Reindogs, Santa, Irish Cheer, Carolers, Skiing Await

By Eva Potter

It’s about the spirit of the season, the camaraderie between friends on the slopes, the twinkle in a young child’s eyes when seeing Santa, dazzling holiday storefront displays, the sounds of Christmas carols along the sidewalks. Yes, it’s Christmastime in Ellicottville.

Take the short drive to Ellicottville and immerse yourself in all that is magic about small town holidays. This old-fashioned village oozing with vintage charm takes Christmas to new heights. As you stroll and shop in the village, take time to appreciate the decorated village businesses, each incorporating a theme from a favorite Christmas song and a motion display.

While the season officially begins Thanksgiving weekend, it continues throughout the month with activities and events for kids and adults of all ages.

When you’re in town next weekend, Dec. 4-6, be sure to stop by Bob McCarthy’s Christmas tree-decorated wagon parked outside Ellicottville Brewing Company on Monroe Street starting around 7 a.m. that Friday. Drop off a new, unwrapped toy or gift for a child, teen or adult and help families put gifts under the tree. Cash and gift donations will go to the Rotary Club of Ellicottville, which supports Santa’s Workshop and helps families who need a little extra boost make Christmas memorable.

Irish cheer takes on a completely new meaning that evening (Dec. 4) at the annual Irish Christmas event, held this year at the Ellicottville Brewing Company. This fundraiser is a merry evening of music, food, drink, camaraderie and, of course, the infamous pie auction presented by organizer Bob McCarthy. Everyone is invited to come to this free event to share some holiday cheer.

The evening includes live Irish music from 6–10 p.m., with an intermission at 7 p.m. for the infamous auction, including 10 delicious home-baked pies, custom crafted wood items and more. In addition to the auction, guests can sample a Taste of Ireland from six restaurants for a $5 donation per restaurant. A cash bar will be available all evening.

Stay for the weekend or come back on Dec. 5 for festivities during the annual Christmas Stroll, an Ellicottville tradition since 1987. The whole family will enjoy the Christmas Bazaar, organ music and ornament making at the United Methodist Church on Elizabeth Street. Sample a free cookie from Mrs. Claus at Katy’s Café, join the reindog parade and watch the living Nativity reenactment that evening. You might even win a prize in the Ellicottville Goodie Hunt, the holiday version of a fun scavenger hunt. Pick up your hunt forms at participating businesses. More information at

The next weekend, come back and hit the slopes for Rail Jam at Holiday Valley on Dec. 12. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with jam sessions for Amateur and Open skier divisions scheduled for 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. An awards ceremony will take place on the hill following the Open finals. More details at

Back in the village, the Backcountry Film Festival, a new event, takes place Dec. 12 at Villaggio restaurant and is presented by Villaggio, Adventure Bound onthefly and The Boardroom. From 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., celebrate “the human powered winter experience.” Admission includes door prizes like a Giro helmet, goggles, Osprey pack, Outdoor Research jacket, as well as the film festival viewing, food and two complimentary beers. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Family Support for Ellicottville. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at or by calling (716) 217-4047.

On Dec. 19, try out the newest skis and snowboards free at the annual Demo Day at Holiday Valley. Major manufacturers will bring their latest equipment and will be on hand to answer your questions. A paid lift ticket and credit card for deposit are required. Check it out from 9 a.m.–3 p.m. at the base of Mardi Gras.

A New Year’s Eve celebration like no other will start your year off with a bang at Holiday Valley’s family-friendly New Year’s Eve party, which begins at 9 p.m. and includes music and DJ entertainment in the Holiday Valley Lodge. Cindy’s chairlift will remain open for an extended hour of skiing, after which the Holiday Valley Mountain Crew will wow spectators with their annual grooming machine parade on Cindy’s at 11:15 p.m. If you are an intermediate or more skilled skier, you can join the torchlight parade that kicks off at 11:30 p.m. The evening ends in a spectacular fireworks show at 11:45 p.m. Admission to the New Year’s party is free. The evening will also feature drinks, food specials and non-alcoholic mocktails for the younger crowd. Party hats, glow sticks and noisemakers add to the revelry.

Check your calendars and make plans to attend all of these fabulous events. Christmastime in Ellicottville is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of shopping malls and enjoy the season with your friends and family in a laid-back, welcoming setting.