December is here, which means it’s time to celebrate the holiday season! Bundle up and get ready for holiday parades, bright tree lightings, festive crafts and story times, classes that you can’t believe would be free, and many more family-friendly activities. Keep your family close and your wallet closer at these 30 free events in New Jersey throughout the month of December.
Here are 30 Free Events in New Jersey this December:
1. Holiday Horse & Wagon Rides in Red Bank
Every Saturday through December 24th | 1:00PM – 5:00PM
Take a free horse and carriage ride through the charming streets of Downtown Red Bank. See the bustling business district alive with holiday glitz and glam during this memorable family experience.
Board the wagon at one of two locations:
11 Bridge Avenue (near Danny’s Steakhouse)
26 Broad St (near The Robinson Ale House)
Red Bank, NJ 07701
2. Old City Hall Holiday Model Train Show
Every Friday, Saturday & Sunday in December | 4:00PM – 8:00PM
Take a step back in time and enjoy a fascinating and whimsical holiday display of hundreds of historic model trains, sponsored by The Old City Hall Restoration Committee. Bordentown is an enchanting town to visit in the holidays, and this event is not one to miss.
Old City Hall
11 Crosswalks Street, Bordentown City, NJ 08505
3. Holiday Lights Spectacular at Turtle Back Zoo
Friday, Saturday, Sunday: November 18 – December 11 | 5:00 – 9:00PM
Every Night: December 12 – January 3, 2017 | 5:00 – 9:00PM
Celebrate the holiday season with a stroll through Turtle Back Zoo’s Holiday Lights Spectacular. Your little one’s will be ooing and ahhing as they are dazzled by over 50 sparking winter animal characters. Bring canned goods, new toys, and gently used coats to donate to the holiday charity drive.
Turtle Back Zoo
560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange, NJ
4. Toms River Tree Lighting
Friday, December 2nd | 6:00PM – 8:30PM
A perfect holiday family event with Christmas tree lighting performances from the Donovan Catholic Chorus, Youth Group, Amazing V Magician, Jersey Coast Youth Bands, and a reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” with Mrs. Claus. Santa arrives at 8:00PM and then will be happy to take photos with your little ones.
Town Hall Courtyard, Toms River, NJ 08753
5. Tree Lighting & Winter Wonderland in Metuchen
Friday, December 2nd | 6:00PM – 9:00PM
Santa is visiting Metuchen’s historic Old Franklin Schoolhouse for photos, cookies and hot chocolate. This event is accepting non-perishable food items and new children’s slippers for their holiday drive.
Old Franklin Schoolhouse
491 Middlesex Ave, Metuchen, NJ 08840
6. Boro In Lights: Glassboro’s Annual Tree Lighting
Friday, December 2nd | 6:00PM – 9:00PM
This fantastic family tree lighting event is presented by Glassboro and Rowan University, and features a fire truck parade, horse and carriage rides, photos with Santa, ice sculpture demonstrations, Toys for Tots and canned food drive, and live performances as holiday characters come to life in the crowd of about 3,000 people.
220 Rowan Blvd, Glassboro, New Jersey 08028
7. Cape May Tree Lighting Ceremony
Friday, December 2nd | 7:00PM – 8:30PM
Enjoy some old fashioned holiday cheer when the City of Cape May officially kicks off the holiday season on Friday, Dec. 2nd at 7 p.m. with the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at the newly renovated Rotary Park Bandstand located on the 400 block of Lafayette Street. The festive family program will include caroling, a presentation from the LCMR chorus and a special visit from Santa Claus.
Rotary Park Bandstand, 400-498 Lafayette St, Cape May, NJ 08204
8. Free Movie Friday: Polar Express at Paramount Theatre
Friday, December 2nd | 7:00PM
The Asbury Park Film Initiative is pairing with the historic Paramount Theatre to bring families of all ages the Free Movie Friday series. Visit this beachfront theater on the boardwalk to view this holiday classic to warm your heart.
1300 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park, New Jersey 07712
9. Free Movie Friday: Elf at Paramount Theatre
Friday, December 2nd | 9:00PM
The Asbury Park Film Initiative is pairing with the historic Paramount Theatre to bring families of all ages the Free Movie Friday series. Visit this beachfront theater on the boardwalk to view this lighthearted holiday comedy.
