Weekend Fun: North Pole Express, Holiday Lights , Friendsgiving

This mid-November weekend sparkles and shines with the debut of holiday light displays throughout the state. Take a nighttime stroll through Turtle Back Zoo with its brilliant winter scenes, or drive though Skyland Stadium's dazzling, musical light displays. Storybook Land's holiday parade features the lighting of the park's tree, while Tropicana's interactive Christmas Tree synchronizes to music.

There's plenty of family-friendly theater to choose from this week, including performances of A Christmas Story: The Musical, Pinocchio, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Elf The Musical, and Sesame Street Live. And Thanksgiving prep is underway with PAWS Discovery Farm's Friendsgiving Feast and Early 19th Century Day of Thanks.

Find even more options in our Fall Fun Guide for NJ Kids, plus plan ahead for all those days off with 25 Family Staycation Ideas for the NJ Holidays. And look to our November GoList and event calendar for a complete listing of happenings this weekend and beyond.

New Trolls Experience in Midtown Is a Fun-Packed Party for Kids

What's rainbow-hued, covered with yards of soft, pettable fur, and sprinkled with just the right amount of sparkly glitter? The brand-new Trolls Experience in Midtown West.

While it's part kid-centric, photo-friendly wonderland, there's definitely more to this installation than other recent Instagram-friendly pop-ups like Candytopia, The Museum of Pizza, and others. (For starters, there's actually a coherent, kid-friendly story to help guide your visit—it doesn't feel like a random collection of rooms.) You and your family are invited to a magical, fun-filled world where energetic staff members excitedly await your arrival, and are ready to help you prep for Poppy's Best Day Ever Party.

Breakfast, Brunch & More Christmas Festivities with Santa for Houston Kids

Ready or not, the holidays are officially here, and there are tons of family-friendly events around the city to kick off the festivities and see Santa before he drops off all his presents. One of our favorite ways to celebrate the holidays is by having a good, old-fashioned breakfast with Santa... especially when breakfast is followed by lots of crafts and activities and plenty of photos with the man in red. 

And if that wasn't enough, in addition to breakfast with Santa we also included brunch with Santa, cookies with Santa, and more fun events, ensuring you have plenty of face time with the big guy so he knows exactly what you want for Christmas this year. 

Looking for even more Christmas activities and festivities? You'll definitely want to check out our guide to all things Christmas, Hannukah, and holiday fun in Houston this year.

New Indigo Bookstore Brings Kid-Friendly Fun to Short Hills Mall

I have fond memories of finding a quiet spot to read Curious George in Waldenbooks and B. Dalton as a child. Then in college, I flocked to Barnes & Noble and Borders, which offered cool cafes and products beyond just books.

But other than Barnes & Noble, it seems most of the big bookstore chains wrote the last page in their stories years ago. You don’t hear about too many bookstore openings these days—until now.

Indigo, Canada’s largest bookseller, opened its first U.S. location in the Short Hills Mall last month, and it’s just what we needed. Billed as a "cultural department store," Indigo is a cross between an upscale bookstore and Crate & Barrel, with neutral colors, clean style, and an elegant use of space. But most importantly, there is a huge children’s section, complete with plenty of space to play and explore, as well as a calendar packed with storytimes and special events, like the recent visit from Goosebumps author R.L. Stine. 

Holiday Volunteer Opportunities for Long Island Kids, 2018

No matter their ages, most kids (and adults) can’t help but get caught up in the gift-getting, list-making, shop-till-you-drop frenzy of the holidays. In 2018, why not show your children how rewarding it can be to donate to needy families or to help make a sick child’s holiday a little brighter simply by volunteering time?

From fundraising to food drives to helping make wishes come true, we’ve put together a list of Long Island organizations looking for volunteers this holiday season as well as throughout the year. You can also check out the Long Island Volunteer Center, which is a great resource of nonprofits in your area. And don’t forget to check with your local houses of worship, which often need help with food pantries and soup kitchens, your child’s school or Scouting group, and your local library.

The importance of giving back to those in need is a wonderful lesson to teach your children, especially at this time of year. 

Where to See the Nutcracker in NYC: 14 Family Shows in 2018

The Nutcracker ballet is a classic holiday experience for kids and parents, and NYC offers dozens of wonderful interpretations of this beautiful Christmas show.

While many children love the energy and drama of The Nutcracker—from the sweet Sugar Plum fairy visit to the frantic battle with the Rat King—it can be long for some. So we've rounded up more than a dozen variations of The Nutcracker playing this season in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, from the classic showing at Lincoln Center to just-for-kids versions. Many of our picks are abridged versions and inexpensive (or FREE) while still possessing the charm to keep kids wide-eyed.

Disney Princess Subscription Boxes Arrive Just Before Holidays

Disney has just launched a brand-new princess subscription box filled with tiaras, tulle — and fairy tales, of course. With the holidays right around the corner, and many kids (not just ours, right?) already working up their wish lists, we suspect this latest, kid-targeted subscription service will land at the top of a few most-wanted toys' lists.

Promising to deliver this Disney magic straight to your favorite princess-loving kid’s door for either a year, six months, or month-to-month, the first boxes will make it in time for Christmas delivery, we're told.

Kids Wear PJs and Join the Fun at New Family Show "Pillowland"

Put on your coziest pajamas and head to Tribeca, because New York City Children’s Theater’s production of Pillowland is now showing. One of our top fall family theater picks for 2018, the city’s latest interactive family play is based on the hit song by beloved kid rocker Laurie Berkner. If you've never taken your preschooler to a show, Pillowland is a sweet introduction to the magic of live theater.

Where To Go Thanksgiving Day: 15 Places Open for Family Fun in Los Angeles

Filling your house with family this week? Isn't it wonderful? And doesn't it make you just want to... get them all out of your house? We mean this, of course, in the nicest possible way. After all, this is sunny SoCal, and maybe your guests have traveled far to enjoy LA. Telling them where to go is just being a good host, right? Even if the family members in your home this Thursday are the same ones who are always there, knowing what's open could be invaluable—both for clearing the house to prepare the meal and for walking it off afterward. Our event calendar has the full listing of Thanksgiving day happenings, and our holiday guide has a few ideas, too; the suggestions below are 15 places you may not have realized have opening hours on the holiday. Happy Thanksgiving!

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