We’re counting down to the last days of 2022 with lots of family-friendly events on New Year’s weekend. Listen to storytelling and watch dancers at the Kwanzaa Festival in Willingboro, don’t miss the last weekend of Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, and start the new year right with shows and fireworks at the biggest First Night in Morristown. And if you want a healthy and fresh start to the new year, here are some great places to take a First Day Hike in NJ. (featured photo credit: istock/Imgorthand)
(Note: It’s always best to check ahead for in-person events)
December 29-January 1
Walk back in time to see life-size dinosaurs, and while you are there, Ride-A-Dino, jump in a bounce house, create a dino craft, dig for fossils, learn about ancient oceans, walk with dinosaurs, and even meet baby dinos.
Cost: $19 and up
New Jersey Expo Center, 97 Sunfield Ave., Edison, NJ 08837
Holiday Adventure at Liberty Science Center
December 31 and January 1 at 10 AM
Head to the Liberty Science Center for memorable holiday fun, where your kids can take a spin on the Sock Skating Rink, join the Holiday Dance Party (with snow), climb aboard a Holiday Train, learn how to make liquid nitrogen ice cream and cozy up with a winter tale during Story Time. The other exhibitions are open too. Don’t miss the Taylor Swift Laser Show in the planetarium, which ends on January 1.
Cost: Prices vary with activity and general admission
222 Jersey City Blvd., Jersey City, NJ 07305
Willingboro Kwanzaa Festival 2022
December 31 at 11 AM
Celebrate Kwanzaa with an African Market Place, Youth Extravaganza, craft making, African Dance and Drum, Tap Dancing, Storytelling, Poetry, Line Dancing, Music, Intergenerational Workshop, and more. Featured performers, Universal Dance and Drum Ensemble, Dyani Myles, The Trumpet Chicks, Queen Nur, Arther Leo Taylor, Kenny J, Todd Evans. Registration is required.
John F. Kennedy Center, Willingboro, NJ 08046
NOON Year’s Eve Celebration at Nickelodeon Universe
December 31 at 11 AM
Be part of an interactive countdown to noon on the Nickelodeon Universe Slime Stage. There will be meet and greets, selfies at the themed photo station, and rides. If you get there early, you can even get a chance to grab a NOON Year’s Eve Swag Bag.
Cost: Prices vary
American Dream, 1 American Dream Way, East Rutherford, NJ 07073
First Night Morris County 2023
All of Morristown becomes a stage at this long-running event, the biggest First Night celebration in the state. There are over 70 performances at 20 different venues throughout town, and it kicks off at 4:45 PM on New Year’s Eve with complimentary parking and free shuttles. There will be a flurry of performances until midnight, including two fireworks shows. And don’t miss the midnight countdown.
Cost: Tickets start at $25
New Year’s Eve Kids Party at Ferry Station
Want a family-friendly celebration that’s got the kids in bed by 8? Head down to Exit 0 in West Cape May, where the festivities begin at 2 PM with activities like a photo station, face painting, a kids’ dance party, and a ball drop at 6 PM.
Cost: A kids’ buffet will be available for $15 per child, along with a special kids’ signature drink
1200 Lincoln Blvd, Lower Township, NJ 08204
Fireworks Spectacular at Pier Village
Head to Pier Village for a celebration full of family fun. There will be food specials, skating on the outdoor rink, carousel rides, and boardwalk-style games. Stay for the celebration, and the end-of-the-year fireworks show at 9 PM.
110 North Ocean Ave., Long Branch, NJ 07740
The Hogmanay Bonfire has been a tradition for the Lawrence Historical Society since 1997. Grab a pencil and paper at the event and write down all the bad things from the previous year that you wish to toss into the fire. Or prepare a list in advance and bring it to the fire. This event is weather permitting.
Cost: Free, but donations are welcome.
