New York winter festivals and events worth traveling to

Banish bad spirits at the Angry Orchard farm or learn how to tap maple trees this winter.


Lots of New Yorkers turn to hibernation in winter, rarely leaving their apartments except to trundle off to work. Who wants to tromp around slushy sidewalks in frigid temps anyway?

But while the city can feel cold — both literally and figuratively — our hearty upstate neighbors have figured out how to make the best of this seemingly never-ending season: by coming up with creative events, festivals and activities that allow for maximum merriment — and lots of drinking. Because everyone knows that’s how you survive the frost.

Here are some of our favorite upcoming events that are worth leaving hibernation — and NYC — for.


Wassail at Angry Orchard

Jan. 27

Wassailing is an ancient tradition in England that aims to scare away evil spirits in apple trees to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the autumn. While common in England, wassailing is generally hard to find stateside, but Hudson Valley cider company Angry Orchard will hold its third annual Wassail to launch its new Wassail Wooden Sleeper cider. With a mug of warm cider in hand, guests will march to the oldest tree in the orchard while belting out classic Wassail chants at the top of their lungs, banishing any bad spirits lingering in the trees. The events will include live music, food vendors and a limited release of the new Wassail Wooden Sleeper.

Info: 11 a.m.-6 p.m., $15; 2241 Albany Post Rd., Walden, tickets at

Saranac Lake Winter Carnival

Feb. 2-11

This long-running winter festival first began in 1897. Over 10 days, community events, sporting competitions and entertainment will take place in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains alongside icy Saranac Lake. The centerpiece is the Ice Palace, built by volunteers on the shore of Lake Flower’s Pontiac Bay. Other highlights include a chocolate festival, gala parade, fireworks and sports such as curling, arctic golf, snow rugby and snowshoe softball.



Kohlfahrt in the Finger Lakes

Feb. 10-11

The Genesee Country Village & Museum in the Finger Lakes region is hosting a traditional Kohlfahrt (yes, it’s pronounced the way it’s spelled). What’s a Kohlfahrt? The German tradition typically starts with a walk (fahrt) through winter landscapes, with frequent stops for games inspired by cabbage (kohl), like a Brussels sprout shooting competition and a cabbage relay, as competitors vie for title of the Kale King and Queen. Drinking is also involved; participants are provided with their own necklace sporting a miniature beer mug, while a group “booze wagon” provides sips of German beer, wine and cider. The two-hour Kohlfahrt culminates with a hearty German-style meal of sausages, brats, smoked ham, bacon-simmered kale, sauerkraut, dampfkartoffeln (German-style potatoes) and apple strudel.

Info: Walks depart every 15 minutes on Feb. 10 from 1:30-4 p.m. and on Feb. 11 from 1:30-3 p.m., $70; 1410 Flint Hill Rd., Mumford,


Wine & Chocolate Weekend in Lake Erie Wine Country

Feb. 16-18

This wine-soaked weekend will make you forget the chilly weather outside as you explore the Lake Erie Wine Country, which straddles western New York and Pennsylvania. At each participating winery, ticket holders can sample glasses of local vino, savory bites and chocolate treats by Pulakos Chocolates. New York wineries include Noble Winery and Willow Creek Winery, with others in Pennsylvania.

Info: Feb. 16 from noon-5 p.m., Feb. 17-18 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., $20-$38;


A Sugaring Off Celebration in Cornwall

Feb. 24

Celebrate the beginning of maple sugar season at the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum. Learn how to identify and tap sugar maple trees; explore different sugaring techniques used by Native Americans and modern-day farmers; and try a taste-test challenge to see if you can tell the difference between maple-flavored syrup and the real thing.

Info: 11 a.m.-3 p.m., $10/adults, $8/children ages 3-17; Outdoor Discovery Center, 120 Muser Dr., Cornwall,

Devorah Lev-Tov