Annual Events in Syracuse
The Great New York State Fair
Running from the end of August into the first week of September, this is the biggest local event. Top acts, fairway rides, farm animals, horse competition, exhibits, rodeos, and much more.
NY State Fairgrounds, Syracuse (315) 487-7711 Hours: 8 AM - Midnight
Empire Expo Center at the Fair Grounds
It's the center of excitement year round. Located at the crossroads of New York State, the Empire Expo Center is a nonstop showcase of events, performances and expositions. Enjoy all the advantages of hosting your event at one of the largest exhibit complexes in North America.
- Eight primary facilities on 375 acres
- Temporary RV Parking
- Parking and shuttle service for 23,000 vehicles
- Conveniently located off the N.Y. State Thruway
- Home of the New York State Fair
- Over 2 million visitors annually
Syracuse Jazz Fest Mid-June. Multi-stage event on the lawn at OCC. Bills itself as the Northeast's largest free jazz festival.
Onondaga Community College Campus, Onondaga Hill
Syracuse Arts and Crafts Festival
Mid-July. Nearly 200 vendors selling a wide range of art and craft items. Continuous live entertainment and activities for kids.
Columbus Circle, Syracuse (315) 422-8284
NYS Rhythm & Blues Festival
Mid-July. This annual music extravaganza is held in downtown. Multiple venues have national and North-east artists playing over 4 days.
Clinton Square, Syracuse, New York
A Taste of Syracuse
June. Everyone likes food and this two-day event allows you to sample cuisine from a number of local eateries - but all in one place! Over 50 restaurants and 15 wineries (Syracuse is the eastern anchor to the famed Finger Lakes winery district) participate and while you are nibbling and sipping, you can enjoy musical performances including national headliners as well as a nightly fireworks display.
Downtown Syracuse, Syracuse, New York
December. Just a short drive from Syracuse you'll find beautiful Skaneateles, located along the finger lake of the same name. Beginning on the Friday after Thanksgiving and occuring every weekend through Christmas, step back in time to the days of merry old England. Free street theater, free carriage rides - even free roasted chestnuts and hot chocolate - await you via this innovative way to celebrate the season and encourage visitors to do their Christmas shopping in local boutiques. Keep an eye out for Father Christmas, Scrooge and Mother Goose!
Skaneateles, New York (315) 685-2268 Admission: Free
The Great American Antiquefest
July. Set in beautiful Onondaga Lake Park, this antiques extravaganza is an annual event that features well over 200 dealers of antiques and collectibles. Entertainment and food available.
106 Lake Dr, Liverpool, New York 315-457-6954
Holiday Festival of Trees
December. Held at the Everson Museum of Art, this festival is a museum fundraiser. It showcases over 100 trees and wreaths decorated and donated by local businesses and artists. You'll find a mixture of the traditional and the way-out (a plastic-wrapped tree?) all for sale to the highest bidder. Lots of local entertainment - community choruses and budding performing artists - are on hand to provide a musical backdrop to the event. Check out the unique gift merchandise and special children's activities.
401 Harrison St., Syracuse, New York (315) 474-6064
Hot Air Balloon Festival
Mid-June. For three days during the second weekend in June, Jamesville Beach Park serves as the host of this annual festival. Balloons are launched at about 6:00 am and 6:00 pm daily; in between there is continuous musical entertainment, food, and games. Hot air balloon rides are also available and for the more timid - tethered rides that lift you off the ground - but not too far!
Jamesville beach park, Jamesville, New York (315) 451-PARK Admission: $3 adults, kids <12 free
LaFayette Apple Festival
October. This is one of the grand-daddys of all apple festivals and is held just south of Syracuse every October on Columbus weekend. Central New York has the second largest apple harvest in the nation - and this festival celebrates that. Apple pies, cakes, and fritters - all washed down with, what else, apple cider, are the featured foods (you can still find hamburgers, hot dogs, etc.). You'll also find nearly 300 crafters. With over 100,000 visitors this is a BIG event and you can run into some traffic tie-ups. Consider arriving early or utilizing shuttles (there's even a train shuttle from Syracuse). (315) 677-3644
Lights on the Lake
December. Beginning Thanksgiving week and running through New Year's weekend, Onondaga Lake Park is decorated with a drive or walk-through holiday light display. A perennial favorite.
106 Lake Dr, Liverpool New York (315) 437-5627 Hours: 5pm - 10pm
Syracuse Museums & art galleries
Everson Museum of Art
Opened in 1968 in a building designed by I.M. Pei, features one of the most extensive pottery collections in the United States along with works of American art, dating from the 18th century to the present. This collection includes paintings, sculptures, drawings, photography, and video.
Erie Canal Museum is a museum dedicated to preserving the history of the Erie Canal and its role in Syracuse's growth.
The International Mask and Puppet Museum is a museum in Little Italy focusing on masks and puppets, the later of which are also used in educational performances for children.
