Winter Walk in Hudson

(Courtesy of Hudson Opera House)

(Courtesy of Hudson Opera House)

Whoever says that a chilly evening in December is not the best time of year to stroll up and down Warren Street in Hudson might just be mistaken. They might have never experienced the warming enchantment of the annual Winter Walk, a mile-long stretch of sparkling lights, music and holiday magic – but they will have the chance this weekend! (Or next, should wintry weather blow in and dump too much snow on the scene.) The entire street, from Front to Eighth, will be closed to traffic, making this a joyful pedestrian happening for the whole community.

The 18th annual event will kick off on Saturday at 5 p.m., so bundle up and join the festivities. Carillon bells of the First Presbyterian Church will mark the start of the grand Santa Parade that carries Mr. & Mrs. Claus (Robert and Beth MacGiffert, who have portrayed the beloved couple for 16 years) from the Hudson Opera House to City Hall, where they’ll listen to children’s wishes all evening. They’ll be handing out free books (hundreds donated by major publishing houses: Penguin Putnam, Scholastic, Simon and Schuster) and goodie bags (courtesy of Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores). Meanwhile, decorated storefronts – best-seen after dark, it’s said – and outdoor vendors up and down Warren Street will be lit up with holiday glitz to thrill one and all.

Billed as “Hudson’s liveliest, largest, and most colorful event of the year,” the Winter Walk always offers activities and performances jolly enough to rival any other season’s festival. Throw in horse-drawn wagon rides and lots and lots of people, interacting with each other – weekenders, community members, kids, seniors – all together on one night, and zap! You’re enchanted.

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On the entertainment agenda this year: live music from jazz to classical, harp to banjo, including renowned flamenco guitarist/composer Maria Zemantauski playing at Lili and Loo (Third and Warren); Sax-o-Clause and the percussion ensemble of Diata Diata International Folkloric Theatre (at the corner of Fifth and Warren); ballroom dancing by Guy Apicella and Debora Moran at Olde Hudson (421 Warren); Liz Beals as the Can Can Girl at de Marchin (620 Warren); and Vanessa Baehr & the Hoopettes twirling all night at Sorted (357 Warren). Also be sure to watch for Roz’s Dance Works performance on the street at the corner of Fifth and Warren, as well as an outdoor performance in front of the Hudson Opera House by the Hudson Youth Center Hip Hop Ensemble with Stephvon Moore and the Sternfeld Dance Studio’s Dancing Doll on Park Place.

At Seventh Street Park, children will delight in the newly transformed Santa’s Village. Spearheaded by Gia Albergo-Delmar and Abel Ramirez with generous donations of time, talent and materials from Etsy and many of Hudson’s antique stores, each building has been given a makeover by some of Hudson’s most talented artists and designers, including Susanne Davino and Steve Isoz, among others.

Just across the street at 6 Park Place, Etsy will host a holiday pop-up market featuring local craft vendors. There are more than 20 new shops and galleries on the street, so be sure to visit them all. Check out the many in-store happenings, such as the Jennifer Berne book-signing at Ackerman’s Appliance (217 Warren), sponsored by the Hudson Area Library Association. And the recently opened Caldwell Gallery at 355 Warren Street is planning a special fine art benefit drawing of a signed, dated linotype print of Hans Burkhardt, to support Winter Walk.

Don’t miss the new galleries and stores that have taken up residence above the park, such as Flowerkraut, Concepto, Retrospective and R. Wells Galleries. And as you stroll down Hudson’s west end, stop in to watch The Fairy Tale Films of Lotte Reiniger, a collection of animated short films sponsored by IMBY at 117 Warren Street. Reiniger was one of the 20th century’s major animation artists and a pioneer of a distinctive style of black-and-white silhouette interpretations of classic myths and fairy tales.

In addition to Hudson’s many outstanding restaurants, Hudson’s newest food shop, Talbott & Arding, specializing in artisanal cheese and homemade prepared food, will have its Grand Opening at 323 Warren Street. Staff members will be sampling cheese from Meadowood Farms and Columbia Cheese Imports, and they’ll sell hot soup and hand pies all day long. Stop in to Vasilow’s to see firsthand how its candy is created. And the fourth annual Eggnog Challenge (sponsored by the businesses below Third Street) will offer ten different eggnogs created by restaurant chefs, neighborhood organizations and art galleries. Walkers get to sample all ten eggnogs and vote for their favorites.

Winter Walk is nothing if not totally kid-friendly! On the street, look for Frosty the Snowman, the Gingerbread Man, the Ice Queen, the Walking Grandfather Clock, JUMP! Frogs and COARC’s Smiles the Butterfly, as well as Holly-Andy-Ivy and other carolers. There will be live reindeer (sponsored by BCB Gallery on the 100 block), miniature horses and live alpacas (from Spruce Ridge Farm at 555 Warren Street).

Student artwork from many school districts in Greene and Columbia Counties will be on display in the Opera House, where you will also find Queen Elsa and Princess Anna (sponsored by JUMP! Hudson). Also at the Opera House, children can create holiday ornaments and have their faces painted. And look for a host of other performers including Tots the Clown, the Incredible Larry, Cirkus Theatricks and Roger the Jester, as well as the Bard College Surrealist Training Circus crew, to name a few.

Fireworks launched from Promenade Hill at the foot of Warren Street will light up the winter sky at 8 p.m., signaling the end of the festivities, but many businesses and restaurants will stay open until later. As always, expect Winter Walk to be a night of surprises for all. Check the website for the updated schedule, map, parking information and other details.

Hudson Opera House annual Winter Walk, Saturday, December 6, 5-8 p.m. (snow date: December 13), Warren Street, Hudson; (518) 822-1438, https://hudsonoperahouse.org.

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