Posts Tagged ‘holiday travel’

Jones Beach Magic of Lights Show on Long Island is One of Dozens of Holiday-Themed Events Across NYS

December 1, 2021
Magic of Lights Show at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, is one of dozens of seasonal events and programs at New York state parks and historic sites.

New York State is inviting visitors from near and far to celebrate the holidays at dozens of seasonal events and programs at State Parks and Historic Sites across the state through the end of the year, starting with the annual Jones Beach Magic of Lights show underway through Jan. 2, 2022, on Long Island.

The Magic of Lights Show at Jones Beach State Park is a drive-through placed along 2.5 miles of park roadway, lit with the latest LED technology, including a 200-foot light tunnel, 40 different lighted holiday scenes, and LED decorated holiday trees. Hours are dusk to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and dusk to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.  

More details are available here. Ticket proceeds support charitable causes, with last year’s show raising more than $150,000 for local organizations, in addition to collecting non-perishable food items, toys, books, coats and more. 

Highlights of other holiday-themed events include a Gilded Age Christmas celebration at the decorated Staatsburgh State Historic Site in the Hudson Valley, a Black Friday hike through a rare Lake Erie sand dune environment at Woodlawn Beach State Park, a post-Thanksgiving “Turkey Trot” run at Shirley Chisholm State Park in Brooklyn, a visit by Santa Claus at the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park, and the 47th annual Christmas Bird Count at Letchworth State Park in western New York.  

For those wishing to head outside instead of a crowded shopping center, take a hike. Visit the State Parks website for a trail near you.  

For a complete listing of holiday events, please visit the NYS Parks calendar of events here. The list will be updated as further events are added. Some events may require pre-registration or an admission fee. 

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 individual parks, historic sites, recreational trails, and boat launches, which were visited by a record 78 million people in 2020. A recent university study found that spending by State Parks and its visitors supports $5 billion in output and sales, 54,000 private-sector jobs and more than $2.8 billion in additional state GDP. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit www.parks.ny.gov, download the free NY State Parks Explorer mobile app or call 518.474.0456. Also, connect with the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 

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‘Twas the Night Before..’ by Cirque Du Soleil Returns to MSG Venues in NYC, Chicago

December 1, 2021
“‘Twas the Night Before…,” Cirque du Soleil’s exhilarating spin on the beloved Christmas tale, marks its first-ever Christmas show. It offers a flurry of Christmas cheer – rip-roaring fun with hugely lovable characters that will introduce audiences to the magic of Cirque du Soleil and help families create new holiday traditions (photo by Kyle Flubacker)

New York, NY–The acclaimed family holiday theatrical – “‘Twas the Night Before…” by Cirque du Soleil – is returning to both The Chicago Theatre and Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, two of Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. (MSG Entertainment) venues. The production is running at The Chicago Theatre for 17 performances from November 26 through December 5, 2021 and at Hulu Theater at MSG for 28 performances from December 9 through December 27, 2021.

“‘Twas the Night Before…,” Cirque du Soleil’s exhilarating spin on the beloved Christmas tale, is about the wonders of sharing and friendship. The production marks Cirque du Soleil’s first-ever Christmas show and is a flurry of Christmas cheer – rip-roaring fun with hugely lovable characters that will introduce audiences to the magic of Cirque du Soleil and help families create new holiday traditions.

Tickets for “‘Twas the Night Before…”at The Chicago Theatre start at $30 and can be purchased online at www.chicagotheatre.com/cirque. Tickets for “‘Twas the Night Before…”atHulu Theater at Madison Square Garden start at $40 and can be purchased online at www.msg.com/cirque. Service charges apply to internet orders. For group sales, call 212-465-6080. Accessible and companion seats are available via the Disabled Services Department at 888-609-7599.

MSG Entertainment is committed to the health and safety of its guests, performers and staff. All guests will need to follow venue protocols at the time of the performance. Note that government mandates and venue protocols are subject to change, so be sure to continue to check The Chicago Theatre and Hulu Theater at MSG websites for the latest information.

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Holiday Season is Great Time to Visit Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket

December 1, 2021
Nantucket Christmas Stroll (photo by Emily Elisabeth)

Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket – After two very challenging years, people are dreaming more than ever of sharing an authentic holiday experience with loved ones. Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island offer a coastal respite where they can do just that – recapture the true essence of the season in a destination where modern amenities and Victorian charm casually coexist.

This holiday season, many traditional and much beloved celebrations will return to the Cape and Islands with an emphasis on safety for attendees, participants and locals.

On Cape Cod, Christmas on Cape Cod festivities will run through New Year’s Day, with each of the Cape’s 15 towns putting their own special stamp on the season. Savor such quintessential holiday experiences as the illuminated Pilgrim Monument, festively decorated village centers, and Heritage Museums and Gardens’ twinkling Garden Aglow. Spot all of The Giants, local glass artist Michael Magyar’s oversized illuminated whimsical figures, dotted along Route 6A in Sandwich and Dennis. A vibrant arts community and picturesque Main Streets offer a boatload of unique treasures and hand-crafted items for holiday shopping.

