Every November around this time of year, I rummage around my home office desk drawer to pull out a ratty handwritten list of holiday activities that my family loves doing and never wants to miss. This scrap of paper represents the traditions we’re creating for our young family—traditions I hope my boys will look back on with love and fondness, and pass on to their own young families if they come back to live in South Jersey, just as my husband and I have done.
There are only so many weekends in the holiday season and we try to fit in as many holiday events around our crazy schedule with our boys, ages 9 and 3. Some of these were traditions I did as a girl, some from when we were first married, and many others are when we became parents. We were both born and raised in Southern Central New Jersey but are continually surprised by the new and undiscovered treasures around us, so we attempt to add in as much as we can and try to make as many family memories as possible.
There are a few South Jersey stops that we absolutely cannot miss every holiday season:
Johnson’s Farm Holiday Light Hayride
Stop by the farm for the light show hayride that features thousands of twinkling lights and an awesome light show on the lake. There’s also a great playground and an open fire, where your kids can roast a s’more.
Various December/January Dates
Burlington County Victorian Christmas at Smithville Mansion
Their jolly holiday kickoff includes ice carving demonstrations, entertainment, kids’ activities, Victorian re-enactments and a holiday marketplace. But if you don’t make it there, be sure to stop by the Historic Smithville Mansion. It’s fully decorated in Victorian splendor and open for tours both in the afternoons and by candlelight in the evenings. There’s also a special holiday tea service with sweet treats on Saturdays in December (reservations are required).
Smithville Mansion, Eastampton
through December 29th
Ritz Oaklyn’s Scrooge the Musical
This rendition of the Dickens classic is not to be missed and perfect for the whole family. This timeless musical follows the plot of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, in which the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge undergoes a profound experience of redemption over the course of a Christmas Eve night, after being visited by the ghost of his former partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.
Haddonfield Candlelight Shopping
Experience this annual event in one of South Jersey’s best places to live! Every Friday night through December 20th knock those gifts off your holiday list by shopping small on Haddonfield’s main strip and side streets. You can also enjoy caroling, hot cocoa, live entertainment, and carriage rides. Free Parking through December 25.
Every Friday Night November 29 – December 20
WinterFest Ice Skating on the Cooper
Cooper River Park has once again transformed into a winter wonderland with tasty treats and ice-skating family fun. WinterFest is the perfect place to spend your holiday nights skating with friends and family—and continue the fun off ice with outdoor games in the area and arcade games in the heated tent.
Cooper River Park, Pennsauken Township
From now until February 17 | Thursday—Sunday, plus special events
Fort Mott’s Soldiers Christmas
Presented by 9th Infantry Division WWII Historical Preservation Society, this reenactment depicts soldiers from different eras celebrating Christmas away from home at Fort Mott. You’ll see soldiers and sailors from the Roman era to the Cold War. After, take a lantern tour around the park and visit the park’s museum that will have a special collection of military-themed Christmas advertisements, photos and paperwork.
Fort Mott, Pennsville
Saturday, December 14 | 5 PM – 9 PM
Christmas in the Park
Celebrate all things Christmas in Uptown Pitman on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. During your visit, you can shop from local merchants and enjoy their unique window displays and lights. Take a trolley tour through Pitman, starting and ending at Ballard Park, just steps from Haggerty’s famous donation-only Christmas Light Display. Make sure the kids visit and take pictures with Santa.
now until December 21 | times vary
Read more about some of South Jersey’s treasures here.