The holiday season is upon us which means there are endless festive events like festivals, meet-and-greets with Santa, light shows (including Christmas tree, menorah and kinara lightings) and caroling. The best part? The events we’ve rounded up all have free admission so you can visit and stay on track with your holiday budget. (P.S. The exception to our saving rule is to shop local at one of the many amazing holiday markets through NJ this month!) Make sure you check dates, times and weather before you head out.

December 1

Holiday Greeting Card-Making Workshop
Eclectic Chic Boutique, Montclair
Learn how to create your own unique and personalized holiday greeting cards. You will get all of the supplies you need, including cardstock, paper, stamps, stickers, and more. Each person will make two greeting cards with envelopes. This is part of the Free First Friday series.

Downtown Somerville Holiday Jubilee
Downtown Somerville
Walk along Main Street and Division Street and listen to holiday music, go ice skating, meet characters from Disney’s “Frozen,” listen to carolers, snack on free hot cocoa and cookies, take a free carriage ride, and take photos with Santa.


December 1-2

Greater Wildwood Jaycees Parade and Christmas in the Plaza Festival
Enjoy free carnival rides, music and vendors on Friday, along with the Christmas parade and the tree lighting; on Saturday there will be live music by the John Walter Band, and storytime with Mrs. Claus.

Winter Wonderland
Kuser Park, Hamilton Twp.
Spend time taking photos with Santa and Grinchy, checking out the animals at the petting zoo, riding on Santa’s Mini Express, taking the Hamilton’s Express wagon ride, making reindeer food and getting your face painted. Crafter’s Candy Cane Lane features various vendors. There will be a dozen food trucks on site.

December 1-23

Off The Wall Holiday Market
West Windsor Arts Council, Princeton Junction
There will be more than 100 works of art and crafted items at this holiday fair, which is part artisan market, part affordable art show, and part juried art exhibit.

Fridays – Sundays, December 1-24

Ridgewood Holiday Market
16 Chestnut Street, Ridgewood
The Ridgewood Guild, Femmebot and True Ascend curated the first-ever holiday market in Downtown Ridgewood. Shop and support small businesses and vendors selling jewelry, clothes, crystals and more. Santa will be available for photos.


December 1-24

Christmas Village
LOVE Park, City Halls Courtyard and North Broad, Philadelphia, PA
You’ll feel like you’re in Germany instead of Pennsylvania as local and international vendors set up in traditional wooden booths, offering holiday gifts, ornaments, jewelry and high-quality arts and crafts.

December 2

Christmas on the Farm
Howell Living History Farm, Hopewell Twp.
Santa is coming to Howell Farm … on a steam tractor! Stop by the visitor center to hear the Jugtown Mountain String Band play inside the barn, and then find a spot around the craft table to recreate a paper Victorian angel ornament, Next walk up to the barnyard, where families can take selfies in the 1800s sleigh pulled by the horses on snowy days, and visit the blacksmith working in the farm’s forge. The farmhouse will be open for tours, decked out in all its Christmas finery. Stop back at the visitor center for warm drinks, homemade cookies and lunch.

Christmas at Casino Arcade
Casino Pier, Seaside Heights
This free kids’ event includes a magic show with Steve Woyce, a holiday concert with Yosi, and meet-and-greets with Buddy the Elf and Jovi.

Ventnor City Twilight Holiday Parade & Festival
Ventnor Avenue, Ventnor City
The parade travels down Ventnor Avenue, starting at New Haven Avenue and ending at Nashville Avenue. There will be marching bands, firetrucks, floats, classic cars and Mr. and Mrs. Claus. And, there will be 20 Jeeps representing the New Jersey Jeep Invasion that will parade through town and then be on display at the end of the parade. After the parade, visit Santa and take part in activities across from the Ventnor Square Theater. There will be a holiday market with food and vendors, pony rides, face painting, a balloon man and train car rides.

Hometown Holiday
Downtown Washington Borough
The family-friendly evening includes the annual tree lighting, Santa and Mrs. Claus arriving on the fire truck, music by DJ Rupe, free horse and carriage rides (weather permitting), vendors, selfies with Santa, a gift for every child, a Victorian photo booth, a strolling brass band, The Warren County Singers, seasonal characters, free kids crafts with Dove Environmental Education. Add your own unique ornament to the town tree with the new community ornament-making activity.

