Where to Find the Best Family Special Events and Activities this Holiday Season

Create some new family traditions and memories this holiday season – so many of our old favorite places to visit are hosting special events and activities this month.  Enjoy caroling, gingerbread houses, Hanukkah, kwanza and Christmas celebrations and so much more.  NJ Kids has the best of the best right here!

Gingerbread Wonderland at the Frelinghuysen

Arboretum (Morristown)

This is truly a remarkable show - over 200 gingerbread creations are on display.  In the past there have been models of Notre Dame cathedral, Hanukah menorahs, Japanese temples, Chinese pagodas, European castles, and neighborhood sweet shops.  You’ve got to see it to believe it – they are all so unique and amazing.
December 6 - December15, 10-5pm; until 8pm on Friday

Christmas on the Farm at Howell Living History Farm (Lambertville)

What was it like to live on a farm in the early 1900s?  A visit to Howell Living Farm transports you back in time – and on December 7th, you’ll get to see what it was like to celebrate Christmas at the turn of the century.
December 7th

Classic Horse and Carriage Rides (Red Bank)
Enjoy a FREE classic horse and carriage ride through the Red Bank Business District, alive with holiday spirit. Carriages depart from two locations, 11 Bridge Avenue or 26 Broad Street. 1pm - 5pm
While in Red Bank, don’t forget to enjoy the Traditional carolers, choirs, brass bands, rock, folk, jazz & blues musicians that are bringing holiday tunes to the sidewalks of Red Bank. 12-3PM
December 7, December 14, December 21

Zoo Noel at the Philadelphia Zoo  (Philadelphia)
The Zoo is transformed into a holiday wonderland!  Embark on a scavenger hunt and discover Santa Claus as he explores different parts of the world – the rainforest, the Outback, the Artic, and more.  There will also be hands on activities and crafts, and pictures with Santa.
December 1, December 7, December 8, December 14 and December 15 11-3PM

Christmas Festival at the Morristown Green (Morristown)
This annual tradition, held on three successive weekends in December, has always been a hit with the entire family. There are tons of activities, from train ride around green, holiday concerts, ice sculpture demos – and Santa arrives daily!
Weekends December 1 – December 22nd

Kwanza Celebration with Queen Nur at the Garden State Discovery Museum (Cherry Hill)
Experience the symbols and principles of this important African American tradition, as Queen Nur lights up the stage with interactive storytelling and song in a joyous celebration!  Afterwards, enjoy a visit to this hands-on, interactive museum where kid from 0-10 can explore, play and imagine.
December 26th and 28th, 12-3PM

35th Anniversary Kwanza Celebration at the American Museum of Natural History (NYC)
Looking for another great event to learn about the rich traditions of Kwanzaa and honor the seven guiding principles?  The museum is hosting their annual Kwanzaa celebration with tons of family friendly hands-on activities – plus either before or after, you’ve got the whole museum to explore, so make a day of it!
December 28th

Christmas Delaware River Crossing Reenactment at Washington Crossing State Park (Washington Crossing, PA)
Looking for a fun AND educational event this holiday season? Watch as re-enactors make their way across the Delaware River to New Jersey in the annual event commemorating the Christmas Day crossing made by Gen. George Washington and his troops in 1776.
December 25th

40th Annual Christmas Candlelight House Tour in Cape May (Cape May)
This charming Victorian Village at the end of the Jersey Shore is transformed into a winter wonderland.  Enjoy a self-guided tour featuring homes, inns, hotels and churches decorated for the holidays, plus caroling, strolling musicians and good old-fashioned.
Every Saturday through 12/28

Every two hours watch more than 100,000 bright lights combine to create fantastic holiday images. The lighting display is accompanied by festive music from the world-renowned Wanamaker Grand Organ.
Through December 31

Camden Children’s Garden
3 Riverside Drive, Camden (856) 365-8733
Model Train displays, plus train crafts, games, and a reading of The Polar Express.  November 9th and 10th.
Santa Arrives - tree-decorating activity, Santa’s afternoon arrival, crafts, a reading of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and more! November 23rd

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
NYC.  Thanksgiving institution for 87 years – Broadway performers, giant balloons, clowns, floats and more! November 28th, 9AM

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York City
Tthe Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will be lit for the first time on Wednesday, December 4, 2013. The Tree will remain lit and can be viewed until 11pm on January 7th, 2014.

Festival of Trees
Red Mill Museum Village, 56 Main Street, Clinton (908) 735-0914
Dozens of beautifully decorated trees dot the village. November 28th – December 8th 

Grounds for Sculpture
18 Fairgrounds Road, Hamiliton  609-586-0616
Lights On weekend, November 30th and December 1
Kick off the holiday season and visit the park after sundown and enjoy the park twinkling with light, festive tram ride, crafts and more.  Saturday, November 30th.

Red Bank's Town Lighting & Holiday Concert
Red Bank Train Station, Red Bank, NJ
November 29th
Red Bank is a beautiful town any time of the year, but if you've never seen it light up around the holiday times you're really missing out! Bring the whole family to Red Bank NJ for the annual town lighting! The holiday spirit will truly come alive when the lights begin to glow in Red Bank. There will also be a Santa Express Train from Little Silver to Red Bank and a parade from Red Bank Train Station down Monmouth Street to Holiday Express. The night will end with a holiday concert on Broad Street and the lighting of the town. The entire family will love this NJ holiday event!

