By Alicia Dziak

The Thanksgiving break is all about family, and after you’ve stuffed yourself with turkey and mashed potatoes, what better way to start the Christmas season than with family in Ellicottville?

Ellicottville’s Chamber of Commerce has been hosting “Christmas in Ellicottville” for decades and every year, new events and activities are added to the schedule.

The festivities begin on Friday, Nov. 24 with fire truck rides with Santa from noon to 2 p.m. Other afternoon activities include face painting, horse and wagon rides from 1 to 4 p.m. at Katy’s, interactive children’s activities from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the Wingate by Wyndham, with the big guy himself making an appearance there from 2:15 to 3:30 p.m. From 5 to 7 p.m., guests can meet a real reindeer at the 1887 Building, where the Village Tree Lighting will also take place at 6 p.m., with the Ellicottville Sound Chorus performing from 5 to 7 p.m.  Enjoy hot cocoa with Santa from 6 to 7.

On Saturday, Nov. 25, the holiday magic continues with a free pancake breakfast with Santa at Finnerty’s Tap Room from 10 to 11 a.m., where non-perishable food items and cash donations for the Ellicottville Food Pantry will be accepted. There will once again be face painting, fire truck rides with Santa from 1 to 3 p.m., and horse and wagon rides from 1 to 4. Enjoy the food of the season with cookie decorating at Howard Hanna Realty from 1 to 3 p.m., or enjoy ornament making and hot chocolate at ERA Vacation Properties from 1 to 3. The Ellicottville Sound Chorus will be performing throughout the Village from 1 to 4 p.m., and the kids can visit with Santa at the Wingate from 3:15 to 4:15, or see the reindeer from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the 1887 Building.

On Saturday, the village — along with the rest of the country — celebrates Small Business Saturday. This is a great way to start (or finish!) checking off your holiday shopping list while supporting one of the nation’s most important economic drivers —small businesses. As you visit the boutiques and shops throughout the village, you’ll also be able to admire some truly creative, themed holiday window displays.

On Sunday, Nov. 26, end the long weekend with a free pancake breakfast with Santa at Finnerty’s from 10 to 11 a.m. and cookie decorating at Cupcaked from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will also be horse and wagon rides from noon to 2 p.m., and Santa will once again be making his appearance at the Wingate from noon to1 p.m.

Of course, Christmas in Ellicottville doesn’t last for just one weekend. Throughout the month, you’ll want to return for celebration, shopping and superb dining, as well as some more quintessential Ellicottville events.

One of Ellicottville’s most popular fundraisers of the year, Bob McCarthy’s Irish Christmas, takes place on Friday, Dec. 1 at Ellicottville Brewing Company.  The exciting pie auction and dinner event, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Ellicottville, raises funds to purchase and provide gifts and meals for local families that can use a little help.

Then on Saturday, Dec. 2, plan to take part in the village’s old-fashioned Christmas Stroll, one of Ellicottville’s most beloved, can’t-miss events. Dozens of holiday activities take place all afternoon, including the always exciting “reindog” parade and the Living Nativity featuring live camels and talented performers who take their places at the Village Gazebo.

‘Tis the season to making holiday memories and enjoy all this area has to offer this time of year. Eat, shop and be merry right here in Ellicottville!