When I first moved here about 8 years ago or so, I wasn't sure if the Victorian Stroll was baby and kid friendly. Did we go? Did we skip it? Was it just going to be freezing cold with nothing the kids would like? So in my unending effort to make all families even more comfortable in our beautiful area, here is my Victorian Streetwalk Family Guide, because you don't want to miss this special holiday tradition.
First, some of the FAQs I get asked by readers about the Streetwalk:
Does this event cost anything to attend? Nope, this event is FREE and open to the public. The Victorian Streetwalk is the Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association's way of saying "thank you" to all their customers for supporting our beautiful downtown throughout the year. Everyone is invited to join the fun with caroling and Victorian costumes and enjoy an old fashioned "Christmas as it used to be" street party and celebration of the holiday season. A lot of hard work goes into this special event and it is one of those yearly event that sets our area apart as such a great place to raise a family.
Do you have to dress up in Victorian era costumes? No, BUT there are plenty of strolling costumed Saratogians to help lend an authentic Victorian feel to the evening.
Should I bring the stroller? YES! Broadway is all blocked off (from the Route 50 arterial to the Spring Street intersection), so even though there is a big crowd there is plenty of room for strollers. Bundle that baby up, toss a blanket over them and get ready to stroll. The only time you'll have to get over onto the sidewalk is when the marching band parade comes through.
What is parking like? I've actually never found it to be that difficult, even with Broadway blocked off. Plus, to make it easier, CDTA, a festival Gold Sponsor, runs free shuttle buses every 20 minutes from the Empire State College parking lot at 111 West Avenue on Saratoga Springs’ west side, the Oklahoma track (just off Exit 14 of I-87) and the Weibel Avenue Skating Rink parking lots on the east side of Saratoga Springs to downtown, bringing carloads of people to and from the Victorian Streetwalk from 4:30pm until 10:30pm.
Are there spots to warm up? Restaurants do tend to get a little crowded during the Streetwalk, but there are lots of places to pop in and warm up, Northshire Bookstore is a great one to stop in at, let the kids explore the Children's Floor while you get the feeling back in your fingers and toes. Most businesses will be open until 10pm and will hold open houses and serve delicious, free refreshments to their guests, friends and customers (be sure to check out the schedule and map for specials).
Is the Streetwalk dog friendly? They do ask that you please leave your furry, four legged family members at home. There are a lot of kids, a lot of strollers, and a lot of people walking around, so this particular event isn't the easiest with a dog in tow as well.
This year the Downtown Business Association is combining their Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony with the Victorian Streetwalk. Girl Scouts will serenade the crowd with Christmas Carols beginning at 5:45pm while the children wait for Santa and Mrs. Claus. Santa comes right down Broadway in his sleigh and that is always a highlight for our kids.
The Honorable Mayor Joanne Yepsen will light the trees at 435 Broadway at 6pm and Santa, Clara, elves and Rumple Dumple will arrive shortly after at the Santa Cottage to visit with children in the beautiful, hand made and detailed Santa Cottage that is set up in front of Putnam Market, just across from Caroline Street. This line does get long, just a heads up, we usually tell the kids that we will come stop by Santa's Cottage later on the following week since it will then be open after this event for the rest of the month leading up to Christmas, so this is NOT the only chance to see Santa at his cottage if the line is discouraging for you (see the schedule for 2015 below).
During the Streetwalk, there are over 35 sites with free entertainment, including fiddlers, hammered dulcimer, a cappella singing, choral singing, saxophone, crystal glasses, a brass group, balloons, ballet dancers, live reindeer, the Festival of Trees at the City Center, everyone's favorite Snowman, Norwegian Princess and Ice Queen, face painting, Newfoundland dogs, and the list goes on and on! Also don't forget to stop by Impressions of Saratoga for A Victorian Print Giveaway!
Have Christmas cards to mail? Stop by the Post Office on Broadway during the Streetwalk for a special commemorative postal cancellations from 5pm to 9pm. Bring your stamped Christmas card envelopes, get them canceled with the special Victorian Streetwalk cancellation (free) and you have a month to mail them.