ROC Holiday Village: All the FREE Things You Don’t Want to Miss

Downtown Rochester is transforming in major ways with development projects, new restaurants, and business openings. To go along with all of this, Jenna Knauf (Bella Events Group), photographer Kelli Marsh, and Sean McCarthy (McCarthy Tents & Events) have teamed up to produce the first ever City of Rochester ROC Holiday Village presented by Five Star Bank.

Whether you’re 2 or 102, this village is for YOU and it’s not just a one-time, weekend pop-up - it’s EVERY weekend leading up to Christmas: December 1st through the 23rd. There will be different restaurants every weekend, music, igloos that can be reserved, shopping, and so much more.

 the Rochesteriat

the Rochesteriat

With so many different activities happening, we wanted to highlight all of the FREE things you won’t want to miss.

Opening Ceremonies:

Every year, the City of Rochester kicks off the holiday season with the annual Lighting of the Liberty Pole festivities with Santa and his helpers. Following the lighting this year, everyone is invited to join Santa in a parade to Holiday Village for the Grand Opening of the Village and tree lighting (opening night details).

Santa’s Workshop:

Come meet Santa and have your picture taken and even have that picture emailed to you for free. For a nominal fee photos can be printed on the spot as well with a portion of the proceeds going to IACKids. There will even be free cookies courtesy of Wegmans. Head to the website to see Santa’s Workshop hours.

Ice Skating:

During all of the Holiday Village hours, ice skating and skate rentals are free! Skates are limited though, so if you have your own, it’d be a good idea to bring them. Even if you don’t want to ice skate check out the Holiday Village Schedule for opportunities to see performances by Genesee Figure Skating Club and Rochester Ice Center on December 2nd, 15th, 22nd and 23rd.

Live Music:

Enjoy different musicians every Friday and Saturday evening from 8-11pm in the Lodge Restaurant and Bar. See the schedule of who’s playing here.

Curling Demonstration:

Whether you’re a fan of curling during the Olympics, have always wanted to learn, or are just curious about the sport, don’t miss the free curling demonstration and instruction on Saturday December 15th from 11am-3pm. Learn the lingo, watch a demonstration, and get to try it for free.


Yes, we know there’s gonna be at least one person out there who is concerned about parking. But as the producers of the annual Movies with a Downtown View events in the same location, we know there’s quite a bit of on-street parking surrounding this park. Better yet, it’s free after 6pm on weekdays and ENTIRELY FREE on weekends.

We also know that some of the area’s parking garages are free on the weekends IF there aren’t Special Events that are happening (i.e., Washington Square Garage). It makes sense to call ahead to see if a particular garage is open and free so you can plan ahead.

Don’t Miss:

Get your holiday shopping done this year in the Village! Peruse the retail vendors, food vendors, the Holiday Village merchandise tent and the Mini Maker Markets on December 8th and 15th. See the list and schedule: Holiday Village Shopping.

 the Rochesteriat

the Rochesteriat

For ALL of the details, events, schedules, parking information, restaurants, and more, head to the Website and follow along on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Here’s an overview Map to check out as well:


Holiday Village Hours:

Friday: 4pm – 8pm
Saturday: 10am – 8pm
Sunday: 10am – 6pm


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5 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays at the George Eastman Museum

 the Rochesteriat

the Rochesteriat

The Holidays are once again upon us and we all know there are many ways to enjoy the season here in our city. We’ll go out on a limb and say that most won't offer the ultimate combination of glitz, glamour, and ROC history that our treasured George Eastman House will.

Here are 5 ways to take advantage of this incredible gem in our community and to get you in the holiday spirit.

1. Take in a Holiday Movie

 The Rochesteriat

The Rochesteriat

Dryden Theatre is a great place to get to during the holidays. Find classics like White Christmas and more contemporary favorites like Love Actually. There is sure to be something to fit everyone most people’s tastes.

Speaking of, don’t miss celebrating the 30th anniversary of the ultimate Christmas classic, Die Hard , on December 15th. “Yippee ki yay, mutha…” - ah, the true Holiday spirit.

Find the full list of Holiday films here: Dryden Holiday List

2. Drool Over Some Gingerbread Houses

Miss the good ol' days of being a kid and building gingerbread houses? Why not relive these memories. This annual tradition brings in dozens of Gingerbread house creations from professional bakers, families, and community groups. See something you like? These are also available to purchase through a silent auction.

Sweet Creations Gingerbread House Display: 11/2-12/12

3. Tabletop Trees - Get Inspired

Looking for some Christmas Tree decoration inspiration or maybe a smaller size tree for your home? Displayed throughout the historic George Eastman Museum you'll find tabletop Christmas trees decorated by local businesses. These trees are available for purchase through a silent auction and all proceeds go toward providing fresh flowers in the house year-round. What's not to love?

Tabletop Tree Display & Auction: 11/13-12/16

4. Holiday Homecoming

The Holiday Homecoming party is also an annual tradition. Meet Santa and enjoy kid friendly activities, festive displays, live music, refreshments and more.

Annual Holiday Homecoming Party: 12/6, 5-8pm

5. Shop for the Holidays

 the Rochesteriat

the Rochesteriat

Not everyone thinks of shopping at museums for Christmas. But you should! There are tons of great options from the museum store, to Dryden Theatre tickets, to museum memberships. Looking to give a unique gift this year to that die-hard Rochesterian? Head to the Eastman Museum and don’t miss “An Eastman Christmas”, a 24 track CD of holiday classics played on the Eastman’s Aeolian pipe organ.

Eastman Museum Store | Membership

George Eastman Museum:
Holiday Activities


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RYP 8th Annual Entrepreneur Expo

Get ready for the 8th Annual Entrepreneur Expo being put on by Rochester Young Professionals in NextCorp. Not sure what it is? It’s an expo featuring 40+ young entrepreneurs, startups, small business owners, and non-profit leaders.

It’s a great opportunity to see what’s happening in Rochester and connect with some of the newest local businesses and entrepreneurs in the area.

The event is FREE to attend, but please Register here: RYP: 8th Annual Entrepreneur's Expo.

NextCorps: 260 E. Main Street, Suite 6000


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Met Week 2018


Get ready for Met Week 2018, a Community Celebration being put on by The Metropolitan Rochester starting Monday, November 12th thru Saturday, November 17th.

Bar Bantam, located inside The Metropolitan, is offering FREE coffee all week during the hours of 7a-3p.

Check out the daily list of offerings and activities which include FREE seminars, Happy Hour Specials, Live Music, all ending with a Community Open House for the general public on Saturday the 17th.

For more info and to stay up to date on all the events, check out The Metropolitan’s Facebook page and events.

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Volunteer Opportunity: Mini Clean Sweep

On Saturday, November 10th, 10:00a - 12:30p, the Washington Square Park Community Association and the Center City Community Coalition (C4) invite YOU to a Mini Clean Sweep in MLK Jr. Memorial Park on Saturday, November 10th. 

 MLK Jr. Memorial park

MLK Jr. Memorial park

We will be beautifying the lawn areas of the Park, including raking, bagging, sweeping, and picking up garbage. The City will provide all tools and gloves, and they will be picking up the trash bags and leaves afterwards.

This is a great chance to meet your neighbors in downtown, get some exercise on a Saturday morning, and even give back to the City we call home.   


10am-10:30a: Light breakfast served with coffee, bagels, donuts, and OJ for volunteers
10:30-10:45a: Welcome from WSPCA, C4, and Conifer
10:45a-12:30p: clean up MLK Jr. Memorial Park

Please RSVP:
Let us know if you can volunteer for the Mini Clean Sweep!


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