 8, 2020, for events in December 2020. Due to current conditions, please double check events are still being held before leaving home.)

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Capital Holiday Lights in the Park in Albany – November 27 – January 3

Drive through over 125 festive light displays and scenes at this year’s Capital Holiday Lights in the Park event in Albany. Once you have enjoyed the sparkling lights, head to the Washington Park Lake House to visit Santa, create a craft, and partake in refreshments.

This event also features special nights such as  Pet Walk Night, bike night, and more for those looking for unique ways to enjoy this beautiful display.

For a full list of special nights and admission prices, visit the event’s site.

It’s a Wonderful Life Museum in Seneca Falls – All Month

Inside the It's a Wonderful Life Museum in Seneca Falls NY
The It’s a Wonderful Life Museum is a great holiday destination in the Finger Lakes.

Experience the magic of a classic Christmas movie firsthand when you visit the It’s a Wonderful Life Museum in Seneca Falls. This museum is dedicated to the holiday film of the same name and is located in the town said to be the inspiration for Bedford Falls.

The museum offers an incredible look at the history of this movie and the people that made it possible. It’s also home to some of the only props still remaining from the film.

Normally, the museum hosts an It’s a Wonderful Life Festival each December, but that has been canceled in 2020.

For more information on the museum, check out our article on the It’s a Wonderful Life Museum.

Fairgrounds Festival of Lights in Hamburg – December 1-December 31

For the ultimate holiday magic experience, pack up the family in the car and head to Hamburg for their annual Fairgrounds Festival of Lights. Featuring thousands of LED lights, you and your family will marvel at their expansive drive-through light display.

But this festival is so much more than an impressive holiday lights display! Let the kids try their hand at decorating a cookie for Santa or creating their own magical holiday craft at the Tops Winterland Workshop. A visit to Santa at the North Pole is also included in your carload admission price, so don’t forget to bring your camera!

For more information on hours and admission prices, be sure to visit the festival’s site.

See the Lights in New York City – All December

Christmas at Bryant Park in New York City
There are beautiful spots to visit throughout the city, including Bryant Park.

While many of the holiday events in New York City are canceled for 2020, there are still many lights to be seen throughout the city for free.

Many of the parks in the city are decked out with lights, including popular spots like Bryant Park and portions of Central Park.

Of course, the biggest highlight of all is stopping to see the Rockafeller Christmas Tree. While there won’t be a big tree lighting 2020, this is still a beautiful spot to visit in the city.

Santa’s Workshop in North Pole – Select Dates in December

Santa’s Workshop is located in North Pole in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. While this spot is normally open throughout the year, it has been closed for much of 2020. However, it will be open on select dates from November 28 through December 30, 2020.

Santa’s Workshop is actually a small amusement park centered around Santa and his reindeer and elves. There are different rides and shows designed to get you in the holiday spirit. And, of course, there is also the chance to see Santa himself.

For more information, visit the park’s website.

A Frosty Fest in Ulster Park – November 27-December 27

If you are looking for something to do in the Hudson Valley this December, look no further than A Frosty Fest in Ulster Park.

A Frost Fest is open Saturdays and Sundays from Thanksgiving weekend through Christmas weekend (except for Christmas night). This fun activity features nine different walk-through attractions, as well as a drive-through light display (which replaces their hayride for 2020).

For more information, visit the festival’s website.

Go Skiing Throughout New York

Skiing in New York
Skiing is a great wintertime activity throughout New York.

Did you know that there are nearly four dozen ski areas spread throughout New York State?

Other than in New York City and Long Island, there are ski areas in every region of the state, and December is a great time to head out and enjoy skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, and more fun activities at these resorts.

Find out more information about New York ski areas here.

Looking for more events in New York? Check out our picks for the top things to do in New York in November and the top things to do in New York in January.

Do you have a favorite thing to do in New York in December that isn’t on this list? Let us know in the comments below.

More places worth exploring in New York

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