The latest update for this article is written by Lindsay Podolak.
There are so many ways to get into the holiday spirit during the November and December months. From hopping aboard a Christmas train ride, or even just by cutting down your own Christmas tree, there is no shortage of themed events and activities that encapsulate the most wonderful time of the year. But for a winter activity that really dazzles, why not visit some of NJ’s biggest and best holiday light displays?
It’s time to bundle up, grab some hot cocoa and check out this year’s most amazing light shows around the state. We promise they’ll delight even the family’s biggest Scrooge.
Storybook Land’s Christmas Fantasy with Lights
Where: 6415 Black Horse Pike, Egg Harbor Township
When: November 17 to December 30 at various dates and times (closed November 22 and December 24 & 25)
Price: $27.50 per person, free for children under 2
Details: The holiday season is just a bit brighter at Storybook Land, when over one million lights illuminate the park. All rides, attractions and snack bars are open during this time, plus you get to see Santa, Mrs. Claus and other holiday creatures. Bring along a new, unopened toy for Toys for Tots and receive one free hot chocolate and one free popcorn from December 1-23. Please note: Santa is only at the park until December 23.
Why I like it: With so many options, there’s no chance the kids will complain they’re bored at this spot.
More info: Visit www.storybookland.com or call 609-641-7847
Holiday Lights Spectacular at Turtle Back Zoo
Where: Turtle Back Zoo, 560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange
When: Weekends from November 16 to December 2; then nightly December 7 to December 31 from 5:00 to 9:00 pm (closed December 24 & 25)
Price: Free admission
Details: More than 50 animal and winter characters will light up the night at Turtle Back Zoo this year. Those that attend can stroll through 100,000 lights illuminating figures of bears, tigers and elephants, along with holiday lights that resemble wooden soldiers, stars and winter scenes. Other activities during the event include the chance to take selfies with Santa or listen to a holiday story read by Mrs. Claus. Kids can mail a letter to the North Pole or watch a block of ice transform into an ice sculpture. Different themed activities are featured each December weekend. For those interested, the zoo collects donations of non-perishable food, new toys and gently used coats.
Why I like it: Other attractions like the train, carousel, reptile house, aquarium and pony rides are all open during the Holiday Lights Spectacular.
More info: Visit www.turtlebackzoo.com or call 973-731-5800
Skylands Stadium Christmas Light Show
Where: Skylands Stadium, 94 Championship Place, Augusta
When: Select dates and times from November 16 through December 30
Price: $20 per carload (Friday, Saturday & Sunday), $17 per carload (Monday-Thursday)
Details: Stay warm and cozy in your car at this drive-through light show featuring two million lights across a one-mile course. This year, the show features more light displays in a new layout and an all-new version of the popular light tunnel. After your drive, check out the Christmas Village, an indoor winter wonderland featuring photos with Santa, hot food and drinks, games and more. Shop from local vendors, meet costumed characters and enjoy caroling and dance performances on select nights. New to this year’s show is an outdoor village, which is free to visit on its own.
Why I like it: Take your picture with Champ, the village’s life-size polar bear statue. Maybe it will be good enough to be your holiday card photo!
More info: Visit www.skylandsstadium.com or call 973-383-7644
Christmas in Cape May
Where: Cape May
When: November 16 to January 1
Details: This popular shore town is transformed into a Dickens village for the holidays, with garlands of fragrant greens and twinkling gaslights. Those that visit can participate in a variety of fun events like holiday trolley rides, lectures, house tours, themed dinners and more. Tour the Physick Family Christmas House and see an authentic Victorian estate decked out for the holidays. If ghosts are more your thing, you’ll want to buy tickets for the Ghosts of Christmas Past Trolley Ride…spooky!
Why I like it: Embark on the Evening Yuletide Tour and you’ll enjoy a trolley ride through town past beautifully lit Victorian homes, a perfect nightcap after a day spent holiday shopping.
