The Best Holiday Markets and Events Just Hours from NYC

A guide to holiday markets near NYC and the best festive events in Hudson Valley and Long Island.

Holiday Markets Near NYC
Photo credit: Liudmila Evsegneeva, getty images
Photo credit: Liudmila Evsegneeva, getty images

While there’s nothing more magical than celebrating the holidays in New York City, its surrounding areas are also bustling with frosty festivities that are perfect for an easy city escape. From a classic Dutch winter festival to Kwanzaa celebrations and burlesque nights, head to these unique festive events for a leisurely day trip and be back in your own warm bed in a few hours. Here are the best seasonal experiences and holiday markets near NYC.

Holiday Markets Near NYC
American Christmas | Photo courtesy of American Christmas

Holiday Shopping Near NYC

Until December 22
Mount Vernon, NY; tickets vary with age.
Ever wonder where the iconic Christmas displays in New York City come from? American Christmas, the company responsible for these classic decorations, has a 110,000 square foot warehouse open to the public for a unique Christmas experience. There are over a hundred animatronics in themed areas and over 100,000 dazzling lights in this delightfully immersive walkthrough. After strolling these areas, visit the shop for collectible Christmas ornaments. A hundred percent of ticket sales will be donated to charitable causes, one of which is Mount Vernon Boys and Girls Club.
Estimated drive from NYC: 50 Minutes

Hudson Valley Holiday Markets

Thanksgiving through Mid-December
Poughkeepsie, Hudson, and Kingston, NY
You can never go amiss with the Hudson Valley when it comes to unique Christmas events, markets, and pop-ups. Make it a day trip and shop local in these towns at the Dutchess Handmade Holiday Pop-up Shop in Poughkeepsie that runs through December 16; Basilica Farm & Flea Holiday Market in Hudson, starting November 24 through November 26; and lastly, Field + Supply Holiday Pop-Upto browse through specialty curated Kingston holiday pop-ups with apparel, home decor, apothecary, and other gloriously scented, carved, and handmade products.There are two pop-up dates for this Kingston event; one on November 25–26 and the other on December 2–3.
Estimated drive from NYC: 2 hours to Poughkeepsie, 2 hours to Kingston, and 2 hours 30 minutes to Hudson

Holiday Music Near NYC

Starting on December 1–24
Atlantic City, NJ; tickets from $18.94
Enjoy this family-friendly Broadway-style dance spectacular that's sure to elicit amazement from the kid in all of us. The dancers high-kick it in classic Rockette-style and will be sashaying alongside colorful holiday characters on stage to add to the festive fun.
Estimated drive from NYC: 2 hours 10 minutes

December 11, 7 pm
Englewood, NJ; tickets from $31
Get vocal with The Maccabeats, an Orthodox Jewish a cappella group originally formed in 2007 by Yeshiva University students. Since then, the ensemble has made TV appearances as far as in New Zealand and have amassed a fanbase in the millions with a YouTube channel to boot (their Chanukkah parody video, Candlelight, previously gained international coverage).
Estimated drive from NYC: 45 minutes

December 23, 3 pm
NJPAC Newark, NJ; tickets from $49
Rock your body to a festive Kwanzaa celebration with Forces of Nature Dance Theater. The acclaimed New York dance troupe is known for combining hip hop, ballet, martial arts, and traditional West African dance into a mesmerizing art form that pays homage to ancestors while known for drawing in the audience.
Estimated drive from NYC: 35 minutes or PATH train to Newark Station from the Oculus Transportation Hub

Holiday Markets Near NYC
Annual Hudson Valley Gingerbread Competition | Photo courtesy of Mohonk Mountain House

Holiday Arts and Culture Events Near NYC

November 24–December 31, 10 am
Staatsburgh, NYreservations required for entry and payment accepted upon arrival
Step back into time at the Staatsburgh State Historic Site for art from Europe and Asia, and beautifully holiday decor with a dazzling Christmas tree in the middle of the property. This 1895 25-room Greek Revival home boasts of marble floors and walls and a 60-foot long dining room, and for the history buffs, you can wander the property in awe and chat with the nearby docents on any scandalous historical gossip. The property's gift shop will be open for unique holiday items.
Estimated drive from NYC: 2 hours

