ROC Holiday Village letters to Santa cover

Get Into the Holiday Spirit – 2020 Edition

Everyone has their own way of connecting with their inner holiday spirit. Thankfully, Rochester has plenty of ways to embrace the season, even during a global pandemic.

We’ll be updating this regularly, highlighting activities that are still taking place in November and December, 2020, and noting ones that are not. Check back as the holiday season grows closer, and contact us if you know of one we should add!

Table of Contents:

  1. Taking Place in 2020
  2. Not Taking Place in 2020

2020 Holiday Events and Activities

Descriptions of each activity are directly from their website. And these could change based on the most current state recommendations.

Rochester Public Market greenery
2019 Holidays at the Public Market

Holidays at the Market

Rochester Public Market 
Sundays, November 29, December 6, December 13

A Rochester holiday tradition for over 25 years, Holidays at the Market features dozens of holiday-focused vendors (fresh-cut trees and wreaths, decorations, specialty foods and beverage products, hand craft items, and much more!)

Some of the interactive activities will be limited in order to keep everyone happy, safe, and well, but the Market will be decked out in holiday lights, festive music, and have limitless local shopping and unique gift items. We will feature a virtual holiday scavenger hunt, and have fun for the whole family!

NEW: A special evening market Thursday, December 17th, 5 pm -9 pm

In collaboration with the Market District Business Association and Specials at Market District restaurants and shops, enjoy an evening market with unique shopping, and entertainment throughout the Market District. 

Holiday Laser Shows

RMSC Strasenburgh Planetarium
50 minutes / For all ages

The Planetarium’s family holiday spectacular returns as our new state-of-the-art laser system and Digistar 6 full-dome visualization system combine to create a more colorful and immersive experience than ever before.

This show features your favorite holiday songs played back-to-back, choreographed with dancing laser light among the stars of the Planetarium sky. Produced at the Strasenburgh Planetarium, it’s a Rochester tradition for families, friends, and out-of-town visitors.

Holidays at the Eastman Museum

November 6-December 13

Although some of our traditions may be a little different in 2020, the Eastman Museum is still bringing you many opportunities to celebrate.

Our annual displays will fill the museum with familiar cheer, and some new protocols will help ensure the health and safety of all our guests. We invite you to join us in person and online throughout November and December.

Dozens of cleverly designed and deliciously decorated gingerbread houses fill the mansion. This year, we’ve limited the show to 45 submissions and we’re placing many of the creations in display cases to make it safer and easier for visitors to enjoy them while social distancing.

Holiday Lights on Rahway in Gates
Endicar Drive in Irondequoit

Neighborhood Christmas Lights

Throughout Monroe County
Daily, Thanksgiving weekend through early January

These Monroe County homeowners and communities go all out to celebrate the season, so let’s get out there and celebrate with them!

Yuletide in the Country

Genesee Country Village 
Weekends December 5-20

Celebrate the season with a magical medley of GCV&M holiday happenings on a self-guided excursion through the museum’s wide-open spaces! 

Stroll the Historic Village bedecked in its holiday finery amid villagers bustling with preparations, and offering greetings to their neighbors and friends.

As a special treat, Saturday afternoon and evening guests may enjoy the Village after dark, as it sparkles in the warm glow of candle lanterns and hearth fires. 

German/American Christmas Market

The Olde Country Store & More
December 5-6, 12-13, 19-20

Since we can’t have our Annual German/American Christmas Market as usual we decided to have a bunch of vendors set up their things upstairs and we will open the upstairs “Wetmore Hall” on all three weekends leading up to Christmas from 10am – 4pm for all your Christmas shopping needs.

We have a bunch of fun and new vendors lined up. So stop in on any of these weekends.

Holiday Pet Photos

Lollypop Farm
December 4-6

For years, we’ve enjoyed sharing in your family’s holiday traditions. For the 2020 Holiday Season we are happy to be able to continue this time honored tradition with you.

Please note that Santa Claus will not be available to join your party for a photo this year, in order to keep him healthy and well for his big night. Please plan to have someone in your party present in your photo with your pet, or that your pet is able to sit or lay down without a handler for the photo.

