On any given day, the village of Ellicottville resembles something out of a charming movie set, with its quaint boutiques and cafes and historic well-preserved buildings. Throughout the weekend of November 23rd this year, however, that charm will be taken to a whole new level as the village comes alive with the sights, sounds, and smells of Christmas.
Ellicottville, New York, which is less than a two-hour drive from Hamilton, has been referred to as a Norman Rockwell painting in the making. Every winter, its small population of under 2,000 is enhanced by the thousands of mostly Canadian skiers who flock there regularly for the great hills.
One of the highlights of the year happens on the weekend of American Thanksgiving. Strolling choirs sing Christmas carols through downtown and the village is filled with festive spirit. Barb Pomp, communications events and membership manager of the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce, said the Christmas tree and stores along the main street of the historic 19th Century village would all be decorated in white lights and in line with this year’s theme.
Store owners are known to get a little competitive as they compete for a prize. Even the illustrious New York Times once described it as being “transported to a scene from an old black and white Christmas movie.”
While Ellicottville is a treat to visit at any time over Christmas, the last weekend of November is especially fun as it’s packed with events. Those begin on Friday around noon with a fire truck ride accompanied by Santa or Mrs. Claus. The truck is driven by members of the Ellicottville Volunteer Fire Department. After they ride around the block, there will be several interactive children’s events. Past events have included face painting and cookie and ornament decorating.
“We try to add something new every year,” said Barb, who is still putting the finishing touches to events for this year.
The horse-drawn carriage rides start at 1 p.m. at Katy’s Café. Around 5 p.m., Santa and his carollers, along with Rudolph, stroll around the village to the 1887 Building lawn where they will sing songs and drink hot chocolate. At around 6 p.m., live reindeer will arrive, and
the countdown will begin for Santa to flip the magic switch to light up the Christmas tree and village.
When the lights are on, some people have compared the street to a scene from the popular movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. Both mornings of the weekend include a free pancake breakfast with Santa at two locations, which are still to be decided.
People are asked to bring donations for the Food Pantry, a food bank for local families.
If carriage rides, fire truck rides, cookie decorating, and time with Santa aren’t a big enough draw, there’s always shopping and dining. All stores and restaurants in Ellicottville will be open all weekend.
After the weekend is over, the lights and decorations will stay up all through December and more events will be held. That includes the Reindog parade and the Living Nativity Walk, which are part of a Christmas stroll on December 1st.
In the past there has also been a live auction to benefit the purchase of gifts and meals for children in the area, plus church Christmas bazaars and more visits through the village from Santa and his elves.
Other nearby events include the annual Poinsettia and Railway Exhibit at the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens and Gingerbread Wonderland at the Niagara Culinary Institute.
All in all, it’s a great way to get into the holiday spirit and pick up some unique gifts.
By Denise Davy
Explore Buffalo Niagara