With lots of holiday celebrations this week (hello, Hanukkah), there’s plenty to do to feel festive with the fam all weekend long. See an interactive show about the miracle of Hanukkah at Bridgewater Lights Up The Night: A Hanukkah Celebration in Bridgewater, go back in time to the way Christmas was celebrated in Merry Ol’ England at the Dickens Village in Maplewood or join in an evening of classic caroling and light up the night at the Congress Hall Tree Lighting Weekend in Cape May. And for more ideas and places to go, check out our fun winter markets this season.
Featured Photo Credit: Istock/MichaelHeimlich
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(Note: Since COVID-19 rules and regulations are continually changing, it’s best to check ahead for in-person events)
Wassail Day and Winter Encampment
Go back in time at Historic Cold Spring and enjoy live music, hot beverages, and holiday treats served by historical interpreters in period clothing. The Country Store will be open and filled with artisan crafts for the home, books, jewelry, toys, and old-fashioned candy. Visit with members of the 4th Connecticut Regiment of the Continental Army at their winter camp by the Dennisville Inn. Wagon rides will be available, weather permitting.
Cost: $3 and free for Historic Cold Spring Village members
735 Seashore Road, Cape May, NJ 08204
Jingle Bell Run 5k for Children’s Specialized Hospital
We will see you with bells on at the The Jingle Bell 5k Run. On Sunday, December 5th, join the Elizabeth PBA Local #4 for a family friendly day and support patients and their families at Children’s Specialized Hospital. Walk, run, or come by for a fun morning with Santa. All proceeds go towards vital equipment and services at Children’s Specialized Hospital. Registration begins at 7:00am at the Mills at Jersey Gardens.
Cost: Donation-based, $40 to register the day of
The Mills at Jersey Gardens – 651 Kapkowski Rd, Elizabeth, NJ 07201
Let It Snow
Now-December 24, select dates
Listen to a new variety of festive classics from Frank Sinatra to Chuck Berry and a multi-media finale by the Trans Siberian Orchestra at the Robert J. Novins Planetarium in Toms River. The 32-minute program will be enhanced with thematic animation, laser imagery, special effects, and all-dome scenery in the audiovisual setting of the Planetarium.
Ocean County College, 1 College Drive, Toms River, NJ 08754
Bridgewater Lights up the Night: A Hanukkah Celebration
Watch interactive science shows celebrating the miracle of Hanukkah and lights. There will be two shows, one at 5:30 PM and the second at 6:30 PM. There is also a Community candle lighting at 6:15 PM, along with crafts and holiday treats.
Bridgewater Commons, 400 Commons Way, Bridgewater, NJ 08807
Town of Newton Tree Lighting
Head to this village for a tree lighting event at Newton Town Hall. Festivities start at 5:00 PM with the tree lighting and a visit with the big guy in red. There will be lots of holiday cheer, including holiday music, pre-packaged refreshments, and of course, letter writing to Santa.
39 Trinity Street, Newton, NJ 07860
Toms River Winter Wonderland Weekend
Start the weekend with the annual tree lighting on Friday, December 3. Then on Saturday and Sunday, get your holiday shopping in at the courtyard at Town Hall when it transforms into a winter village with craft vendors, kids’ activities, holiday music, and more.
33 Washington Street, Toms River, NJ 08753
Dickens Village Maplewood
December 2-18, select dates
Dickens Village will bring various scenes from Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol to life in miniature houses arranged in Ricalton Square. This community tradition opens in December and runs each Saturday until Christmas. The festivities include horse and wagon rides, a petting farm, tree lighting, and Menorah lighting. Cost: Free
Ricalton Square, Maplewood, NJ 07040
Car Menorah Parade Cherry Hill
It’s South Jersey’s Annual Car Menorah Parade, where cars will drive with car-top menorahs and a police escort
bringing safe and fun Hanukkah cheer to the streets of Cherry Hill. Don’t miss the menorah music truck, antique Diggerland fire truck, Cherry Hill Police Department, and Fire Police. If you want to join in, parade spots are limited, and RSVP is required. The event will end with a menorah lighting.