Holiday Kickoff

Corning Museum of Glass 
December 5-6

Join us as we warmly welcome the arrival of the holiday season with new twists on old favorites and even a few brand-new traditions to start with your family during the most special time of the year.

Nothing says “holidays” like a little sparkle. The Museum is full of all things shimmery, twinkly, and sparkly–so come see them!

Winter Market

Powers Farm Market 
Daily, with extended hours the week leading up to Christmas

Winter attractions include hot drinks like cider, hot cocoa, and coffee. We also offer peak of the season baked goodies and home crafted gifts, ornaments, and arrangements.

Thousands of Christmas trees and wreaths are available, and a fire is always blazing in the market fireplace.

Lights on the Lake

6751 Onondaga Lake Trail Liverpool
November 16-January 10

Drive thru the 2 mile long holiday light display open every day Monday through Sunday 5pm-10pm. Hear Holiday music during your drive on 102.1 – Sunny 102.

NEW IN 2020 – tickets will be ADVANCE SALE ONLINE ONLY – you’ll be requested to select a specific calendar date.
$6 Monday – Tuesday
$10 Wednesday – Thursday
$20 Friday – Sunday

Holiday Spirit: Salvation Army red kettle

‘Tis the season of giving

Pirate Toy Fund

Salvation Army

Buy your holiday pie from Special Touch Bakery

26 Rochester-Area Volunteer Experiences

I can’t think of a better day trip than one that helps others. Make time to volunteer your time and talent with one of these amazing Rochester-area organizations.

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96 Places to Shop Local, Rochester!

You don’t have to wait for Small Business Saturday to shop local! We have some incredibly talented individuals throughout the Rochester area.

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75 Rochester Experiences that Make Great Gifts

Make something together. Visit a place you’ve never been, or one you love. The benefits of Rochester experiences extend far beyond personal happiness!

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4 Old Country Stores Around Rochester

When you walk into one of these old country stores, you feel like you are stepping back in time with aisles of old-fashioned toys, knickknacks and candies.

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18 Rochester-Area Chocolatiers

Many of our fine Rochester-area chocolatiers are 3rd- and 4th-generation descendants using traditional family recipes with modern twists.

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22 Christmas Tree Farms Around Rochester

One of the most popular holiday family traditions is searching for the perfect real Christmas tree on the farm and decorating it together.

Read more

34 Classic Christmas Carols

Singing Christmas carols around your neighborhood is a fabulous way to spread holiday cheer throughout the Rochester community.

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7 Spectacular Christmas Lights Around Rochester

2020 Christmas lights around Rochester: these neighborhoods go all out with extreme holiday lights and music to fill the season with joy.

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14 Ideas for Staying Warm & Active throughout the Winter in Rochester

Don’t let winter in Rochester force you into hibernation. If snow sports or hiking don’t appeal to you, think of all the things there are to do indoors!

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30 Winter Walks Around Rochester

These ideas for winter walks should motivate you to step outside for some fresh air and, with any luck, sunshine. Bundle up!

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Not Taking Place in 2020

ROC Holiday Village letters for Santa
2019 Roc Holiday Village Mailbox

Why not just remove these from this article, you ask?

Many of these events and activities have been a warm part of family tradition for decades. Something as timeless as seeing The Nutcracker, RPO Gala or A Christmas Carol performed live lifts the holiday spirit.

I think it’s valid to acknowledge what we’re missing out on during the pandemic. That we still see them as valuable to our community. That we’d like to see a time when these are possible to enjoy together again.

ROC Holiday Village gingerbread house

2019 Roc Holiday Village

Roc Holiday Village is Rochester, New York’s annual holiday festival bringing magic downtown for people of all ages. Enjoy 14 weekend days of enchanting festivities including visits with Santa, ice skating, a shopping village, Santa’s workshop, hand-crafted goods, and pop-up restaurants. 

