The big Christmas weekend is here, and with it, lots of merry things to do with the fam. Catch Santa before he goes on his sleigh at Storybook Land’s Christmas Fantasy With Lights in Egg Harbor Township, go on Christmas Eve walk with Clear the House Stroll at Deep Cut Gardens in Middletown, or take in the lights and listen to holiday tunes at Dasher’s Lightshow: A Christmas Drive-Thru in Newark. Or, if you are feeling aquatic, stop by to see the World’s Tallest Underwater Christmas Tree at Christmas Underwater at Adventure Aquarium in Camden. And for more ideas and places to go, check out our Winter Festivals in NJ.
Featured Photo Taken at Storybook Land
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(Note: Since COVID-19 rules and regulations are continually changing, it’s best to check ahead for in-person events)
Winter Solstice Labyrinth Walk and Luminary Parade
Celebrate the darkest night of the year with a family-friendly event to take a break from the hectic holiday preparations. A labyrinth walk will follow a short guided meditation. Participants are invited to join the parade of paper lanterns decorated by residents. After dark, watch for an impromptu FlowArts inspired LED and a fire show.
Cost: Free, Arrive early; sunset occurs around 4:39 PM.
Green Acres Park, Dettmar Terrace, Runnemede, NJ 08078
Holiday Express Benefit Concert at The Count Basie Center of the Arts
It’s the “Ultimate Holiday Show” with its unique mixture of traditional, gospel, and rock ‘n soul holiday music. The Benefit Concerts support Holiday Express holiday programs, delivering the gift of human kindness to those who need it most – 27,000 individuals in 100 locations across New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia. The Count Basie Theater offers numerous performances throughout the year and educational and cultural partnerships, and a school with acting and vocal classes for all ages.
Cost: $25 and up
99 Monmouth St., Red Bank, NJ 07701
Bell Works Fresh Holiday Market
Now-December 22, Wednesdays
If the weather outside looks frightful, you can still shop at this indoor market with 80+ local farmers, food purveyors, local artisans, and more. While you browse, kids can be entertained with crafts and live music, plus sample plenty of festive treats and drinks.
Bell Works, 101 Crawfords Corner Road, Holmdel, NJ 07733
Asbury Fresh Pop Up at Porta
Now-December 23, Thursdays and Sundays
Experience a warm and toasty holiday market season in good ol’ Asbury Park. Shop locally curated vendors and enjoy pizza and festive drinks.
Porta, 911 Kinsley Ave., Asbury Park, NJ 07712
Skate with Santa
Now-December 23, select dates
Lace up your skates and get ready to hit the ice at American Dream. And we didn’t even mention the best part—you can skate with Santa and his elves and listen to festive carols as you glide.
Cost: $18 and up
American Dream Mall, 1 American Dream Way, East Rutherford, NJ 07073
The Elf On The Shelf: A Christmas Musical at Count Basie Center For The Arts
It’s time to celebrate everyone’s favorite elf with music and dance that will transport the audience to the North Pole. The whole family can enjoy this original story and score with fun sets, costumes, and a story that will put everyone in the holiday spirit. There is a VIP experience available too.
Cost: $25 and up
99 Monmouth St., Red Bank, NJ 07701
December 23, 30
Take a self-guided tour at Kip’s Castle to experience the holidays circa the 1920s. Kip’s Castle Park grounds are open from dawn to dusk seven days a week.
22 Crestmont Road, Verona, NJ 07044
Clear the House Stroll at Deep Cut Gardens
Looking for a way to take a breather on Christmas Eve? Why not clear the house and bring the guests to Deep Cut Gardens for a little stroll. The whole family can explore the gardens on even paths at a slow pace with a park guide.
152 Red Hill Road, Middletown, NJ 07748
Christmas Underwater at Adventure Aquarium
Dive into some underwater holiday fun and see Scuba Santa in his Ocean Realm, sharing Christmas cheer with kids (and animals) of all ages. Take in the festive holiday decor, underwater light displays, new shows, and the World’s Tallest Underwater Christmas Tree. Reservations are recommended.
Cost: Included with admission or purchase the Christmas Underwater Bundle starting at $41.99
1 Riverside Drive, Camden, NJ 08103
Step into an open-air Christmas wonderland—this walkthrough features vintage figures from the 1950s-70s with different scenes that change every year, from the traditional Nativity Scene to modern Christmas.
Cost: $12 adults, $10 for children
Maple Leaf Farms – 525 Route 9 South Manalapan, NJ 07726
Battleship New Jersey Holiday Train Display
Experience a new model train display in the Wardroom aboard the Battleship New Jersey. The show is courtesy of the South Jersey Garden Railroad Society.
Cost: Free with the purchase of the tour
100 Clinton Street, Camden, NJ 08103
Holidays on the Hunterdon Trail
Take a self-guided tour on Hunterdon’s 579 Trail made up of agricultural and agritourism sites located on or near Hunterdon County’s historic Route 579 in NJ, including vineyards, a cidery, farms, and farm markets. Along the tour, you’ll see every spot dressed up with fresh evergreens, twinkling lights, and warm hospitality. There will also be heated outdoor seating, seasonal wines, live music, artisan vendors, and specialty foods.
Cost: Free (times and dates for events vary)
579 Trail, Hunterdon County, NJ
New Jersey Ballet’s 50th Anniversary Nutcracker with New Jersey Symphony Orchestra
It’s New Jersey Ballet’s 50th Anniversary of the Nutcracker, and they are celebrating with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.
Cost: $35 and up
100 South St., Morristown, NJ 07960
Sea of Lights Holiday Lights Spectacular
Now-December 28, select dates
Where else can you see an actual diving Santa Claus, but at Jenkinson’s in Point Pleasant Beach? The Holiday Lights Spectacular also includes treats, crafts, pictures with Santa, games, entertainment too.