Festival of Trees
The Red Mill Museum Village, 56 Main St., Clinton, NJ 908-735-4101
November 29 - December 8th
Come down to The Red Mill Museum Village in Clinton NJ and get into the holiday spirit during their Festival of Trees. The Festival of Trees showcases a collection of beautifully decorated Holiday trees, wreaths, centerpieces and mantelpieces as part of a fundraising effort supporting the Red Mill Museum Village. From November 29th to December 8th the Red Mill will feature donated and decorated trees and wreaths with specialized themes. All trees and wreaths are part of a silent auction that goes to benefit the Red Mill Museum Village. Visit their website for more information and to find out how you can donate a tree!

Spring Lake Christmas Celebration Kick-off
Downtown Spring Lake, Third Ave., Spring Lake, NJ 732-449-0037
November 30th
Bring the whole family down to Spring Lake, NJ and celebrate the upcoming holiday season. There will be tons of activities for kids and adults to enjoy. Spring Lake's Santa's Workshop opens, hayrides around Spring Lake will be available and much more. While you're there, be sure to check out the Clayton Livery Miniature Train Village Spectacular! Join Spring Lake as they celebrate the holidays. Call 732-449-0037 for more information

Thanksgiving Hayrides, Wreath & Sleigh Bell Sale
Howell Living History Farm, 70 Woodens Ln., Lambertville, NJ 609-737-3299
November 30th
Get transported back to the 1900s at Howell Farms. In the past, farmers built their own barns, traveled by horse and buggy, grew their own wheat and baked their own bread. Today, you can relive that era and help farmers cultivate and harvest crops, care for animals, make soap, butter and ice cream and spend time talking to and getting to know the farmers before they close the farm for the season. Take the family on a hayride throughout the farm and before you leave be sure to pick up a handmade wreath or sleigh bell for your home!

Holiday Horse & Carriage Rides
Red Bank Business District, 26 Broad St., Red Bank, NJ 732-842-4244
November 30th
Bring the whole family down to Red Bank NJ for free classic horse and carriage rides! The Business District will be alive with the holiday spirit. Sit in the carriage and enjoy the sights and sounds of the holiday season in Red Bank. You can take the carriage ride from two locations, 11 Bridge Avenue or 26 Broad Street. This is a great NJ event for a romantic date night idea or a family day trip! Carriage rides take place between 1pm - 5pm.

11th Annual Christkindlmarkt at Tuckerton Seaport
120 W Main St #1, Tuckerton, NJ 08087 (609) 296-8868
Friday, December 6 4-8pm,  Saturday December 7 10am – 8pm, Sunday, December 8 10am – 4pm
Holiday market and fair under huge heated tents. Santa (of course!), craft & gift vendors, fabulous food court, horse drawn cart rides, kiddie rides, trackless train, make & take crafts, hot Gluhwein, rolling chair sleigh rides on the boardwalk, entertainment and lots of holiday fun. Wine tasting and sales by DiMatteo, Tomasello and Valenzano wineries. NEW!!! Radio Disney comes to Christkindlmarkt Sunday December 8 2-4pm. Music & activities for kids!

Holiday Lights Trolley Ride in Cape May
Check website for dates and times:  http://www.capemaymac.org/holidaylightstrolleyride.php
Ride through Cape May’s Historic District to see festively decorated inns and homes as guides talk about Victorian Christmas traditions, lead sing-alongs, and play Christmas music.  Rides last about 30 minutes. All seats cost $10. Purchase tickets at the Washington Street Mall Information Booth at Ocean Street, where tour begins, or at the Physick Estate at 1048 Washington St. at the Carriage House or the Hill House Office. Hill House is open daily, 9am-5pm (except most winter weekends, when it’s open Saturdays only 9am-2:30pm). For information or advance tickets, call 609-884-5404 or 800-275-4278

Christmas Tree Lighting in Toms River
Friday, December 6, 2013 6 pm - 8:30 pm Town Hall Courtyard
Bring the whole family to the Toms River, NJ Town Hall Courtyard for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting. Kids will be delighted when Santa arrives to celebrate with them and pose for pictures! There will be tons of activities the whole family can enjoy including Christmas carols, refreshments and much more. 

Hereford Inlet Lighthouse Christmas Tree Lighting
1st & Central Avenues, North Wildwood, NJ 609-522-4520
Check out the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse Courtyard for their annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. The lighthouse looks beautiful in the background of all the Christmas decorations! Arrive early and take a tour before they light the tree. Tree lighting begins at 5:30 pm and runs until 7:30 pm.

Salute to Wildlife Ice Carving Week at Bronx Zoo
2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY
December 25-31.
Visit the zoo this holiday season to enjoy wildlife-themed ice sculptures, an ice carving competition, and a polar bear-themed Ice Playground. Watch our animals unwrap holiday presents, make a special holiday crafts, meet costume characters, and enjoy cheerful tunes from carolers.