Holiday Events

This holiday we will continue to create new traditions and support our local community. We’ve curated some of Ithaca’s most exciting 2023 holiday events to help lift our holiday spirits and spread holiday cheer. From shopping small to festive celebrations, make your winter merry and bright in Ithaca! 

Shops and Markets

two people shopping at sparks and ember

Shop small and directly from makers and artists. You will find many pop-up markets in November and December. For especially unique gifts, visit the Factory Holiday Art Market this year December 1-3 at Artist Alley, the basement level of the South Hill Business Campus. Find great gifts and shop from over 50 artists in a factory setting. There will be plenty of parking, the market is also on the TCAT bus route.

The wine-themed Holiday Shopping Spree is back this year December 2-3 from 10 am to 5 pm along the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail. Treat yourself while shopping for others and cross items off your gift list as you sample before you buy. You’ll get a souvenir wine glass, a souvenir ornament, wine and food pairings, and more!

Shows, Performances, & Festivals

women cheersing one another

You won’t find a lot of traditional holiday practices, such as an official Christmas tree lighting or other ceremonies. Instead, we embrace the quirkiness of the season and the togetherness that this time of year brings with fun activities such as the Annual International Rutabaga Curl on the last Saturday of the outdoor market. Bring the whole family to this wild, wacky and ridiculous event. You’ll see MCs, referees, protestors, a chorus, instrumentalists, camera/radio crews and more rutabaga lore than you ever knew existed. You’ll have ample time to practice throwing and to alter your rutabaga to your liking.

Celebrate the season at the Ice and Lights Festival downtown Ithaca December 1-2, and 9th 2023. Ice carving, ice bar, and plenty of photo opportunities. Saturday, Dec. 2 will bring the 13th Annual Chowder Cook-Off, as well as festive window displays and a holiday cookie walk. Trumansburg's Winterfest in this charming, quaint village on the west side of Cayuga Lake has also become a holiday tradition for locals and day-trippers.

The holiday tradition returns to The State Theatre with the Ithaca Ballet presenting The Nutcracker on December 15th, 16th and 18th. 

Holiday Decorating

christmas tree and wreath along a brick wall

Some will say November is too early for tree shopping. Others have a tree up the day after Halloween. Evergreen decor will be widely available after thanksgiving.

From Friday, November 18th through Sunday, December 23rd you’re invited to create family memories at Moore Tree Farms. Come find the perfect U-cut, pre-cut, or live Christmas tree, wreaths, ornaments, and decorations. Saturday, November 18th, the Newfies Newfoundland dogs from the Genesee Region Newfoundland Club will haul trees from the field!  

Spreading Holiday Spirit

making a wreath

The Cass Park Ice Rink has public skating times nearly every day of the week, beginning as early as 9:15 am and even going to 9:30 pm on Saturdays. Skate rentals are available in sizes toddler through adult. While you're in the area, visit the Ithaca Children's Garden and then go to Ithaca Bakery for a warm beverage and a hearty sandwich or pastry treat.

Are you looking to snap some unique family photos? Have you considered posing with alpacas? The Holiday Open Farm Days at Shepherds Creek Alpacas begin on Black Friday, November 24th, continue through to Small Business Saturday, Nov. 25th, and every Saturday until Christmas from 10 am to 4 pm. Be sure to visit the Farm Shop for unique and beautiful alpaca holiday gifts.

Santa Sightings

santa propelling down a building on the commons


Nothing brings the season to life more than a visit from Santa! He’ll be greeting guests at two places this season, on the same day thanks to his magic flying sleigh! 

Watch the annual tradition of Santa Arriving in Downtown Ithaca on Saturday, December 9th! Before the man in red arrives, enjoy live performances, a hot cocoa bar, and everyone’s favorite- Sparky the Unicorn! At 12 pm Santa and his elves will enter Downtown Ithaca in the most unique way possible: rappelling down from the roof of Center Ithaca onto Trolley Circle. You won’t want to miss this, so don't be late!

Bring your camera or phone to snap free photos with Santa and his sleigh outside at the Bernie Milton Pavilion. Don’t leave without stopping in at Alphabet Soup to write a letter reminding Santa of your family’s holiday requests. While there, purchase a toy to donate. Alphabet Soup has partnered with local organizations to collect toys for local kids.

Santa will also be visiting Moore Tree Farm on Dec. 9th day from 10 am-1 pm! Be sure to bring your wish list because Santa will be chatting with all the good girls, boys and parents!