ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — ROC Holiday Village will kickoff the holiday season in Rochester Friday with an array of festive concerts, free ice-skating, food, drink, and more for local families to enjoy.
The festival returns in 2021 to Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park at Memorial Square for the third time after being cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus.
Rochester’s downtown area is set to turn into an all-encompassing winter wonderland starting Friday, at 4 p.m. with events running through to Sunday, December 19.
A lighting ceremony of the Downtown Liberty Pole followed by a family parade is set to mark the officials start of celebrations the following day on Saturday at 5 p.m. East Main Street’s Liberty Pole will be lit up with help from Santa and Mrs. Clause, the Prime Time Brass band and other holiday-costumed friends.
Attendees will then be treated to a family street parade with visits from Santa Claus. Free ice-skating, shopping at new vendors along with craft-making at the ‘Gingerbread House’ for kids will all be available.
The 13-day festival, which is free to attend, offers the daily free ice skating with skate rentals, pop-up restaurants, a shopping village, private Cozy Igloos (sold out), free ice events and demonstrations, free live music, holiday celebrations, free crafts for kids, food trucks, regular visits from Santa, petting zoo events, and more.
The schedule for ROC Holiday Village this year is as follows:
- Friday, December 3
- Saturday, December 4
- Sunday, December 5
- Wednesday, December 9
- Thursday, December 9
- Friday, December 10
- Saturday, December 11
- Sunday, December 12
- Wednesday, December 15
- Thursday, December 16
- Friday, December 17
- Saturday, December 18
- Sunday, December 19
Hours for each day and can be found online. Organizers say this is an inclusive event, with special holiday activities marked for Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas.
Wegmans, which sponsors the free ice skating, will continue to offer the activity for free downtown through January 2, 2022. Additionally, Wegmans will be offering free cookies at ROC Holiday Village.
Over 26 retail and food vendors will be on site each day this year. A rotating group of food vendors will be present in The Lodge, with more food trucks lined up on Court Street.
New this year will be free concerts that will run everyday featuring local artists and bands. These events will be offered at a first come first serve basis. Additionally, the ROC Holiday Village will have an expanded space for activities with triple the amount of outdoor heaters, more firepits along with private bathroom areas.
Free parking is available at the Mortimer Street Garage on N. Clinton Avenue or East End Garage for $7.
In 2020, organizers announced that the festival could not be held due to the COVID-19 pandemic and New York State’s guidelines that restricted large gatherings.
“This is a festival city, so to go so long without one is not right,” said Sean McCarthy, ROC Holiday Village co-founder. “Hopefully we are the start of everything getting back to normal.”