By Gina Ritter

Visions of Sugarplums


There’s a winter wonderland to explore in northern Dutchess County the first two weekends in December. Travel back to the pomp and circumstance of the 1890s, and treat your family to an affordable adventure with “Visions of Sugarplums”, a Victorian Christmas, at Montgomery Place. Just north of the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge, on the historic River Road in the hamlet of Annandale-on-Hudson, you'll find Montgomery Place, one of the most magnificent estates in the area, and part of the Historic Hudson Valley's network in Sleepy Hollow Country and the Great Estates region. The mansion is brimming with events and tours almost year-round, and the one you'll most certainly want to take your children to this holiday season is the “Visions of Sugarplums” celebration. Best known as an architectural landmark, Montgomery Place was established nearly 200 years ago by Janet Livingston Montgomery, widow of the Revolutionary War hero, General Richard Montgomery. The original house was built in 1805 and the property was used as a commercial nursery. In the early 19th century, the family was assisted by the era's paramount architecture and landscape designers to create one of the most stunning estates in the nation. Since then, continually family-owned, Montgomery Place has become the American treasure it is today, from the gardens, woodlands and orchards, to the house furnishings. With views of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains, this 434-acre estate recreates a Victorian Christmas annually, complete with tour guides clothed in Victorian garments. Upon your arrival, you'll be transported back to the holidays of the late 19th century to enjoy a lavish display of Christmas as grand as it would have been then. Listen to carolers from area schools, and imagine your family in the Victorian period as you're loaded into a horse-drawn carriage and whisked from the visitor's center along the ancient tree-lined drive, lit by lanterns and winter awe, to the doors of the mansion. Inside, history and festivities come alive, and you're washed in the scent of holiday greenery, pomegranates, and seasonal flowers. The guides tell the tales of Christmas past as they lead you through the mansion filled with period toys, decorations, music, replicas from real 1890s publications, and Christmas trees hung with handcrafted, glass-blown ornaments. The dining table is set with floral centerpieces, gleaming porcelain, Tiffany silver, and 1897 menu cards. Don’t miss the children's Christmas tree, adorned with handmade ornaments made by youngsters using instructions from 1890s magazines. Then indulge in some hot chocolate and holiday treats in the kitchen.

Info: Where: Montgomery Place is located just off Route 9G, three miles north of the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge in Annandale-on-Hudson. From the New York State Thruway (I-87), take exit 19 for Kingston onto Route 209/199 east across the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge and proceed east on Route 199 to 9G. Take a left on Route 9G and travel 3 miles, then left again on Annandale Road, bearing left onto River Road to the estate entrance. From the Taconic Parkway, take the Pine Plains/ Red Hook exit for Route 199. Take a left at the end of the exit ramp. Proceed west 10 miles on Route 199 through Red Hook to 9G. Go right on Route 9G, and left on Annandale Road, bearing left onto River Road to the estate entrance. You can also reach Montgomery Place by Amtrak, from Penn Station to Rhinecliff, where cabs generally wait to meet each train. The cab ride to Montgomery Place is approximately 10 minutes. When: On December 6-7 and 13-14, “Visions of Sugarplums” will be held from noon to 5pm. How much: Admission is $8 adults, $4 children 5-17, free for children under 5. Horse-drawn carriage rides, which run from 1-3pm, are $3 per person. No reservations are required. For more info: (845) 758-5461; If you plan to stay in the area overnight, the website has a Hudson Valley map, directions, and staff recommendations for some of the best restaurants, inns, hotels and other accommodations in the area.