The holiday season is here, which means this month is all about celebration and family. Take the kids to experience a winter wonderland at the Vernon Lights Festival in Glenwood Lake Art Park, or usher in the new year with the fam at First Night Morris 2020 in Morristown. Catch a holiday classic like The Story of Ebenezer Scrooge in New Milford or Pinnochio at the Morris Museum. If your mouth is watering for holiday treats, stop by the Gingerbread Wonderland & Craft Show at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morris Twp., which features more than 150 edible masterpieces.
Celebrate the Season
To kick off the month, stop by the Denville Parade in downtown Denville, where there’ll be floats, bands, costumed characters and a special appearance from Santa and the Denville Fire Department (free). On December 7, you’ll have your pick of the lot. Stop by Historic Spring Village in Cape May for Wassail Day, where the entire village will come to life through live music, crafts and holiday treats (free), or head to Casino Pier’s holiday festival in Seaside Heights with your best holiday attire for a chance to win prizes and participate in holiday games and crafts (free with canned goods or coat donation). East Jersey Old Town Village in Piscataway is hosting a Seasonal Holiday Program which means horse and wagon rides, children’s crafts, a holiday music show and Christmas caroling (free). From December 7-8, Historic Speedwell in Morristown is celebrating the holidays Victorian style. Dance to period music in the carriage house, work on a holiday craft and shop for ornaments ($7/adults, $5/ages 4-16, free/ages 3 and under). All month long, catch DiDonato’s Magical Holiday Express in Hammonton and ride through millions of Christmas lights, meet Santa and his elves at his workshop (plus snap a photo), stroll through the holiday village and more ($14.95). Walk through a winter wonderland at the Vernon Lights Festival in Glenwood Lake Art Park to see magical lantern displays, visit food trucks, listen to music and watch cultural performances ($19.99/adults, $14.99/ages 3-12, free/ages 2 and under).
New Year’s Eve!
End 2019 with a bang at these family-friendly New Year’s Eve events. Celebrate at the Macculloch Hall Historical Museum in Morristown from December 26-29 by making a Thomas Nast-inspired 2020 calendar (included with museum admission, registration required). On NYE, there are plenty of parties to choose from. Lower Twp. is inviting all ages to party at their Family New Year’s Eve Party at the recreation center (free). Morristown will host its 28th annual First Night Morris 2020, which features more than 100 artists and 40 performances across 16 venues, including plenty of children’s programs ($20-70). The Garden State Discovery Museum in Cherry Hill will host a New Year’s at Noon party with singing and dancing to usher in the new year. The Staten Island Children’s Museum is also welcoming 2020 with games, crafts, refreshments and a musical finale (included with museum admission). Head to Sahara Sam’s in West Berlin for Midnight at the Oasis, featuring indoor water attractions, a foam party, DJ and more. There’ll also be food, dessert, champagne and sparkling cider toasts and more to ring in 2020 ($68.99, free/ages 2 and under).
There’s plenty of chances for your lil’ one to meet Santa this month, either for breakfast or photos. Throughout December, become a part of Santa’s Flight Academy at the Short Hills Mall, where each cadet will receive a flight crew badge and flight suit to help other elves inspect Santa’s sleigh at interactive stations (free). From December 7-14, have breakfast with Santa in Historic Smithville (reservation required). On December 13, your kids can have cocoa with Santa at the Gateway Family YMCA in Union (free). All Blue Moon Mexican Cafe restaurants are celebrating the holidays with a surprise visit and photo shoot from Santa on December 15 (free). Your kids can also have dinner with Santa at Chevys Fresh Mex in Clifton, which boasts a special cookie bar where the little ones can decorate their own treats (free/kids).
Holiday Musicals and Performances
From November 30 through December 8, Roxey Ballet will perform Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, filled with magical mice, marching soldiers and more at The College of New Jersey in Ewing ($22+). From November 29 through December 15, catch the Broadway classic Beauty and the Beast at the Sitnik Theatre in Hackettstown ($20-35). On December 6, UCPAC in Rahway will screen Elf, a comedy about Buddy, an elf on a quest to find his true identity. Stop by the Sparta Theatre on December 7 to see a free screening of The Polar Express. Join the Wilkins Theatre in Union on December 13 for A Very Electric Holiday, an emotional tale about family, friendship and hope ($10), or head to the Investors Bank Theater in Succasunna for The Velveteen Rabbit, a story about a child’s toy coming to life and the adventures he has with it ($10, $8/students). Ages 3 and up are invited to learn about the power of generosity at A Christmas Carol: The Story of Ebenezer Scrooge ($5/ages 3 and up, free/ages 2 and under) at the Castle Theater in New Milford. On December 22, watch Angelina Ballerina The Very Merry Holiday Musical! with your kids, who’ll learn about the true spirit of the holidays at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts in Toms River. On December 27, stop by the Morris Museum for a performance of Pinocchio, the story of a wooden puppet who wishes to become a real boy ($10/museum members, $15/non-members).
Hit A Museum or Exhibit
Take your little ones to see the Angry Birds Universe Exhibit at Liberty Science Center, where they can shoot at life-size Angry Birds with massive slingshots ($30-35). After, ages 2-8 can climb aboard the Dinosaur Train and head back to the Mesozoic period, where your tot can check out steam engines, excavate fossils, learn about dino diets and chill in a dinosaur nest (included with museum admission). Throughout the month of December, the Barron Arts Center in Woodbridge is hosting its 29th Annual Holiday Model Train Show, which features a display with more than 300 feet of track and an operating playground featuring three towns and 11 different trains (free). On December 4, stop by the Geology Museum at Rutgers University for Ice Age Late Night to learn about mastodons, saber tooth cats and other interesting animals through demos and arts and crafts (free). Head to the Morris Museum on December 27 to create a rocking paper plate snowman and take part in Touch the Music with Claudia Lemmerz (included with museum admission). On December 28, the Old Barracks Museum in Trenton will host its annual Reenactment of The Battles of Trenton, a historical battle that shaped the course of the Revolutionary War ($5, free/ages 5 and under). And you don’t want to miss Jurassic Quest, a dinosaur themed convention filled with rides, activities and dinosaurs at the NJ Convention and Exposition Center in Edison ($24-36).
Get Crafty (and Hungry)!
From December 7-12, the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morris Twp. will host its 28th Annual Gingerbread Wonderland & Craft Show, where you can view more than 150 edible exhibits crafted by families and schools ($2, free/ages 2 and under). Ages 3-8 are invited to the Warren County Library to make their own ornament with cinnamon salt dough and a variety of cookie cutters that run the gamut from Santa to Star Wars (free, registration required). On December 8, head to the Miller-Cory Museum in Westfield for Gingerbread Sunday where little ones can make a decorative, inedible gingerbread house and an additional craft to take home ($5).