12 Jolly Holiday Celebrations in NJ

From day to night, north to south and east to west, New Jersey is your home for the holidays this December with a host of tree lightings, house tours, sweet treats, fun parades, and so much more. Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy these uplifting sights and sounds of the holidays.

  1. Bask in the Glow
    If there was ever a city custom-made for the most wonderful time of the year, it's none other than charming Cape May. Plan a picture-perfect winter getaway illuminated by magical festivities—from the city's official tree lighting in Rotary Park on December 2 to Candlelight Tours of Cape May's stunning Victorian homes, inns and churches on December 3, 10 and 17, plus so much more.
  2. A Ride to Remember
    All aboard the Polar Express Train Ride! Relive the magic of the classic story during a one-hour holiday train ride powered by the Morristown & Erie Railway. Get your golden ticket punched, enjoy hot chocolate and Walkers Shortbread served by dancing chefs, read along with the classic children’s book, The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg and, of course, meet Santa. For more details and ticket information, click here
  3. Jolly by Nature
    Take a nighttime stroll through the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange to see more than 50 illuminated winter scenes and animal characters. Enjoy plenty of photo ops with friends and family and seasonal activities, including a s’mores station, Grinch Weekend and photos with Santa. Visit the Touch Tank, Reptile House and Farm too. For dates, times and details, click here
  4. Frolicking Floats
    Thirty-six years ago, Clinton hosted its first Christmas Parade, which has now become a beloved annual tradition. So go grab dinner, then find a premium spot along the route to enjoy the festive procession with your family and friends on December 2.
  5. Dive into the Holidays
    November 25 – December 24 unwrap a world of undersea fun at Adventure Aquarium’s Christmas Underwater. Scuba Santa will be back in the Ocean Realm, spreading cheer to everyone he meets. Explore holiday magic among 15,000 incredible animals, discover the World’s Tallest Underwater Christmas Tree, enchanting snow-like flurries and fascinating light displays. 
  6. Spice it Up
    If you're a fan of structures rendered in cookies and sweets, you cannot miss Gingerbread Wonderland at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morris Township, December 6-15. Past years' masterpieces have included Notre Dame Cathedral, Santa’s Workshop, Harry Potter scenes and European castles.
  7. Seasonal Sights
    Burlington City turns up the glow with its annual Holiday Parade & Tree Lightingon December 3. It's an ideal way to get in the spirit of the season. Plus, kids just love sharing cookies and hot chocolate with Santa after the festivities.
  8. Luminous Lights
    Prance over to the Smithville Holiday Light Show on the Lake in Historic Smithville from Thanksgiving through January 6, 2023. View over 120 Christmas trees made from over 50,000 lights magically float on Lake Meone in the center of Historic Smithville. When night falls, enjoy an orchestrated show of lights and music played across the lake. Get all the details here.
  9. An Army of Nutcrackers
    You have your choice of dates and venues to watch Clara's wondrous holiday adventures this season. November 25 – December 18, the American Repertory Ballet presents TheNutcrackerat McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton. The New Jersey Ballet performs the seasonal classic with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, December 16 – 27. The Atlantic City Ballet offers many performances, including December 17 in Caesars Atlantic City. And the South Jersey Ballet School puts on The Nutcracker in the Voorhees Schools Theatre on December 16, 17 and 18. 
  10. Making Spirits Bright
    Have a holly, jolly good time on December 14 at the famous Christmas Light Show in Wall Township, made possible by POAC Autism Services and Allaire Community Farm. Treat your family to a tractor-drawn hayride to enjoy spectacular lights and dazzling displays while festive music plays. The event is free for individuals with autism and their families.
  11. The Perfect Blend
    History comes to life at Liberty Hall Museum in Union. And this season, the holidays are extra sweet at this 50-room Victorian mansion during Holiday Afternoon Tea on December 7. Enjoy an exquisite afternoon tea along with a sumptuous selection of scones, assorted pastries and traditional finger sandwiches. The delight continues with an intimate, guided tour of the museum decorated for Christmas. Advance registration is required—visit the museum websiteto purchase tickets.
  12. Winter Wonderland
    Jingle all the way to the Festival of Trees at the Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit on December 11. This outdoor winter festival celebrates Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas and the Winter Solstice. Delight in art and crafts, games, music, a story walk, photos with Santa and a joyful holiday market. Be amazed by a wonderland of festival trees located throughout the grounds. Tickets and more details found here.

Before you dash to your favorite winter event, be sure to check with your chosen destination for the latest updates, times and details. Unwrap even more holiday events, download a free NJ travel guide or sign up for e-news at VisitNJ.org.