I know what you’re thinking… a Christmas event already?  But I wanted to share something that my family has done for the last two years, and reservations open (and will probably sell out) on Oct. 2. The DoubleTree by Hilton in Binghamton, New York — just 60 miles north of Scranton — hosts the Christmas Experience each year.

Event organizers transform the hotel into a winter wonderland. Carolers meet you in the lobby during check-in, and the hot chocolate never stops flowing. The event not only includes your room for the night, but also dinner, activities including crafts, carriage rides, mobile planetarium, animal encounters, movies, music and storytime and cookies with Mrs. Claus, and then breakfast with Santa in the morning.

The event this year takes place Dec. 6, 13, 20 and 21. Room rates start at $319. That’s more than we paid the last two years, but hotel staff posted on Facebook that the increase was necessary to keep up with rising costs. When you consider all of the activities and the meals (which are buffet style and pretty good), the rate is still pretty reasonable.

Reservations open at 4 p.m. on Oct. 2. The last two years, rooms sold out within minutes. Many people reported issues with the reservation site, but my friend Jaime and I were both able to get rooms. The hotel posted more information about the reservation process, but I suggest making sure you have a strong internet connection (not your phone) and to refresh your page many times leading up until the hotel posts the reservation link. Jaime and I both secured two rooms in case one of us couldn’t get through, and then we each canceled a room later.

Our girls loved every minute of our time there, especially the carriage rides through Binghamton, snuggled up in blankets, sipping hot chocolate, flurries in the air and the sound of hooves hitting the pavement. I wish I would have taken more photos, but I was either seven months pregnant (the first time we went), or entertaining a 10-month-old (when we went last year).

As we get closer to the holiday season, I plan to highlight some of the best events in NEPA and beyond. What are your favorites? Email me at shofius@timesshamrock.com.