More info: Visit www.capemaymac.org or call 609-884-5404
Holiday in the Park
Where: Six Flags Great Adventure, 1 Six Flags Boulevard, Jackson
When: November 17, then weekends and select days through January 1
Price: Special online prices starting at $47.99 each, $79.99 at the park
Details: Marvel at more than one million glittering lights while enjoying holiday entertainment, seasonal treats and Santa’s Village at Six Flags. Nearly 30 rides including the BATMAN: The Ride, Carousel, Nitro and Tea Cups will be running during the Holiday in the Park event. While there, guests can warm up with some flavored coffees, hot chocolate, cider or seasonal soups, or indulge your sweet tooth with fried s’mores, candies, kettle corn or other holiday treats.
Why I like it: On a date night? Have your photo taken under the mistletoe for a nice holiday keepsake.
More info: Visit www.sixflags.com or call 732-928-2000
Light Show in Historic Smithville
Where: Lake Meone, Historic Smithville
When: November 22 to January 6 (Thursdays to Sundays) from dark to 8:30 pm
Price: Free admission
Details: Get into the spirit as you listen to popular holiday songs synchronized with a dazzling Christmas tree light show. Over 120 Christmas trees made from more than 50,000 sparkling lights will magically float along Lake Meone. The lights dance and chase one another to the music as they reflect off the water’s surface. You can watch the show from the bridge or either side of the village. While you’re in town, you can stroll along the cobblestone paths and pop into over 40 different shops. Christmas train rides and story time with Mrs. Claus are also available.
Why I like it: It’s free fun for the whole family that will surely become a tradition for years to come.
More info: Visit www.historicsmithvillenj.com or call 609-748-8999
Creamy Acres Night of Lights Country Christmas Hayride
Where: Creamy Acres Farm, 448 Lincoln Mill Road, Mullica Hill
When: Fridays and Saturdays, November 23 to December 15, daily from December 17 to December 22, 5:30 to 8:00 pm
Price: $15 for adults, $10 for children ages 3 – 7, $12 for 65 and over
Details: The day after Thanksgiving, the Creamy Acres dairy farm is transformed into a Christmas wonderland, filled with huge sparkling light displays, a musical dancing tree light show and lights galore. Take the family on a hayride while listening to your favorite Christmas songs, or stroll through the Barnyard Walk with its glowing lights. You can even get a photo with Santa, free of charge.
Why I like it: Refreshments are available for purchase and it’s never too cold for hand-dipped Creamy Acres ice cream!
More info: Visit www.nightoflightshayride.com/ or call 856-223-1669
Lights on Poplar
Where: 15 Poplar Avenue, Egg Harbor Township
When: November 22 to January 1 from 5:00 pm to 10:30 pm
Details: Every holiday season, the Chew family lights up their house and yard for the delight of all those who pass by. Plus, they broadcast all your favorite Christmas songs! Follow them on Facebook so you don’t miss announcements about when Santa Claus is stopping by for a visit.
Why I like it: The focus of this light show is not only to entertain people, but also to help needy children have a happy holiday – the Chews have a bright red toy donation box in their front yard for your new, unwrapped toys.
More info: Visit www.Facebook.com
Sea of Lights
Where: Jenkinson’s Aquarium, 300 Ocean Avenue, Point Pleasant Beach
When: December 14 & 15, 21 & 22 and 26-28 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm
Price: $8 per person
Details: The Jersey shore isn’t just for summertime! Jenkinson’s Aquarium gets lit up annually for this indoor holiday lights display. The Sweet Shop, aquarium, aquarium gift shop and Pavilion Arcade will also be open. This event includes crafts, games, holiday treats, photos with Santa and friends, holiday gifts and more.
Why I like it: Where else will you get to see a swimming Santa Claus underwater amongst the sea creatures?
More info: Visit www.jenkinsons.com or call 732-892-0600