FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18
A Children’s Holiday
Where: Crane House & Historic YWCA, 110 Orange Rd., Montclair, 4-8 pm
Take your family on a tour of the Crane House and Historic YWCA, and learn how people lived and celebrate Christmas between 1796 and 1965. Kids can hear a live reading of a classic holiday book around a campfire. Only one family will be able to tour at a time, registration is required.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 19
Queen Elsa Visits Imagine That!!!
Where: Imagine That!!! Museum, 4 Vreeland Rd., Florham Park, 1-1:30 pm
The Queen of Arendelle will sing and visit the children at Imagine That!!!, then the kids can hit the open play area which features a new pet vet center, LEGO racing, train exhibit and more.
Bubbles’ Holiday Drive-Thru
Where: The Learning Experience, Hillsborough, 9:30-11:30 am
Bring your family to meet Santa Claus—without ever leaving your car. Drive-thru a festive display, snap a photo with Kris Kringle and the Learning Experience’s mascot, Mr. Bubbles. Call ahead for a personalized letter for Santa, plus your kids can bring their own to be entered into a holiday raffle.
Dead on Live—Celebrating 50 Years of American Beauty
Where: MPAC, 100 South St., Morristown and virtual, 7-9 pm
Whether you travel to the theater or watch from the comfort of home, Dead on Live will perform Grateful Dead favorites in a loose, interpretive style and the entirety of the album “American Beauty.”
Carriages & Carolers
Where: Lyric Park, 17 Beechwood Rd., Summit, 1-4 pm
On select Saturdays through December, step away from the shops and hop on a free horse and carriage ride and listen to festive music. You might also score a free hot chocolate! Until 12/19, kids can also participate in the Hill Top Elf Scavenger Hunt, hidden within 80 different downtown businesses. The more elves you find, the better your chance of winning VISA gift cards.
Springfield Avenue Open-Air Market
Where: Springfield Ave., Maplewood, 10 am-2 pm
For the next few Saturdays in December, you can visit local makers, support community businesses, do your shopping and listen to live music.
Shop the Block
Where: The Eclectic Chic Boutique, 547 Bloomfield Ave., Montclair, 1-7 pm
Local shops on Bloomfield Ave., starting at the corner of Bloomfield and Maple Pl., will have tables, racks, vendors and wares outside for safe and social distanced shopping.
Horse & Carriage Rides
Where: 6th St. & Asbury Ave., Ocean City, noon-3 pm
Bundle up and treat your kids (or sweep your SO off their feet) with free horse and carriage rides this weekend.
4th Annual Jammin’ with Santa Fundraising Event
Where: Princeton High School, 151 Moore St., Princeton
In addition to virtual concerts and crafts, your family can bring non-perishables and monetary donations to this food drive to benefit, Arm In Arm, an organization that connects people in need of food, housing and job support with those who can help them, plus wave to Mr. and Mrs. Claus. If you donate more than six cans, you’ll receive a free Princeton Studio Band: The Abbey Road Sessions CD.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Advent Bazaar
Where: Hope Family Store, 120 Kearny Ave., Kearny, 10:30 am-3 pm and 6-7 pm
This outdoor bazaar is one of many great opportunities to find gifts for your loved ones (and maybe yourself!) while supporting local businesses. Plus, admission is free.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 20
Peppa Pig at Imagine That!!!
Where: Imagine That!!! Museum, 4 Vreeland Rd., Florham Park, 11-11:30 am
If you miss out on Queen Elsa’s visit on Saturday, stop by to visit your kids’ favorite pig, then check out the open play area which features a magnet wall, color wheel, train exhibit and more.
Christmas at Allaire
Where: The Historic Village at Allaire, 4263 Atlantic Ave., Wall Twp., 11 am-4 pm
Step into an Old World Christmas with your family, which includes making Christmas treats, listening to musicians, storytelling, a Gingerbread House Contest and more. Keep your eyes peeled for Santa to snap a photo. Tickets must be purchased in advance.
Kringle Railway Adventure
Where: 1 Railroad Plaza, Whippany, times vary
All aboard! If your kids have been itching for a Christmastime train ride this year, you still can. Running at 25 percent capacity, tickets are sold in pods of four or six and passengers can choose their seating pod in a themed car of their choice. Take a photo with Santa in front of his personal locomotive (socially distanced).