Roc Holiday Village

Official Liberty Pole Lighting

Midtown Monorail
Monorail cars at NYMT

2019 Holiday train rides and displays

2019 events included:

Edgerton Model Train Room Holiday Open House 
Saturdays in December, plus a few weekdays during the break

Garden Factory Holiday Family Fun Model Train 
Weekends beginning Thanksgiving weekend through mid-December

Aman’s Farm Market Model Train
Thanksgiving through New Years Eve

Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum Santa Trains 
Saturdays in December

New York Museum of Transportation Holly Trolley Rides 
Sundays in December

Medina Railroad Polar Express 
Saturdays beginning Thanksgiving weekend through mid-December

ROC Holiday Village iloveroc

2019 Holiday-themed displays & events

2019 events included:

Lighting of the Genesee Brew House Keg Tree

It’s a Wonderful Life in the South Wedge 

Candlelight Night in Pittsford 

Park Ave Holiday Open House 

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation at The Little

Celtic Yuletide Concert at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Victor

Rochester Tuba Christmas at Eastman Theatre 

Garden Factory Holiday Music & Lights Show

Movie Night Out: White Christmas with Out Alliance

Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Blue Cross Arena

Wrapping Around the Christmas Tree: The Musical at Lyric Theater

Gala Holiday Pops 

The Holidays at Schutt’s

Festival of Lights in Clifton Springs

A BARRY Little Christmas with the Celtic Cross Duo

The Piano Bar: Holiday Edition with Out Alliance

Celtic Christmas Concert at Parkminster Church

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas at the Auditorium Theatre

Handel’s Messiah at Eastman Theatre

A City Sings for the Season presented by the Rochester Oratorio Society

A Magical Cirque Christmas at Kodak Center

Canandaigua Christkindl Market

Granger Homestead Festival of Trees

A Charlie Brown Christmas at NAZ

Frank’s Rat Pack Special Holiday Show at Kodak Center

Movie Night Out Matinee Special: The Muppet Christmas Carol with Out Alliance

Sparkle in Corning’s Gaffer District 

The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Musical at Kodak Center

Rochester Gay Men’s Chorus presents Treasured Traditions

Roberts Wesleyan College Christmas Gala

RIT Orchestra & RIT Singers: Advent Lessons & Carols

Celtic Yuletide Concert at Caledonia First Presbyterian Church

CLA Performing Arts Ensembles: Annual Holiday Concert

Deck the Town

Cobblestone Museum Holiday Tour of Homes

The Penthouse Presents: 2nd Annual Holiday Bash Featuring DIAL UP

Candlelight Christmas at the Morgan-Manning House

ROC Holiday Village Santa

The Nutcracker

2019 events included:

The Nutcracker at Eastman Theatre

Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker at the Auditorium Theatre

NYS Ballet presents The Nutcracker at Roberts Wesleyan

Holiday Spirit; Its a wonderful life
South Wedge

“It’s a Wonderful Life”

2019 events included:

Live From WVL Radio Theatre at Nazareth College

the Movie at The Cinema Theater

the Movie at Dryden Theater

in Seneca Falls

The Radio Play at Auburn Public Theatre

Things to do around Rochester NY: Skaneateles Dickens Christmas
Skaneateles Dickens Christmas

“A Christmas Carol”

2019 events included:

… at Geva

… in Skaneateles “Dickens Christmas” 
Weekends through December 22, starting the Friday after Thanksgiving

… at Sonnenberg Gardens “Dickens Christmas”

Sonnenberg Gardens “A Christmas Carol”

Scrooge at Dryden Theater

East Aurora Carolcade

ROC Holiday Village igloo village

How do you get into the holiday spirit?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!

What will you miss most during the 2020 holiday season? What are you doing this year to create a memoriable holiday?


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COVID-19 NOTE: Some of the information you find in our articles may currently be inaccurate due to closures and cancellations.

Please follow the most current recommendations from the CDC and New York State for spending time away from your home. The great outdoors can provide a well needed respite & escape during stressful times. Please move quickly through parking lots, trail heads, and scenic areas. If crowded, choose a different park, trail, or time to visit. Please day trip responsibly.