As we approach the holiday season, there are two specific events I look forward to every year. In fact, missing either one of these makes the season incomplete for me. I encourage you to add these events to your holiday “list of things to do”- have them become a part of your holiday tradition.
Canadian Pacific Holiday Train
Every year, in late November — this year on November 27 — the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train of Lights winds its way along the Adirondack Coast. This Holiday Train was founded in 1999. For 18 years its mission has been to raise money, food, and awareness for local food banks and food shelves. It is estimated that over the years they have collected close to 4-million pounds of food for local food banks at their stops throughout the US and Canada. All attendees are encouraged to bring a donation for the local food pantry, either a non-perishable food item or a cash donation. This, of course, contributes to the “giving spirit” of the season, but in return for the gift, donors are treated to a fantastic show of rolling holiday lights as well as a first rate musical performance which lasts about a thirty minutes.
The train will arrive at the Ticonderoga Amtrak Station on Route 74, also known as Fort Ti Road, at 3:10 p.m. Get there early as watching this highly decorated train with all its Christmas lights pull up is a treat in itself. Within minutes, the performers are set up and ready to entertain. The doors of a boxcar open, the stage comes alive, and their concert begins.
Kelly Prescott and Doc Walker are slated to perform this year. Kelly is a popular country singer from Ottawa, Canada, who incorporates a bit of rock and blues into her music. This is not her first trip aboard the Holiday Train. CP Rail’s website quotes her as saying, she is really “looking forward to it and contributing to the fight against hunger.”
Doc Walker is another group of country musicians from Canada — Winnipeg, Manitoba to be more precise. The band has received multiple Canadian Country Music Awards. Their music has gained an international appeal, so much so that they have completed three Australian tours.
From Ticonderoga the Holiday Train moves north to arrive at the Amtrak Station in Port Henry at 4:45 p.m. Located next to the Iron Center Museum, the concert at Port Henry is set to begin at 5:00 p.m. In route, this rolling holiday light show is enhanced as the evening darkness progresses. Let me give you a viewing tip that I discovered quite by accident...
A couple of years ago I was headed home from Vermont the evening the Holiday Train was to arrive. It was after dark and I had planned to attend the event in Port Henry. It was getting late and I was concerned I would miss the beginning of the performance. As I drove west on RT 185, also known as Bridge Road in Crown Point, and was approaching the juncture of NYS Rte 9N & 22, colorful movement caught my eye off to the left — just as I was driving over the railroad overpass. Brakes! It was the Holiday Train with all its decorative lights gliding along the rails. What an awesome sight, watching that giant holiday decoration make its way over the tracks and fade off into the distance. It was magical and triggered my holiday spirit for the season. I did make the concert, though I didn’t get the best parking spot when I arrived at the Port Henry Station just 10-minutes away. Note: there is a wide shoulder once you cross the overpass headed west where you can get a great view.
Festival of Trees
My second “must” for the holiday season is attending the Hancock House Festival of Trees. This is another holiday spirit engager. The Hancock House is located at 6 Moses Circle in Ticonderoga, adjacent to the Liberty Monument traffic round-about. This gorgeous Georgian mansion crafted in granite is home to the Ticonderoga Historical Society and is an exact replica of the Thomas Hancock (John Hancock’s uncle) residence on Beacon Hill in Boston. The entire three floors come alive with the spirit of the holiday season when they are filled to the brim with Christmas trees — generally over thirty! Practically every local organization, group, or club contributes a theme-decorated Christmas tree for public display. Some are even donated by creative individuals. You never know what you will see as no two festivals are exactly the same. You will be filled with wonder and appreciation as you admire the imagination and creativity of our local residents. To view this entire collection in one location is mesmerizing and will plunge you right into the spirit of the season.
The Festival of Trees runs from November 26 through December 31. They are open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. But there are two extra special times to visit. The first is during Ticonderoga’s 7th Annual North Country Christmas celebration! On the evening of Friday, December 2, Ticonderoga Chamber of Commerce sponsors its Holiday Shopping and Dining Night as part of the Christmas Celebration. The Hancock House will be open past its normal 4 p.m. closing time that evening and twinkling with lights after dark. There you also can also get some holiday shopping done as their gift shop will be open late and they will be hosting key items from the Fort Ticonderoga Gift Shop, which isnormally not open this time of year. The second special time to remember is Sunday, December 4 during their Champagne Reception from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. Sip some bubbly while taking in the various decorative motifs.
Continue to watch the events calendar for more details on Ticonderoga’s North Country Christmas and other exciting holiday celebrations and surprises.