On Martha’s Vineyard, the month of December is a wonderful time to enjoy Vineyard Holidays, where you’ll find all the fun activities, delicious dining and lodging options or check out our Vineyard inspired gift guides for truly one-of-a-kind treasures. If you’re looking for a bit of holiday magic, come to the 40th annual  Christmas in Edgartown the weekend of December 9-12, with fun for family, couples or a quick get away with your best pal.  Be certain to take a selfie at the stunningly illuminated Edgartown Light and treat yourself to the wide variety of super fresh chowder recipes!

On Nantucket, the two-year delayed and beloved 47th Annual Nantucket Christmas Stroll (Stroll program guide here) will kick off on Friday, December 3 and run through Sunday, December 5, including the arrival of Santa on Stroll Saturday, with live entertainment, a visit with Santa, community caroling on Main Street with Victorian Carolers, storefront and Christmas tree decorating contests, the Christmas Market and its popular and exciting Red Ticket drawing on December 24 (winners must be present to win!).

All details of holiday events happening on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are spotlighted here for convenience in having everything in one place.

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Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite Offers Families ‘Best in Snow’ Holiday Fun

November 18, 2021
Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite is continuing its tradition as one of the most festive resorts in the Yosemite National Park region with the return of its popular holiday activities.

FISH CAMP, Calif.— Tenaya Lodge is continuing its tradition as one of the most festive resorts in the Yosemite region with the return of its popular holiday activities. Seasonal offerings begin with Thanksgiving and continue through New Year’s Day, providing guests with a myriad of old and new resort traditions that consistently make the resort a top destination for holiday travel and celebrations.

The most enchanting time of the year at Tenaya Lodge begins when the festive décor goes up, transforming the lodge into a dazzling holiday haven where guests are greeted in the lobby upon arrival by the 35-foot, sustainable grand holiday tree, adorned with ornaments and fully-illuminated with sparkling lights. 

After decking the halls with décor, Tenaya turns its attention to holiday programming designed with the entire family in mind, ranging from the popular ‘Gingerbread House Decorating’ workshops where children and families can build their ultimate dream house using an array of sweets to listening to Mrs. Claus as she reads the traditional holiday story, “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.”  Also offered are a number of family craft experiences, including ornament decorating and stocking decorating

The holiday season also brings the return of beloved winter activities. Guests can enjoy gliding over the ice while surrounded by the Sierra National Forest at the resort’s outdoor covered ice-skating rink that opens Nov. 23. When the area is blanketed with snow, families can indulge in snow play on the resort’s kid-friendly sled hill or guided snow shoe hikes to explore the surrounding area.

When it comes to holiday dining, guests can forget the cooking and cleaning and instead enjoy family time together with Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite serving up Thanksgiving favorites on Nov. 25. Holiday diners can enjoy the Thanksgiving Buffet in the Grand Ballroom from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., featuring a range of carved entrees, soups, salads, sides and all the Thanksgiving favorites. For a more intimate setting, a special plated menu will be available in Jackalope’s Bar & Grill from 4-9 p.m., offering portions for smaller appetites. On Christmas Day,guests can enjoy the Happy Holiday Buffet in the Grand Ballroom from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and a more intimate, plated Holiday Dinner in Jackalope’s Bar & Grill from 4-9 p.m. 

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, all holiday activities at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite will be limited to in-house guests only.

Black Friday Sale 

Black Friday is another holiday tradition at Tenaya Lodge. Visitors can save big on a Yosemite getaway in 2022 during the resort’s biggest sale of the year from Black Friday through Cyber Monday. Travelers can save 30 percent off a resort stay with booking dates through June 9, 2022. To claim the deal, readers must sign-up at www.tenayalodge.com. All website subscribers will be sent an exclusive link with instructions on how to book on November 26.

Setting the standard for High Sierra hospitality and adventure, Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite is an award-winning, all-season resort adjacent to Yosemite National Park’s south gate. Lodge, cottage and cabin accommodations satisfy a wide variety of preferences and are set on 75 acres primed for outdoor recreation that invite visitors to explore and connect with nature. From the nourishing Ascent Spa to custom-curated Yosemite tours, guided hikes and seasonal activities, a deep appreciation for the iconic location is infused into every aspect of the resort experience that also includes world-class views, multiple pools and abundant dining options ranging from casual to candlelit. 

The winter is a great time to visit Yosemite National Park. It’s very quiet and peaceful with fewer crowds. The park is open through the south gate and you can hike. When there is a lot of snow, then snow shoes or crampons are recommended. Tenaya does a guided snow shoe hike around the property that is popular.

Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, 1122 Highway 41 Fish Camp, CA 93623, 888-514-2167, TenayaLodge.com

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AAA Advises to ‘Buckle Up: Thanksgiving Travel to Rebound Almost to Pre-Pandemic Levels’

November 17, 2021
Airports and roads may seem jam-packed this year as AAA predicts 53.4 million people to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, up 13% from 2020. This brings travel volumes within 5% of pre-pandemic levels in 2019, with air travel almost completely recovering from its dramatic fall during the pandemic, up 80% over last year. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Airports and roads may seem jam-packed this year as AAA predicts 53.4 million people to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, up 13% from 2020. This brings travel volumes within 5% of pre-pandemic levels in 2019, with air travel almost completely recovering from its dramatic fall during the pandemic, up 80% over last year. As restrictions continue to lift and consumer confidence builds, AAA urges travelers to be proactive when making their travel plans this holiday season.

“This Thanksgiving, travel will look a lot different than last year,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel. “Now that the borders are open and new health and safety guidelines are in place, travel is once again high on the list for Americans who are ready to reunite with their loved ones for the holiday.”

With 6.4 million more people traveling this Thanksgiving coupled with the recent opening of the U.S. borders to fully vaccinated international travelers—people should prepare for roads and airports to be noticeably more crowded.

2021 Thanksgiving Holiday Travelers
TotalAutomobileAirOther (Bus, Train, Cruise)
2021 Forecast53.4M48.3M4.2M1M
2020 Actual47.1M44.5M2.3M281,000
2019 Actual56M49.9M4.6M1.5M
Change YOY 2019 to 2021−5%−3%−9%−31%
Change YOY 2020 to 2021+13%+8%+80%+262%

“International travel re-opening will allow people to reconnect with friends and family and explore new places, while also giving a much-needed boost to the economy,” continued Twidale. “But it also means airports will be busier than we’ve seen, so travelers must plan for long lines and extra time for TSA checks.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released its recommendations for holiday gatherings and related travel, saying that the best way to minimize COVID-19 risk is to get vaccinated if you’re eligible. However, everyone’s situation is unique and therefore, AAA urges anyone considering gathering or traveling for Thanksgiving to consult CDC guidance before finalizing holiday plans.

Navigating the New Travel Landscape

This year’s forecast marks the highest single-year increase in Thanksgiving travelers since 2005, bringing travel volumes close to pre-pandemic levels in 2019. Despite gas costing over a dollar more per gallon than this time last year, 90% of people plan to travel by car as their preferred mode of travel. Although the car is still the most popular choice for travelers, a greater share will opt to travel by air and other modes such as bus, train or cruise this year. Whether you plan to do so by car or plane, it’s important to know how to navigate the new travel landscape to avoid unnecessary stress and challenges on the way to your Thanksgiving destination.

Be Proactive. Book flights, car rentals, accommodations and other activities as early as possible. Prices are not going down and are still somewhat impacted by the limited capacity of flights and staffing challenges faced by many industries. Consider working with a travel advisor who can make any last-minute changes to travel plans, explore travel insurance options and help plan a trip that meets your needs and comfort level this holiday season.

Air—Even with air travel seeing a boost this year, AAA finds that the average lowest airfare is 27.3% less than last year coming in at $132. Tuesday and Wednesday are still the most expensive and heaviest travel days with Monday being the lightest and least expensive. Those wanting to book last-minute travel will find the best fares about two weeks prior to Thanksgiving but keep in mind availability may be limited.

Hotels—Mid-range hotel rates have increased about 39%, with average nightly rates ranging between $137 and $172 for AAA Approved Hotels.

Car Rentals—Daily car rental rates have increased 4% compared to last Thanksgiving at $98. Over the summer, consumers experienced high costs and limited availability of rental cars in some markets, due to the semi-conductor chip shortage impacting automakers. While this shortage has subsided, it is possible it could return as the holidays near.

Be Patient. The roads and airports will be busy so plan ahead.

Arrive at the airport early so you’ll have plenty of time to get through longer TSA lines and other travel checkpoints. For domestic travel, AAA suggests 2 hours ahead of departure time and 3 hours for international.

Consider booking a flight during non-peak travel periods to cut down on wait times.

Hit the road when there’s less traffic and allow for extra time when traveling to your destination.

Be Prepared. For the 48.3 million Americans hitting the road, make sure you and your vehicle are ready for the trip ahead as AAA expects to respond to over 400,000 for help over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. If your vehicle has been sitting idle, AAA suggests getting an inspection to check key components like the battery, fuel system, tires, brakes and fluid levels. These systems are particularly vulnerable to deteriorating if a vehicle sits too long without proper care or maintenance.

