Holiday Spirit in Rochester cover

85 Ways to Get Into the Holiday Spirit

Everyone has their own way of connecting with their inner holiday spirit. Thankfully, Rochester has plenty of ways to embrace the season wherever the spirit moves you!

Many of these events take place every year, but to ensure you have the most current information, please know this is updated for 2019. Some event dates are yet to be determined, and we keep adding more events as we hear of them, so check back as the holiday season grows closer, and contact us if you know of one we should add!

Genesee Brew House Holiday Lights Keg Tree
Genesee Keg Tree Lighting

Holiday-themed displays & events

  1. Holiday Laser Shows at the RMSC Planetarium
  2. Sweet Creations Gingerbread House Display at Eastman House
    November 8-December 15
  3. Canandaigua Christkindl Market
    November 8-10
  4. Granger Homestead Festival of Trees
    November 8-December 1
  5. Glass Holidays at the Corning Museum of Glass 
    November 10-January 5
  6. Garden Factory Holiday Music & Lights Show
    Saturdays & Sundays, November 23-December 22
  7. A City Sings for the Season presented by the Rochester Oratorio Society
    November 24
  8. A Magical Cirque Christmas at Kodak Center
    November 26
  9. A Charlie Brown Christmas at NAZ
    November 22-24
  10. Frank’s Rat Pack Special Holiday Show at Kodak Center
    November 30 & December 1
  11. Holidays at the Rochester Public Market 
    Sundays, December 1, December 8, December 15
  12. Holiday Pet Photos at Lollypop Farm
    December 6-8
  13. Candlelight Christmas 2019 at the Morgan-Manning House
    December 6
  14. Lighting of the Genesee Brew House Keg Tree 
    December 6
  15. RIT Orchestra & RIT Singers: Advent Lessons & Carols
    December 6
  16. Celtic Yuletide Concert at Caledonia First Presbyterian Church
    December 14
  17. CLA Performing Arts Ensembles: Annual Holiday Concert
    December 7
  18. Deck the Town
    December 7
  19. The Penthouse Presents: 2nd Annual Holiday Bash Featuring DIAL UP
    December 7
  20. Movie Night Out Matinee Special: The Muppet Christmas Carol with Out Alliance
    December 7
  21. Sparkle in Corning’s Gaffer District 
    December 7
  22. The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Musical at Kodak Center
    December 7
  23. Rochester Gay Men’s Chorus presents Treasured Traditions
    December 7 & 8
  24. Roberts Wesleyan College Christmas Gala
    December 7 & 8
  25. 5th Annual German/American Christmas Market
    December 7 & 8
  26. The Piano Bar: Holiday Edition with Out Alliance
    December 8
  27. Celtic Christmas Concert at Parkminster Church
    December 8
  28. Mannheim Steamroller Christmas at the Auditorium Theatre
    December 11
  29. Handel’s Messiah at Eastman Theatre
    December 12
  30. The Holidays at Schutt’s
    December 12
  31. Rooftop Holiday Party During the Full Moon & Most Prolific Meteor Shower of the Year
    December 13
  32. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation at The Little
    December 14
  33. Celtic Yuletide Concert at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Victor
    December 14
  34. Rochester Tuba Christmas at Eastman Theatre 
    SOLD OUT, December 15
  35. Movie Night Out: White Christmas with Out Alliance
    December 18
  36. Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Blue Cross Arena
    December 18
  37. Wrapping Around the Christmas Tree: The Musical at Lyric Theater
    December 20-22
  38. Gala Holiday Pops 
    December 21, 22, 23
  39. A BARRY Little Christmas with the Celtic Cross Duo
    December 21
Endicar Irondequoit neighborhood holiday lights giraffe
Endicar Drive in Irondequoit

Holiday homes, neighborhoods, and villages

  1. Neighborhood Holiday Lights around Rochester 
    Daily, Thanksgiving weekend through New Years Eve
  2. Candlelight Night in Pittsford 
    December 3
  3. Park Ave Holiday Open House 
    December 5
  4. Winter Light Festival in Ithaca
    December 5-15
  5. Festival of Lights in Clifton Springs
    December 6
  6. Yuletide in the Country Tours at Genesee Country Village & Museum
    December 6-8, 13-15 & 19-21
  7. Cobblestone Museum Holiday Tour of Homes
    December 7
  8. Eastman Museum Holiday Homecoming
    December 12
  9. Holiday Open House at Genesee Country Village & Museum
    December 21

In case you were wondering, the annual Cobb’s Hill Holiday Tour of Homes was cancelled this year. Hopefully we’ll add them back to the list in 2020!