Winterfest Market
Haddon Square, Haddon Twp.
The family-friendly event will get you all into the holiday spirit with lots of vendors, holiday music, fun activities for the kids, food, a beer garden with seasonal brews and cocktails, and a special appearance by Santa.

Tenafly Holiday Fair
Peace Plaza, Tenafly
Tenafly Chamber and Tenafly Downtown Committee are putting together their first holiday fair, complete with dozens of local and regional vendors, a community concert featuring local musicians and dancers, hot cocoa from the food trucks, and crafts for the kids. There will be more festive fun inside Tenafly Public Library, including winter-themed crafts and a community puzzle.

The Heights Holiday Market
Riverview-Fisk Park, Jersey City
Enjoy 80+ local vendors, a festive food court, a free holiday photo booth, live music by DJ Preskool and DJ Lucy Euclid, seasonal cocktails by Fox & Crow, family photos with Santa, s’mores hot cocoa by Busy Bee Organics, and more.


Holiday Open House
Point Breeze Discovery Center, Bordentown
The Discovery Center was created by D&R Greenway Land Trust in a renovated historic home that belonged to Joseph Napoleon Bonaparte’s gardener in the early 1800s. The house will be open with exhibits about the history, land and people of Point Breeze, including the Lenape and Bonaparte. During the open house, have mulled cider, hot chocolate and cookies.

Haddon Twp. Winterfest Market
Haddon Square, Haddon Twp.
Get into the holiday spirit with vendors, holiday music, fun activities for the kids, a special appearance by Santa, food and a beer garden.

Winter Wonderland Sip & Shop
Garden State Distillery, Toms River
While you shop for holiday gifts from local artisans, you can sip on cocktails and beer.

Seasonal Traditions
East Jersey Old Town Village, Piscataway
Start the day with holiday music, wagon rides, children’s crafts, and carolers. Later in the afternoon, stick around for storytelling of timeless holiday classics – including “A Christmas Carol” and a radio retelling of “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

West Orange Holiday Open House
Washington Elementary School, West Orange
There’s a full day of activities planned: Breakfast with Santa (and other fun characters), Historic Downtown Trolley Tours personally guided by Mayor McCartney and township officials, crafts and entertainment, photo opportunities, a curated selection of vendors, and other fun activities. At night, there will be a tree lighting at town Hall. Don’t miss the live music and dance performances, train rides and petting zoo.

December 2-3

Noyes Holiday Market and Gingerbread Village
Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton University, Atlantic City
There will be live music from pianist Denis Brousse, family photos with Santa, craft activities for all ages, local food and drink vendors, shopping from local artists and vendors, and a gingerbread house contest.


Select dates, December 2-17

Holiday Bazaars
Grand Arcade of Convention Hall, Asbury Park
The Asbury Hotel, Asbury Park
Whitechapel Projects, Long Branch
These bazaars are inspired by the traditional “Weihnachtsmarkts” holiday markets held in Germany. There will be handcrafted goods and unique holiday gifts made by local and regional makers and small businesses, in addition to holiday music and entertainment, photos with Santa, food and drinks, craft workshops, kids activities, festive décor and music.

December 2-31

Coastal Holidays By The Sea
Pier Village, Long Branch
Weekend events include rides on the Carousel, visits with Santa and holiday princesses, a juggling elf and stiltwaker show, Hanukkah pup photos and fireworks on NYE.

December 3

Lunch With Santa
Nunzio by Chef Michael DeLone, Collingswood
If you make a donation to the Food Bank of South Jersey or Toys for Tots of Camden County, the kids will eat free, and the adults will get a free glass of winter sangria. You can order off Nunzio’s regular menu, and then finish with hot cocoa and candy canes. Santa will be collecting the items and taking photos.

Holiday Boutique
Rumson Jewish Center at Congregation B’Nai Israel, Rumson
Shop from categories including accessories, women’s, kids, home, toys, and more.

Holiday Flea Market & Gift Fair
Bergenfield High School, Bergenfield
There will be over 100 tables of gift items at this holiday market.

Winter Wonderland Holiday Market & Lighting Celebration
East Brunswick Municipal Complex, East Brunswick
Check out all the holiday lights while you shop for gifts and attend a Christmas tree lighting and menorah lighting.

Holiday Craft Fair
Louis Bay 2nd Library, Hawthorne
Find the perfect gift for friends and family from local crafters and vendors.

