Gingerbread Galleries in New York Celebrate the Holidays with Sweet Festivities
December 21, 2023
There are certain scents and flavors that really bring the Christmas spirit alive. And gingerbread is one of the most iconic ones. From cute gingerbread cookies to elaborately decorated gingerbread houses, gingerbread is everywhere during the holiday season. (In fact it beats pumpkin spice as my favorite seasonal coffee flavor.) So before you craft your own gingerbread house at home, check out these gingerbread galleries in New York State and get inspired.
What’s the meaning behind gingerbread houses?
Gingerbread houses have been a staple of the holiday season for ages, it seems. But it wasn’t until this year that I wondered where the tradition came from. So I did a little research and found a wealth of information about gingerbread through PBS. According to PBS, the first recorded Gingerbread houses were found at Christmas in Germany during the 16th century. But recipes for gingerbread date back for millenia, with the first known recipe from Greece in 2400 BC and others following across Europe and China.
Gingerbread’s modern popularity is attributed to two things: The famous Brothers Grimm tale Hansel & Gretel and Queen Elizabeth I’s fondness for the treat. (And let’s not forget my favorite character from Shrek, Gingy.) Now, families create little gingerbread people and decorate them with their children. Other buy kits or toil in the kitchen crafting their own gingerbread to build holiday houses.
Whether or not you make, eat, or decorate with gingerbread at home, everyone can enjoy looking at other people’s gingerbread creations. In the gingerbread exhibits across Central New York, you’ll find a wide variety of displays, from both amateurs and professional pastry chefs.
Oh, and before we go any further, can we all just agree that the gingerbread house kits you buy at the store are for decoration only? Seriously, I think I’d rather eat cardboard. And the candy… yeesh. Plus who knows how long it sat on the shelf? I digress.
Erie Canal Museum’s Gingerbread Gallery
One of my favorite Christmas events in Syracuse is the annual Gingerbread Gallery at the Erie Canal Museum! Now in its 38th year, the gallery began as a one-day event in 1987. Over the years it has grown to last six full weeks. The festival begins the day after Thanksgiving with an opening reception and live music. Often times the gingerbread gallery has additional special events throughout its course, like family day and paint & sip nights.
Admission to the gallery is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, and $4 for children (3-17). Museum members get a family pass for up to 6 people to visit the gallery. When going to the gingerbread gallery, visitors also get access to explore the full Erie Canal Museum.
Interested in participating? You can submit your interest in building a gingerbread house earlier in the year and the museum will call in September to get confirmation from potential bakers.
I’m proud to say that I have been one of the judges for the Erie Canal Museum’s Gingerbread Gallery for the past two years.
Also, you can save $10 on an Erie Canal Museum membership with the 2024 Wandercuse Passport. Get yours today!
Eastman Museum’s Gingerbread Gallery
Travel west to Rochester and you will find another fantastic gingerbread gallery. This time it’s the Sweet Creations Gingerbread Gallery at the Eastman Museum. Running about as long as its Syracuse counterpart, this event began November 11 and wraps up on December 31. Again, gingerbread crafters range from amateur to incredible, with the houses displayed throughout multiple rooms in the museum. Unlike the other galleries, visitors are able to take these creations home. All 52 of this year’s gingerbread houses are up for silent auction on the museum’s website. The auction runs the length of the event and proceeds benefit the museum.
Access to the Sweet Creations Gingerbread Display is included with regular museum admission. $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, $7 for students and youth. Admission to the Eastman Museum is free for children under 4, folks with SNAP or EBT benefits, and active military families.
Turning Stone Resort Casino’s Gingerbread Gallery
This time we are heading east of Syracuse for a larger-than-life gingerbread display. The Holiday Village at Turning Stone Resort Casino is so fantastic, its even recognized by Forbes Magazine. Located at the main entrance of the casino near the shops, you can smell the gingerbread village before you can see it.
This year’s display is Candyland themed, with 9 separate buildings spanning 75 feet. You can tell that some true pastry professionals played their parts in the creation of the village. A wide assortment of candies are meticulously laced to make bricks, sidewalk stones, roof shingles, and more. There’s even an electric train that loops around some of the buildings.
Not only the largest gingerbread gallery in New York State, this display is also the cheapest. As in it is FREE to see if you are visiting the casino!