The Nutcracker

  1. The Nutcracker at Eastman Theatre
    November 27, 29, 30, and December 1
  2. Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker at the Auditorium Theatre
    December 12
  3. NYS Ballet presents The Nutcracker at Roberts Wesleyan
    December 13-15
Holiday Spirit; Its a wonderful life
South Wedge

“It’s a Wonderful Life”

  1. in the South Wedge 
    December 7
  2. Live From WVL Radio Theatre at Nazareth College
    December 7
  3. the Movie at The Cinema Theater
    December 7
  4. the Movie at Dryden Theater
    December 12 (same night as Holiday Homecoming!) and December 15
  5. in Seneca Falls
    December 13-15
  6. The Radio Play at Auburn Public Theatre
    December 21
Things to do around Rochester NY: Skaneateles Dickens Christmas
Skaneateles Dickens Christmas

“A Christmas Carol”

  1. … at Geva
    November 7-December 29
  2. … in Skaneateles “Dickens Christmas” 
    Weekends through December 22, starting the Friday after Thanksgiving
  3. … at Sonnenberg Gardens “Dickens Christmas”
    December 8 & 9
  4. Plus, Sonnenberg Gardens “A Christmas Carol”
    December 14
  5. Scrooge at Dryden Theater
    December 20 & 22
  6. 47th Annual Carolcade in East Aurora
    December 21
  7. …or just go Christmas Caroling!
ROC Holiday Village Santa
ROC Holiday Village gingerbread house
ROC Holiday Village gifts
ROC Holiday Village iloveroc
ROC Holiday Village igloo village
Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park Manhattan Square Roc Holiday Village
ROC Holiday VIllage
ROC Holiday Village lodge
ROC Holiday Village party igloo
ROC Holiday Village fireplace

Roc Holiday Village

  1. Roc Holiday Village
    December 6-31
  2. Official Liberty Pole Lighting
    December 7

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 December 6-31 including visits with Santa, ice skating, a shopping village, Santa’s workshop, hand-crafted goods, and pop-up restaurants. 

Midtown Monorail
Monorail cars at NYMT

Holiday train rides and displays

  1. Edgerton Model Train Room Holiday Open House 
    Saturdays in December, plus a few weekdays during the break
  2. Garden Factory Holiday Family Fun Model Train 
    Weekends beginning Thanksgiving weekend through mid-December
  3. Aman’s Farm Market Model Train
    Thanksgiving through New Years Eve
  4. Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum Santa Trains 
    SOLD OUT! Saturdays in December
  5. New York Museum of Transportation Holly Trolley Rides 
    Sundays in December
  6. Medina Railroad Polar Express 
    Saturdays beginning Thanksgiving weekend through mid-December
  7. Arcade & Attica Railroad Polar Express
    Weekends in November & December, but ALMOST SOLD OUT!
Holiday Spirit: Salvation Army red kettle

‘Tis the season of giving

  1. Volunteer your time and talent
  2. Trees for Troops
  3. Pirate Toy Fund
  4. Salvation Army
  5. Buy your holiday pie from Special Touch Bakery
  6. Rochester experiences that make great gifts
Holiday Spirit: Pick Your Own Christmas Tree

Fun on the farm

  1. Pick Your Own Tree 
    From Thanksgiving weekend through mid-December
  2. Winter at Powers Farm Market 
    Daily, with extended hours the week leading up to Christmas
Holiday Spirit: Snowshoe

Let it snow!

  1. 9 Places to Rent Snowshoes
  2. 15 Places for Downhill and Cross-Country Skiing
  3. 22 Sledding Hills
  4. 19 Ice Skating Rinks

New Years Eve 2019-2020 Around Rochester

Need ideas for New Years Eve around Rochester? We’ve included a variety of playful places to ring in the new year on December 31, 2019! Happy New Year 2020!

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6 Spectacular Christmas Lights Around Rochester

2019 Christmas lights around Rochester! These neighborhoods go all-out with extreme holiday lights to fill the season with joy. Show them some love!

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76 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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Things to Do in Rochester This Weekend

Discover the best concerts, festivals, community events, special events, and other things to do in Rochester this weekend or anytime!

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Wintertime in Rochester

It’s cold, it’s snowy, it’s dark. It’s wintertime in Rochester! Here are a few suggestions to help embrace our winter season.

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Holiday & Winter Break: 24 Ideas for All Ages & Interests

The weather over holiday and winter break can be unpredictable! Here are several ideas for spending your days off outside or inside!

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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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How do you get into the holiday spirit?

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


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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.