Be Protected—Both You and Your Trip.  If you plan to travel during the holidays, it’s essential to do so safely and understand how to protect yourself, your loved ones and your investment while traveling. Also, as travel restrictions remain in flux, it’s essential to know requirements and recommendations based on your vaccination status, where you’re traveling from and your destination. AAA’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map and TripTik.AAA.com are also helpful resources travelers may use for free to understand closures, recommendations and requirements when traveling in the U.S.

Travel insurance—AAA highly recommends travel insurance to cover unexpected delays or trip interruptions. It is best to consult the expertise of a travel advisor who can guide you on the coverage options available for your specific trip, including if your destination requires visitors to carry travel insurance.

Clean accommodations—When booking a place to stay, look for accommodations that prioritize cleanliness and have implemented additional housekeeping standards since the start of the pandemic. Earlier this year, as part of its Diamond designation, AAA enhanced its housekeeping evaluation to include objective, scientific validation of the cleanliness of common surfaces throughout hotels. Hotels that meet these new standards are now recognized as Inspected Clean and a current listing can be found here.

Safe travel = smart travel—Everything from airports to restaurants to attractions will be busier this Thanksgiving, which means more people congregating. Masks are still required for everyone on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. The CDC also recommends everyone wear a mask indoors in public if they are in an area of substantial or high transmission.

Domestic and international travel guidelines—As of November 8, the U.S. opened its borders to fully vaccinated travelers. The CDC has updated its guidance to reflect these changes. When traveling within the U.S., fully vaccinated travelers do not need a negative viral test or to self-quarantine. For international travel, refer to the CDC for specific guidelines.

Travelers Headed to Big Cities and Beaches This Thanksgiving

AAA Travel continues to see a strong recovery that began over the summer and will continue into the holiday season. AAA booking data reveals that big cities and tropical destinations are topping travelers’ list this Thanksgiving both domestically and abroad:

2021 Top Thanksgiving Destinations
U.S DestinationsInternational Destinations
Orlando, FLCancun, Mexico
Anaheim, CAMontego Bay, Jamaica
Dallas/Ft. Worth, TXAruba
Phoenix, AZLos Cabos, Mexico
Honolulu, HINassau, Bahamas
Kahului, Maui, HISt. Lucia, West Indies
Atlanta, GADublin, Ireland
Tampa, FL(tie) Tel Aviv, Israel and Calgary, Canada
Ft. Lauderdale, FLParis, France

Roads Will Be Bustling

INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the worst congestion heading into the holiday weekend as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. Major metro areas across the U.S. could see more than double the delays versus typical drive times, with drivers in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and New York City likely to experience more than three times the delays.

“Thanksgiving is one of the busiest holidays for road trips and this year will be no different even during the pandemic,” says Bob Pishue, Transportation Analyst, INRIX. “Drivers around major metros must be prepared for significant delays, especially Wednesday afternoon. Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”

Worst Corridors and Times to Travel
Metro AreaCorridorPeak Congestion% Over Normal
AtlantaI-85 S, Clairmont Rd to MLK DrWed, 1:30 – 3:30PM340%
BostonI-93 N, Quincy Market to MA-28Wed, 1:00 – 3:00PM240%
ChicagoI-290 W, Morgan St to Wolfe RdWed, 2:45 – 4:45PM329%
DetroitI-96 W, 6 Mile Rd to Walled LakeWed, 2:00 – 4:00PM211%
HoustonI-10 W, Sjolander Rd to TX-330Wed, 3:15 – 5:15PM344%
Los AngelesI-5 S, Colorado St to Florence AveWed, 3:45 – 5:45PM385%
New YorkI-495 E, Borden Ave to Little Neck PkwyWed, 2:30 – 4:30PM482%
San FranciscoI-80 E, I-580 to San Pablo Dam RdWed, 4:00 – 6:00PM278%
SeattleI-5 S, WA-18 to WA-7Wed, 4:00 – 6:00PM257%
Washington DCI-95 S, I-395 to VA-123Wed, 2:00 – 4:00PM230%
Source: INRIX
Daily Worst and Best Times to Travel
DayWorst TimeBest Time
Wednesday12:00 – 8:00PMAfter 9:00PM
Thursday12:00 – 3:00PMBefore 11:00AM
Friday1:00 – 4:00PMBefore 11:00AM
Saturday2:00 – 7:00PMBefore 12:00PM
Sunday1:00 – 7:00PMBefore 12:00PM
Source: INRIX

Expected Number May Change

AAA notes that the actual number of holiday travelers could fluctuate as we approach Thanksgiving. If there is an increase in reported COVID-19 cases, some people may decide to stay home, while others may note the progress in vaccinations and make last-minute decisions to travel. AAA recommends working with a travel advisor who can help you plan a vacation that meets your needs and comfort level this holiday season. To get started and to learn more, visit AAA.com/Travel.