Where: Nickelodeon Universe, American Dream, 1 American Dream Way, East Rutherford, times vary
Take the kids to Nick’s Elf Workshop, where they can write a letter to Santa, decorate ornaments and color pictures at physically-distant stations. On Fridays and Saturdays, spend the night at The Rink for music spun by Santa himself, plus wear your best ugly holiday sweater on Saturdays.
Winter Walking Tours
Where: Historic Cold Spring Village, 720 US 9, Cape May, 11 am
Talk a wintry walk through the Village buildings and learn the history of the people who worked and lived in them. Tour also includes a complimentary mini flight taste at Cold Spring Brewery.
Long Branch Holiday Bazaar
Where: Pier Village, 1 Chelsea Ave., Long Branch, noon-5 pm
This open-air market features shopping, holiday workshops, festive decor, music and entertainment, holiday-inspired food and hot drinks, photos and more. Plus, admission is free.
VIRTUAL FUN FOR THE WEEKEND
Holiday Sugar Scrub Making Virtual Workshop
When: 12/18, 7-9 pm
Using natural ingredients and holiday-scented oils, you can create your own scented exfoliating sugar scrubs during this workshop. Registration required, materials and tools will be provided in advance via shipping or curbside pickup in Montclair.
Ask A Geologist: Bugs from the Crypt
When: 12/18, 1-2 pm
This free online presentation about archaeological entomology will teach your lil’ bug enthusiasts about how their favorite critters can be used in archaeology. After, there’ll also be a live Q&A session.
When: 12/18, 4-6:10 pm
West Windsor Arts Council’s virtual end-of-the-year party features art projects, cookie baking, art demos and more. Registration required.
Winter Celebrations in the Great Great Forest
When: 12/18, 5:30 pm
Join the Forester Family and Playback Theatre around a cabin fireplace, where they’ll share holiday tales and wishes for 2021.
Holiday Tour with Annis Boudinot Stockton
When: 12/18, 5:30 pm
Take a virtual tour of Morven Museum & Garden at Christmastime with its first resident, Annis Boudinot Stockton. After a private tour of the 2020 Festival of Trees spread throughout the museum’s galleries, there’ll be a live Q&A, plus holiday poems and tales.
Virtual Carols of Many Nations
When: 12/18, 6:30-8 pm
Listen to the Princeton Seminary’s annual Carols of Many Nations service through a YouTube livestream. In addition to carols and readings from the Chapel Choir and alumni representing different countries, cultures and traditions, there’ll also be a lesson in American Sign Language.
A (Virtual) Christmas Vacation with the Griswolds
When: 12/19, 8 pm
Listen to Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo, the stars of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, take a trip down memory lane and discuss the iconic Christmas film. They’ll also answer live audience questions, and if you opt for the VIP package, you’ll have a one-minute, one-on-one video chat with Chevy and Beverly.
Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus
When: 12/19, 7:30-9 pm
When an eight-year-old girl writes a letter to the editor of the New York Sun asking if Santa Claus is real, Frank Church, a reporter on the verge of self-destruction, is tasked with answering her question.
Virtual Story Time with Mrs. Claus
When: 12/19, 2-3 pm
Mrs. Claus hosting an interactive virtual storytime and singalong on Zoom for the whole family. Registration required.
Jersey City Nutcracker: The Movie
When: 12/19, 5-7 pm
Jersey City Nutcracker, set to Tcahikovsky’s traditional score, follows two children’s city adventure (with interactive moments) which teaches lessons on friendship and community.
Christmas Walkthrough Experience
Maple Leaf Farms’ open-air greenhouse allows for a safe walkthrough of this Christmas Wonderland, which features vintage figures from the 50s through the 70s, a traditional Nativity scene and characters like Olaf and Anna. At the end of your walk, you’ll spot Santa—photos are welcome.
Mommy & Me Holiday Gingerbread Cookie Decorating
When: 12/20, 2-4 pm
Parents and their aspiring bakeries can learn how to decorate gingerbread men cookies using a kit that comes with cookie ingredients, cookie cutters, icing ingredients, decorations and baking instructions. Registration required so materials and tools can be shipped or picked up curbside in Montclair.