The Great Meadow, 1761 Brearley House, 100 Meadow Road, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648
Kid’s New Year’s Eve Celebration at the Monmouth Museum
For those kiddos that can’t make it past dark, celebrate early, starting at 10:30 AM, with a visit to the museum and kid-friendly activities. Countdown to midnight at noon, make a party hat and noise maker and march in a parade.
Cost: $12 included with admission
765 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft, NJ 07738
New Year’s Eve Celebration at Iplay America
This is the place to be for New Year’s Eve in NJ for a truly kid-friendly party—with fun rides, a DJ, party favors, and confetti cannons. Play games and go on the rides, refuel at Game Time Bar & Grill, or grab a snack at one of the in-park concession stands. You can also book a Topgolf swing suite, and there are private VIP suites where you can watch the NYE celebration and ball drop in Times Square on a big-screen TV.
Cost: $42.99 for the advance New Year’s Eve Party Pass ($52.99 at the door). VIP and suite rentals are additional
110 Schanck Rd., Freehold, NJ 07728
Six Flags Holiday in the Park
New Year’s Eve in NJ is a great excuse to experience your favorite theme park in a new light. Head to Main Street, the heart of the park, and admire the five-story brightly-lit tree. Or visit Gingerbread Junction, the Holiday Craze Mirror Maze, the Holiday Firepits, the North Pole, and Polar Point.
Cost: Ticket prices vary based on membership level
1 Six Flags Blvd., Jackson, NJ 08527
Fireworks on the Beach in Sea Isle City
Bring your chairs, blankets, and warm clothes to experience a beautiful fireworks display on the sand. The show starts at 8 PM, so you’ll have plenty of time to celebrate without staying up til midnight.
JFK Blvd Beach, Sea Isle City, NJ 08243
First Night Ocean City NJ
This New Year’s Eve in NJ celebration is packed—they have 30 different activities happening at different venues from 4 PM to just before midnight. Check out the ventriloquist show, or swing by the skate park for a skate party, see amazing magicians, sing along to dueling pianos and then stop by the Library for LEGO at the Library. And make sure to hang around for the fireworks show at midnight to welcome the new year.
Cost: $20 for an all-inclusive button (suitable for all events).
Venues all around Ocean City, NJ
New Year’s Eve Fireworks
Bring a little history into your fam’s New Year’s Eve celebration this year. Climb aboard the historic Battleship New Jersey where they’ll have live music and food, and your squad might even be able to fire a gun salute. Then grab a viewing spot to watch the dazzling fireworks over the Delaware River. Proceeds from the event go toward the restoration of the Battleship. There is a 6 PM show, Admiral’s VIP show, and a 10 PM show.
62 Battleship Place., Camden, NJ 08103
New Year’s Eve Bash and Giant Blueberry Drop
Wrap up 2022 in a festive environment, complete with live music and fireworks, and welcome in 2023 with a midnight countdown and a blueberry drop in front of Town Hall at the Blueberry Capitol of the World.
100 Central Ave., Hammonton, NJ 08037
Noon Year’s Eve Kids Countdown
If you are looking for a fun, family-friendly way to celebrate the new year early, why not check out Renault Winery’s Noon Year’s Eve? The kids will receive Martinelli’s sparkling cider, ice skate, take tractor wagon rides, and they can countdown on the big screen. Make sure you hang by one of the firepits after (reservations suggested).
Cost: Prices vary per event
72 North Bremen Avenue, Egg Harbor City, NJ 08215
First Day Hike at Whitesbog
January 1 at 10 AM
Get ready for a 3-mile walk on sandy trails (dogs are welcome with leashes). There will be hot chocolate and tea in the General Store. Migratory birds may be in the area, so don’t forget to bring binoculars.
Meeting Location: Whitesbog Historic Village, 799 Lakehurst Rd Browns Mills, NJ 08015
First Day at the Beach Ocean City
January 1 at 2 PM
Take Ocean City’s first dip in the ocean for the New Year at 2 PM. On the beach adjacent to the Music Pier.
