55+ Free Things To Do This December


It’s December, and holiday celebrations are peaking, so get ready to fill your calendar with a roster of festive family things to do. And the best part? Many of them are free, which means you can save your cash for gifts. See Santa on parade at Holiday on Haddon in Haddon Township, watch performances and make a snow globe at Community Day: Winter Wonderland at The Newark Museum in Newark, or eat jelly donuts and celebrate the festival of lights at Hanukkah on the Morris Green in Morristown. And if you want more holiday fun, don’t miss our guide to everything holiday in NJ. (featured photo credit: istock/GarysFRP)

(Note: It’s always best to check ahead for in-person events)

Wildwood Christmas Tree Lighting
December 1 – Wildwood Crest, December 2 – Greater Wildwood Jaycees Downtown, North Wildwood Tree Lighting, Wildwood Business Improvement District
Welcome in the holidays in a variety of locations around Wildwood. There are four tree lighting ceremonies to attend all around town.
A variety of locations in Wildwood, NJ

Jersey City Lighting
December 1 at 6 PM
The Historic Downtown Special Improvement District will combine a Menorah and Christmas Tree Lighting. Don’t miss the hot chocolate and cookies. 
Newark Avenue Pedestrian Mall, 134-158 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, NJ 07302

Downtown Toms River Tree Lighting
December 2 at 5 PM
Come down to the Downtown District of Toms River for some holiday fun. Starting with live entertainment at 5 PM, Santa will arrive on a fire truck to light the tree at 7 PM, followed by photos with the big guy.
Courtyard of Toms River Town Hall, Toms River, NJ 08753

Fireman’s Park Tree Lighting in Asbury Park
December 2 at 5:30 PM
Kick off the holiday season with a visit from Santa, festive music, holiday treats, and hot chocolate. 
Fireman’s Park, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

Holiday Jubilee in Somerville
December 2 at 5:30 PM
Enjoy music by Base Entertainment, and then at 7 PM, there will be live entertainment featuring music, carolers, dancing, and a visit from Santa. Following Santa’s arrival and the holiday tree lighting, enjoy more holiday fun, including free carriage rides, photos with Santa, hot cocoa and cookies, holiday crafts, and more. 
Downtown Somerville, NJ 08876

Boro in Lights
December 2 at 6 PM
See over 19,000 lights light up the night on the Glassboro tree. There will also be photos with Santa, The Grinch, and Buddy the Elf, horse, and carriage rides, free cookies, ornament decorating, live performances, and more for the whole family.
Glassboro Town Square, High Street West, Glassboro, NJ 08028

Christmas Parade and Lighting Event in Somers Point
December 2 at 6 PM
Get in the holiday spirit with this Christmas parade and lighting event. Santa will attend the lighting to visit with all the little ones.
City Hall, Somers Point, NJ 08244

Pre-Kwanzaa Event
December 2 at 7 PM
Stockton University will commemorate the beginning of Kwanzaa for the 47th year with a pre-celebration open to everyone. The evening will include a libation ceremony—outlining the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa during a candle-lighting—and dance performances. 
Stockton University, Campus Center Room, 101 Vera King Farris Drive, Galloway, NJ 08205

Holiday on Haddon 
December 2
The “Parade of Lights” will make its way down Haddon Ave with decorated fire trucks, bands, floats, holiday characters, and, of course, Santa. The tree lighting ceremony will take place immediately following the parade. Families are invited for refreshments at the Westmont Fire Company No. 1, and children can give their list to Santa and take a photo.
Haddon Avenue, Haddon Twp., NJ 08108

Surf City Christmas Market, Santa, and Ship Bottom Christmas Parade
December 2-3
On December 2, Santa will arrive via fire truck to light the Christmas tree, and there will be family-friendly activities for all. On December 3, you won’t want to miss the Ship Bottom Christmas Parade at 1 PM. And don’t miss all of the holiday shopping at the market.
Farmers Market Christmas Market at the Surf City Firehouse, 713 Long Beach Blvd., Surf City, NJ 08008

Byron Barn Christmas Market
December 2-4

See the work of artisans and hand-crafters, enjoy live music, sample food from food trucks, and cuddle up next to the fire pit. 
Byron Barn, 626 Plainsboro Road, Plainsboro Township, NJ 08536