Weekends, December 3 – 18

Off-the-Wall Holiday Market
West Windsor Arts, Princeton Junction
Work will be original and handcrafted by the artist. The focus is on the maker: their story, what makes their process unique, the history of their craft, their sustainable practices, and any other aspect of their business that helps customers understand who they are.

December 3 – January 6, 2024

Festival of Trees
New Brunswick Performing Arts Center and Amboy Bank, New Brunswick
The trees on display will represent several countries and cultures and traditions from around the world. During the opening reception on Dec. 3, there will be special holiday musical performances, including by the Hungarian Scouts of New Brunswick, and refreshments.

December 6

Santa’s Luau
Bridgewater Commons, Bridgewater
The North Pole meets the tropics at Santa’s Luau. Wear your best Hawaiian gear and join Santa for some fun. You’ll be helping those affected by the wildfires in Maui, as 100% of the proceeds of the day will be matched by Bridgewater Commons and donated to parent company Pacific Retail Capital Property’s (PRCP’s) drive to support the island.

Sugar Plum Story Time
Montgomery Public Library, Montgomery
Join the Sugar Plum Fairy as she takes you on a journey through the magical Land of the Sweets with a reading, performance, and dance class given by professional dancers from Roxey Ballet.

December 7

Tice’s Corner Winter Festival
Tice’s Corner, Woodcliff Lake
The menorah and Christmas tree lightings will include a special visit by Santa, hot chocolate, entertainment and crafts.

Polar Late Night
Rutgers Geology Museum, New Brunswick
Travel to the Poles, Earth’s coldest places. Demonstrations, arts and crafts and educational activities will be set up around the museum.

Sugar Plum Story Time
Hillsborough Public Library, Hillsborough
Join the Sugar Plum Fairy as she takes you on a journey through the magical Land of the Sweets with a reading, performance, and dance class given by professional dancers from Roxey Ballet.

December 7, 14, 21

South Orange Downtown Holiday Market
Village Plaza, South Orange
Discover over 25 local artisans and craftspeople showcasing handcrafted jewelry, trendy apparel, treats, art and one-of-a-kind gifts. There will be different musical acts each week.

December 8

Laurie Live: A Christmas Carol Concer Sing-Along
Woodbridge Main Library, Woodbridge
Led by pianist Laurie Goldman, this concert will feature classic favorites such as “Frosty the Snowman,” “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “The Dreidel Song.”

December 8-9

Drapkin Studio at Lewis Center for the Arts, Princeton University, Princeton
Friday – Saturday
In the North Pole town of Christmastown, Mrs. Claus is in charge of making sure that Christmas operations run smoothly. When Mrs. Claus’s daughter Clara dreams about moving to California, Christmastown is thrown upside down. This is a staged reading with carols, jazz and pop music.

December 9

Historic Smithville Park, Eastampton
You will find wandering carolers dressed in Victorian attire, trackless train rides, a life-sized snow globe, a wine and mulled cider tent, a blacksmith demo, a Holiday Marketplace, ice skating, ice carving, art exhibits, winter crafts Victorian Santa. Plan to watch a performance of “A Christmas Carol.” Join the Elf Hunt and help Buddy the Elf gather his friends in the Mansion Maze so they can get back to the North Pole in time for Christmas. Elsa and Olaf from “Frozen” will wander about. Sit by the bonfire and roast s’mores. Take a tour of the Historica Smithville Mansion, which will be fully decorated for the holidays. Food trucks will be on site.

Hungarian Artisan Market
American Hungarian Foundation, New Brunswick
There will be Hungarian vendors, artisans and food trucks on site that are themed specially for Christmas.

Montclair Flea Holiday Market
Montclair Flea, Montclair
Fifty local vendors will be selling handmade and vintage gifts.

Christmas At The Arcade
Casino Pier Arcade, Seaside Heights
This free kids’ event includes a magic show with Steve Woyce, a holiday concert with Yosi, and meet-and-greets with Santa and Holiday Mr. & Mrs. Mouse.

Voyage Through the Solar System
The Paterson Museum, Paterson
The Paterson Museum is teaming up with the Solar System Ambassadors, P-Tech Planetarium and Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Official Host, to present activities and presentations. Visit P-Tech’s portable planetarium to gaze at the stars.  Explorers will be given a Space Passport and can collect stamps for a special prize if they visit every station.

