Dear EscapeMakers — As Ithaca’s annual fall foliage display ends, it’s now time to begin planning that peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the holiday rush. Plan to spend your holiday in a cozy home-away-from-home retreat, or wind-down before or after your typical celebrations by getting away. Either way, between the snow-blanketed hills, frozen waterfalls, and agriculinary-focused festivities, Ithaca is interesting all winter.
Ithaca is quirky, and will happily admit to that. How quirky you ask? Well, have you heard of Ithaca’s favorite past-time-Rutabaga curling? Yes, the root vegetable; and yes, the Olympic sport everyone becomes obsessed with every 4 years. Annually, on the last outdoor farmers market of the season, December 21st this year, the masses gather to compete in the International Rutabaga Curling Championship competition. Filled with festive refreshments, wintry ceremonies, skilled curling and immeasurable fun, this event is a can’t miss.
Have you heard of the tradition of wassailing? It’s an ancient English ceremony performed in the winter to bring good health to a cider orchard. These festivities can include dancing, singing, costumes, craft cider and celebrating the oldest tree in the orchard. Redbyrd Orchard Cider is keeping the tradition alive with local music, good food, excellent cider and a vibrant community of people to join with in celebration!
Each year, as many prepare to celebrate the holidays or take stock
of the year to come, a unique and special pop-up farmers market is held to provide local, fresh food options of all kinds. In the newly renovated
Press Bay Alley and Court, local farmers and artisans sell their locally made crafts to market attendees. You can find items to feed your loved ones such as organic produce, free range meats, deluxe cheese, craft beverages, fresh-made breads, honey, maple syrup, and so much more. You can even shop for special gifts like farm-to-hand cashmere mittens, hand-carved wooden bowls, reclaimed cutting boards, and expertly made ginger syrups. This year’s dates include: November 26th and December 23rd.
An annual winter tradition in Downtown Ithaca are friendly foodie
competitions among local chefs featuring warm winter staples. Attendees stroll around, tasting and voting on their favorite cup of delicious chowder (December cook-off)) or chili (February cook-off), shop among the locally owned artisan stores, and take in the festive entertainment lining the streets. There’s no better way to get outside and celebrate the snowy season.
Ithaca’s winters are anything but dormant. Escape your hibernation and
explore in the winter wonderland of the Finger Lakes. From food to festivals to frozen waterfalls, there’s plenty to explore during your holiday and snowy season.
Ithaca Photos by Allison Usavage