It may be hard to believe, but Christmas is right around the corner, which means holiday shows, visiting Santa, snowy sleigh rides, and, of course, checking out the amazing light displays throughout the state. New Jersey really shines during the holidays, with many different ways to see some holiday sparkle—from walk-through spectacles at amusement parks, zoos, and aquariums to massive drive-through displays; plus private homes and entire towns that go all-out!
These sparkling spectacles—some of which feature more than a million lights—are sure to impress even the grinchiest member of your family. So bundle up the kids and head out to one of these illuminating shows soon! And of course, you can find even more ways to be merry in the Mommy Poppins Holiday Fun Guide.
Storybook Land transforms into a twinkling wonderland for the holidays. Photo courtesy of Storybook Land
Storybook Land's Christmas Fantasy with Lights – Egg Harbor Township
Saturday, November 17 – Sunday, December 30, 2018 (Closed 11/22, 12/24, 12/25)
Storybook Land hosts a fabulous holiday celebration, with Santa himself illuminating the park with more than one millions lights. Children can visit Mr. & Mrs. Claus until December 23, when it’s time for them to return to the North Pole. All rides, attractions, and snack bars are also open during this time. On December 1-23, bring a toy for Toys for Tots and receive one free popcorn and hot chocolate per toy donation.
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Stay toasty in your car as you drive through the display at Skylands. Photo courtesy of Skylands Stadium
Skylands Stadium Christmas Light Show – Augusta
Friday, November 16 – Sunday, December 30, 2018 (select days)
The one-mile long, drive-through show features breathtaking displays set to joyful holiday music. There are more than two million lights on display, including nativity scenes, twinkling snowflakes, skating penguins, and jolly snowmen. New this year are outdoor village activities like photos with Santa, hot chocolate, s'mores, carnival games, and more (for additional fees). Admission to the drive-through portion is priced by the carload. Discounted tickets can be purchased in advance or on discount nights (Mondays–Thursdays).
Magic of Lights – Howell
Through Monday, December 31, 2018 (Sunday through Thursday, dusk until 10 pm; Friday and Saturday dusk until 11 pm; closed Thanksgiving)
New this year, Magic of Lights is a mile-long drive-through exhibit located at the PNC Bank Arts Center. Pay by the car at the gate, or purchase a Dash Pass for quicker admittance.
Holiday Lights Spectacular at Turtle Back Zoo – West Orange
Friday, November 16 – Sunday, December 2, 2018 (Friday through Sunday)
Friday, December 7 – Monday, December 31, 2018 (daily except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day)
Stroll through the zoo after dark to see the animals frolicking under the incredible light displays. Animal- and holiday-themed figures, including wooden soldiers and stars, will illuminate the zoo and delight your little ones. Donations of canned goods, unwrapped toys, and winter coats are appreciated. FREE
Jenkinson's Sea of Lights – Point Pleasant
Friday, December 14 – Friday, December 28, 2018 (Fridays and Saturdays, plus December 26 and 27)
The aquarium gets bedazzled with festive lights and decorations for the season. Walk through at your own pace to see different themed sections, then enjoy arts and crafts, face painting, and photos with Santa.
Historic Smithville Holiday Light Show – Galloway Township
Thursday, November 22, 2018 – Sunday, January 6, 2019 (Thursday–Sunday)
This beautiful holiday show, featuring an orchestrated show of lights and music, makes Historic Smithville feel magical. More than 120 Christmas trees made with more than 100,000 lights will float along Lake Meone, lit up in time with music. Watch from either end of the village or on the bridge. In addition to the light show, you can enjoy the myriad shops and restaurants in the decorated village. FREE
Candlelight Tours, Historic Cape May – Various locations in town
Saturdays, December 1, 8, 15, 2018
The Victorian homes, inns, churches, and hotels in picturesque Cape May get decked out for the holidays in gorgeous lights, wreaths, and garlands. Check them out on these self-guided walking tours. Admission includes Christmas caroling and strolling musicians, hospitality centers with warm beverages and goodies, and admission to the Emlen Physick Estate, Cape May’s only Victorian house museum, and to “An Old-fashioned Christmas: Holiday Traditions through the Years” exhibit in the Carroll Gallery. Limited trolley shuttle service available.