SoHa Art Building’s WinterFest
SoHa Arts, Haddon Twp.
Roam through the entire building, which is only open to the public a few times per year. The Grinch will make a special appearance, and Lynn King and Joe Lam will perform live music. The Snowman Scavenger Hunt will take you on an adventure throughout the building to find hidden snowman treasures.

Family Holiday Celebration & Tree Lighting Ceremony
Wildwoods Convention Center
There is free admission for the whole family to holiday-themed crafters and movies, photos with Santa, choir performances, children’s craft-making table, a magician, face painting, dance performances, Story Time with Mrs. Claus and more. At 4:30 pm there will be a tree lighting ceremony.

MICHELLE HAYNES / NAACP Edison Kwanzaa Vendor Fair

Kwanzaa Vendor Fair
Herbert Hoover Middle School, Edison
Join the NAACP Metuchen-Edison- Piscataway Local Branch for inspirational performances, speeches and visual art based on the 7 principles of Kwanzaa.

ChristMASS Brass
Bergenfield Recreation Center, Bergenfield
The free family concert includes vendor shopping as a donations fundraiser for the food pantry.

Hometown Holiday
Village Hall, South Orange
Winter Wonderland includes a free photo with Santa, holiday games, crafts, a holiday education center provided by the South Orange Public Library, the annual tree lighting, and then hot chocolate and snacks.

Holiday Made in Monmouth
Brookdale Community College, Lincroft
Hundreds of vendors will be set up in and around Collins Arena, selling goods made in Monmouth County.

Rutherford Elks 3rd Annual Holiday Bazaar
Rutherford Elks Lodge, Rutherford
One hundred percent of the proceeds made from this vendor market benefit charities supported by the Elks.

December 9-10

Christmas on a Small Farm Sip, Savor & Shop Weekend
Hacklebarney Farm
Stop by the market for vendor shopping, Christmas decor, a Christmas photo area, stocking stuffers, lunch, and s’mores by the fire pits.

December 10

Chanukah Menorah Parade
Leaves from Chabad of Cherry Hill
Members of the Cherry Hill police and fire departments, Cherry Hill Fire Police and Medford Fire Department will lead the parade that ends in a mega community celebration at Barclay Farms Shopping Center.

Community Chanukah Celebration
Barclay Farms Shopping Center, Cherry Hill
Chabad of Camden & Burlington Counties will host a huge party with an 18-foot giant menorah lighting complete with a gigantic spinning dreidel, donuts, latkes, dreidels, crafts, music, giveaways and entertainment.

Holiday Flea Market & Gift Fair
Wayne PAL Building, Wayne
There will be over 100 tables of gift items at this holiday market.

TISHMAN SPEYER / Tuba Christmas

Tuba Christmas
Rockefeller Center, New York, NY
Hundreds of tuba players from age 8 to 80 from around the world will play holiday songs together in Rockefeller Plaza.

Teaneck Creek Nature Walk
Teaneck Creek Conservancy
Explore what nature has to show us during migration season.

Historic Wicoff House Museum, Plainsboro
Meet Santa, Tje Grinch and Olaf. Make crafts, play games, go on a scavenger hunt, watch the museum light show, and snack on snowcones and s’mores.

Talk About Trees
Point Breeze Discovery Center, Bordentown
Dr. Dan Druckenbrod of Rider University will tell the story of historic trees he has discovered on the Point Breeze land through a survey and tree core sampling. Dr. Druckenbrod is preparing to publish a book on his work and will reveal previously unknown facts.

Washington’s Landing in New Jersey 
Washington Crossing State Park, Titusville
Can you imagine rowing through ice floes, and then trudging ten miles through a blizzard in the middle of the night — and your destination is a battle to decide the fate of your country? Learn about what happened to General George Washington as he and his soldiers crossed the Delaware River on a snowy Christmas night in 1776 – and what happened once the troops landed in New Jersey. NJ State Park historians, the Washington Crossing Park Association, the First Rhode Island Regiment, and other NJ-based reenactor groups who will give you an opportunity to experience both the crossing and the March to Trenton through the eyes of the men and women who lived it.

December 14

Hanukkah LEGO Night
Temple Sholom, Scotch Plains
Come see one of the largest collections of LEGOs in Scotch Plains! You can build as many LEGO creations as you’d like, while also playing dreidel games, listening to Chanukah music, lighting the menorah, and getting to know the Sholom family.

