Get in the Christmas spirit at Santa’s Workshop, North Pole

Yuletide and evening visits to the North Pole (Photo provided — Diane Chase)

I love winter, the winter solstice, and the Christmas holiday. I’m excited to go through all our decorations and have the house smelling like balsam. I discovered long ago that it isn’t about the bins of decorations that don’t go up as quickly as our neighbors or that sometimes cookies are bought not homemade. If you get caught up in the holiday madness, just take a moment and listen to a child explain what is really important. Recently I listened while my friend’s child explained kindness and selfless acts to a group of grown-ups. Her excitement was contagious. It wasn’t all about meeting Santa and making wishes; she was just asking all of us to be good.

One thing sure to take the wind out of any Scrooges can be found right at the North Pole. The North Pole found in nearby Wilmington, that is. Santa’s Workshop at North Pole, NY opens this season for special Yuletide weekends and evening hours. The buildings are covered in twinkle lights while holiday music surrounds the tiny village where elves, large and small, prepare for Christmas.

Since 1949 Santa’s Workshop has been keeping the Christmas spirit alive year-round. Designed by Arto Monaco (Land of Make Believe) Santa’s Workshop provides us with a direct portal to “the jolly o’ elf.” Take a trip down Memory Lane and visit the display highlighting the collection of merchandise, signage and pictures from the history of Santa’s Workshop.

There are two upcoming Yuletide Winter Weekends, Dec. 15-16, and Dec. 22-23 from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with last admission sold at 2 pm.

Admission is $24.75 (ages 2-64), $22.95 (ages 65+), free/children (under 2). All rides, except the train, are open. The bobsled, Ferris wheel, and Christmas tree ride are strictly for those under 48″ and under 75 pounds, while the roller coaster and carousel can hold adults.

The Village of Lights is open on Dec. 16, 20, 21, 22, 23 from 4:30 to 8 p.m., with last entrance at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $12.95 and free for children under two years of age.

The outdoor Nativity Pageant is performed under the stars so make sure to wear layers. A visit to the North Pole involves moving in and out between each separate buildings. The Christmas Carousel is the only ride open during the Village of Lights. It feels magical to ride in the carousel sleigh being “pulled” by reindeer in the snow under a nighttime sky. The 20-handcrafted reindeer are available for the smaller guests (under 48″ and under 75 lbs.) while two sleighs fit those of us no longer weighing 75 pounds.

Day or evening hours offer caroling around the fire pit, roasting marshmallows or feeding Santa’s reindeer. See if Tannenbaum the Talking Christmas Tree is awake. The shops are open for a quick snack, candle-dipping craft, or even a last-minute gift. Of course, no visit is complete without a stop to see the North Pole or Santa. Look for the large frozen, white pole located in the center of Santa’s Village and Santa’s cottage is nearby.

From Lake Placid take Route 86 for about 12 miles to Wilmington. At the Route 86/ 431 junction, turn left onto Route 431 (Whiteface Memorial Highway) and drive for 1.5 miles. Santa’s Workshop will be on the right.

For more information go to NorthPoleNY.com. Have fun at the North Pole where every day is Christmas.

Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Time guidebook series.

For more family-friendly activities go to AdirondackFamilyTime.­com.