Nestled in the heart of upstate New York, the Catskills Mountains transform into a winter wonderland during the holiday season, offering a magical setting for those seeking a festive escape. With crisp mountain air, snow-covered landscapes, and a charming atmosphere, spending Christmas in the Catskills promises to be a memorable experience.
From thrilling outdoor adventures to cozy indoor retreats, the region has something for everyone during this special time of the year.
1. Go Ski!
For the adrenaline seekers, the Catskills boast excellent skiing opportunities. Head to Hunter Mountain or Belleayre Mountain for pristine slopes and breathtaking views. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-time skier, these resorts cater to all levels.
Remember to bundle up in warm gear, grab some hot cocoa at the lodge, and enjoy the thrill of gliding down the slopes in this winter wonderland. After a day on the mountain, cozy up by the fireplace in one of the charming lodges, where you can share stories of your adventures and relish the warmth of the holiday season. A trip to the slopes is essential for your Christmas in the Catskills experience.
2. Treat Yourself to a Luxury Resort & Spa
Indulge in the ultimate relaxation by booking a stay at one of the Catskills’ luxury resorts and spas. Resorts like Emerson Resort & Spa in Mount Tremper or, one of my personal favorites, Kenoza Hall (pictured), offer a perfect blend of rustic charm and modern amenities. Unwind with a massage, soak in a hot tub surrounded by snowy landscapes, and savor delicious holiday-inspired cuisine. It’s the perfect way to pamper yourself and your loved ones during the festive season.
The resorts often host special holiday events, from themed dinners to festive spa treatments, ensuring that your Christmas in the Catskills is not only relaxing but also filled with the joy of the season.
3. Ice Harvest Festival at Hanford Mills Museum
Experience a unique winter tradition at the Hanford Mills Museum’s Ice Harvest Festival. Located in East Meredith, this event allows visitors to step back in time and participate in ice harvesting, a practice that was once essential for preserving food in the days before refrigeration. Learn about historical techniques, enjoy demonstrations, and revel in the nostalgia of this winter celebration.
The festival is not only educational but also a wonderful opportunity to connect with the community and appreciate the heritage of the Catskills during the festive season.
4. Check out a Makers Market
Support local artisans and find the perfect holiday gifts at one of the Catskills’ makers markets. Woodstock’s Handmade Holidays Market is a great spot to discover handmade crafts, jewelry, and art. Enjoy the festive atmosphere and find unique treasures that showcase the talent of local artists.
These markets often feature live music, seasonal treats, and a chance to meet the creators behind the crafts, adding a personal touch to your holiday shopping experience.
5. Explore Charming Small Towns
Take a leisurely drive through the charming small towns scattered across the Catskills. Places like Phoenicia and Livingston Manor are adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations during the holiday season. Explore boutique shops, enjoy local cuisine, and soak in the cozy atmosphere that these picturesque towns offer.
Don’t forget to visit the local bakeries and cafes, where you can warm up with a cup of hot cocoa or freshly baked treats, adding to the festive charm of these quaint destinations.
6. Ice Skate
Embrace the classic winter activity of ice skating at one of the outdoor rinks in the region. Windham Mountain’s Ice Skating Pavilion offers a scenic setting for gliding across the ice. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned skater, this timeless activity is a perfect way to celebrate the holiday season with family and friends.
After a session on the ice, gather around a bonfire to share stories and enjoy the camaraderie of fellow skaters, creating memories that will last long after the skates come off.
7. Snowshoe or Cross-Country Ski on the Trail
Not everyone prefers to careen down a mountain with the nervous feeling that you’re going to wipe out at any moment. Some prefer to move slowly, taking in the serine beauty around them and the gentle silence of a snowy forest. Luckily, there are ample opportunities all over the Catskills for people to take advantage of the hiking trails of the summer turned perfect winter show shoeing trails.
Check out the trails surrounding Plattekill Mountain in the northern Catskills for some untouched beauty, followed by a warm drink at the cozy lodge waiting for you when you get tired.
8. Peace, Love & Lights at Bethel Woods
Immerse yourself in the festive spirit with the Peace, Love & Lights event at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. The historic site, famous for hosting the 1969 Woodstock Festival, transforms into a dazzling display of lights during the holiday season. Take a stroll through the illuminated wonderland and enjoy the festive decorations.
The event often features live music, food vendors, and interactive displays, creating a joyful and festive atmosphere that captures the essence of the holiday season.
9. Snow Tubing
For a fun and family-friendly winter activity, head to a snow tubing park in the Catskills. Belleayre Mountain Tubing Park offers an exhilarating experience as you slide down the groomed lanes on an inflatable tube. It’s a thrilling way to enjoy the snowy slopes without the need for special skills or equipment.
The tubing parks typically offer sessions for all ages, making it a perfect activity for families or groups of friends looking for some lighthearted winter fun.
10. Brewery Hop
Warm up with some craft brews at the Catskills’ breweries. Whether you’re into stouts, IPAs, or seasonal ales, the region’s breweries have a variety of options to satisfy your palate. Plan a brewery hop and savor the flavors of the local beer scene while enjoying the cozy ambiance of these establishments.
Many breweries also host special holiday events, such as tastings of festive brews or themed parties, adding a spirited touch to your Christmas brewery adventure. Two of my favorite breweries, Upward and Catskill Brewing, reside in Livingston Manor. Each brewery offers a distinct vibe, live music, and an awesome outdoor setting complete with fires to stay warm during those snowy evenings.
Did we miss any of your favorite Catskill Christmas Activities?
Let us know in the comments!