Here’s 5 can’t-miss traditional holiday events in Centre County

Percherons Herbie and Nathan lead a carriage of visitors through the streets of Boalsburg during Boalsburg Hometown Christmas on  Dec. 7, 2013.
Percherons Herbie and Nathan lead a carriage of visitors through the streets of Boalsburg during Boalsburg Hometown Christmas on Dec. 7, 2013. Centre Daily Times, file

Christmas comes but once a year, and so do a handful of classic events around the region. Whether it’s your first time going, or an annual tradition for your family, here’s what to know about some of Centre County’s top holiday events.

Boalsburg Hometown Christmas

Experience the history of downtown Boalsburg during the annual Hometown Christmas celebration on Dec. 1.

Start the day off as a family and share breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Boalsburg Fire Company while enjoying crafts, holiday music and a display of local children’s art. Breakfast runs from 8:30-11 a.m.

Carriage rides from 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at the Diamond will take visitors through the oldest part of the village, showing homes dating back to the 1800s.

As an added bonus this year, there will be a stop on the carriage rides at the Boalsburg Heritage Museum. The museum features an attached summer kitchen with a beehive oven. Volunteers in period clothing will be baking cookies in the oven and offering them to visitors with a side of hot cocoa.

“The goal of this event is to give visitors a small town Christmas experience, while also showing off the history of Boalsburg,” commitee member Terry Swanger said.

Shops and restaurants will be open throughout the afternoon.

Another bonus to this holiday favorite will be a “Family Christmas Music Hour” from 3-4 p.m. in the Boalsburg Fire Company Hall, featuring local musician Richard Sleigh and friends. Families are welcomed to come and sing along to get into the holiday spirit.

At 4:45 p.m. head back to the Diamond for a magical tree lighting by Santa and Mrs. Claus. To follow will be the announcement of the Mount Nittany Elementary K-5 winter drawing contest winners.

The holiday fun doesn’t end there — head back to the fire hall at 6 p.m. for a holiday-themed dance, featuring Boalsburg firefighters as DJs. No admission is required.

Bellefonte Victorian Christmas

For nearly 40 years, Bellefonte Victorian Christmas has taken revelers back in time with old-fashioned entertainment, shopping and social events.

The tradition continues this year on Dec. 7-8.

Whether it’s horse-drawn carriage rides, Victorian high tea or Fezziwig’s holiday party, there’s no other event like it in the area. Visit www.bellefontevictorianchristmas.com for a full list of events for the whole family.

Philipsburg Home for the Holidays

Even if Philipsburg isn’t your hometown, you can still celebrate in the borough from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Dec. 1.

Planned events include P-O Music Boosters hosting their annual Cookie Walk inside The Painting Broad from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., after which the P-O band will perform at the corner lot. You can also find Santa and a photographer in the New to You Resale Boutique, a free movie at the Rowland Theatre, children’s crafts and more.

The day will end with tree decorating from 6-6:30 p.m. followed by the tree lighting ceremony at the corner lot.

Arboretum’s Winter Celebration

The Arboretum at Penn State will celebrate the season Dec. 7 from 5-7 p.m.

The Arboretum invites everyone to welcome the holiday season at a festive gathering in the H. O. Botanic Gardens. Seasonal décor will include a tall tree showcased in the Glass House in the children’s garden, and holiday trees/displays at the overlook pavilion, and along the main walkway.

A highlight of the evening will be performances on the event lawn by a cappella ensembles from Penn State and the community singing a mix of popular and seasonal tunes. Performances will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Visitors are welcome to bring blankets and chairs to place on the lawn facing the stage. Hot cocoa and cider will be for sale on site. The holiday displays will remain on site until January.

First Night State College

Finally, you can ring in 2019 in downtown State College with a slate of events for the entire family.

The Dec. 31 event will feature ice sculptures, musical performances, resolution sculptures, a run, art and craft workshops for the kids, food vendors and much more. There will also be a luminaria display at Memorial Field.

Pick up a First Night button before the event to be provided general admission to workshops, indoor performances and the Pegula Ice Arena on a first-come, first-served basis. Children 12 and under are admitted free with a button-wearing adult. Buttons are $10/person and can be purchased at businesses throughout the Centre Region and at the office of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. Buttons will also be available for purchase at the event on Dec. 31 at the performances and information sites.