Sinterklaas Comes To Town

For the 10th year in a row (since 2008), the first weekend of December is reserved for a unique and increasingly popular holiday celebration, entitled Sinterklaas, that the whole town of Rhinebeck, NY gets to host. This year, over 15,000 people attended the Sinterklaas celebration, with no end in sight as to the rising popularity of this great family event. What is Sinterklaas?

Held annually on the first Saturday in December, the free festival celebrates Sinterklaas, a traditional Dutch holiday honoring a fourth-century bishop with a long, white beard and a tall, pointed hat who loved children. By most accounts, this goodly figure was the chief inspiration behind Santa Claus.

The tradition of Sinterklaas comes all the way from the Netherlands, brought by Dutch settlers who arrived in Rhinebeck over 300 years ago. Sinterklaas, the patron of children and sailors, finds a welcoming community in the Mid-Hudson Valley as we re-create the story through the lens of modern-day America. Our revived tradition is non-denominational and all-inclusive ­— everyone is invited to participate! The young, the old, the in-between ­— absolutely everyone and anyone who wants to be part of a community of hope for a joyous and peaceful world are all welcome. (click here for more info)

who is sinterklaas.jpg
Sinterklaas arrives on his white horse, to honor all the good children

Sinterklaas is an all-day event, starting around 10AM and ending with an amazing Children’s Starlight Parade at 6PM and a full show event of the entire cast and volunteers at 7PM. There are puppet shows, magicians, sorcerers, merriment bands, gypsies, crown & branch arts & crafts, bear contests, jugglers, free treats of hot chocolate, peppermint candies, cotton candy, buttery popcorn, home-made cookies and every single 4 Star restaurant opens their doors to delightful, extraordinarily delicious foods (Rhinebeck is known for being home to many, many top quality restaurants, due to its close proximity to The CIA (Culinary Institute Of America) To see the full day’s list of events, click here. Bagpipe, Dixieland, Irish, Ukrainian, Mexican & Indonesian music is just a small selection of the melodies that will be performed during the festival.

DH and I got downtown around noontime. Luckily we got a parking spot in town, rather than the high school or hospital parking lot which would have been a hike. We stayed the entire day till after 8PM. Most of the day we spent outside, enjoying all the delights, despite the frigid temperatures. (We did stop at one of the restaurants for a fabulous lunch. The price was very reasonable) When you’re having fun you don’t feel anything! I took oodles of photos with both my iPhone and Canon. It’ll take me a week to go through everything. I plan on making a YouTube video also of the parade. Stay tuned.

It takes a village. Sinterklaas happens because of the efforts of hundreds and hundreds of people in the Hudson Valley. People from everywhere — Individual volunteers, community organizations, artists, teachers, students, parents, business leaders, religious institutions, local funders, as well as local, county and state lawmakers — all play a role in bringing Sinterklaas to life each year.

Other long-time supporters of the Sinterklaas Celebration in Rhinebeck include the Beekman Arms, Upstate Films, Samuel’s, Liberty, Fosters Coach House, The Rhinebeck Courtyard, merchants of Enjoy Rhinebeck, Church of the Messiah, the Reform Church of Rhinebeck and the Rhinebeck Chamber of Commerce. Many businesses in the center of town, including Winter Sun/Summer Moon, Blue Cashew, Oblong Books, Montgomery Row, Oliver Kita, Hummingbird Jewelers, and others support fundraising and host special events.

“I could go on for days about the many, many individuals who help all year long – they come from all over the area, from every village and town – and make our tiny village one enormous hub of joy and celebration,” beams Sinterklaas creator Fleming. “It is a blessing to have this kind of community engagement. It seems like there is nothing we cannot accomplish!

the crowded street
It’s around 4PM. The streets are closed off and the crowd starts to come.
le petitie bistro
The sidewalk starts to fill up. Le Petite Bistro-best, authentic French restaurant!
Samuel’s is a famous local candy shop owned by two famous celebrities. I’ll never tell!
My lunch: chicken salad on rye, cole slaw, side salad, hot tea, all for $8. Super!
gypsy band
Gypsy band that played unique Hungarian blues. Simply amazing!
the parade
The Children’s Starlight Parade. A sample of the superb puppetry.
sinter approaces
Sinterklaas himself, approaches to greet the children.
sinte up close
And here he is! Sinterklaas greets ALL the children.

At the end of the day, DH and I clocked walking over 4 miles! Our feet were so cold when we got back home, we both ordered better insulated shoes from L.L. Bean (at 50% off!) Thanks to all the new clothes we bought at L.L. Bean, it has made our first winter back home here in the Hudson Valley in 4 years tolerable and more enjoyable. If there is any question as to why both Nick and I will NEVER move out of New York, if you look over my posts, you’ll quickly figure out why. We absolutely love it here. Best place on earth. As our rising property values AND taxes decree. More and more celebrities have been moving up here as they discover the wonders and the beauty of the Hudson Valley.


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