Every year Sinterklaas brings together over 250 local magicians, actors, strolling musicians, puppeteers, jugglers, dancing Grumpuses and other magical performers to wander the streets of the village and dazzle their Hudson Valley neighbors.
As always, the Leela Puppet Theatre will bring its colorful cast of characters to perform its famed "Tarot's Street Show" at The Beekman Arms.
THIS EVENT IS FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!
What is Sinterklass?
Sinterklass Festival Day in Rhinebeck is the celebration where children are transformed into Kings and Queens and honored as the bringers of light at the darkest time of year.
The tradition of Sinterklaas comes all the way from the Netherlands, brought by Dutch settlers who arrived in Rhinebeck over 300 years ago. Sinterklaas, the patron of children and sailors, finds a welcoming community in the Mid-Hudson Valley as we re-create the story through the lens of modern-day America.
Our revived tradition is non-denominational and all inclusive — everyone is invited to participate! The young, the old, the in-between — absolutely everyone and anyone who wants to be part of a community of hope for a joyous and peaceful world are welcome.
To this day, Sinterklass is the most popular of all Dutch holidays!
ST. NICHOLAS, SINTERKLAAS, AND SANTA CLAUS IN THE HUDSON VALLEY
When the early Dutch settlers came to America, they brought with them their venerated old bishop. St. Nicholas and their favorite holiday, Sinterklaas. Indeed, the Dutch explorers dedicated their first church on the island of Manhattan, in 1642, to Sinterklaas. When the British took control of New Amsterdam in 1664, they merged Sinterklaas with their Father Christmas—the merry, roly-poly, Falstaffian figure in high boots.
Over the next few generations, Sinterklaas found his way into American literature. In 1809, writer Washington Irving (a man who lived not far from Rhinebeck) created a jolly Sinterklaas for his popular Knickerbocker Tales. Then in 1822, an Episcopal priest named Clement Moore (who also lived near to Rhinebeck) wrote “A Visit from St. Nicholas” which featured a jolly old elf, his descent down a chimney on Christmas Eve, and a sleigh drawn by eight tiny reindeer. The Father Christmas image stuck, but he acquired a new name—Santa Claus—a direct derivation from Sinterklaas.
Today, in the Hudson Valley, we celebrate Sinterklaas in both traditional ways and new. We move away from the commercial Santa and back to the wonders that began the legend—The Good King, the Noble Soul, the one who brings light out of darkness, befriends children and animals, and inspires our souls!