December 14-15

Holiday MarketSPACE
550 Broad St., Newark
Holiday MarketSPACE is a two-night holiday event tailored towards supporting Newark’s local communities and businesses. This event presented by Equal Space will showcase a diverse array of local vendors, each specializing in handmade crafts, fashion, self-care, home decor, and more. You’ll be serenaded by live holiday music while you enjoy hot chocolate and Coquito stations. Open to all ages.

December 16

Downtown Caroling
Join the Metuchen Downtown Alliance and Rise Up Chorus (a non-denominational community choral group) for the annual Downtown Caroling.

Love it or List It Gingerbread House
The annual gingerbread house contest has a “love it or list it” theme. Join the fun and submit an entry for you or your business to showcase your talents.

Sugar Plum Story Time
Bridgewater Public Library, Bridgewater
Join the Sugar Plum Fairy as she takes you on a journey through the magical Land of the Sweets with a reading, performance, and dance class given by professional dancers from Roxey Ballet.

Pasko in America
American Dream, East Rutherford
Fiesta in America presents a Filipino Christmas fest. There will be a lantern parade, unique products, Filipino food and stars from Brodway’s “Here Lies Love.”

December 17

Handmade at The Woodland
The Woodland, Maplewood
Shop local for pottery, folk art, handcrafted jewelry, embroidery, crocheted items and wearable art.

Holiday Flea Market & Gift Fair
Wayne PAL Building, Wayne
There will be over 100 tables of gift items at this holiday market.

Santa Run
The fire trucks will be coming through the neighborhoods with air horns and sirens when Santa is close.

NJPAC / Kwanzaa Family Festival

December 23

Kwanzaa Family Festival
NJPAC, Newark
Free family activities, including dance and drumming classes, face painting, storytelling, and arts and crafts workshops will be held throughout the campus. You can join classes by Umoja Dance Company and Zawadi African Dance & Drum. A highlight of the day’s celebration will be a Kwanzaa candle-lighting ceremony and a vibunzi — a tradition of honoring young people with an ear of corn (or, in this case, fresh fruits and vegetables) to represent the hope for the future they bring. In addition, the Arts Center’s annual Kwanzaa Marketplace, featuring local crafters, artists, and merchants, will fill two floors of the Arts Center.

‘Twas the Weekend Before Christmas
Downtown Metuchen
This is the last weekend before Christmas and one of the busiest shopping weekends, so be prepared for last-minute shoppers and diners.

December 28

Community Kwanzaa Celebration
New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, New Brunswick
In the third floor exhibition space you can learn all about the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Hosted by the NAACP New Brunswick Area Branch.

December 30

The Trouble With Trenton Interactive Puppet Shows
Warren Street Plaza, Trenton
Dress warmly because there will be two puppet shows held outdoors, telling American history in a kid-appropriate manner.

The Battle of Trenton
Old Barracks Museum, Trenton
Start at the museum and follow the soldiers as they march to fight on the original battlefields. The Battle of Trenton reenactments will take place at 11 am at the Battle Monument, and again at 3 pm in Mill Hill Park.

New Year’s Eve (Eve) Party
Downtown Metuchen
Come to the Plaza to celebrate the turn of the calendar a day before it actually happens.

OLD BARRACKS MUSEUM / To Princeton With Peale

December 30 – 31

Patriots Week: Historic March From Trenton to Princeton
Old Barracks Museum in Trenton to Princeton Battlefield
A group of reenactors will march on foot from Trenton to Princeton as part of this year’s Patriots Week celebrations. The group will represent Charles Wilson Peale’s Company at the Battles of Trenton reenactment on Saturday, and will set off for Princeton in the early morning hours of Sunday to recreate the historic march these soldiers took in 1777. The company will step off from the Old Barracks Museum at 2 am with the goal of arriving at Princeton Battlefield by 7 am, the same time the original company arrived to fight over 200 years ago. Arrive at the Old Barracks Museum by 1:30 am if you want to see Charles Wilson Peale’s company set off for their march to Princeton.

December 31

First Night Ocean County
Casino Pier, Seaside Heights
Enjoy a New Year’s Eve afternoon of entertainment including a “Frozen” sing-along, a holiday magic show, a kid’s holiday concert, meet-and-greets with Mr. and Mrs. Mouse and the Australian Pups, and a kids’ dance party with a countdown to midnight balloon drop (at 4:30 pm).

You can also get a free coffee at QuickCheck every Friday during December.

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Read More:
This Year’s Must-See Holiday Attractions
Get Into The Holiday Spirit At These Festivals of Trees