AAA provides more than 62 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 30 motor clubs and nearly 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

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Car Rental Prices Up for Holidays, AutoSlash Offers Money-Saving Strategies

November 17, 2021

Car rental inventory is tightening and rates are rising for holiday travel © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

How much will your holiday car rental cost? 

Since Labor Day, travelers have seen lower car rental rates and better availability. Prices, which were averaging near $100 per day during the summer, had come down to a more reasonable $50 to $75 per day during September and October.

But with the holidays just around the corner, AutoSlash – a leading site for budget car rentals – is seeing sky-high rates coming back. And with inventory tightening in the coming days and weeks, the company expects average rates to top $100 per day in many parts of the country (for example, rates in the NYC metro area are $125 – $150 per day over Thanksgiving, and rates exceed $100 per day at major Florida airports).

Jonathan Weinberg, CEO and founder of AutoSlash says travelers can protect themselves from higher rates and a general lack of availability with a few simple money-saving strategies, including:

  • Plan as far ahead as possible and always book a pay-later car rental so you have flexibility if your plans change and can secure a lower rate if a better deal comes along
  • Check all discounts that you qualify for, such as AAA, Costco, AARP, USAA, frequent flyer programs and credit cards
  • Rent at off-airport locations to avoid higher rates, taxes and fees typically charged by airport car rental locations
  • Sign up for rental company loyalty programs so you can skip the counter and avoid long lines, check in online and get on your way quickly
  • Be strategic about add-on options. Fill up the car yourself at the end of the rental, look for deals on child car seats, and more.

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American Hotel Industry Bemoans that Most Americans Plan to Stay Home for Holidays

November 17, 2021
The American Hotel & Lodging Association is bemoaning the fact that while travel has rebounded from the 2020 pandemic, most Americans are still opting to stay home this holiday season with majority of Americans not planning to travel for Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

new national survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and conducted by Morning Consult shows that 29% of Americans are likely to travel for Thanksgiving and 33% are likely to travel for Christmas—an increase from 21% and 24%, respectively, compared to 2020. Those who do plan to travel over the holidays expect to drive, but rising gas prices may dampen those plans. Fifty-two percent of Americans say they plan to take fewer trips and 53% plan to take shorter trips due to rising gas prices.

Still, most Americans are still opting to stay home this holiday season with 61% of Americans not planning to travel for Thanksgiving. 

“While vaccines have helped travelers feel more comfortable, rising gas prices and continued concerns about the pandemic are making many Americans hesitant to travel during the holidays,” commented American Hotel & Lodging Association President and CEO Chip Rogers. “Despite a slight expected uptick in holiday travel this year, hotels will continue to face economic fallout from the pandemic, underscoring the need for targeted federal relief, such as the Save Hotel Jobs Act, to support the industry and its workforce until travel fully returns.” 
 
Some recent media coverage regarding this new survey, and you can download a one-pager on the results HERE.
 

  • CBS News Radio: “While rising vaccination rates against COVID-19 have increased travelers comfort levels, most Americans are still opting to stay home this holiday as gas prices break the bank. According to a new survey for the American Hotel and Lodging Association, nearly sixty percent of Americans say they’re unlikely to travel for either Thanksgiving or the Christmas holidays. More than half of those asked say they plan to take fewer trips or shorter trips due to rising gas prices.”
  • Los Angeles Times: “According to a recent survey commissioned by the American Hotel and Lodging Assn., 29% of Americans said they were likely to travel for Thanksgiving — up from 21% last year. The share of people who said they were likely to do so for Christmas, 33%, was also up from last year’s 24%. Of those surveyed, 58% said they were planning to vacation somewhere within driving distance on account of the pandemic.”
  • WFLA (NBC – Tampa, FL): “Not heading to grandma’s for Thanksgiving. You’re not alone. Plenty of Americans are skipping out on that holiday tradition according to the American Hotel Lodging Association just one in three Americans plan to travel for Christmas and only 29% plan to travel for Thanksgiving. The organization blames rising gas prices and the ongoing pandemic concerns for keeping Americans at home.”
  • Chicago Sun Times: Travel Uptick Expected This Thanksgiving, But Hotel Industry Still Hurting, Reports Say “Millions more Americans are expected to be on the road and in the sky this Thanksgiving holiday, but the hotel industry says it’s still hurting. AAA predicts travel will recover to within 5% of pre-pandemic levels this Thanksgiving, with millions of Americans and Illinoisans traveling by car and plane. But the American Hotel and Lodging Association says the industry is still suffering from pandemic-era disruptions. ‘Despite a slight expected uptick in holiday travel this year, hotels will continue to face economic fallout from the pandemic,’ said Chip Rogers, CEO of the AHLA. Over 53 million Americans will travel for the Thanksgiving holiday this year, an increase of 13% from 2020, AAA predicts. And in Illinois, total travel figures will be within 7 % of pre-pandemic levels. In the skies, domestic air travel “has almost completely recovered from its dramatic drop-off during the pandemic” and is up 80% from last year, AAA said.”
  • KOMO News (ABC – Seattle, WA):“Thanksgiving is almost two weeks away and more people will be traveling to see friends and family, a welcome change from last year. But according to one survey, some Americans are adjusting their plans to account for rising gas prices. A new Morning Consult survey on behalf of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) found that people were more likely to travel this year, compared to last, but the price at the pump was putting a damper on their plans. The survey conducted at the end of October found 61% of respondents reported they were not likely to travel for Thanksgiving and 59% said they probably wouldn’t travel for Christmas. That’s an improvement last year when 70% said they wouldn’t travel, largely due to COVID-19.”

