By Bob Goepfert
CAPITAL REGION, NY For entertainment, Thanksgiving Day is the official start of the Christmas holiday season.
However, with COVID still being an influence, things are different this year. For one thing, most sites have policies that require you to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test for entry. In addition, in many places you have to wear a mask indoors.
Unfortunately, one loss is Melodies of Christmas at Proctors. In the past, the WRGB sponsored event hosted several performances each year. It has been a beloved holiday tradition for 40 years and will be missed by many.
As compensation, the Empire State Youth Orchestra, usually a mainstay of melodies with its jazz orchestra, offers its own spectacular sleigh ride. It’s at Proctors on December 19th.
Other events will still take place, but in a new format. In the case of Troys Victorian Stroll and Saratoga Springs Victorian Streetwalk, these are no longer one day events. Previously, you could dress in vintage clothing and enjoy dozens of events scattered across town.
Troy now has a walking season and invites people downtown throughout the shopping season. They will have pop-up events on December 5, 11 and 18.
Saratoga extends his walk to a weekend from December 2 to 5. It’s also a less structured event, with entertainment presented more haphazardly than in the past. The changes are commercial in nature rather than COVID related.
Capital Holiday Lights in the Park is still at Washington Park in Albany this year. Because his popularity has been the cause of vehicle congestion and other minor issues downtown, he has to relocate next year. Reserved periods will be in effect this year, along with other minor regulations imposed. Check their website before you go. It closes on January 2 and so far, no new site has been announced for the future.
There are also changes for Santas Magical Express. The event which celebrates its 10th season is, this year, a fractional event. There’s a 45-minute show at its Rennselaer facility, and everyone boards a 45-minute bus quest to save Christmas by retrieving Santa’s magical hat that was stolen by Jack Frost.
This year he has the same cast of characters like Mrs. Claus, Winky, Ebenezer Scrooge, Frosty and, of course, Santa and his elves. There are several shows per day from Thursday to Sunday until December 23.
The interior rooms are still in progress. One of my favorites, the Holiday Greens Show at the Hart-Cluett Museum on 2nd Street in downtown Troy. Most of the freshly made wreaths are for sale. It has 12 bedrooms decorated in Victorian splendor inside a Golden Age townhouse. It takes place from December 2 to 5.
In Albany, you will have a similar experience at the Ten Broeck Mansion. They offer timed tours on Saturdays and Sundays. The historic mansion has been uniquely decorated inside and out for the holidays. Tickets must be purchased in advance.
Another treat is the annual Albany Pro Musicas Holiday Show at Troy Music Hall. This year, it’s called The Many Moods of Christmas. It’s always a special afternoon.
The Albany Symphony Orchestra is doing its part to bring holiday cheer to the community. On December 5, he presents his annual family show The Magic of Christmas and a novelty this year, on December 11, they offer a musical salute to The Nutcracker.
Speaking of The Nutcracker, family ballet is abundant this season. The Egg in Albany has several. Albany Berkshire Ballet offers 3 productions on the weekend of December 11-12. The Saratoga City Ballet is presenting two on December 18. Proctors in Schenectady has its annual presentation of Northeast Ballets The Nutcracker on December 22-23.
Proctors also presents Its a Jazzy Christmas which features the area’s top jazz musicians performing the music of Vince Guaraldi, who rose to fame for composing the music for the Peanuts holiday specials. As a bonus, the next day, he plays at the Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga on December 18.
There is a touch of Ireland to the region this Christmas. Lunasa: A Christmas From Ireland is in Proctors on December 4th. Cherish the Ladies Celtic Christmas is at Troy Music Hall on December 7th and the McKrells Holiday Concert is at the Egg on December 18th. McKrell also offers the “A Saratoga Christmas” concert for the Home Made Theater in Saratoga on December 15th.
Ebenezer Scrooge is missing this season, as no major theater company offers a production of “A Christmas Carol”. Indeed, the only vacation-themed room is at Russell Sage College in Troy. They stage a production of “It’s a Wonderful Life” as if it were a radio play. It is offered from December 3 to 5.
It’s going to be an active holiday season. Make sure to check all sites for COVID protocol before you go. And, be patient with all the downsides. You can be both cheerful and safe while enjoying the vacation.
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