Lights on Evergreen – 38 Evergreen Place, Demarest
2018 will be the last year that the Lights on Evergreen will shine, as the family will be moving after the holidays. Don't miss this incredible spectacle of more than 100,000 lights that move in sync with music airing on 98.1 FM. The show is designed by a teen and his family in honor of his late mother, who loved Christmas. Donations are collected in support of the American Heart Association. Help the family reach its goal of raising $10,000 this year. FREE
The Cook's Christmas Lights – 1 Carlson Court, Jackson
Saturday, November 24, 2018 – Tuesday, January 1, 2019 (Sundays-Thursdays 6pm-10pm; Friday and Saturday 6pm-11pm).
This home has 33,000 dancing lights, including 4 singing faces plus a 1,008 bulb pixel matrix, synchronized to music. The homeowners collect donations for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. FREE
The fantastic T&A Sprinklers Light Show is a marvel of lights. Photo courtesy of the show
T&A Sprinklers Light Show – 18 Central Avenue, Old Bridge
With more than 200,000 lights, the T&A Sprinklers Light Show is a fun show set to music that the whole neighborhood loves. *Pending township approval
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Johnny's Hazlet Holiday Light Extravaganza lights up the neighborhood at Christmastime. Photo courtesy of the venue via Facebook
Johnny's Hazlet Holiday Lights – 3 Bauer Avenue, Hazlet
Starting Saturday, December 1, 2018
This show draws tons of fans every year to see two dozen inflatable decorations and more than 75,000 lights. Viewers can walk through the walkway back to the street. The owners just ask that you do not cross the ropes onto the lawn. You'd better be good... Santa's been known to make an appearance here some nights.
Hagerty Family Christmas Lights – 133 North Avenue, Pitman
Pitman resident Frank Hagerty has been transforming his property into a Christmas wonderland every holiday season for more than 30 years. Visitors are welcome to walk through the displays of animatronic dolls, cartoon characters, Santa and his reindeer, and more. FREE
Christmas at the Nietzer's – 201 Hamilton Boulevard, South Plainfield
Saturday, December 1 – Monday, December 31, 2018 (5-9:30pm every night)
Set to 25 minutes of music, this house glows with a rainbow of lights. an features the Christmas Story. Tune your radio to 89.3 FM Follow posted parking signs on Hamilton Blvd. or Church St.
Crouch's Light Display – 119 Wild Oaks Drive, Salem
The Crouch family uses more than 22,000 lights and 11,000 feet of electrical cord to cover their 5-acre property in holiday cheer. Tune in to 105.5 to watch the lights move to the music. FREE
Bayville Christmas Light Show – 30 Tioga Ave., Bayville
Homeowner Tom Makowski, the winner of 2016's Jersey Central Power & Lights holiday lights photo contest, has a fabulous display with thousands lights that dance to Christmas songs in this free display. Food donations are welcome, to benefit St. Barnabas Church. FREE
Recently, the Township of Manchester revived its home-decorating competition, and the locals went all-out to win categories like Most Original and Spirit of the Holidays. Tour the town to take in all of the displays, and don't forget to hit Anjou Court, Southampton Boulevard, Lilac Lane, and Second Street, where the past winners were located. FREE
Edison Light Show – 225 Plainfield Road, Edison
Right across the street from Charlie Brown's restaurant, this home has been delighting Edison Metuchen locals for years. This lovely display dances to music and is definitely worth a stop! FREE
Camuso Family Christmas Display of Livingston – Livingston Oval, Robert Harp Drive, Livingston
This walk-through display (featuring lights, decorations, and motorized characters) was first put up more than 50 years ago by Ernest Camuso and families have enjoyed the holiday treat ever since. The Camuso family continues the tradition in Mr. Camuso's memory, and accepts donations that go to St. Barnabas Burn Foundation.
First published in 2015. Updated in 2018.