December 2, 10 am
Rhinebeck Village Main Street; Free.
Plan for a full day of fun at Rhinebeck Sinterklaas. Starting at 10 am, the event includes dance, workshops, stilt-walkers, puppetry, carols, Dutch snacks, and culminates with an appearance from St. Nicholas in a colorful parade of characters. Rhinebeck Sinterklaas is one of many Dutch holdovers still present in New York—like cookies, Santa Claus, and doughnuts—and is an inclusive festival with a Menorah lighting and an all-women Afro drum band in past years. The event is also accessible by public transportation via a direct Amtrak from New York City to Rhinecliff then a 5 minute cab ride (there are few rideshares here) to Rhinebeck Village as parking is very limited.
Estimated drive from NYC: 2 hours 20 minutes

Competition starts December 10 (public viewing from December 12)
Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz
Check out a gingerbread house competition at the Mohonk Mountain House, featuring steamships, dinosaurs, and exquisite designs from adults and children. The competition deadline may be past but gingerbread pieces will be on display from December 12, 2023 to January 1, 2024—and you can also see them if you opt for one of the amazing specials on offer like the Midweek Spa Getaway or Mountain Mini-cation. Furthermore, Mohonk Mountain House is holding a Hanukkah celebration from December 7–15 with a nightly Menorah lighting.
Estimated drive from NYC: 2 hours 10 minutes

Holiday Drinks Near NYC

Exchange Place, Jersey City
Cross the Hudson for unobstructed views of New York City’s skyline and enjoy the RoofTop’s holiday offerings and festive decorations in their reverse snow globe indoor space featuring panoramic views above the Hudson. Knock back signature cocktails like Mari and Juana and Lavender Spritz (CBD can be added to any cocktail for an extra fee) and munch on their new seasonal menu offerings for a chill after-work or weekend evening vibe.
Estimated drive from NYC: 25 minutes or one stop via PATH from the Oculus Transportation Hub

November 25, 8:30 pm–10:30 pm
New Paltz, NY; tickets from $20
HUNG With Care is a queer holiday burlesque show filled with both naughty and nice. Currently in its eleventh year, it features Christmas classics sung by cabaret artists, circus acts, burlesque, and singing. The show is recommended for those over 16 years old as it contains adult language and themes. The cast includes Kim David Smith, an Australian whom Broadway refers to as the “David Bowie of cabaret,” and Broody Valentino, a camp theatrical Latinx performer based in New York City.
Estimated drive from NYC: 2 hours

December 2, 5 pm
Sag Harbor, NY; tickets are $40 with Reservation, $50 at the door
Make the drive East for a different type of holiday party at the Sag Harbor Whaling & Historical Museum. The summer season is over but you might be able to see the history of the town’s whaling origins and its whaling industry connections to other Northeast locations. Stay for food, festivities, fun, and maybe even some whaling facts, and enjoy the evening away.
Estimated drive from NYC: 2 hours 35 minutes

December 17, 1 pm–5 pm
Freeport, NY; tickets $20
Head Out East and celebrate a holiday drag brunch at Hibiscus on the Mile. You can be sure of lots of laughs, roasting, comedy, music, drinks, and of course, grandiose fabulousness with Long Island queens like Ivy Stalls.
Estimated drive from NYC: 1 hour 30 minutes

December 21, 8 pm
Babylon, NY; Free entry.
This is the season to unearth those sentimental but garishly-colored sweaters for an ugly sweater party. Arrive in your best brightly-colored garb with no fashion police glaring at you, dance your worries out to a live DJ, and be merry with $5 taps, $8 house drinks, and other reasonably priced beverages.
Estimated drive from NYC: 1 hour 30 minutes

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Kemi Ibeh is a Thrillist contributor.