Parade preparation, lineup, and departure from The Chabad Center, 1925 Kresson Road, Cherry Hill, NJ 08803
Rahway Winter Wonderland
December 3, 10, 17, 18
Live jazz, fire pits, hot chocolate, giveaways, decorate an ornament, candy canes, ice sculptures, a holiday DJ, and photos with Santa. Don’t miss Santa on parade on December 18.
Train Station Plaza, Cherry Street, The Paseo, and Arts District Park (weather permitting), Rahway, NJ 07065 (732) 669-3600
Cape May Congress Hall Tree Lighting Weekend
Kick off the 11th annual Winter Wonderland at Congress Hall with holiday festivities all weekend. On Friday night, gather around the promenade to watch the traditional tree lighting ceremony as they illuminate the towering 30-foot tree. On Saturday, check out a performance by the Turning Pointe Dance Team and then sit back and enjoy the West Cape May Christmas Parade.
200 Congress Place, Cape May, NJ 08204
Somerville Holiday Jubilee
It’s an annual Somerville tradition, and there is music in the air, a warm glow from shop windows, and the aroma of fresh cuisine. Santa will also be on his way to the Downtown Somerville Holiday Jubilee with a tree lighting, ice carving, horse-drawn carriage rides, frozen characters, strolling carolers, photos, musical performances, hot cocoa, cookies, and more.
Division Street and Main Street, Somerville, NJ 08876
The Polar Express with the Delaware River Railroad Excursions
December 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19
If your kids want to be the stars of their favorite holiday movie—this one is for your family. Inspired by the film and the award-winning book by Chris Van Allsburg, this holiday favorite comes to life as you and your family take a ride on The Polar Express. Set to the sounds of the Polar Express, kids can sing along with roaming hobos, watch a Juggling Chef, spend time with Santa, and receive a silver bell. And to make it truly authentic, don’t forget your PJs for the ride.
Cost: $32 per child and $42 per adult
100 Elizabeth Street, Phillipsburg, NJ 08865
Asbury Park Holiday Bazaar 2021
Peruse the aisles at the Asbury Hotel for the best local and regional artists, vendors, and shops selling art, jewelry, home goods, food gifts, and more. After, catch holiday entertainment, holiday photo stations, and enjoy seasonally inspired food and drink. Littles can take part in a festive holiday craft workshop while you shop for gifts.
The Asbury Hotel, 210 5th Avenue, Asbury Park, NJ 07712
Long Branch Holiday Bazaar
There will be food, vendors, and more at this Bazaar, with live music, holiday photo stations, craft workshops, and beautiful holiday décor. The holiday market is inspired by the traditional “Weihnachtsmarkts” held in Germany. While you shop, enjoy delicious food and libations, and craft beers from Whitechapel Projects.
15 2nd Ave., Long Branch, NJ 07740
Bell Works Fresh Holiday Market
Now-December 22, Wednesdays, 12 PM – 6 PM
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
The Santa Express and the Starlight Santa Express
Now-December 22 and for Starlight, Friday evenings, December 10-25, and Wednesday, December 22
The Seashore Lines will take you on a historic, comfortable, fun train ride with the big man himself. The 75-minute round-trip ride will feature Santa and his helpers, onboard entertainment, and snack service on the First Class cars. You can hop on board at either Richland Village or Tuckahoe Village, and The Starlight Express includes the same, but the magic happens at night.
Cost: prices starting at $23.95
Richland Village- 1272 Harding Highway, Richland, NJ 08350
Tuckahoe Village- Reading Avenue and Railroad Avenue, Tuckahoe, NJ 08250
Light Show on the Lake
Gather ’round the fire pits at Johnson’s Corner Farm’s Discovery Barnyard to roast marshmallows and watch the lake light up in this breathtaking display. Be sure to hop on the Christmas “Light Show” Hayride to see more of the farm lit up for the holidays.