Outdoor Christmas Market at Saint Mary’s
December 3 at 9 AM
It’s the Parish of Saint Mary’s Second Annual Outdoor Christmas Market. There will be craft artisans, vendors, and food trucks. 
Saint Mary, Mother of God Church, 19 Cherry Tree Farm Road, Middletown, NJ 07748

Kwanzaa Community Celebration Montclair
December 3 at 10 AM
The Montclair Public Library will celebrate the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa with a festive community gathering featuring traditional presentations, live entertainment, and programs that illustrate the historical elements of Kwanzaa. There will be balloon twisting, dance, local vendors, and music.
50 South Fullerton Avenue, Montclair, NJ 07042

Saturdays with Santa in Flemington on Main Street
December 3 at 11 AM
Make sure to reserve a spot with Santa, and don’t miss the restaurants and stores where you can pick up holiday passports to win prizes. 
Main Street 71 Main Street Flemington, NJ 08822

2022 West Cape May Community Christmas Parade
December 3 at 5 PM
The annual West Cape May Community Christmas Parade steps off Broadway promptly at 5 PM. Enjoy one-of-a-kind floats, award-winning string bands, high school bands, dance groups, and first responder vehicles.
West Cape May Volunteer Fire Company, 732 Broadway, West Cape May, NJ 08204

Holiday Lights Parade 2022
December 3 at 6 PM
This festive parade will have prizes given out for the best-decorated fire and emergency vehicles, personal floats vehicles, and best-decorated houses and businesses in Somerville. The parade starts at dusk.
Engine 1 Somerville Fire Dept., 170 E Main St, Somerville, NJ 08876

33rd Annual Christmas Parade
December 3 at 6 PM
Get into the spirit of the season with a parade that will begin at the intersection of Davistown Rd and the Black Horse Pike, then proceed North to Church Street and then to the Central Ave Fire Station. 
Davistown Road, Blackwood, NJ 08012

Cape May City Crafts at Christmas
December 3

You’ll find something for everyone on your list at Cape May’s Annual Crafts at Christmas Show, where makers and artists display their handmade and original works. Comb the aisles of the legendary Convention Hall for maker goods like jewelry, soaps, candles, and artwork. 
714 Beach Avenue, Cape May, NJ 08204

Ocean Grove Holiday Festival and Christmas in Ocean Grove
December 3
During the day, shop with local crafters and artisans, and listen to live music. After, watch a choir performance, see a live nativity, a tree lighting with carols, and a special visitor from the North Pole. 
Ocean Grove, NJ 07756

Pitman Winter Village
December 3
Treat yourself to the charm of a Victorian Holiday in this village, where you can shop for unique, handmade gifts from vendors. Your little ones can visit with Santa at Ballard Park and stroll among the decorations and lights afterward. 
Ballard Ave and Park, Pitman, NJ 08071

Westwood Home For The Holidays
December 3, Parade begins at 6 PM
Get ready for the holiday season with the return of Westwood’s beloved Home For The Holidays celebration, which features a tree lighting. The parade will begin at 6 PM with a visit from the big guy in red.
Downtown Westwood, NJ 07675

Winterfest 6
December 3
Bring the kids to enjoy holiday music, fun activities, and a special appearance by Santa. You can also shop the outdoor market offering unique gifts from area artisans and vendors, delicious treats and eats, and outdoor fire pits. 
51 Haddon Ave., Haddon Twp., NJ 08108

Atlantic City Holiday Bazaar
December 3-4
Holiday shopping, food and libations, handcrafted and vintage goods, and more. The holiday bazaar is inspired by the traditional “Weihnachtsmarkts” in Germany. Throughout the two event days, there will be nonstop live music, an indoor Biergarten, arts and crafts activities for children and adults, pictures with Santa, and shopping from local artists and makers.
The Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton University, 2200 Fairmount Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ 08401

Downtown Winter Wonderland
December 3-4
It’s the 2nd annual Winter Wonderland taking place in Downtown Toms River. There will be handcrafted gifts, family activities, caroling, face painting, a petting zoo with pony rides (Saturday only), Ornament Painting by Refresh Your Pallet, and a holiday storytime. 
33 Washington St, Toms River, NJ 08753

Hoboken City Holiday Craft Fair
December 3-4
Get your lists ready and shop from 3 floors of handcrafted gifts for the whole family at Hoboken City Hall.
94 Washington Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030

