Sinterklaas comes to Rhinebeck

Sinterklaas will arrive in Rhinebeck on Saturday, December 6. The Starlight Parade begins at 6 p.m. (Courtesy of Sinterklaas | Mark Fuerst)

Sinterklaas will arrive in Rhinebeck on Saturday, December 6. The Starlight Parade begins at 6 p.m. (Courtesy of Sinterklaas | Mark Fuerst)

After departing from Kingston a week before, Sinterklaas will arrive in Rhinebeck on Saturday, December 6, where the nondenominational celebration of children and community resumes.

The events begin at 10 a.m. at the Firehouse with a crowns-and-branches workshop. Since children are the kings and queens of the day, they’ll want to stop here first to make sure that they’ve got all they need for the evening’s events. While there, they can visit the Wish Lady to make three wishes: one for their families, one for the community and one for the world. Adults can place their own wishes in the Peace Dove.


The pace picks up at 12 noon with the opening ceremony at the Beekman Arms. The ceremony will begin with a Native American blessing and drumming. Then, professional storyteller Jonathan Kruk will recount holiday tales, including the legend of St. Nicholas and Dutch New York. It will wrap up with a special performance of the story St. George and the Dragon.

After that, the streets of Rhinebeck will come alive with workshops, performances and a wandering cast of Sinterklaas characters. Musical performances will include everything from classic caroling to more unusual selections like the Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra, the Hungry March Band and Mexico beyond Mariachi. There will be plenty of puppet shows, including continual performances from 1 to 5 p.m. in the Liberty Lounge. From 1:30 to 4 p.m., the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus will be performing at Upstate Films.

In case you’re worried that you won’t get to see it all, the event’s creator Jeanne Fleming says, “It’s designed so that you can’t experience it all at once.” She advises coming for the event that you most want to see, and then letting serendipity take over. “If you have children,” says Fleming, “the most important thing is to make a crown and a branch.” What sets Sinterklaas apart from other holiday festivals, she says, is that everyone is a participant and not just an observer.

That’s also the idea behind a brand-new Sinterklaas character: the Polar Bear. Accompanied by an accordion-player, the wild chained beast transforms into a dancer when children sing to it. Fleming says that it puts the power in the children’s hands to change the world through art.

At 6 p.m., the Sinterklaas stars will illuminate the night as the Children’s Starlight Parade proceeds through town, culminating in the municipal parking lot with the Star Ceremony to honor the children and bring the community together under a canopy of stars. The evening will wrap up with a Hoedown at Town Hall, with a performance by John Kirk and Trish Miller from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Sinterklaas Festival Day, Saturday, December 6, 10 a.m. on, Starlight Parade, 6 p.m., free, Rhinebeck; (845) 339-4280,