Eleanor’s Very Merry Christmas Wish—The Musical
Eleanor, a ragdoll who lives at the North Pole, loves her family members—which include Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves—but she yearns for a best friend and home of her own. She writes a letter to Santa, which leads to a journey of granting wishes.
Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker Christmas Stream
Your home is the best seat in the house for this year’s virtual streaming of the holiday staple The Nutcracker. In addition to the show, you’ll also be able to take a look backstage to see how the magic is made from artists, designers and other creators.
Virtual Holiday Classic Nutcracker
Lambertville’s Roxey Ballet performed a made-for-television with more than 200 handmade costumes and personalized costume masks. Tickets for the virtual performance include behind-the-scenes material like rehearsals and interviews, plus content is available to watch as many times as you’d like until the end of the year.
Virtual Visits with Santa and His Helping Horse
Not to worry, the pandemic won’t stop Saint Nick from delivering presents this year—and he’ll remind the kids to be good. If you order a message from Santa before December 15, it can be customized; orders after December 15 will be general messages for a boy, girl or multiple children.
Milk & Cookies
When: All weekend
The State Theatre is offering two Milk & Cookie (ages 3-10) virtual events, which can be accessed at any point (even beyond the weekend) with a donation of at least $10. Storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston will tell tales from African, German and African American traditions, plus you’ll learn some fun snack ideas to pair with her stories. Joanie Leeds, a kindie rock singer, will perform her “Mother Earth” sing along, and kids will also learn how to make a fun cupcake snack.
She Persisted, The Musical
In this virtual production of the Atlantic Theatre Company’s show for young audiences, based on Chelsea Clinton’s best-selling book, fourth-grader Naomi’s field trip to a Women’s History Museum turns into a time travel adventure where she encounters inspirational women overcoming barriers and making waves.
Virtual Visits with Santa
Paramus Park is ready for you to reserve your time to visit with Santa from the comfort of your home and you can even add on Storytime with the Clauses to your session.
ONGOING IN-PERSON ACTIVITIES
When: Friday-Sunday, now-12/23, 2, 3 and 4 pm
Where: Johnson’s Corner Farm, 133 Church Rd., Medford
Bring your camera to snap a photo of Santa on his red tractor, which pulls all his gifts! Since sitting on Santa’s lap isn’t a real possibility this year, grab a quick picture of your kids as Saint Nick rolls on by. Your family can also check out the Light Show on the Lake, then roast marshmallows at the fire pit, or hop on the Christmas Light Show Hayride. Reservations required.
DiDonato’s Magical Holiday Drive
When: Now-12/23, 5-10 pm
Where: DiDonato Family Fun Center, Hammonton
Hop in your car and take a ride through millions of Christmas lights along to holiday music via radio. Stop for an in-car photo op with Santa and Mrs. Claus, plus your kids will also receive a wrapped present from Santa’s elves and a cookie treat.
Where: Adventure Aquarium, 1 Riverside Dr., Camden
See the World’s Tallest Underwater Christmas tree and Scuba Santa diving in Ocean Realm along with sea turtles, stingrays and other fishy friends.
Lights. Camera. Santa!
Where: Menlo Park Mall, 700 Paramus Park, Paramus
Get your photo with Ol’ Saint Nick in a safe, socially distanced environment. Reservations are strongly encouraged.
Visit with Santa at Bridgewater Commons
Where: Bridgewater Commons, 400 Commons Way, Bridgewater
Take photos with Santa and enjoy a festive walk-thru experience. Reservations are required and masks must be worn throughout the entire visit, including the photo, so make sure your mask is festive.
North Pole Express Train
When: Weekends-12/25, times vary
Where: New Hope Railroad, New Hope, PA
Each weekend from now until Christmas, you can take a ride on the North Pole Express. Starting post-Thanksgiving, you’ll be able to ride on Santa’s Steam Train. All require advance tickets.
Photos with Santa at South Court
When: Now-12/25, 11 am-7 pm, 9 am-5 pm on 12/24
Where: Paramus Park, 700 Paramus Park, Paramus
Celebrate the season with festive professional photos during a socially distanced visit with Kris Kringle.
Orchard of Lights
Where: Demarest Farms, 244 Wierimus Rd., Hillsdale
Take your vehicle on a guided tour through 32 acres of brilliant holiday light displays, warm up by the fire pit and enjoy hot cocoa and treats in the retail farm market.