Ocean City, NJ 08226
Old Dutch New Year: Talk of the Taverns
January 1 at 2 PM
Get outdoors on a walk along historic Somerville’s Peters Brook Greenway and Main Street with brief stops for historical storytelling recalling George Washington’s passage through the area in early January 1777. After, there will be a festive open house at Old Dutch Parsonage.
Wallace House & Old Dutch Parsonage State Historic Sites, 71 Somerset Street Somerville, NJ 08876
Sea of Lights Indoor 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 Indoor Holiday Lights Spectacular includes treats, crafts, pictures with Santa, games, and entertainment.
Cost: $10 and up
300 Ocean Avenue, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742
Christmas Fantasy with Lights
Now-December 30, dates and times vary
Your littles will love seeing the park glow after dark and be thrilled to go on rides and attractions (all open at night) during this magical time.
Cost: $27.95 per person if bought in advance, $30.95 per person at the door.
Storybook Land, 6415 Black Horse Pike (Routes 40/322), Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08234
Christmas Light Show & Village
Now-December 30, dates and times vary (check ticket schedule for full details)
With over two million dazzling lights, your littles will be amazed by all the sparkle and shine on this mile-long course. Afterward, head to the village to go ice skating, dine on hot cocoa and s’mores, and play lots of festive-filled games.
Cost: $29 standard admission or $79 VIP admission
Skylands Stadium, 94 Championship Pl., Augusta, NJ 07822
Magic of Lights New Jersey
Experience the dazzling lights 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: $20 and up
PNC Bank Arts Center, 116 Garden State Pkwy, Holmdel, NJ 07733
The North Pole Experience at Harbaugh Village
Now to December 30
Take a ride on the carousel, ice skate, play games, visit the sweet shop, cozy up to the fire pit, and shop for gifts in the vendor village. All proceeds benefit GeorgesHouse.org, a non-profit committed to providing toys and transitional housing for children and families in need.
Tickets are $19.95 a person; kids two and under are free, and some activities are an additional cost.
126 Bridgeton Pike, Mullica Hill, NJ 08062
Winter Wonderland Illuminated Walking Trail
Take a stroll through the woods filled with fun snowmen and trees, illuminated boxes with miniature scenes, and a fairy garden box. After the trail, make sure to stop by the bonfires for some hot chocolate and s’mores.
Cost: $12 and up
Indian Acres Tree Farm, 111 Tuckerton Rd., Medford, NJ 08055
Drive through this dazzling show with displays synced to music on your car radio. The 25-30 minute show will dazzle your family and put you into the holiday spirit.
Cost: $29.95 and up
Newark Moonlight Cinema, 220 Orange Street, Newark, NJ 07103
South Jersey Holiday Light Show
Now-December 31, dates and times vary
Get in the festive spirit at this drive-through holiday light show featuring dozens of dazzling displays and scenes celebrating everything your family loves about this season. 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, on 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. There are also train rides, carousel rides, Reptile House and Aquarium visits, and pony rides.
Cost: Donation recommended, additional fee for some attractions.
560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange, NJ 07052
Allaire Community Farm
Thursdays-Sundays in December
See the largest dreidel in the world at Allaire Community Farm on a tractor-pulled wagon that takes you through beautiful holiday light displays. After, stop by the farmstand to sip hot cocoa and cider.
1923 Baileys Corner Road, Wall, NJ 07719
Holidig Drive-Thru Light Show at Diggerland USA
America’s only construction theme and water park will be decked out in a drive-through display of glowing lights, tunnels, holiday displays, and more. As you drive through the exhibits, tune into Diggerland USA’s radio station to get into the holiday spirit.
Diggerland USA, 100 Pinedge Drive, West Berlin, NJ 08091
Old Fashioned Christmas
See the seaside town of Cape May transform into a Dickens village just in time for the holidays. Don’t miss free events like the Winter WonderWalk, tours of the Physick Estate, and the Christmas Candlelight House Tours. They also have a Lamplighter Christmas Tour and Santa’s Trolley Tours throughout the season.