1300 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park, New Jersey 07712
10. Kids Home Depot Workshop: Holiday Craft
Saturday, December 3rd | 9:00AM – 12:00PM
This hands-on workshop encourages kids to get creative while making a gingerbread candy dish. Kids get to take home their craft once completed, receive a free certificate of completion, a workshop apron, and commemorative pin.
750 Highway Rt 130, Robbinsville, NJ 08691
11. West Cape May Christmas Parade
Saturday, December 3rd | 5:00PM – 10:00PM
This annual parade is celebrating its 51st year. Starting at the WCM Volunteer Firehouse, the parade marches South on Broadway, winds East on Perry, and onto Carpenter Lane in the City of Cape May.
WCM Volunteer Firehouse
732 Broadway, Cape May, NJ 08204
12. Holiday Lights Parade
Saturday, December 3rd | 6:00PM – 10:00PM
The Somerville Fire Department is celebrating its 5th Annual Holiday Lights Parade. All fire departments, law enforcement, and rescue squads statewide are invited to participate, in addition to community based organizations. Awards will be given out to the best decorated floats, vehicles, homes, and businesses along the parade route.
Engine 1 Somerville Fire Department
170 E Main St, Somerville, NJ 08876
13. Holiday Festival with Friends of Lord Stirling Stable
Saturday, December 3rd – Sunday, December 4th | 10:00AM – 4:00PM
Take a hayride to see Santa Claus, ride a pony, decorate ornaments, and enjoy many other activities. Admission, parking, hayrides, and pony rides are free. A special Silent Auction will also be available on site (fees vary).
Lord Stirling Stable
256 S Maple Ave, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920
14. Millburn Snowflake Parade
Sunday, December 4th | 1:30PM – 4:30PM
This Snowflake Parade and Family Fun Festival will be held on Millburn Avenue between Holmes and Spring Streets featuring professional bands, clowns, costumed characters, and refreshments after the parade.
Millburn Avenue between Holmes and Spring Streets, Millburn, NJ 07041
15. Union Township Annual Holiday Celebration
Sunday, December 4th | 2:30PM – 6:30PM
This holiday festival for families has it all: live ice sculptor presentation, arts and crafts, holiday games, food truck, and free hot chocolate. The tree lighting and music celebration kicks off at 5:00PM, with performances from Franklin School Chorus, Burnet Middle School Select Chorus & Student Instrumentalists from Township Elementary Schools, and a live nativity scene. Photos with Santa will follow the lighting and performances.
1976 Morris Ave, Union, NJ 07083
16. Hoboken Tree Lighting
Tuesday, December 6th | 5:00PM
Local school children & performers singing favorite Christmas songs with Host & MC, Elvis the Elf, The Hoboken Fire Dept, and a visit by Santa Claus.
City Hall, 94 Washington Street, 07030
17. Free Cooking Class: Creating Healthier Versions of Your Favorite Holiday Foods
Tuesday, December 6th | 6:00PM
Join Super Simple Superfoods at Dean’s Natural Food Market in Ocean to explore ways to create your favorite holiday dishes without the extra calories. All attendees will be able to sample dishes and enter to win prizes.
Dean’s Natural Food Market
1119 NJ-35, Ocean Township, NJ 07712
18. Free Cooking Class: Creating Healthier Versions of Your Favorite Holiday Foods
Wednesday, December 7th | 6:00PM
Join Living Plate at Dean’s Natural Food Market in Chester to explore ways to create your favorite holiday dishes without the extra calories. All attendees will be able to sample dishes and enter to win prizes.
Dean’s Natural Food Market
270 US-206, Chester, NJ 07930
19. Jersey City Holiday Lighting Ceremony
Thursday, December 8th | 5:00PM – 8:00PM
The Historic Downtown Special Improvement District presents its Annual Historic Downtown Tree Lighting and Menorah Ceremony. Please join Mayor Fulop and Santa in celebrating the holiday season. Plus, music by Matty Dee! Free cookies for kiddos sponsored by HDSID!
Newark Avenue Pedestrian Mall, 119-158 Newark Ave, Jersey City, New Jersey 07302
20. Backstage Family Series: Michael Dubois: Solo Circus
Saturday, December 10th | Four 30 minute sets at 10:00AM, 11:00AM, 12:00PM & 1:00PM
Michael Dubois’ Solo Circus act has appeared on NBC’s “The Tonight Show” and “The Jay Leno Show.” Be wowed by magic, juggling, circus & sideshow stunts all wrapped up in a blanket of comedy. This performance is joining bergenPAC for their free family performance series, Backstage, for free family fun this December.
