Stepping Out

'Tis the season of celebration around the area

Holiday traditions reflect on an earlier era


The holiday countdown is rapidly moving along with heart-warming festivities, many of which take us back to the festive pleasures of days gone by. The region is filled to the brim with seasonal cheer once again as the spirit of season sparkles throughout the area.

Old Bethpage Village
December always shines brightly at Old Bethpage Village Restoration, which greets the holidays with “Candlelight Evenings,” its annual 19th century holiday celebration. The much-loved festivities, which are offered Friday through Sunday, and continue through next weekend, Dec. 20-22, are an opportunity to experience the village’s old-fashioned delights before it closes for the winter following the holiday celebration.
A visit to the historic village remains an annual ritual for many at this time of year. The village is aglow in a “Hallmark Card” setting as flickering candles illuminate the historic homes, which are all dressed up — in the style of the late 1800s— and eager to welcome visitors.
The village shows off its holiday finery, with activities to enchant guests of all ages, all set within the confines of a rural valley setting. Hear popular 19th century music and enjoy other forms of traditional entertainment, including a brass quartet, fiddlers playing heart-warming seasonal tunes and traditional American dancing, along with performances by local ensembles — all happening throughout the village. And everyone is welcome to join in the reels, quadrilles and contra dances.
Stories of Christmases past and classic children’s holiday tales are retold each night, set against the backdrop of the village’s grandly decorated Christmas tree. Visitors can warm up around the rousing bonfire in the village crossroads and enjoy hot, mulled cider and other refreshments at the Noon Inn.
Old Bethpage Village is open 5-9:30 p.m. for this event; it is closed during the day. Visitors are welcome to bring their own candle lanterns or flashlights to guide their way. Admission is $10, $7 seniors and children 5-12. Old Bethpage Village Restoration is on Round Swamp Rd., Old Bethpage. For information, contact (516) 572-8400 or

Old Westbury Gardens
Westbury House, the grand estate at Old Westbury Gardens, shares the holiday spirit with visitors this month before it, too, closes for the season. The celebration, which began last weekend and continues through Dec. 22, offers a chance to step back in time to glimpse what a holiday celebration was like during those opulent times of the early 1900s.
The period rooms in which John S. Phipps and his family used to live are beautifully decorated with wreaths, mantelpiece drapes, topiaries, plants and other horticultural arrangements. Antique clothing and toys add to the charm. Bring the children to create holiday crafts and share their holiday wishes with Santa. Also enjoy hot cider and cookies on the West Porch.
The festivities conclude with a wreath-making workshop, Sunday, Dec. 22, at 2 p.m. Kids, ages 6 and up, can learn to craft a one-of-a-kind wreath to deck their own halls this season. The fee is $10, including materials and admission for an accompanying adult. Registration is required.
The holiday celebration continues Dec. 13-15 and 20-22; hours vary. Old
Westbury Gardens is located at 71 Old Westbury Rd., Old Westbury. For further information, contact (516) 333-0048 or

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