The holiday season is almost here! And there are plenty of ways to celebrate around Central New York.

One event you won’t want to miss is Dickens Christmas, which is marking a milestone this year.

It was created three decades ago by some of the merchants in downtown Skaneateles.

“We’ve always been a big summer destination, and they were essentially also trying to sell us as a winter and holiday destination,” said Hilary Fenner, executive director of the Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce. “After they did it for a year or two, they were kind of overwhelmed because it was going really well, and they ended up hiring an acting troupe and eventually handing it off to the Chamber. We work with Scarlett Rat Entertainment, and the two of us co-host this event, which we put together to help the small businesses and the local community.”

Dickens Christmas begins the Friday after Thanksgiving with the World’s Smallest Christmas Parade (all of the characters make their way into the village). “It’s supposed to mimic Charles Dickens, who traveled through this area, arriving in Skaneateles with the Queen of England at the time, and there was all this fanfare,” said Fenner.

Dickens Christmas then continues each Saturday and Sunday through Christmas Eve (five weekends in total), with A Christmas Carol trunk shows, horse drawn carriage rides (Nov. 24 and 25), roasted chestnuts, appearances by Scrooge and Father Christmas, and the main event, caroling at the gazebo, held each day at 2 p.m.

“That’s an iconic part of Dickens because you’re with a group of people, by the lake, caroling, and just getting into the holiday spirit,” said Fenner. “There’s enough going on that you’re never going to be bored, but there’s not so much going on that you feel rushed and panicked that you’re going to miss something.”

“We put in a lot of time and effort to make sure the town looks beautiful, so people can come and have a wonderful time.”

If You Go:
Dickens Christmas

When: Saturdays and Sundays (through Dec. 23) from noon-4 p.m. and Dec. 24 from noon-2:30 p.m.
Where: The village of Skaneateles, on Genesee, Jordan, and Fennell Streets.
More information:


Courtney Kless is the Editor in Chief of Family Times. Courtney is originally from Maryland. She earned her Master’s degree in Magazine, Newspaper and Online Journalism from Syracuse University. Courtney began her career as a sports journalist, then spent several years working in higher education, before joining the company in August 2019. She enjoys traveling, reading and hiking, and recently adopted a Labrador Retriever, Bailey.

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