The holiday season is upon us and it’s time to shop, plan celebrations and also enjoy all our communities have to offer at this special time. Here are a few ideas to help celebrate and enjoy the season all while having fun locally:
1. From Friday, Dec. 13, to Sunday, Dec. 15, in Chappaqua, shop artists’ special pop-ups between the King Street Studio and The Art Closet Gallery in the loft at Family Britches. The kickoff will take place in conjunction with the downtown Chappaqua Wine Around Town event on Dec. 13 from 5-8 p.m.
2. For a break from all the preparations the holidays entail, check out the Jane Condon Holiday Comedy Show at Armonk’s Whippoorwill Theater on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m. Rabbi Josh Strom of Congregation B’nai Yisrael will emcee the evening, which will also include a performance by Boston-based comic Kathe Farris. Tickets are available at eventbrite.com.
3. Westchester’s Winter Wonderland returns this year to Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla. Hours and days vary now through Jan. 4, winterwonderland.com for more info. There’s a circus, ice skating, rides and more. Tickets are $20 for ages 3 and up.
4. While the menorah lighting as well as a tree lighting already took place in Armonk on Frosty Day, before this issue went to press, the details of Chappaqua’s menorah lighting ceremony had not yet been firmed up. Ike Kuzio, superintendent of New Castle Recreation and Parks, said residents can keep abreast of this important annual event at Chappaqua’s community center by checking in on the town’s website.
5. Enjoy a screening of a Big Band Holiday program from Jazz at Lincoln Center in the New Castle Town Hall Assembly Room. The program runs from 6:30-9, p.m. Friday, Dec. 6 starting with refreshments provided by the Friends of the Chappaqua Library and will feature songs both “sacred and secular.”
6. Or attend The Movies’ Greatest Christmas Songs on Sunday Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. at the New Castle Community Center on Senter Street. Jon Reichman will use film clips, photos and piano performance to explore the history of famous holiday tunes White Christmas, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and Silver Bells.
7. Have yourself a historic Christmas. Visit the Horace Greeley House on Saturday Dec. 7, where a crafts workshop will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. and a tree lighting at 5 p.m. will be accompanied by the Horace Greeley High School Madrigal Choir leading carols, and a visit from Santa.
8. Why not spend some time in early December learning about the traditions of various cultures, communities and religions? Besides boasting many resources for learning about Christmas and Chanukah, the North Castle Public Library has several books about Kwanzaa (Dec. 26-Jan. 1) and a CD of Kwanzaa music for loan. The Chappaqua Library also offers a book about the Hindu festival of Diwali (this year, celebrated already in October), titles about Chinese New Year, and more.
9. To offset the effects of kugel and cookies, give snowshoeing a try. Skip Beitzel, owner of Hickory & Tweed in Armonk, said “Snowshoeing is great. My adage for snowshoeing is, ‘snow and they will go.’” Beitzel, whose shop sells snowshoes for all ages, said his customers snowshoe on local golf courses or on the bike path that runs through Millwood. Those seeking a more arduous experience may even take their snowshoes to ski areas to use them when climbing uphill. “Why not snowshoe as a family?” Beitzel said, since after all many families ski together, and snowshoeing can be done easily and locally–providing there’s snow.
10. Or plan a family hike to The Eugene and Agnes Meyer Preserve, a 247-acre spot with more than six miles of color-coded trails. Spanning New Castle and North Castle, the preserve has kiosks at each entrance to help visitors plan their hikes. For more outdoor appreciation, make the Christmas Bird Count a part of your family’s December traditions (find dates and locations on audubon.org) – or even closer to home, join Cornell’s Project Feeder Watch (join.birds.cornell.edu) and find out how families can contribute meaningfully to important statistics on birds and migration patterns. It’s not too late to join this information-collecting effort, which will get you through the winter and into spring.