Meanwhile, AAA is predicting 53 million people will travel over Thanksgiving weekend – the busiest weekend since the pandemic, with Sunday the single busiest travel day of the year.

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Greater Williamsburg, Virginia is Aglow With Holiday Experiences

November 16, 2021
From dazzling light events to festive concerts to seasonal celebrations of colonial history, Kingsmill Resort and Greater Williamsburg come alive during the holidays with the spirit of the season.

KINGSMILL RESORT, WILLIAMSBURG, VA, — From dazzling light events to festive concerts to seasonal celebrations of colonial history, Kingsmill Resort and Greater Williamsburg come alive during the holidays with the spirit of the season. The area is packed with special events. Here are holiday highlights:

So much festivity, so little time

Williamsburg’s only AAA Four Diamond Condominium Golf Resort, Kingsmill Resort, is offering guests a winter wonderland of activities during the month of December including Christmas eve and Christmas day horse and carriage rides, holiday mixology classes, breakfast and photos with Santa, glow golf, ugly sweater supper, gingerbread making competition, Christmas cookie decorating, wreath making, petting zoo, magic show, scavenger hunts, letters to Santa and lots more! The Christmas Tree lighting takes place December 1 at 6 p.m.

Have a Blast at Busch Gardens Christmas Town

Be wowed by one of the largest Christmas light displays in North America with more than 8 million twinkling lights when Busch Gardens Christmas Town returns for select dates Nov. 12-Jan. 2. Pay a visit to Randolph and Santa, watch a holiday show, and enjoy festive food and drink to help you get into the spirit of the season.

Have a Christmas-Themed Walk

Need to walk into the Christmas season? Williamsburg Walking Tours offers its Christmas Past and Present Walking Tour Dec. 1-31. Stroll through the colonial streets of the historic area and learn how early Americans celebrated Christmas. Discover the sources of modern-day celebrations in Williamsburg and how a Christmas decoration sparked a battle on Duke of Gloucester Street between a rooster and a Dalmatian.

Enjoy a guided look at Colonial Williamsburg’s historic building exteriors and streets decked out in holiday splendor during the Dec. 1 Christmas Decorations Walking Tour. Learn about the materials and construction techniques of these traditional holiday decorations. 

Revel in the Yorktown Christmas Tree Lighting

Delight at the Yorktown Christmas Tree Lighting on Dec. 3, a tradition that began in 1945. The tree is a 20-foot artificial commercial Giant Everest Fir placed in Riverwalk Landing. Tap along to a performance by the Fifes and Drums of Yorktown at the Victory Monument, listen to festive music at Riverwalk Landing, follow the procession of lights through the historic village, and welcome the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Thrill to the Grand Illumination

Grab a blanket and pack a picnic basket or just a thermos, and head to Colonial Williamsburg for the Grand Illumination, the finest fireworks in Williamsburg. Special events take place over three weekends, Dec. 3-5, 10-12 and 17-19. On Friday evenings, join the new Procession of the Yule Log and enjoy holiday songs and stories on Market Square. Saturday evenings will include a dramatic presentation of an original holiday story, yuletide music, and a joyful appearance by Father Christmas, culminating in simultaneous Grand Illumination fireworks over the Governor’s Palace and Capitol building.

Enjoy Holiday Music

A seasonal tradition for the entire family, The Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra presents its annual Holiday Pops Concert during the first Grand Illumination weekend, Dec. 4-5. Share in joyful holiday classics and beloved carols with family and friends at the Kimball Theatre.

Watch Lights Dancing on the River

Join in the 25th annual Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade on Dec. 4 at the Yorktown Waterfront. Start by caroling around the beach bonfire, listening to the Fifes & Drums of York Town, and sipping complimentary hot cider before the decorated motorboats, sailboats, and Chesapeake workboats begin their lighted parade on the York River as they compete for best in show.

March in a Parade

Bundle up to join the Williamsburg Christmas Parade on Dec. 4. For the first time, the parade, which kicks off the holiday season with themed floats, live performances, and of course Santa himself, will be held at night.