Cost: $6.95 and up
Johnson’s Corner Farm, 133 Church Rd., Medford, NJ 08055
Creamy Acre Farms Night of Lights
Now-December 24, select dates
Drive through a dairy farm transformed into a Christmas Wonderland filled with huge light displays, a Musical Dancing Tree light show, and lights everywhere. Bring the family for an old-fashioned hayride while listening to all your favorite Christmas songs or stroll through our Barnyard Walk with lights a glow. There will also be concessions, a country store, and fire pits.
Cost: $30 per vehicle
448 Lincoln Mill Road, Mullica Hill, NJ 08062
Christmas Fantasy with Lights
Now-December 30, dates and times vary
The magic of Christmas has taken over Storybook Land for one of the most unforgettable light shows in NJ. Santa Claus is ready to wave his magic wand and light the park with over one million lights for the holiday season. Your littles will love seeing the park glow after dark, as well as be thrilled to go on rides and attractions (all open at night) during this magical time.
Cost: $26.95 per person if bought in advance, $29.95 per person at the door.
Storybook Land, 6415 Black Horse Pike (Routes 40/322), Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08234
Christmas Light Spectacular at Allaire Community Farm
Take a holiday hay wagon ride around the farm while taking in the twinkling holiday lights. Hayrides leave promptly according to ticket time, and you must purchase tickets in advance. Poinsettias and hanging trees will be available for purchase, as well as snacks.
Cost: Prices start at $15
1923 Baileys Corner Road, Wall Township, NJ 07719
DiDonato’s Magical Holiday Express
Hop aboard a train ride through millions of Christmas lights with a meet and greet with Santa and his elves in his workshop. Don’t miss the Holiday Movie tent and take a photo with your favorite snowman and the Toy Market and Walkthrough Holiday Village.
Cost: 12 months and younger are free, $17.95 online, $19.95 at the door, there is a discount after December 26
1151 South White Horse Pike, Hammonton, NJ 08037
The Polar Express Whippany
Punch your golden ticket and get all aboard The Polar Express. Experience the magic of The Polar Express and take a one-hour trip to the North Pole with the whole family. Experience the sites and sounds of the motion picture while enjoying hot chocolate, Walkers’ Shortbread, storytime, and a silver sleigh bell surprise too.
Cost: $48 and up
1 Railroad Plz., Whippany, NJ 07981
South Jersey Holiday Light Show
Get in the festive spirit at this drive-through holiday light show that features dozens of dazzling displays and scenes that celebrate everything your family loves about this season. Pack a snack and turn on the car radio to a station that syncs the light show with holiday tunes as you drive among the twinkling lights on the mile-long route.
Cost: $25 per car; tickets must be purchased in advance
Bridgeport Speedway, 83 Flood Gate Road, Swedesboro, NJ 08085
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.
Cost: Donation recommended
560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange, NJ 07052
Holidig Drive-Thru Light Show at Diggerland
Take a drive through America’s only construction theme park and enjoy the lights, tunnels, holiday displays, and more. Don’t forget to tune into Diggerland USA’s radio station and get the whole family to sing along to holiday favorites.
Cost: $29.95; priority will be given to online purchases
Diggerland USA, 100 Pinedge Drive, West Berlin, NJ 08091
Old Fashioned Christmas Cape May
Get into the spirit of Christmas in Victorian Cape May? The seaside town becomes a Dickens village with fresh garland, twinkling gaslights, and more for the holidays. Get into the holiday spirit and sample a variety of fun tours and events.
Cost: Prices vary per event
1048 Washington Street, Cape May, NJ 08204
Magic of Lights New Jersey
Strike up a holiday mood by seeing a dazzling holiday light display entirely from the comfort of your car. Set your radio to their light show station, and then enjoy festive music as you drive through a merry arrangement of Christmas lights, trees, and decorations that will surely put your whole crew in the holiday spirit.
