Phoenicia holiday stirs Shandaken this Saturday

(Photos by Violet Snow)

Phoenicia takes holiday fun seriously. Having already enjoyed a rousing day of community celebrations on December 3, the hamlet is gearing up for Round Two on Saturday, December 17, a day of Christmas parties, caroling, and performances. In nearby Chichester, the Catskills Yoga House is offering solstice and New Year workshops.

For decades, the STS Playhouse has been presenting a free annual Christmas event for families. This year, Tori McCarthy directs an old-style musical variety show performed by local singers and actors who have appeared in recent musicals at the charming old theater. The show begins at 11 a.m. at STS Playhouse.

Then head over to the Phoenicia Library Holiday Open House for cookies, cider, and live music, from noon to 2 p.m. A ukulele performance begins at 12:15 p.m., and Uncle Rock plays his swinging kid-friendly songs at 1:15 p.m.


The Empire State Railway Museum party is from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Santa will arrive in style, rumbling down the museum’s narrow-gauge track on the mini-train. Children and adults will get rides too, weather permitting. Inside the former Phoenicia Station, model trains will be on view, including one that runs on live steam, circling the Christmas tree. Kettle corn will be cooked onsite, and Karen Milosky will play her fiddle and lead carols.

Main Street caroling begins at 5:30 p.m. Bennett Elementary School band director Harvey Boyer will lead the songs. You don’t need a great — or even a good — singing voice to join in on old favorites, and there’s a joy and closeness to making music with others. Meet at the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice headquarters at 90 Main Street. Wear really warm clothes — since you’ll be standing around singing — and bring an electric candle if you have one.

At 8 p.m., enjoy more festive theatricals back at STS Playhouse. Miracle on 34th Street is a radio play adaptation of the 1947 hit film about the chaos that ensues when a Macy’s Santa Claus claims to be the real thing. Tickets are $5 for children, $20 for adults, $18 for students and seniors.

Three miles north of town, in Chichester, the Catskills Yoga House will offer inward-turning holiday experiences with a December 17 solstice journey and a New Year’s Day gong bath. The former Chichester Yoga is under new management, the result of previous owner Megan Leigh’s change in career. When Sara Beck, a former teacher and writer, moved to the Catskills this spring, she taught several yoga classes in the area. One day, she received a call from Leigh, who offered to sell her the yoga studio for a dollar. Leigh had been told by Woodstock psychic Fiona that a former dancer with the initial “S” would be taking over her business. Beck, who had studied dance in college, accepted the offer and has brought an eclectic, vinyasa-style yoga tradition to Chichester, along with workshops and retreats.

The solstice journey will be held from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Using simple qigong, drumming and visualization, participants will be guided in a journey to their own center by poet and shamanic practitioner Michael Brownstein. The cost for the workshop is $20.

Catskills Yoga House will also present a New Year’s Day gong bath with Ricarda O’Conner. Relax deeply and recalibrate to the tones of giant gongs, January 1, 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m., $25. For details of both events, see


Shandaken holiday schedule

All events are free and held in Phoenicia, unless otherwise noted.

Saturday, December 17

11 a.m., Free family Christmas show, STS Playhouse, 10 Church Street

12-2 p.m., Phoenicia Library Holiday Open House, 48 Main Street

1-4 p.m., Empire State Railway Museum Christmas party, 70 Lower High Street

4-5:30 p.m., “Going Inside: A Shamanic Journey to Your Center,” with Michael Brownstein, Catskills Yoga House, 536 Route 214, Chichester, $20

5:30 p.m., Caroling starts at 90 Main Street

8 p.m., Miracle on 34th Street, STS Playhouse, 10 Church Street, $5 children, $20 adults, $18 students and seniors. (Also presented Friday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.)

Sunday, January 1

4:30-6 p.m., New Year’s Day gong bath with Ricarda O’Conner, Catskills Yoga House, 536 Route 214, Chichester, $25.