The holidays are here and it’s time to make plans to participate in a variety of holiday events and happenings all around North Jersey. Although the holiday season is the most magical time of the year, it also seems to be the busiest too. Luckily, we created a list of the many wonderful events taking place near the Essex County area so that you can make the most of the season and not miss a moment of fun. From family-friendly activities and holiday markets, to skating and giving back + so much more, these activities will be sure to get you in the spirit. Keep reading for a list of North Jersey winter festivals and events to fill your holiday calendar.
Turtle Back Zoo Holiday Lights Spectacular | West Orange
December 2nd-4th, December 9th-31st
Visit the Turtleback Zoo’s annual Holiday Lights Spectacular where visitors can take an evening stroll outdoors through light displays, take advantage of photo ops with friends and family, and enjoy some fun seasonal activities such as a s’mores station, Grinch weekend, and photos with Santa. There are no reservations required and admission is free — although donations of non-perishable food items, new toys, and gently used coats are encouraged. Make sure to check the website for the select days to visit the holiday lights from 5PM-9PM.
Winter Walk in Taylor Park | Millburn
Ongoing until January 15th
Visit Taylor Park this holiday season and enjoy the festive holiday lights. Visitors can enter the park on Millburn Avenue by the Gazebo and follow the twinkling lights through a wonderland of handmade snowflakes. The trees along the path are wrapped in lights, the enormous polar bear is the perfect setting for family photos, and the bridge is decorated with hundreds of lights that reflect into the stream. Afterward, head to Millburn’s unique retailers and wonderful restaurants in town. The park is lit from 4:30PM until 10PM nightly and this is a free event.
Ongoing until January 2nd
Participants of Dasher’s Lightshow will drive through a scenic route and listen to the car radio to hear the synced music. It’s the perfect way to enjoy the season from the comfort (and warmth) of your car. The drive-thru takes about 20-25 minutes to complete and general admission tickets range from $30 – $35 per car depending on the date and time. Season passes, VIP passes, and ticket bundles are available for purchase this year.
Orchard of Lights at Demarest Farms | Hillsdale
November 23rd – January 1st
Take a guided tour across 32 acres filled with holiday light displays, all while listening to channel 107.9 on the car radio to hear the matching music. Attendees can also take pictures with Santa, make s’mores, visit the farm’s market, listen to Santa’s singing reindeer, + more. Visitors can’t purchase tickets on-site, so reserve your ticket online at $35 per car.
Ongoing until December 30
At Skylands Stadium, visitors get the best of both worlds and will not only drive through a mile-long display but will also visit a Christmas village complete with a Ferris wheel, skating rink, photo opps, s’mores, and a winter beer garden. Tickets cost $29 per car for the light show. Admission to the village is free, but rides, games, food, and Santa photos are extra.
Fanwood’s Famous Christmas House | Fanwood
Ongoing until January 8th
This holiday fund-raising display features a spectacular 30,000-light display and a special visit by Santa on Saturday, December 3rd from 4:30PM-7PM. Monetary donations are accepted to support the NJ Institute for Disabilities. Donations may be deposited in the dropbox by the display or online.
Holiday Train Show + Open House | Union
December 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th
This family-friendly event includes a tour of the trains and layout up close, and an insider’s peek at the expansion that’s currently under construction. In addition, there is a small play area and gift shop. The mission of The Model Railroad Club, Inc. is to educate the general public and the Club’s members about the railroads and the industries they served in the New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania area. Event costs are $10 for adults, $5 for seniors, $4 for children, and free for children under three years old.
Ongoing until January 30th
Come enjoy an enchanting stroll throughout the Bergen County Zoo and see larger-than-life, mesmerizing lanterns. With over 30 scenes, these hand-made artistic wonders are breathtaking. Tickets are $15 for adults and $7.50 for children and include a train ride to even more light-up animals. Head to the website to get tickets.
Hometown Holiday | Washington Borough
This family fun-filled event includes the annual borough tree lighting with Santa and Mrs. Claus arriving on the fire truck, music by DJ Brian, free horse and carriage rides (weather permitting), and selfies with Santa. Plus, every child will receive a small gift. This year they have custom coloring books, free kids crafts with Dove Environmental Education, open house/shopping in their stores and restaurants, a free Victorian photo booth, a strolling brass band, and other seasonal characters on display.
