Mamatoga Buying Local Gift Guide: Holiday Events Edition-Updated 11/17

In addition to all of the free holiday events around town during the season there are also  some fantastic holiday events that sell out fast that you don't want to miss! Here are a few of our favorites with all the information you need on how to buy tickets. The Saratoga Festival of Trees is is running from Wednesday, November 30 through Sunday, December 4, 2011 at the Saratoga Springs City Center, with a special preview reception"Unwrap the Magic" on November 30th. They are celebrating their 16th year this holiday season, and it is a fantastic event that is great for kids and adults alike, putting the spirit of Christmas in everyone’s heart. You can walk amid hundreds of beautifully twinkling trees, wreaths, centrepieces and other holiday items on display for visitors to purchase or simply admire. Santa himself will also be stopping by from time to time for pictures. Admission is just $8 for adults, $5 for seniors and $3 children over the age of 10. Children 10 years and under are FREE! Plus, adults can get a sneak peak at the decorations! Unwrap the Magic, the preview reception, will take place on Wednesday, November 30. You can enjoy the decoration displays, appetizers and live entertainment, all for a good cause!

Festival Event Schedule:

Thursday, December 1st 2:00 PM - 10:00 PM : General Festival Hours 2:00 PM - 10:00 PM : Photos with Santa

Friday, December 2nd 2:00 PM - 6:00 PM : General Festival Hours

Saturday, December 3rd Family Day: 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM : General Festival Hours 8:00, 9:30 & 11:00 AM: Breakfast with Santa - Reservation required 12:30 PM : Sundaes with Santa - Reservation required 8:00 AM - 2:00 PM : Santa's Workshop - Admission is free. Tickets to craft activity booths: $1

Sunday, December 4th 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM :: General Festival Hours

Find out more about the Saratoga Festival of Trees by visiting the official website, and to learn how you can volunteer for the event call (518) 587-5000. Visit for more information on this and other great local events and a chance to win FREE tickets to the Breakfast with Santa!


The Polar Express is a magical one-hour train ride for children and parents that follows the famous story and is operated by the Saratoga & North Creek Railway. Embark on a holiday adventure as characters of the story come to life with the conductor punching the kid’s golden tickets, and a special visit from Santa when he boards the train at the “North Pole.” When Santa and his elves climb aboard they deliver a silver bell to each child, which only rings if they believe. The elves join in the merriment, singing Christmas carols, as the magic of the season comes to life for every boy and girl. Santa’s village is being built from scratch and Saratoga & North Creek Railway General Manager Steve Torrico said “We want the first glimpse of the North Pole through the windows of our cars to be very striking, and we are going to great lengths to make that happen.” The set will be built in Chicago by acclaimed set design company Chicago Scenic, which has made sets for Oprah and the highly attended Chicago Auto Show. Tickets for select dates between Nov. 18 and Dec. 29 range from $10 to $55 depending on class of service and age. Go to or call 877-726-RAIL (7245) for questions and to purchase tickets.

One of my favorite holiday events to attend with my daughter and mom is the Nutcracker Tea at the Hall of Springs. Last year was our first year all going together, and even at two years old Leven enjoyed it thoroughly. Hosted by SPAC's Action Council and sponsored by the Emma Willard School, the Nutcracker Tea is one of the most anticipated events of the holiday season! Ballet excerpts are performed by Northeast Ballet Company and costumed dancers mingle with the children. Other activities include a raffle for nutcracker dolls, ornaments and more. Holiday ornaments are for sale and each child gets a little gift. You get to sip on hot chocolate and tea and they are offering a new menu for 2011! This event is only offered on one day, Sunday, November 20th at 11am and 3pm and it sells out FAST so I suggest getting your tickets sooner rather than later! Here is the link to purchase tickets. *11am show is SOLD OUT

The 22nd Annual Candlelight House Tour, brought to you by the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, will take you through festively decorated homes in and around the Fifth Avenue &  Phila Street neighborhood with a gala reception to follow at the Saratoga Golf & Polo Club on Friday, December 5th starting at 5:30pm. There will be food, drinks, live music, great holiday gifts, and a silent auction. Tickets to the tour are $40 for Foundation members and $50 for non-members. Tickets to the tour and reception are $75 for member and $85 for non-members.


To me, no Christmas is complete without the Nutcracker, and in addition to the Nutcracker Tea, you can watch the complete Nutcracker performance! Saratoga City Ballet Company presents their 19th annual production of the Nutcracker featuring William Otto, former New York City Ballet soloist, as Drosselmeyer and emerging young artists from the Saratoga City Ballet Company. Highlights include a magical growing tree, beautiful costumes, new choreography, and fun for the whole family. Enjoy this spectacular holiday tradition at Skidmore College Dance Theater on December 16th at 7:00, December 17th at 2:00 and 7:00, and December 18th, at 12:00 and 3:00. Adults $18.00, Students and Seniors $15.00, Children 10 and under $12.00. To place your ticket order click here. Reservations are required. Tickets can be reserved starting November 19th, and these tickets also go quickly!