Westfield Garden State Plaza
Former Carousel site, near Ruby Tuesday’s
1 Garden State Plaza Blvd, Paramus, NJ 07652
21. Family Holiday Storytime and Craft
Saturday, December 10th | 2:30 – 3:30
For an afternoon of festive fun, join the Children’s Department at Morris County Library for Holiday stories at 2:30, followed by craft time at 3:00.
Morris County Library
22. Rizzo’s Reptiles Show
Saturday, December 10th | 2:00PM – 3:00PM
Rizzo’s Reptiles is coming to Manville for a hands-on reptile experience. Children will learn about lizards, snakes, frogs, turtles, and insects. With humor and education, children will learn to CARE (Conserve, Awareness, Recycling, Environment) about our planet. There will be a special guest at the end of this performance!
Manville Public Library
100 S 10th Ave, Manville, NJ 08835
23. Holiday Craft for Kids
Wednesday, December 14th | 6:30PM – 8:00PM
Create craft dough holiday trees in this festive craft. This project is suggested for ages 5 and over. Younger children may require some help from a guardian.
Hammonton Branch – Atlantic County Library System
451 S Egg Harbor Rd, Hammonton, NJ 08037
24. Hot Chocolate Hike at Cora Hartshorn Arboretum
Friday, December 17th – Saturday, December 18 | Hikes depart 11:00AM, 1:00PM, & 3:00PM
Back by popular demand! Take a guided hike through the Arboretum’s grounds. Discover who resides in the woodlands and learn about our Woodland Friends. When we are done, warm up in the historic Stone House with a cup of Hot Cocoa by the fireplace. Although this is a free event, there is a $5 suggested donation.
Cora Hartshorn Arboretum
324 Forest Dr S, Short Hills, NJ 07078
25. Ferry Merry Christmas
Sunday, December 18th | 12:00PM – 3:00PM
Join Santa and his friends for this winter carnival featuring iconic Christmas Games; explore Santa’s Workshop in the Gallery featuring crafts and great activities for kids aged 3-9, and enjoy face painting and balloon art. Complimentary sweets and a hot chocolate bar will be available to keep your taste buds happy.
Cape May Ferry Terminal
1200 Lincoln Blvd, North Cape May, NJ 08204
26. Winter Holiday Concert with Yosi: All Ages
Sunday, December 18th | 2:00PM – 3:00PM
Join Yosi in his lively, interactive holiday concert for children of all ages, with nods to Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. Spin a Dreidle, enjoy the hilarious “Reindeer Pokey” and “The Grinch!” Yosi’s music can be found on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio.
Summit Free Public Library
75 Maple Street, Summit, NJ 07901
27. Family Holiday Concert
Sunday, December 18th | 3:00PM
Get excited to participate in your holiday favorites while joining the New Jersey Intergenerational Orchestra in their Family Holiday Concert. Stick around after the show for an “instrument petting zoo” to provide children with introductory exposure to real musical instruments.
New Providence High School
35 Pioneer Drive, New Providence, NJ 07974
28. Winter Solstice Celebration
Wednesday, December 21st | 6:00PM – 7:30PM
Huddle and stay warm by the fire as you join Grow It Green Morristown to learn about the winter solstice, trying yoga movements, and letting go of last year’s past challenges while setting intentions for next year.
Early Street Community Garden
17 Early Street, Morristown, NJ 07960
29. Kid Friendly Candlelight Village Tour
Friday, December 30th | 6:00PM – 9:00PM (tour begins every 30 minutes)
See Historic Smithsville Park’s Village like never before, fully lit from head to toe for the holidays. This 30 minute tour also features crafts for children and a special visit from Mrs. Claus.
803 Smithville Road, Mt Holly, NJ 08060
30. New Year’s Eve Dance Party for Kids
Saturday, December 31st | 11:30AM
Let’s party – kids style! “Countdown to noon” and ring in the new year with an apple juice toast together with library friends. Celebrate with dancing, games, and a craft.
Maple Shade Township Library
200 Stiles Ave, Maple Shade Township, NJ 08052