This Upstate New York City Is One Of The Top-Ranked Destinations To Spend The Holidays In America

Tis' the Christmas season! With the winter holidays in sight, there's perhaps no other town that spreads festive cheer better than Saratoga, New York. This Victorian-style small town in upstate New York is a culmination of "health, history, and horses." Apart from the winter season, Saratoga is a hotspot for luxury spas, historical sites, and thoroughbred racing. However, as soon as the last bits of turkey and pumpkin pie disappear over Thanksgiving dinner, residents waste no time getting down to the year-long anticipated event: Christmas!

According to House Beautiful Magazine, Saratoga is the Most Festive Christmas Town in the U.S. From late November through December 25, Saratoga is a kaleidoscope of Christmas colors and an extravagant montage of holiday decorations. Local shops are embellished with twinkling lights, red bows are fastened onto lamp posts, and every door is adorned with a Christmas wreath. Locals leave no room for error during December, with festive happenings crammed into nearly every week of the month. From holiday fundraisers to all-out decorating contests, explore what makes Saratoga a beacon of Christmas cheer.

Stroll the Saratoga Springs Victorian Streetwalk

The first Thursday after Thanksgiving marks the most important Christmas tradition in Saratoga. Every year since 1985, the town has kicked off the festivities with the Saratoga Springs Victorian Streetwalk on central avenue. Broadway Street is closed to traffic, and the promenade comes to life in an extravagant display of red and green that emulates Santa's North Pole workshop. Carolers singing Jingle Bells and Silent Night saunter the city streets while locals bundled up in teddy coats, warm their hands with cups of cocoa.

As darkness settles over the town, residents prepare themselves for the most magical event of all: the annual tree lighting ceremony in the heart of Saratoga. Of course, it wouldn't be Santa's workshop without St. Nick himself. Little ones can enjoy visits with Santa at his whimsical red and green cottage on Broadway. In preparation for another town favorite, the city hosts a preview of the annual Festival of Trees during the night of the Streetwalk.

Other holiday town favorites

Even adults can agree there's no expression of joy purer than running to the tree on Christmas morning, followed by a breakfast feast infused with sugar. Saratoga combines the best of both worlds, holding its Festival of Trees and Breakfast with Santa events on the same day. At this special holiday event, kids can sit down to breakfast with Santa and have a photo taken with Santa, as well as other children's activities such as cookie decorating, ornament making, and letters to Santa. The Festival of Trees is a multi-day event featuring numerous decorated trees, wreaths, and centerpieces that are on display for purchase. 

Throughout the holiday season, neighborhoods in Saratoga also transform into rows of life-size gingerbread houses. The entire community rallies together in the Christmas spirit for the Capital Region Holiday Lights Map & Contest — a home decorating contest resulting in a winter wonderland reminiscent of the fictional town of Whoville. Visitors can turn up the Christmas tunes on the radio and take a leisurely drive through the parade of lit-up homes — the perfect end to a winter night in Saratoga!