Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

Sinterklaas is Returning to Rhinebeck December 4

Sinterklaas Festival. Photo by Doug Baz.

Sinterklaas is coming to town. That’s big news in the Village of Rhinebeck, where this beloved holiday tradition, brought by Dutch settlers who arrived there more than 300 years ago, was cancelled last year. Now the daylong, nondenominational festival is back, set for December 4.

Rhinebeck’s Sinterklaas festivities draw on the Hudson Valley’s Dutch heritage, but with some modern-day twists. Children are the focus—becoming kings and queens for the day and making scepters and crowns for themselves at the Crowns and Branches workshops. 

“But it can’t be about the wanting and having, either,” says creator Jeanne Fleming. “They each have to tie wishes into their branch—one for the community, one for the family, one for the world. They understand their responsibility to be a good king or queen.”


Schedule of Events

Rhinebeck’s Sinterklass events begin at 10 a.m. and will take place at various venues throughout the day. In addition to children’s workshops, events include dance, theater and live music, and bring back favorite characters like the Dancing Bear, the Pocket Lady and Mother Holly. The festival will culminate at 6 p.m. with the Children’s Starlight Parade, featuring two-story-tall animated puppets carried by hundreds of volunteers.

Those who plan to arrive for the parade are encouraged to be in Rhinebeck by 4 p.m. at the latest. The parade starts just west of town at Starr Library and ends with a pageant in the town’s municipal parking lot. It will feature Sinterklaas on his white horse; the honored animals, Frog and Mouse; Sinterklaas’s sidekicks, the Grumpuses; the Snow King and Queen; the Polar Bear; the Star Child; Grandmother Earth; and dozens more colorful characters.

People of all ages and backgrounds are invited to gather and celebrate children, art and the light of the winter season. The event is free to attend, but donations are gratefully accepted to support the cost of producing Sinterklaas Day, which involves more than 250 musicians, actors, magicians and other entertainers.


Parking Details

Visitors are encouraged to arrive early and carpool, as parking on Sinterklaas Day in Rhinebeck can be difficult. Pay attention to the village parking regulations posted on the streets, including all temporary No Parking signs. Cars that block driveways or park within 30 feet of an intersection or stop sign will be ticketed or towed.

Parking is available in lots at Northern Dutchess Hospital, 6511 Spring Brooke Avenue; Dutchess County Fairgrounds, 6636 U.S. 9; Rhinebeck High School, 45 North Park Road; behind the Starr Library, 68 West Market Street; and the Rhinebeck Town Highway Department, 119 Rhinecliff Road.

Upon arrival in Rhinebeck, visit the ASK ME Ladies’ table in the center of town, by the Beekman Arms, and pick up a program booklet, which tells the whole story of Sinterklaas in the Mid-Hudson Valley. The booklet can also be downloaded via the festival website.

 For more information, including a downloadable program guide, visit