ITHACA, N.Y. — The shimmering icicles and snowy skies of December welcome events that are Ithaca staples: Santa’s Arrival and the Annual Downtown Ithaca Ice Festival, scheduled to take place over the first two weekends of December on the Ithaca Commons. 

Both Santa’s Arrival and the Annual Downtown Ithaca Ice Festival are traditions that are warmed by music, food, and an abundant of other festivities.  

On Dec. 1, Mr. Kringle and his team of elves will rappel from the roof of Center Ithaca onto Trolley Circle. The event kicks off at 11 a.m. with a dance performance by The Next Jennaration and will be followed by the Fall Creek Brass Band at 11:30 a.m., in preparation for Santa’s arrival at noon. Thereafter, free photos with Santa will be available inside Center Ithaca until 3 p.m. Bring your own camera. Book-ending the event at 1 p.m. will be a musical performance by Ithaca Talent Education inside Center Ithaca. (Below is a video of Santa’s rappel in 2017)

If you are seeking to rev-up before Santa makes his grand Ithaca entrance, support the local YMCA at the Santa 5K Run and 1 mile Elf Walk/Run. The Santa 5K begins at 9 a.m. while the Elf Walk/Run starts at 9:10 a.m. All ages are welcome. The run begins and ends in Dewitt Park, a short distance from The Commons. Holiday-themed costumes are encouraged. Awards for best costume will be distributed following the event. For details and to sign-up, visit the Santa 5K sign-up page.

The 12th Annual Downtown Ithaca Ice Festival begins Dec. 6 and extends through Dec. 8 in The Commons. Some of the nation’s most skilled ice carvers will compete in three rounds of ice carving competition. The weekend will feature a silent disco, the annual Chowder Cook-off and an outdoor bar crafted entirely of ice that will serve Bacchus Beer, wine and hot cocoa. Events begin at 5pm, Thursday, Dec. 6. For details and a daily schedule of events, visit the Downtown Ithaca’s event page.

Related: Ice farmer harvests 35,000 pounds of ice for Ithaca’s 11th annual Ice Festival

Follow the Downtown Ithaca’s website for information regarding upcoming events.

Mitchell Wajda

Mitchell Wajda is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice and a senior at Ithaca College where he studies screenwriting. Mitchell can be reached via email at