Cost: $9 and up
300 Ocean Avenue, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742
Newark Winter Village
This open-air festival overlooks beautiful downtown Newark with curbside eats, ice skating, a market, private chalets, igloos, games, curling, food, and Santa’s Workshop.
Cost: $5-$10, reservations required
Mulberry Commons Park, 162 Mulberry Street, Newark, NJ 07102
Storybook Land Christmas Fantasy with Lights
Watch Santa appear from the chimney and wave his magic wand to illuminate over 1 million lights throughout Storybook Land until December 23. After Christmas, Santa will be back in the North Pole, but there are millions of lights (they even appeared on last year’s Great Christmas Light Fight) and many rides for your littles to enjoy.
6415 Black Horse Pike (Route 40/322), Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08234
Turtle Back Zoo Holiday Lights Spectacular
Now-December 31, select dates
Grab your winter coat and get ready to stroll through the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo to see over 50 winter and animal characters. The event will feature weekend Santa visits, a train, carousel, reptile house, aquarium, and Essex Farm and Pony rides. Donations are recommended.
560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange, NJ 07052
Virtual Kwanzaa Festival
Take an online class to explore West African dance, stepping, Zumba, drumming, capoeira, Bebop Graffiti Arts, or Afrobeats. This year’s virtual festival runs through December 31, featuring online programs inspired by the seven principles of Kwanzaa (unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith). Tune in for a panel discussion about storytelling with the elders, social justice, or Black theater, or stop by the community marketplace for some online shopping.
Virtual, New Jersey Performing Arts Center
Dasher’s Lightshow: A Christmas Drive-Thru
Get glowing as you drive through light tunnels, see snowmen, and cover acres of land, all synced to holiday tunes. Get into the holiday spirit one car full at a time.
Cost: $35 per vehicle, but prices change depending on the day and time
220 Orange Street, Newark, NJ 07103
Holidig Holiday Light Show
It’s the second annual holiday light show at Diggerland USA. See lights, drive through tunnels, and see all sorts of construction equipment light up. Don’t forget to turn your radio dial to their holiday music channel during your drive.
Cost: $32.95 per vehicle
100 Pineedge Drive, West Berlin, NJ 08091
Snowscape at Liberty Science Center
Get those socks ready for a spin on Liberty Science Center’s Sock Skating Rink. You can also follow the Snowflake Path to learn the science of snowflake formation and make your own snowflake to add to the snowdrift in the Blizzard Zone. There is also a new live science demonstration called Make It Snow. Check out other holiday adventures while you are there.
Cost: $22.99 and up
222 Jersey City Blvd., NJ 07305
Thomas Sweet’s Holiday Village
Stop by Thomas Sweet Chocolate for their annual Winter Village, a miniaturized winter scene in the store windows. You can gaze upon this gorgeous lit village for the entire holiday season. While you’re there, go skating on the square, or enjoy the beauty of the Christmas tree.
Thomas Sweet Chocolate, 29 Palmer Square West, Princeton, NJ 08542
Smithville Holiday Light Show On The Lake
Over 120 Christmas Trees with over 50,000 Christmas lights float on Lake Meone in the center of Historic Smithville. When darkness falls, an orchestrated show of lights and music plays across the lake. The show can be seen from either side of the village and the bridge.
Historic Smithville, 615 E. Moss Mill Rd., Smithville, NJ 08205
See over 30,000 lights at Fanwood’s Famous Christmas House, which has bright displays and a light show every evening. Donations will be accepted for the NJ Institute for Disabilities.
82 Paterson Road, Fanwood, NJ 07023
Let it Glow: A Lantern Spectacular
Now-January 30, Thursday through Sunday
Take an enchanting stroll through the Bergen County Zoo to see over 30 scenes of handmade delight and the animals that live there. You can even hop aboard the train. This event is separate from Winter Wonderland in the park and requires a separate admission ticket.
Cost: $15 for adults, $7.50 for children, under 2 is free
216 Forest Avenue, Paramus, NJ 07652
Grounds For Sculpture Night Forms
Now-February 27, select dates
Glowing trees, sounds, art—it’s a multi-sensory experience at Grounds For Sculpture. Night Forms: dreamloop by Klip Collective takes place after hours and it is a combination of video projection, light, sound, and storytelling.
Cost: $14 and up
80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton Township, NJ 08619
Morris County Winter Farmers’ Market – Grow It Green
Now-March 27 (except December 26)
The Morris County Winter Farmers’ Market features more than 20 farmers and local food vendors to develop a local food system that patrons can eat locally and seasonally. There will be freshly grown produce, farm-raised beef, pork and poultry and fresh seafood, baked goods, farm eggs, and so much more.
Convent Train Station, Convent Road, Morris Township, NJ 07960
Now–into Winter 2022
Wrap yourself in the warmth of the holiday season as the grounds of Cape May’s only Victorian House Museum. The Emlen Physick Estate will be lit up and glowing. Join the Winter Wonderwalk to walk the grounds and view these fun and whimsical display of winter’s past. And continue the festivities by walking along the streets of Cape May’s decorated homes.
1048 Washington Street, Cape May, NJ 08204
RWJBarnabas Health: Cooking Classes for Kids
Dates and times vary depending on the program
Kids of all ages will love cooking up healthy treats in these virtual hands-on cooking classes (adult supervision required during class): Try Healthy Kids in Hannah’s Kitchen for kids 8-12, where they’ll learn to use a recipe, cook with nutritious ingredients, and utilize kitchen basics or try Taste Testers in Hannah’s Kitchen, a Mommy and Me style class for 2-4-year-olds.