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Skaneateles Lake Dickens Fest Finger Lakes NY

Skaneateles Dickens Christmas

My favorite time to visit Skaneateles starts the day after Thanksgiving when the little lakeside community kicks off their annual Skaneateles Dickens Christmas.

Normally a weekend event, opening day takes place on Friday with a parade of Christmas Carol characters spreading holiday cheer throughout the village.

Skaneateles Lake Dickens Christmas
Skaneateles Dickens Christmas parade

All of the quaint stores, coffee shops and restaurants lining Genesee Street and Jordan Street are open for business. They even have chestnuts roasting on an open fire!

Only a day trip from Rochester, it’s a great way to experience what the folks in Stockbridge, MA call a “Norman Rockwell Christmas”.

Skaneateles Lake shopping
Skaneateles Lake
Skaneateles Lake
Skaneateles Lake Genesee St benches

From the Skaneateles COC website

“Step back in time and enjoy the holidays the old-fashioned way with Dickens Christmas, as Skaneateles Area Businesses give a gift to the public for their continued support throughout the year. Plan now and join the Village of Skaneateles, located in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, this holiday season.

“An annual tradition, the celebration begins the day after Thanksgiving and runs every Saturday and Sunday through December 23, from noon to 4 pm, plus December 24 from noon-2:30 pm. Charles Dickens and his cast of over 50 characters will interact with residents and visitors in the streets, stores, and restaurants. Don’t miss lively acts at the Library, live music, unique shopping, wonderful food and horse and wagon rides around the Village.”

Skaneateles Dickens Christmas Sherwood Horse Carriage
Horse-drawn carriage rides outside Sherwood Inn
Things to do around Rochester NY: Skaneateles Dickens Christmas
Skaneateles Dickens Christmas

A sample of Skaneateles Dickens Christmas events

  • “World’s Smallest Christmas Parade” on opening day, Bright Friday, November 29, at noon
  • The Dickens characters will act out scenes from “A Christmas Carol” at the Gazebo
  • Mother Goose reads holiday stories to the children
  • Special shows at the Skaneateles Library
  • Free roasted chestnuts
  • Father Christmas greets the children on the porch of the Masonic Temple
  • Horse-drawn wagon and carriage rides around the village, departing from the Sherwood Inn, provided by Rt. 80 Quarry Ridge Stables. Wagon rides are $2 donation; carriage rides are offered for a $20 donation. CASH ONLY.
Skaneateles Lake Doug's Fish Fry
Doug’s Fish Fry
Skaneateles Lake bakery

Dining & Shopping in Skaneateles

Dining and shopping here is a big draw all year long, with its beautiful lakeside location.

Shopping is easy—just stroll around village, and stop into the various boutiques along Genesee Street (US-20), Jordan Street and Fennel Street. We found Skaneateles Artisans on Fennel just wandering around.

When you start getting hungry, keep these places in mind:

Doug’s Fish Fry – If you have to pick just one place to eat while in town, this is the place.

Rosalie’s Cucina – People come from miles away to eat at this Italian restaurant and reservations are required!

The Sherwood Inn – Not only is The Sherwood the center of Dickens Christmas activities, it is a gorgeous, historic building serving excellent meals. Reservations are strongly encouraged.

Skaneateles Bakery – Perfect for a quick sandwich or hot beverage!

Skaneateles Lake gazebo

Since you’ve driven all this way, you may enjoy a drive around Skaneateles Lake! You can drive around the entire lake in an hour.

Skaneateles Lake pier

More information about Skaneateles Dickens Christmas

Cost: Free

Located 80 minutes / 70 miles from Rochester (get directions)

More information:

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What is your favorite thing to do during Skaneateles Dickens Christmas?

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


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COVID-19 NOTE: 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 and locally—seek solitude!