32nd Annual Tree of Lights Festival | Watchung
December 3rd (rain date Sunday, December 5th)
This annual tree of lights festival ceremony includes music, fireworks, and more. It is dedicated to the Educators of Watchung and attendees can place a red light on our tree to honor a family member, friend, or other loved one. Be sure to head to the website to complete the printed Dedicated Order Form and mail it along with a tax-deductible donation of $50.00 per light.
20th Annual Colonial Christmas | Bedminster
December 2nd – 3rd
An adult-only cocktail party kicks off the event on December 2nd and features Colonial Music performed by Linda Russell, Holiday libations, hors d’oeuvres, and an antique firearm demonstration. Tickets are $150 per adult. Then, on December 3rd, visitors of all ages can enjoy an array of outdoor festivities including photos with Santa (free!), live holiday music by The Hickory Tree Chorus, a surprise holiday Pull, Poinsettia Sale, a chance to decorate your own Gingerbread Man, a colonial reenactor, and an annual tree lighting at 5:30PM.
Verona’s 25th Annual Fair in the Square | 600 Bloomfield Avenue, Verona
A fun-filled afternoon for the entire family including a tree lighting with Santa, holiday entertainment, merchants, and food vendors.
Roxbury’s Annual Home for the Holidays | Succasunna
Visitors can expect a fun-filled holiday festival inside the library and two churches on Main Street. This free event includes vendors, crafters, food + drink, music, Irish dancers, free activities for kids, and of course, Santa. Visit the website to schedule your visit with Santa and for more info.
Festival of Trees | Basking Ridge
December 7th – 29th
The Festival of Trees is an indoor exhibit of decorated trees by various community groups and individuals. Come and enjoy live holiday music and the Snowflake Café on select Saturdays and Sundays.
Morristown Christmas Festival | Morristown
December 2nd – December 18th
Morristown is fun to visit any time of year, but especially during the holidays when the Morristown Green is transformed into a winter wonderland. Guests can enjoy a Santa House, holiday music and crafts, a vintage-style oversized rocking horse, ice sculpture demonstrations, and free rides around the Green on a miniature electric trail. All activities are free with the exception of a $10 fee for photos with Santa. Check out the website for a complete list of activities.
Weihnachtsmarkt German Christmas Market | Augusta
December 2nd – 4th
As Christmas markets go, this is one of the biggest Christmas markets in New Jersey. Participants can feel good while shopping for holiday presents because 100% of all proceeds will be donated to local Sussex County charities. Various vendors and food trucks will be set up inside and outside for shopping and dining. Pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus are available as well. Veterans and kids 12 and under are free. Adults tickets are $10, and Seniors are $7.
Christmas in King Arthur’s Court | Montclair
Start your holiday season off with music, storytelling, dancing, and more at Montclair Early Music’s annual Christmas concert, Christmas in King Arthur’s Court. At this educational event, guests have the opportunity to learn how Christmas was celebrated in England during the time of King Arthur and beyond, long before there were Christmas trees and Santa Claus. Head to the ticket website to purchase tickets, with general admission costing $30 and children under 12 are free.
Deck the Halls! | Morristown
December 2nd – 4th
This three day event will highlight the magic and wonder of Christmas past and will feature holiday music on Acorn Hall’s 1873 Chickering Grand Piano and Thomas Nast’s most famous Christmas scenes at Macculloch Hall. Both sites will also feature festive photo opportunities and unique treasures in their respective gift shops. Pre-registration is required, visit the website to buy tickets at $39 plus tax.
Holiday Craft | Morristown
December 9th – 11th
Holiday Craft Morristown is celebrating 30 years as New Jersey’s most exciting holiday shopping experience. Spend the day shopping for one-of-a-kind gifts for every age, taste and budget from 175 of America’s finest craft artists. Find original fashions, accessories and jewelry, functional and sculptural works in ceramics, glass, metal, fiber, wood, and mixed media, fine art painting, printmaking, drawing, and photography, and handcrafted gourmet specialties, foods, and beverages. General admission is $10, Seniors (62 and up), veterans, and active military are $8, and children under 16 are free.
Laser Wonderland: A Holiday Lights and Music Show | Jersey City
See website for specific dates + times
Enjoy holiday hits set to high-tech lasers in Laser Wonderland: A Holiday Lights and Music Show taking place at At the Liberty Science Center. Songs from Mariah Carey, Frozen, and Alvin and the Chipmunks are just a few of the seasonal bops you’ll experience in this family-friendly show. Don’t miss it!