The first Festival of Trees was held on Dec. 4, 1985.

It started as (and continues to be) a fundraiser for the Everson Museum of Art. That first year, there were 47 decorated trees and $27,000 was raised. It was so successful, the museum decided to turn it into an annual tradition.

This year’s festival will be held from Dec. 2-16.

“It’s always been a popular event in the city because of the displays,” said Liz Herrick, the Members Council chair. “You can spend time with a best friend, you can spend time with your family, or you can enjoy being there by yourself. It’s a one-stop holiday experience. We try to provide something for everyone.”

They’ve certainly succeeded. The 2023 edition of the Festival of Trees & Light will feature: art making activities for all ages, a marketplace (with more than 600 items made by local artisans and craftspeople), live entertainment, and the main attraction, decorated trees, wreaths, and other seasonal items which are donated by members of the community.

Tickets are available at the door – or you can purchase them on the museum’s website for a discount.

“[The Festival of Trees & Light] really puts you in the holiday spirit,” said Herrick. “And when I say ‘holiday,’ I’m talking about a variety of holidays, not just Christmas; we also acknowledge Kwanzaa and Hannukah and the Winter Solstice. And we continue to try to find ways to embrace as many celebrations as possible as we design our programs.”

Highlights of this year’s event include:

Evergreen Wreath-Making. 10 a.m.-noon.
Performance by Carrie Manolakos. 7 p.m.

Third Annual A Cappella Jam. 5:30-8 p.m.

Ornament Making. 1-5 p.m.

Ceramic Menorah Making. 10 a.m.-noon.
Dreidel, I Made You Out of Clay! 1-5 p.m.
Syracuse Pops Chorus. 3:30 p.m.

Holiday-Themed Open Figure Drawing. 5:30-8 p.m.

Kwanzaa Art Making. 1-5 p.m.

For more information, and a full schedule, visit connect/2023fotl.


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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