Cost: Prices vary
Cape May, NJ 08204
Orchard of Lights at Demarest Farms
Start your engine to explore 32 acres of holiday light displays at Demarest Farms. You can also warm up by the fire pit with s’mores and enjoy hot cocoa and treats in the retail farm market.
Cost: $35 per car
Demarest Farms, 244 Wierimus Rd., Hillsdale, NJ 07642
The Winter WonderLights
New Jersey’s largest animated holiday light show will dazzle your family with over 1.5 million lights dancing to your favorite holiday music. The trees, the tunnels, and a tribute to first responders and US armed forces are just a sample of what you will see on the half-mile drive.
Cost: $30 per car or $125 VIP season pass per car; guests are encouraged to buy their tickets online.
655 Cranbury Road, East Brunswick, NJ 08816
Bergen County Winter Wonderland
Glide into a winter wonderland with a carousel and train rides in Van Saun Park. Then lace up your skates and get out on the ice for a skate among the lights and decorations.
Van Saun County Park, 216 Forest Ave Paramus, NJ 07653
Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays until January 6
Explore the farm and see all of the lights for the holiday season. This year, they’ll be doing a walk-through where you can see and feed animals from 4 PM to 6:30 PM. Train rides will be available during the walk-through; the drive-through will be 7 PM – 8:30 PM.
Cost: $9.50 for the walk-through (under two is free); $20 per car for the drive-through.
301 Rockaway Valley Road, Boonton, NJ 07005
Holiday Light Show on the Lake
Visit Historic Smithville to ride the carousel and roast s’mores by the firepits on the green. Then watch favorite holiday tunes synchronized to a unique light display. There will be over 120 Christmas trees, constructed from 50,000+ Christmas lights, magically floating atop Lake Meone in the center of the village. An orchestrated show of lights dances across the water to Christmas music when the sky is dark. The show can be seen from either side of the village and the bridge.
Historic Smithville Village, 615 E Moss Mill Road, Smithville, NJ 08205
Festival of Trees
Now-January 8, Wednesdays through Sundays
The whole family will enjoy this annual festival, where elegant galleries, mantels, and porches are artfully decorated for the holidays by local businesses, garden clubs, and non-profit organizations.
Cost: $8 and up
Morven Museum and Garden, 55 Stockton St., Princeton, NJ 08540
Monmouth Museum Holiday Train Display
Kids will love seeing this nostalgic display featuring Lionel Trains winding through an over 30ft exhibit of towns, mountains, cities, and more. Alongside the trains, the Main Gallery hosts a 20ft Holiday Tree and Pat Brentano’s “Consider the Trees” show.
Monmouth Museum, 765 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft, NJ 07738
Let It Glow
It’s a holiday spectacular at the Bergen County Zoo with impressive, larger-than-life lantern displays of animals and nature that are awe-inspiring. Walk through the exhibits up close, then take a train ride through the zoo.
Cost: $9 and up
Bergen County Zoo, 216 Forest Avenue, Paramus, NJ 07652
Visit Taylor Park and enjoy magical light displays as you stroll along a path at the lake’s edge. After you and your family enjoy the lights, visit Millburn’s unique retailers and restaurants. The park is lit from 4:30 PM until 10:00 PM nightly.
Cost: Free to enter
100 Main Street, Millburn, NJ, 07041
Night Forms: Infinite Wave at Grounds For Sculpture
The whole family will love to see the Grounds of Sculpture reimagined after hours, with a multi-sensory light and sound experience designed to engage with the art and horticulture collection. Spend the evening outdoors exploring the lighting, sound, and video projection mapping, and join the interactive exhibits, which will delight kids and adults.
Cost: $22 and up
80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton, NJ 08619
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