There’s a reason why Country Living Magazine named Corning one of “America’s 25 Best Small Towns for Christmas.”
It’s hard to beat a one-of-a-kind glass Christmas tree made of 2,000 handblown ornaments at the world’s largest museum devoted to glass art and artifacts when it comes to adding some sparkle to your holiday season. Located in America’s Crystal City, the spectacular holiday tree is just one of the reasons Corning is the place to be for the holidays which officially kick off the Saturday after Thanksgiving with the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus, followed by the tree lighting ceremony in Centerway Square (named one of the 15 Most Beautiful Town Squares in America by Travel + Leisure). The evening’s festivities also include the 24th Annual Parade of Lights on November 30th.
Part sing-along tree lighting ceremony, part stationary evening parade where floats, special displays, and participants are covered tip to toe in lights, the Parade of Lights will also feature a fireworks demonstration. The following weekend, the holiday season culminates in Corning on December 7th with the 45th Annual Sparkle, a hugely popular event featuring horse-and-wagon rides, special shopping and dining promotions, outdoor entertainment, and more.
Dating back as far as 1974, Sparkle has been a highlight of the holiday season for folks living near and far. Begun by the Market Street Restoration Group as a way to inspire people to shop local and get excited about the Holiday season, the annual event has become a not-to-be-missed sensation as Market Street is transformed into the perfect place to shop, explore, taste, and truly capture the holiday spirit. This event remains a holiday favorite.
Start a new family tradition blowing your own glass ornaments at The Studio found at the The Corning Museum of Glass. Or, for what Country Living calls “a more personalized, family friendly experience," anyone age two and up can blow an ornament at Hands-on Glass Studio.
With about 100 boutiques, galleries, studios and restaurants, Corning’s Gaffer District is the perfect place to satisfy your holiday shopping fix. And what better way to get into the holiday spirit than by visiting Vitrix Hot Glass Studio located on historic Market Street. Known around the world for their wonderful glass art, during the holidays one of Vitrix’s specialties is the colorful and playful glass snowmen made in the studio. You can watch the glassblowers create theses delightful pieces while you shop.
The holidays are a special time of year spent with the people who matter most, honoring family traditions or maybe making some new ones, sharing stories of the past, watching faces light up with joy over dreams come true. Whether you’re looking to get away for some holiday shopping or you’re craving special once-a-year events that bring back the magic of days-gone-by, you’ll find the holiday spirit throughout Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes.
In nearby Hammondsport (a town of only about 600 residents, named “Coolest Small Town in America” by readers of Budget Travel), the holidays come alive as they celebrate Christmas in the Park December 7th, which is an old-fashioned Christmas featuring live music, food, Santa, storytelling, wagon rides, vendors and more in and around the Village Square.
With a rich aviation and wine history, Hammondsport offers the best of a slower pace, yet with exceptional culinary experiences (New York State’s most award-winning winery since 1962), restaurants like Pleasant Valley Inn, award-winning craft breweries on the Craft Your Adventure Trail, and several quaint antique shops and boutiques nestled around the Village Square.
With tree lightings, horse and wagon rides, one-on-one time with Santa, ice carving, gingerbread competitions, storytelling, food vendors, and more, other small towns like Bath celebrate The Spirit of Christmas.
While out west, folks say, “there is no place like Hornell for the Holidays!” The annual festivities include a parade, traveling music, photo ops with Santa in his brand new Gazebo located in Santa Lane. With horse and wagon rides, a chance to get up close with some of Santa’s reindeer, plus live holiday music in various locations, Hornell bring Christmas to life.
To learn more about the specific holiday events throughout Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes including dates and times, visit our Holiday Events page.
“Since 2008, the world-renowned museum . . . has been drawing thousands of visitors each winter to marvel at its sparkling tree. There’s no other holiday tree like it in the world, and no two of the tree’s ornaments, which are created by a team of resident glassmakers, are the same. The tree is so elaborate that it takes several days to install inside the museum’s glass-walled lobby. Once the final sphere has been hung, lights from within the tree illuminate it from the inside, making it glow like a giant, festive lightbulb.”Jennifer Nalewicki, Smithsonian Magazine