Holiday greeting cards feature pastoral scenes with country churches, picturesque farms and pines dappled with snow, peaceful images of simpler times. Put yourself into the Courier and Ives setting of Orange County’s charming countryside aglow with spirited holiday events. Just 50 miles north of New York City, chop your own tree, sip mulled cider by the hearth, take a horse-drawn carriage ride, and bask in the glow of candlelight tours at beautiful historic sites.
Santa will be making his rounds, so children will have plenty of chances to hand him their wish lists. Bring the whole family for special experiences like these to make spirits really bright!
Take a scenic winter drive past the county’s vast expanse of horse farms, woods and fields as you head to some of the Hudson Valley’s favorite farm-themed holiday happenings. Best known for its pick-your-own fruit and vegetables during the growing season, Lawrence Farm Orchards in Newburgh has been transformed for their month long "Christmas on the Farm" event. Whisper into Santa’s ear on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4 p.m. Wander the outdoor Candy Cane Maze before you take a horse and carriage ride, or take the sleigh if there’s snow. Warm up at the magical Winter Wonderland display and farm market filled with fresh baked goods, gifts, greenery, and pre-cut trees. The market is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Legendary in the Hudson Valley, Eggbert the talking egg holds court at Devitt’s "Christmas at the Farm" in New Windsor. As he sits poised on his throne, Eggbert knows the names of all the children who come to see him. The New York Times said that Eggbert is "one of those charming traditions in American small towns that seem impervious to blandification." Live animals and colorful displays line the trail that leads to Eggbert when he is in residence on Friday evenings from 5-8 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Wednesdays from 1-4 a.m., through December 23rd. Tasty treats, trees, wreaths and old fashioned toys are sold at the Christmas gift shop.
The city of Newburgh, home to the largest historic district in New York State, is a fabulous slate for cultural and historic holiday events. Notables such as Andrew Jackson Downing and Calvert Vaux left their imprint on this area and some of the region’s most famous attractions are located here.
Don’t miss "Warm Up at the Washington’s," a free event on Sunday, December 9th from noon to 4 p.m. Yuletide decorations adorn the rooms of George and Martha’s home, and period music plays as if the Washingtons still lived there. Sip mulled cider and sample a cookie near the outdoor fire, then head to the newly renovated museum to discover over a thousand rare and curious artifacts not seen by the public for many years at the brand new "Unpacked and Rediscovered" exhibit. There’s so much to see that the site has added new winter hours: Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., running December through April.
Stay in Newburgh that same day for the "Candlelight Tour of Homes" by the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands. Begin at the opulent 1830’s Captain David Crawford House decorated 1840-style with fresh greens, flowers and fruit. You’ll receive an illustrated tour booklet and map leading to a dozen of Newburgh’s architectural gems. Private homes open their wreathed doors for you to peek at beautifully decorated rooms. No doubt you’ll find the spirit of Christmas past on this holiday adventure as well as a greater appreciation for the rich history of this Hudson River city.
Step back several centuries for a warm and nostalgic tour of Hill-Hold, the impressive 1769 stone farmhouse in Montgomery. The home of one of Orange County’s founding families, the manor house shines by candlelight when you visit on December 8th, 9th, 15th or 16th between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays. A traditional tree in the parlor, antique toys and open-hearth cooking speak of simpler times. Catch some sparkle just minutes up the road at the Orange County Arboretum.
"Holiday Lights in Bloom" is the fantastical garden-themed display illuminating trees, arbors and gardens on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings until December 23rd and daily December 24th-30th (except on Christmas). Also in Montgomery, celebrate "Country Christmas on the Farm" at Manza Family Farm. Santa and his elf visit the Christmas shop on weekends from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the live reindeer outside are just waiting to guide Santa’s sleigh. Pony rides and horse drawn wagons offer gorgeous winter views of the farm. Be sure to check out the great selection of precut trees next to the barn.
Something besides candles will be glowing in Chester on Tuesday, December 11th from 5 to 8 p.m. Celebrate the Miracle of Oil and Light at an illuminating Chanukah combustion show. Mad Science will light up a colorful test tube Menorah at Colonial Lanes Cosmic Bowling. Feast on a hot buffet, latkes and donuts, spin the dreidel and hear the Chabad Hebrew School Choir. It’s going to be brilliant.
Experience the true holiday spirit this year with fun for friends and family. Find a complete list of attractions, lodging, and events at www.OrangeTourism.org.