Linda Lowen: Top Winter Events You should check

The author of “100 Things to Do in Syracuse Before You Die,” just launched a new book, “Secret Syracuse: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure.” We’ve asked her some suggestions on what to do this winter in Central New York

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Linda Lowen

You have plenty to do this winter in Central New York. Really. To follow are a few of the best events to not miss this season, according to local writer and lifelong Syracuse resident Linda Lowen, author of the newly-published “Secret Syracuse: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure” (Reedy Press, 2023).

Dickens Christmas, Skaneateles, Nov. 24-Dec. 24. Free. (

“God bless us all, every one, for living in Central New York, where this immersive experience takes over the quaint streets of downtown Skaneateles,” Lowen said. “Characters from the classic Christmas Carol tale by Charles Dickens stroll the streets in costume, interacting with visitors and making spirits bright.”

She added that guests can enjoy roasted chestnuts, theater, caroling, pictures with Father Christmas, and more. Some activities, like horse- drawn wagon rides, charge a fee.

The Polar Express and Visit with Santa on the Adirondack Railroad, Utica, Nov. 17-Dec. 18. $39-$58. (

“Relive the experience of the beloved tale written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg,” Lowen said. “Enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while you travel to the North Pole where Santa will board the train, visit with each family, and give the first gift of Christmas: the silver bell, just like in story. Buy tickets in advance as the event sells out each year, and don’t be afraid to wear your pajamas!”

Lights on the Lake at Onondaga Lake Park, Liverpool, Nov. 13-Jan. 12. $10-$75. (

“The eastern shore of Onondaga Lake comes alive with thousands of lights,” Lowen said. “Lights on the Lake, sponsored by Wegmans, is a two-mile long drive-through show featuring towering holiday displays, larger-than life Land of Oz, a twinkling fantasy forest, colorful section arches, memorable animated scenes and a fairy tale magic grand finale. As you enjoy the displays, tune into holiday music provided by Sunny 102.1.”

She added that Lights on the Lake tickets must be purchased online only through the official website; guests may not buy tickets at the gate.

Festival of Trees and Light at the Everson Museum, Syracuse, Dec. 2- Dec. 16. Free with admission. (

“Syracuse’s art museum is transformed into a holiday showplace featuring pre-lit decorated trees, decorated wreaths, and unique seasonal and winter-inspired décor items representing Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Years, winter solstice, and other seasonal celebrations,” Lowen said. “Enjoy live performances and activities and browse artisanal gift items and ornaments for purchase. The 2023 Festival of Trees is in its 38th year.”

Nutcracker Twist: An Enchanted Journey at the Landmark Theatre, Syracuse, Dec. 9. $23-$77. (

“See aerialists, jugglers, acrobats, comedians, and other amazing cirq performers bring Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker to life in a new version of the classic story,” Lowen said. “Symphoria performs the music as circus artists reimagine the Nutcracker with humor, wondrous magic, daring feats, and awe-inspiring stunts.”

The performance features CirqOvation, Sora Iriye, Joshua Edelman, and Syracuse Youth Chorus and is suitable for all ages.

Want more to do after the hubbub of the holiday season winds down? Consider:

23rd Annual Great Eastern Whiteout Antique And Vintage Snowmobile Show And Swap Meet, Fulton, Feb. 3. Cost to be announced. (315-592-4892). Join other vintage sled enthusiasts at the Fulton War Memorial to see and swap snowmobiles and snowmobile parts.

Syracuse Winterfest, Feb. 15-25. Free with charges for some activities. ( Family-friendly events and activities are planned all over the city.

New York Farm Show, indoors at the NYS Fairgrounds in Syracuse, Feb. 22-24. Free admission with advanced tickets and free parking. ( Watch interesting demonstrations, learn more about forestry and land conservation and peruse scores of vendors of goods and services of interest to rural landowners and farmers.