South Jersey Holiday Light Show
When: Thursday-Sunday, now-12/30, times vary
Where: Bridgeport Speedway, 83 Flood Gate Rd., Swedesboro
This holiday light show, the only drive-through spectacular in Southern NJ, features large themed displays on its mile-long route. Turn on the radio and listen to music synched up to the light performance. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.
Festival of Trees
Where: Downtown Cranford
Take a walk down the shop-lined streets, visit local merchants and see the first annual Festival of Trees. Don’t forget to vote for your favorite!
The Grinch’s Grotto
Where: Westfield Garden State Plaza, 1 Garden State Plaza, Paramus
This free-standing location at the Grinch’s cave is perfect for both social distancing and the Grinch, who’s known for preferring his own company. This interactive photo meet and greet requires you to reserve a spot—plus, your kids won’t leave empty handed.
Where: Congress Hall, 200 Congress Pl., Cape May
With exciting events including Breakfast with Santa and the Congress Hall Express train ride, this town has seasonal fun for families that will make the holidays memorable.
Magic of Lights
When: Now-1/2, times vary
Where: PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel
Check out this massive drive-through event at PNC. It’s a holiday light show that’s perfect for families and for social distancing.
Holidig Light Show
When: Now-1/3, most nights 5:30-9:30 pm
Where: Diggerland, 100 Pinedge Dr., West Berlin
Woven across the park’s 21 acres, this drive-thru holiday light show features Diggerland’s construction vehicles all dressed up with lights and garlands galore.
Winter Wonderlights Spectacular
Where: 655 Cranbury Rd., East Brunswick
See more than 1.5 million lights animated to some of your favorite holiday tunes at this drive-thru event.
Holiday in the Park
Where: Six Flags Great Adventure, 1 Six Flags Blvd., Jackson Twp.
Visit Jolly Jamboree and Wild Lights National Park, two new holiday-themed areas at Six Flags this holiday season.
Christmas Light Show & Outdoor Village
Where: Skylands Stadium, 94 Championship Pl., Augusta
This annual drive-thru light show and outdoor village features two million lights and themed displays. After your family makes their way through the lights, hop out of the car for socially distanced activities like carnival rides, photos with Santa and seasonal food and drinks.
Where: Liberty Science Center, 222 Jersey City Blvd., Jersey City
LSC is hosting a bunch of holiday experiences, like the outdoor Snowflake Maze, where kids can learn scientific facts about flakes; the Sock Skating Rink, an ice rink made of synthetic ice, plus they can experiment with phosphorescence by leaving a show on the glow-in-the-dark Shadow Wall and more.
Holiday Light Spectacular
When: Now-1/3, 5-10 pm
Where: Orange County Fairgrounds, 239 Wisner Ave., Middletown, NY
Wind your way through the spectacularly lit fairgrounds, enjoy the multi-media light show in the covered arena or order delicious treats from vendors, all from the comfort of your car.
Festival of Trees at Morven
When: Wednesday-Sunday, now-1/10, 10 am-4 pm
Where: Morven Museum & Garden, 55 Stockton St., Princeton
Check out the museum’s collection of trees and mantles displayed throughout the museum’s galleries. Timed admission tickets will ensure reduced crowd sizes.
Skating on the Square
Where: Palmer Square, Hulfish St., Princeton
Palmer Square’s outdoor, eco-friendly synthetic skating rink is back for another holiday season. Bring your own skates or rent a pair.
Blue Cross RiverRink at Winterfest
Where: 101 South Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia, PA
General admission Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest is free; ice skating, games and rides are pay-as-you-go.
When: Sundays, now-3/28, 10 am-1 pm
Where: Morris Museum, 6 Normandy Heights Rd., Morristown
Hit the market for fresh foods like cheese, pie, quiche, seafood, pickles, cobbler, soup and more. A number of full-time vendors will be there every week with other part-time vendors rotating their goods into the market, too.
Beyond Rubik’s Cube
Where: Liberty Science Center, 222 Jersey City Blvd., Jersey City
Discover the art, history and skill behind the iconic cubed puzzle. This show has been on a worldwide tour and now returns home to LSC.
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