MOST: Museum of Science & Technology (Milton J. Rubenstein)
This is Central New York's largest hands-on science center, featuring the Bristol Omnitheater, New York State's only IMAX Dome theater. There are permanent and traveling exhibits as well as the Silverman Planetarium, whose presentations need some re-working. This is a great place for the kids to burn off some excess energy - and the adults can have some fun too.
500 S. Franklin Street, Syracuse New York (315) 425-9068 Hours: 9:30 am - 5 pm daily, Fri until 9pm
The Onondaga Historical Association Museum & Research Center, located at 321 Montgomery Street downtown, features exhibits on the past of the Syracuse region, and contains historical archives relating to the area's history.
The Warehouse Gallery is located at 350 West Fayette Street in The Warehouse. It is a part of the Coalition of Museum And Art Centers (CMAC). This new contemporary art center exhibits, commissions, and promotes work by emerging and accomplished artists in a variety of media. The programming attempts to engage the community in a dialogue regarding the role the arts can play in illuminating the critical issues of our times.
The Spark Contemporary Art Space is located at 1005 E. Fayette St. in the Downtown area. Spark is run by Syracuse University graduate art students, but is a venue for a diversity of non-university affiliated events. The gallery's directors curate and organize art and music related events, while local artists can rent the space to hold their own events. With the initiation of a monthly video screening series in 2001, Spark became one of the leading venues for video art in Syracuse. Spark Video provides the community an opportunity to see video work from local and international artists.
The Delavan Art Gallery is located at 501 West Fayette Street in an old farm equipment factory. It has a 3800 square feet of exhibit space, and, on several other floors in the building, houses the studios of a number of area artists. It has shows which usually open on the first Thursday of the month. It showcases a wide variety of work, from multi-media sculpture to hyperealism.
The Point of Contact Gallery is located at 914 East Genesee Street. The newest member of the Coalition of Museums and Art Centers at Syracuse University, it is a space dedicated to the exploration of the verbal and visual arts and home of the Point of Contact Art Collection. It is a cross-disciplinary open forum for the essential discussion of contemporary art. A showcase for contemporary artists from around the world, with a strong prevalence from Latin America. The Point of Contact collection comprises over 200 original pieces created especially for "Point of Contact", the book series, since 1975. Photography, collage, drawings, paintings and three-dimensional works form this rare collection.
Sainte Marie among the Iroquois
Summer only. A Living History Museum. Experience life as it was 350 years ago when the Sainte Marie Mission on Onondaga Lake was built by Frenchmen who had been invited to the area by the local Iroquois people. This is a living history museum (after you visit the visitor center), where the historical recreaters are back in the mid-1600's (they do speak English rather than French) so don't ask them where the nearest fast food joint is. A good place to learn something about the Native American side to local history.
Onondaga Lake Pkwy, Liverpool, New York (315) 453-6768 Hours: Wed-Sat: 10am - 5pm, Sun: 12:30
In Onondaga Lake Park. This is the place to find out how Syracuse got its nickname - the Salt City! Housed in a re-created salt boiling block (the huge chimney is an original though) you'll learn about the local salt industry that had a national impact. The museum, which is small - plan 20 - 30 minutes to visit - also serves as the Onondaga Lake Park Visitor Center. Since the building has no heat, it is wisely open only during warmer months.
Onondaga Lake Parkway, Liverpool, New York (315) 453-6712 Hours: May-October 1-6 pm daily Admission: Free
Performing arts In Syracuse
Syracuse is home to the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra (SSO), founded in 1961. The SSO has 75 musicians and is under direction of Daniel Hege; its former Music Directors include Frederik Prausnitz and Kazuyoshi Akiyama. The orchestra performs over 200 concerts annually for an audience of over 250,000.
The Clinton String Quartet has been active for over 15 years and is based in the Syracuse area. All four members are also members of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. In addition to concert performances, they perform corporate events, black tie functions, community events and weddings.
The Syracuse Friends of Chamber Music for more than a half century have presented a series of concerts by various chamber ensembles.
The Society for New Music, founded in 1982, is the oldest new music organization in the state outside of New York City, and the only year-round new music group in upstate New York. The Society commissions at least one new work each year from a regional composer, awards the annual Brian Israel Prize to a promising composer under 30 years of age, and produces the weekly "Fresh Ink" radio broadcast for WCNY-FM.
The Syracuse Opera Company is a professional company that generally performs three operas each season. It was founded in 1963 as the Opera Chorus of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra and became independent in 1973. In addition to full performances, it offers several free outdoor concerts each year in Armory Square, Thornden Park, and elsewhere. The company has an annual budget of $1 million and is the only professional opera company in upstate New York.
Syracuse Stage, with its many world premieres and productions that have moved to Broadway, creates often experimental and creative theater. The venue was designed by its most famous former artistic director Arthur Storch. Its current artistic director is Robert Moss.
Redhouse is Syracuse's newest venture into professional theatre. Opened in 2004, Redhouse is a small theatre housed in a converted hotel, that not only performs pieces of stage work, but also holds performances by local, national, and international artists, regular exhibits in its art gallery, and screenings of independent films.