Fort Lee Artisan Market
December 3 and 17
See a collection of local makers and artists offering unique, handcrafted creations. This monthly outdoor market also hosts live music from The Bergen County Acoustic Musicians featuring acoustic rock and folk/rock guitar music.
Hudson Lights Park (The Be Fort Lee Sign – between Schlosser Street and Hudson Street), Fort Lee, NJ 07024

Holiday Harmonies 
December 3- 25
Enjoy performances downtown on Saturdays and Sundays. See traditional carolers, choirs, brass bands, handbells, and rock, folk, and jazz musicians bring their flavor of holiday tunes to the sidewalks of Red Bank.
Red Bank, NJ 07701

Holiday Market PopUP at the Livingston Town Center
December 4 at 11 AM
This Winter Wonderland-themed shopping event will feature 13+ unique artists and local businesses offering a wide variety of items that will make great holiday gifts. There will also be food trucks, live music, and other attractions.
Livingston Town Center 1100-8100 Town Center Way Livingston, NJ 07039

Asbury Fresh Pop-Up at Porta
December 4 and December 8
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

Holiday Drive Thru
December 9 at 6 PM
Come see the sights and sounds of the holiday as you drive through the holiday route to visit Santa. Ornaments, crafts, and candy canes will go out to the first 200 kids.
Riverwinds Community Center, 1000 Riverwinds Dr., West Deptford, NJ 08086

Ujamaa Economic Power Kwanzaa Celebration
December 10 at 9 AM
Celebrate Kwanzaa with a candle-lighting ceremony, vendors, food, music, live performances, and children’s activities.
Rahway Recreation Center, 3 City Hall Plz., Rahway, NJ 07065 

Community Day: Winter Wonderland
December 10 at 12 PM
Winter Wonderland is back with more seasonal performances and activities, including a capella singers, step dancing, snow globe, and candle making. There will be a dreidel activity too. Local vendors will be on hand, and food and drinks will be available for purchase.
Registration is required.
The Newark Museum of Art, 49 Washington Street, Newark, NJ 07102

Hammonton Fire Department Christmas Parade “An Old Fashioned Christmas”
December 10 at 7 PM
Hammonton Fire Department’s 2022 Christmas Parade is “An Old Fashioned Christmas.” Trophies will be available for participants.
Bellevue Ave/Rt.54 from N. Liberty St. through Egg Harbor Road, Hammonton, NJ 08037

Bayshore Holiday Bazaar 2022
December 10-11 at 12 PM
Shop for handcrafted and local gifts, sample hot food and drinks, and you won’t want to miss the holiday photo station. This event is free for all ages, pet-friendly, and indoors.
Shore Casino, 1 Simon Lake Dr., Atlantic Highlands, NJ 07716

The Sounds of Christmas at Historic Longstreet Farm
December 11 at 1 PM
Enjoy Christmas music by Larry Moser and Mary Nagin as they play carols on the hammered dulcimer and fiddle.
Longstreet Farm, 44 Longstreet Road, Holmdel, NJ 07733

Nature Lecture Series: Snowy Owls of Monmouth County 
December 15 at 7 PM
Find out where owls come from, where they go, what they eat, and what makes them so mysterious. Guests will also learn about populations of snowy owls in the Northeast.
Bayshore Waterfront Activity Center, 719 Port Monmouth Road, Port Monmouth, NJ 07758

Kwanzaa at New Jersey Performing Arts Center
December 17 at 10 AM
NJPAC honors the seven principles of Kwanzaa with free and joyous programs. The Kwanzaa Festival and Marketplace open at NJPAC on Saturday, December 17, at 10 AM; registration for the Free Kwanzaa Family Festival begins at 9 AM. The festivities include dance classes, storytelling, face painting, a Kwanzaa candle-lighting ceremony, live performances, and traditional foods. The festival is a collaboration between the Newark Museum of Art, Newark Arts, the City of Newark, Newark Symphony Hall, and Newark Public Library. 
1 Center Street, Newark, NJ 07102

Meet and Greet with Santa and Toy Drive
December 17 at 12 PM
Stop in for free food, mingling, and a special visit from Santa. If you can, each party is being asked to please bring a new toy to donate to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to bring some holiday cheer to kids who cannot be home for the holidays. 
Rastelli Kids Complex,1855 Huffville Road, Deptford, NJ 08080

Car Menorah Parade Cherry Hill
December 18 at 4 PM
The parade will be led by a car-top Menorah and a police escort through the streets of Cherry Hill. There will also be a menorah music truck, classic and antique cars, and first responder vehicles.
1925 Kresson Road to the Barclay Center, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003