Cost: $25 per car if bought in advance, $30 per car at the gate
PNC Bank Arts Center, 116 Garden State Pkwy, Holmdel, NJ 07733
The Winter WonderLights
New Jersey’s largest animated holiday light show drive-thru will dazzle your whole family. Over 1.5 million lights will dance to your favorite holiday music. The trees, the 200′ tunnel, and a tribute to first responders are just a sample of what you will see on the half-mile drive.
Cost: $27 per car or $100 season pass per car; guests are encouraged to buy their tickets online.
655 Cranbury Road, East Brunswick, NJ 08816
Christmas Light Show & Village
Now-January 3, dates and times vary (check ticket schedule for full details)
Drive through a beautiful exhibit that twinkles with over two million dazzling lights: Your littles will be amazed by all the sparkle and shine on this mile-long course. The displays include two light tunnels, a wreath arch, skating bears, and more. Afterward, head to the village to spot Santa, go ice skating, dine on hot cocoa and s’mores, and play lots of festive-filled games.
Cost: $29 per car; tickets must be purchased online and in advance.
Skylands Stadium, 94 Championship Pl., Augusta, NJ 07822
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 as well as the bridge.
Historic Smithville, 615 E. Moss Mill Rd., Smithville, NJ 08205
Save 25% on Wild Passes, ticket cards, water park admission, and more. Try the classic signature Wild Pass for unlimited summer fun for $300, the Wild Water Park Pass, a pass for water park admission only, the Multi Visit Pass, a pass that entitles the holder to (4) visits during the 2022 season, or more.
Boardwalk, Wildwood, NJ 08260
See over 30,000 lights at Fanwood’s Famous Christmas House, which has twinkling displays and a light show every evening. Donations will be accepted for the NJ Institute for Disabilities.
Cost: Donations are appreciated
82 Paterson Road, Fanwood, NJ 07023
Holiday in the Park Six Flags Great Adventure
Get ready to experience your favorite amusement park in a festive way that puts you in the holiday spirit. Hope on the Ferris wheel, ride a coaster or take a spin on the carousel, all while being surrounded by glittering lights. There will be shows, rides, food, and of course, beautiful holiday displays along with the arrival of Santa.
Cost: $24.99 and up
1 Six Flags Blvd., Jackson, NJ 08527
Holiday in the Park Drive-Thru Experience
Now-January 9, select dates
Six Flags Great Adventure is also hosting its drive-through lights show again so you can experience the magic from the comfort of your car. Ten immersive scenes include the Jolly Jamboree with live entertainment and the new Merry Market Place Walk-Thru Experience. And make sure your kiddos keep an eye out for Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Cost: $14.99 per person, reservations required.
Six Flags Great Adventure, 1 Six Flags Blvd., Jackson Township, NJ 08527
Skating on the Square Princeton
Now-February 27, select days
Lace-up and skate on a synthetic skating rink under twinkling lights outdoors in the Princeton downtown. Bring your skates or borrow skates (included in the ticket price). Tickets are only sold at the door; there are no reservations. All skaters must sign the electronic waiver to be eligible to participate.
Cost:$10 cash per person/ $12 +fees with credit card
40 Nassau Street, Princeton, NJ 08542
What could be better than gliding along a beautiful skyline? Jersey City’s only outdoor skating rink is open for skaters of any level to enjoy stunning views of the New York City skyline. Online ticketing is available, and Newport Skates offers private lessons and party packages as well.
Cost: $8 (Newport residents get half-price admission) skate rental $7.95
River Drive S, Jersey City, NJ 07310
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.
Cost: Free admission to the grounds
1048 Washington Street, Cape May, NJ 08204
Starting November 26
Celebrate a successful harvest at Renault Winery by gathering with loved ones, savoring the season, and creating new memories. There’s something for everyone this season, from ice skating to culinary and wine to local artisans and live entertainment. There will also be horse-drawn carriage rides, local vendors, and a community food drive. Don’t miss the fun extras like the fire pit experience, champagne bubble-igloo experience, cabana experience, and the rink-side fire pit experience.
Cost: Prices vary per event
72 Bremen Ave., Egg Harbor City, NJ 08215
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.