Munch Cookies with Santa

Bring the whole family to the Gallery at York Hall on Dec. 5 for Cookies with Santa — a complimentary event to make the season bright. After enjoying the refreshments, find unique Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers among the work of hundreds of local artists, including ornaments, paintings, quilts, pottery, and many other one-of-a-kind pieces.

Shop for Christmas Gifts

Looking for the perfect gift for a friend or family member? You’re sure to find it at the Christmas Market on Main Street, Dec. 4 and 5. This is one of the most anticipated Yorktown events every holiday season. Close to 100 vendors line the street selling everything from nautical paintings to handmade soaps to Christmas ornaments and wreaths. On Saturday, enjoy a performance from the Fifes and Drums of York Town, after which Santa Claus himself will greet families. Expect strolling musical entertainment throughout the day and an ice carver set up in front of York Hall on Sunday.

More Yorktown shopping opportunities await at Mistletoe Market on Dec. 11. Browse for chowders and soups; baked goods; jams, jellies, and honey; holiday wreaths; candles and soaps; and local seasonal art. March in the annual Toyland Parade and hop aboard the Riverwalk Landing Polar Express for a loop around the festivities. Marvel at a fascinating live demonstration by a professional ice carver set up in front of the Riverwalk Landing fountain.

Sing Carols of Yesteryear

Ring in the holidays on Dec. 16 with musicians Brian Forsman and Bill Weldon as they trace the roots of seasonal tunes and popular carols to the music that our ancestors sang and danced to in colonial times. During Now Christmas Comes!, sing along with carols from Christmases past before the lighting of the Community Christmas Tree on Market Square. 

Watch the Colonial Williamsburg Christmas Tree Lighting

Gather in Colonial Williamsburg on Dec. 16 for the annual Community Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. Listen to a special reading of The Night Before Christmas in front of the Courthouse steps and learn about the first Christmas tree in the United States. Sing along to classic Christmas carols and watch as the 40-foot spruce tree on Market Square is illuminated with 7,500 twinkling lights. 

Live an Authentic Colonial Christmas

Christmastide in Virginia returns Dec. 18-31 at Jamestown Settlement and American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, offering a glimpse of 17th- and 18th-century holiday traditions through interpretative programs and demonstrations and period musical entertainment. At Jamestown Settlement, special programs will compare English Christmas customs of the time with how they were observed in the difficult early years of the first permanent English settlement. At the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, learn about winter camp life and hear accounts of Christmas during the war. Observe open-hearth cooking and watch as period dishes are made in the farm kitchen. Interpreters will also demonstrate a variety of holiday activities, including setting a farmhouse table for a holiday feast and decorating with greenery.

Immerse Yourself in Christmas Stories

Gather the entire family together for 12 Days and Night Before Christmas on Dec. 24 at the Hennage Auditorium in Colonial Williamsburg. Watch two classic Christmas stories come to life.

Participate in a 19th-Century Christmas

Spend an hour with the Colonial Singers for a re-creation of a 19th-Century Williamsburg Christmas in the “living room” of the famous Tucker family home in the Hennage Auditorium in Colonial Williamsburg on Dec. 26. Clad in beautiful 19th-century costumes, they share stories and songs centered around the Civil War, the college town of Williamsburg, circa 1850, and tales of Charles Dickens. Enjoy decorating the Tucker family Christmas tree.

Re-Live Four Centuries of Virginia Christmases

Enjoy early hymns, English songs of roast beef and revelry, Irish and Scots dance tunes, poetry, prose, and stories galore during Four Centuries of Virginia Christmases at the Hennage Auditorium in Colonial Williamsburg on Dec. 28. Sing, clap, toe-tap, and share the fun of beloved holiday traditions as veteran Williamsburg musicians Kelly Kennedy, David Gardner, Cliff Williams, and Doug Austin celebrate Christmases past in the Old Dominion. 

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Winter Village With Free Skating, Holiday Market Returns to NYC’s Bryant Park

November 4, 2021
NYC’s celebrated Bank of America winter Village at Bryant Park, featuring the city’s only free-admission skating rink, holiday market and delicious food offerings, has returned for its 20th season,Friday, October 29, 2021 – Sunday, March 6, 2022 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

NYC’s celebrated Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park, featuring the city’s only free-admission skating rink, holiday market and delicious food offerings, has returned for its 20th season, Friday, October 29, 2021 – Sunday, March 6, 2022.  While still proceeding with an abundance of caution for the safety of its guests, Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park is thrilled to be welcoming back its most popular attractions this winter season:

  • The Rink: the only free-admission ice skating rink in NYC is open daily. The Rink is completely outdoors, and skate time and rentals can be reserved in advance online. New skate reservation dates will be released on a rolling basis throughout the season. Masks are encouraged, and Bryant Park is continuing to implement additional cleaning protocols throughout the day to ensure high-touch surfaces and shared rental equipment are sanitized and safe for use.
  • Holiday Shops: the open-air holiday market are open daily through January 2, 2022, and features more than 170 new and returning merchants. 
  • Small Business Spotlight presented by Bank of America: fourNew York City minority-owned small businesses with annual revenue of $1 million or less will have the chance to showcase their products in a rent-free booth, made possible by Bank of America, as part of this season’s Holiday Shops. 