Menorah Lighting and Gelt Drop
December 18 at 5 PM
At this community event on the first night of Hanukkah, there be an 8-foot mega LED robot, Grand Menorah Lighting, a gelt drop, and treats for all.
430 Park Ave., Scotch Plains, NJ 07076

Woodland Park Public Hanukkah Celebration
December 18 at 7:30 PM
It’s the year of Hakhel which means gathering. Bring the whole family to celebrate in Woodland Park on the first night of Hanukkah.
Dowling Gardens, 2 Dowling Parkway, Woodland Park, NJ 07424

Ventnor City Menorah Lighting
December 19 at 5:30 PM
This south Jersey menorah lighting by the shore will take place on the Sacramento side of Ventnor City Hall.
6201 Atlantic Avenue, Ventnor City, NJ 08406

Palmer Square Annual Menorah Lighting
December 20 at 4 PM
The Jewish Center of Princeton will be there for the annual lighting of the menorah in Palmer Square. There will be music and fun for the whole family.
Nassau Inn Patio, 10 Palmer Square, Princeton, NJ 08542

Medford Hanukkah Village Walk
December 20 at 5 PM
Take a Hanukkah village walk, visit vendors, and then see the Grand Menorah Lighting. There will also be a trackless train, latkes, candle-making, crafts, and activities.
Medford Village Park and Main Street & Allen, Medford, NJ 08055

Little Falls Public Hanukkah Celebration
December 21 at 6:30 PM
Come to Wilmore Park to celebrate Hanukkah in Little Falls with a public menorah lighting and fun.
Wilmore Road, Little Falls, NJ 07424

Hanukkah on the Morristown Green
December 21 at 5 PM
Bring everyone in the family to the annual Hanukkah Candle Lighting on Morristown Green. This festive event will have doughnuts, hot drinks, gelt, prizes, music, and more. 
Morristown Green, Morristown, NJ 07960

Collingswood Menorah Lighting
December 22
Join the community for a Menorah Lighting and Chanukah Celebration at the Lumberyard Garden (Collings and North Atlantic Avenues). The evening of fun for the whole family includes music, latkes, donuts, dreidels, and choco-gelt.
Collingswood, NJ 08108

KWANZAA 365 Celebration
December 27 at 11 AM – 6:30 PM
Join performers, dancers, and speakers at this lively all-day celebration, which ends with a Kinara lighting ceremony (it will also be streaming live). There will also be events throughout the day, including arts and crafts, a gaming station, local storytelling, and giveaways. 
Harambee Circle, 1 Memorial Drive, Trenton, NJ, 08608

Bell Works Fresh Holiday Market
Now-December 10, select dates
If the weather outside looks frightful, you can still shop at this indoor market with 75 local farmers, food purveyors, local artisans, and more. 
Bell Works, 101 Crawfords Corner Road,
Holmdel, NJ 07733

Long Branch Holiday Bazaar
Now-December 11, Saturdays and Sundays
Bring the family to this holiday tradition featuring music, food, and kids’ craft workshops on Saturday. Families will also meet special holiday characters and take memorable photos at the Instagram-worthy selfie station with the Grinch, Elf on a Shelf, and Frosty the Snowman.
Whitechapel Projects (WCP), 15 2nd Ave, Long Branch, NJ 07740

Asbury Park Holiday Bazaar
Now-December 18, days may vary per location; check ahead
Step into a traditional Christmas market where you can shop, celebrate, and enjoy holiday decor and entertainment in Asbury Park at the Grand Arcade. There will also be crafts and a holiday photo booth. 
Grand Arcade of Convention Hall, 1300 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712
The Asbury Hotel, 210 5th Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

Holiday Light Show on the Lake
Now-January 6
Visit Historic Smithville to hear your 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

Monmouth Museum Holiday Train Display
Now-January 8
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

Winter Walk 
Now-January 15
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.
100 Main Street, Millburn, NJ, 07041

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About Author

Melanie Bodner has always had a love for writing, but now she has a new love…being a mom. Before having her kids, Melanie was no stranger to writing or working with children. She wrote for a local newspaper as a reporter and taught English and Dance in a public school. Now Melanie enjoys spending time with her kids, doing yoga, writing and decorating her home. Check out her Instagram @burlapbythebeach.