2017-12-01 / Features

Holidays in Happy Valley

Kevin Sliman

Even though the weather is getting colder and the nights longer, the Centre Region is alive and aglow with activities and traditions. Whether it is a visit to Santa, enjoying the majesty of a beautifully lit menorah, or diving into some freezing fun for a good cause, residents and visitors to the area can celebrate the holidays together in so many ways.

See the Trees
The Arboretum at Penn State will celebrate the season with its 2017 Winter Celebration. From 5–7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8, enjoy a mix of seasonal and popular tunes performed by Penn State a cappella groups. Then, stroll the grounds to view lighted tree displays throughout the gardens and in the Childhood’s Gate Children’s Garden. Plus, there’s always a chance a certain jolly old soul might greet you.

Celebrating Life & Light
This year, Kwanzaa falls on the week from Dec. 26-Jan. 2, 2018, but members of the community can celebrate Kwanzaa with the Black Graduate Student Association on Saturday, Dec. 2 at 6:30 p.m. in Heritage Hall at the HUB Robeson Center. Both town and gown gather to celebrate African-American ancestry, life, struggle, achievement, family, culture and community.

First Things First
State College holds events on the first Fridays of each month, appropriately called First Friday. This month, the theme turns jolly and bright with instruments, carolers, dancers, lights and merriment for all starting at 5 p.m. on Dec. 1. Many of the downtown businesses extend their hours and participate with special events or deals.

Colonial Christmas
The village of Boalsburg invites visitors to stroll the beautifully lit streets and the historic Diamond during Boalsburg Hometown Christmas on Dec. 1 and 2. Have breakfast with Santa, dance the night away at the Boalsburg Fire Hall, or take part in the cookie contest. There are lots of activities for the whole family, including a petting zoo and holiday caroling.

Here We Go A-Marketing
Enjoy Christmas cheer with crafts, music and food at the Granary in Lemont with the ninth annual Lemont German Christmas Market. On Dec. 1 and 2, visitors can browse goods from local vendors and listen to carolers. Dress for the weather and enjoy a hot cocoa or a traditional German beverage to stay warm.

Take an Elfie
The Nittany Mall transforms the center court into Santa’s magical village. Children can visit with Santa and have their picture taken with Old Saint Nick. Don’t forget your wish list! Visitors can stop in to see Santa during most of the holiday season.

Let There Be Light
This year, Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, is Dec. 12–20. Chabad of Penn State holds a community Giant Menorah lighting that is one of 10,000 public menorahs being lit worldwide to symbolize a universal message of religious freedom. Join the festivities starting at 5 p.m. on Dec. 17 at the State College Municipal Building.

Away in a Manger
St. John’s United Church of Christ in Boalsburg marks the season with a live nativity and the story of Christ’s birth. Gather around the actors and their animals as they replicate the manger scene and share the Christmas story. The Live Nativity will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2.

Take the Plunge
The YMCA of Centre County’s Polar Bear Plunge raises money for two YMCA programs that directly benefit kids and families from the community: Open Doors and the Backpack Weekend Food Program. To do so, community members take an icy dip into the waters of Black Moshannon lake. This year’s event takes place on Dec. 2 from 10 a.m. to noon.

Festive Firsts
Ring in the new year by enjoying music, ice sculptures, food and more on the streets of downtown State College. On Dec. 31, take part in the 5K run or ice skate at Pegula Ice Arena. Purchase a First Night button to gain access to all of the night’s events.

Return to top