Last year’s featured small businesses were sustainable candle and soap company TREE*STAR, Brooklyn-based bakeshop Annie Mae’s Bakery, custom-designed hat shop Harlem’s Heaven Hats, and Tibet Tree of Life, a business selling incense, shawls, and other products made in the Himalayan region.

The Lodge by Prime Video: a covered, outdoor après skate escape is where visitors can cozy up with a festive cocktail, enjoy delicious food, watch the ice skaters or admire the tree.

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Vermont’s Woodstock Inn & Resort Transforms into a Magical Holiday Destination

November 4, 2021
The Woodstock Inn & Resort in the quintessential Vermont town transforms into a magical destination for the winter holidays.

WOODSTOCK, VT– As the town of Woodstock, VT, prepares for its annual Wassail Weekend celebrations, the Woodstock Inn & Resort joins the festivities by decking its halls with handmade decorations, including a life-sized gingerbread house, while offering luxuriously cozy nooks for its guests.

The tradition of Wassail Weekend, taking place from December 10-12, features an Equestrian Parade showcasing holiday costumes and period dress from the early 19th century, decorated historic homes, and streets full of twinkling lights amid the distinctive shops.  The resort’s annual Wassail Dinner on Saturday, December 11, is available for guests of the Inn, which includes an a la carte menu as well as a three-course meal of holiday favorites and traditional desserts.

Throughout the winter holidays, the Inn is transformed by the Master Gardener, Benjamin Pauly, who harvests natural materials to handcraft traditional décor. This year’s decorations include 25 wreaths, 13 grapevine trees, a live tree in the lobby with dried flowers from the on-site Kelly Way Gardens, five Charlie Brown-style Christmas trees, 1,000-plus garlands, 1,000-plus white lights, homemade ornaments, and more. A life-size gingerbread house and winter vignette will be constructed in the Inn’s lobby, continuing the resort’s Christmas tradition. The house will stand six feet tall for kids to explore.

The resort’s 10,000 square-foot LEED-designed Spa offers nature-inspired ambiance that features nourishing, seasonal treatments and organic products. This winter, guests can enjoy the Signature Experience, a customizable 100-minute body treatment that utilizes an infrared sauna blanket made of 96 smooth Jade and Tourmaline stones, and includes a full-body exfoliation, as well as a scalp, foot, and body massage.

The nearby Billings Farm & Museum celebrates Wassail Weekend from December 10-12 with cider donuts, Wassail Punch, a gingerbread recreation of the historic 1890 Farm Manager’s House, horse-drawn sleigh or wagon rides on Sunday, and holiday stories. Travelers can warm up by an outdoor fire and take photos in front of Christmas trees in the decorated barn.

From December 4-5 and December 18 – January 2 (closed Christmas Day), visitors to the farm can try candle dipping, make s’mores, and go snowshoeing. Guests can enjoy daily horse drawn wagon or sleigh rides from December 27-January 2. Wassail and holiday horse-drawn rides and snowshoeing are available weather permitting.

Outdoor activities at the Woodstock Inn include downhill skiing at the resort’s historic Suicide Six Ski Area along with cross-country skiing and snowshoeing from the Nordic Center. The family-favorite retro Game Room is draped in Vermont flannel and fully equipped with a giant Scrabble board, foosball table, vintage pinball machines, board games, and more.

Guests of the Woodstock Inn & Resort will find cozy dining at the Red Rooster, the award-winning fine dining restaurant, which emphasizes fresh, local ingredients sourced from the best purveyors in New England. The woodburning fireplace in the lobby is a legendary spot to unwind with a drink or book, while the library nearby offers a place for quiet relaxation. 

Travelers can ring in the holiday season by booking the resort’s Pre-Holiday Bed & Breakfast Package, which includes:

  • One night of luxury accommodations
  • Vermont gourmet breakfast for two
  • Available Sunday, October 31 through Thursday, December 23, 2021
  • Rates starting at $302 per night on weekdays and $446 per night on weekends

Located in idyllic Woodstock, Vermont, the Woodstock Inn & Resort defines country sophistication in one of New England’s most charming and popular year-round vacation destinations.  The 142-room, AAA Four Diamond Resort and a member of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts LVX Collection, offers award-winning dining in two restaurants, ranked among the finest in New England.  The Woodstock Inn & Resort is owned and operated by The Woodstock Foundation, Inc.  Proceeds from Resort operations support The Woodstock Foundation and Billings Farm & Museum education and conservation programs.

For more information about the resort visit www.woodstockinn.com

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