holidays in central jersey

1. The North Pole Express

80 Stangl Rd., Flemington​

Kids get to ride (weekends, November 29-December 28) all the way to the North Pole with Santa and his elves, who’ll visit every passenger on the train (that means no long lines to visit St. Nick!) and there’ll also be complimentary face painting at the North Pole Station. Enjoy hot cocoa, a cookie and a photo booth before you head home. Be sure to visit the gift shop, museum and Santa’s sleigh after the ride.

2. Christmas Festival at the Morristown Green

Morristown Green, Morristown

This month-long festival (December 1-22) is the perfect chance to visit and grab photos with Santa, make holiday-themed crafts, watch ice sculpture demos, hop on vintage-style rocking horses and a mini train, plus check out thousands of lights.

3. Holiday Shows at the Planetarium

The Planetarium at Raritan Valley Community College, Branchburg​

On Saturdays, hit seasonal shows like The Alien Who Stole Christmas, where you can follow Santa on a trip (and alien kidnapping!) through the solar system; Winter Wonder Lights, where holiday songs are played alongside lights; and Mystery at the North Pole, where the kids must figure out who sabotaged Christmas.

4. Seasonal Theater

There’s plenty of seasonal shows hitting the spotlight this month. If you’re looking to book tickets to a classic show like A Christmas Carol, head to McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton from December 10-29, where the kids can get a taste of Ebenezer Scrooge and what living selfishly can do to a person. Head to Branchburg’s Raritan Valley Community College on December 1 for The Great Russian Nutcracker, where you can see watch 40 costumed dancers from the Moscow Ballet bring this timeless tale to life. Hit the Count Basie Center in Red Bank from December 3-4 for The Elf on the Shelf: The Musical, where one elf will give visitors a glimpse into Santa’s workshop and the magic of the North Pole. Be sure to stop by NJPAC in Newark on December 28 for Holiday Dreams, where acts of aerialists, acrobatics, theatrical numbers and stunts will knock the kids out of their chairs.

5. Christmas Tree Festivals

Nothing screams Christmas quite like the baubles, ornaments and decorations on Christmas trees. Hit the Morven Museum & Garden in Princeton from November 27-January 5 for its Festival of Trees, where you can see displays of Christmastime from the 18th to 20th centuries. Make a stop at the Environmental Education Center in Basking Ridge from December 1-28 for the 41st Festival of Trees, a winter wonderland of trees, wreaths and other holiday decor. Head to the the Red Mill Museum Village in Chester from November 23-December 8 for the Festival of Trees, a peek at holiday trees, wreaths and centerpieces, plus a silent auction that benefits the museum.

Where’s your favorite places to celebrate the holidays in Central Jersey? Let us know in the comments below.

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