Thanksgiving Weekend for New Jersey Kids: Lights, Musicals, Santa

Thanksgiving weekend is thankfully here, and we're serving up four days of activities with all the trimmings. The official 2018 holiday season is off to a brilliant start with majestic light spectaculars, including Smithville's Holiday Light Show, which debuts on Thanksgiving, Turtle Back Holiday Lights, and Skylands Stadium Christmas Light Show. Plus, local towns kick off the holidays with tree lighting ceremonies in Red Bank, Princeton, Millburn, and Westfield. And Paramus' Van Saun Park commences its annual Winter Wonderland

Santa Claus is making his rounds throughout the state, arriving by helicopter in Nutley, visiting a farm in Wyckoff, and climbing aboard The Christmas Express, among many other festive train rides over the weekend.

Treat the family to kid-friendly productions of Annie: The Musical, A Charlie Brown Christmas: Live on Stage, and a vast selection of Nutcrackers and Holiday Shows taking place this weekend.

Find even more options for the long weekend in our Guide to Holiday and Christmas Events, including Where to Have Breakfast with Santa and A Dozen Must-Do Holiday Activities. And look to our November GoList and event calendar for a complete listing of happenings this weekend and beyond.

Happy Thanksgiving, NJ!

Christmas Tree Lightings in New York City This Holiday Season

Good news for the crowd-averse: You don't have to brave the commotion at Rockefeller Center to witness a fabulous Christmas tree lighting in New York City.

We've rounded up some tree lightings that are much less crowded and every bit as lovely, from Brooklyn and Queens to the Bronx and everywhere in between. These community holiday celebrations are festive and (mostly) FREE, and there’s no need to stand on your car to glimpse the goings-on. So grab that cup of hot chocolate and cozy up to one of these holiday illuminations in New York City. Find even more seasonal fun in our Holiday Guide.

Click through to our listings for all the details, including addresses, times, recommended ages, and rain (or snow!) dates. Note: Tree lightings are organized by date.

Thanksgiving Weekend Events for Westchester Kids

Thanksgiving is upon us, as is the official kickoff of the holiday season in Westchester. With a four-day weekend ahead, there are plenty of great events happening in our area to keep families together and entertained.

Several holiday events launch this weekend, including the return of the annual (and enhanced) Winter Wonderland and Frosty Fest, to name but two. Also this weekend is the return of Frosty Day, featuring a town-wide celebration of the pride that comes from claiming Frosty as a native son. A similar affair, Mistletoe Magic, is held in Rye, also offering a smorgasbord of holiday fun. Celebrations of the Festival of Lights begin this weekend too, with the stage production of the Hanukkah Festival of (Laser) Light.

Read on for our top weekend picks and click through for full details. Looking for more holiday options? Browse our Holiday Guide, full of events, activities, and ideas for every day of the holiday season. Also be sure to check our Event Calendar for more fun happening this weekend and beyond.

We wish you a wonderful holiday weekend filled with family, friends, great food—and lots of fun activities!

Christmas Tree Lighting Festivities Around Boston

Boston lights it up with dazzling Christmas tree lighting ceremonies in and around town. By late November lights are aglow in Faneuil Hall, Boston Common, and Christopher Columbus Park, and the free festivities continue through early December with tree lighting ceremonies in neighborhoods throughout the city.

It's not only about flipping the switch, of course. Tree lighting ceremonies are treasured annual community celebrations with live performances, activities for kids, holiday giving, and appearances by Santa (and sometimes even Mayor Walsh).

Guide to Viewing Houston's Annual Thanksgiving Parade With Kids

Houston's annual Thanksgiving is back with its larger-than-life floats and entertainment. The 2018 69th Annual H-E-B Thanksgiving Parade begins at 9 a.m. in Downtown Houston on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 22, 2018) with two grand marshalls who own our hearts: Jose Altuve and James Harden. Plan on joining the thousands of Houstonians and visitors who will line the streets on parade day? We have you covered with everything you need to know. But before getting into all of that, know that despite the large crowd, it's not as stressful as you might think to grab a good spot and enjoy the festivities.

20 Best Holiday Events in NYC for Toddlers and Preschoolers

New York City's annual transformation into a wonderland of holiday magic never gets old, especially with kids in tow. For younger kids, however, the Christmas crowds can be daunting—and the average toddler or preschooler tends to have limited patience for lines and lots of noise.

But there are still plenty of amazing seasonal spectacles just right for the 2-to-5 year-old set—including holiday lights, Christmas trains, and Santa visits. We've rounded up some stellar events that cater to toddlers and preschoolers, from abridged performances of holiday shows to gingerbread mania, plus interactive events and workshops, there's plenty of holiday wonder to go around.

18 Hanukkah Celebrations for Kids in LA and Orange County

However you spell it—Hanukkah, Hanukka, Hannukah, Chanukah, or Channuka—SoCal is a great place to be for the Festival of Lights. Home to a Jewish population larger than that of Jerusalem, Los Angeles is all about "lighting candles, wearing sandals, by the sea" (at least, that's why Tom Leher spent Hanukkah in Santa Monica). Giant menorahs light up open spaces from The OC to the Valley

Some of this year's events may be affected by our recent fires (most notably the festival at the Shalom Institute, typically one of the LA's biggest). But be assured that there are plenty of celebrations to fill the 8 crazy nights, including the popular event at the Skirball Center, as well as numerous local events and candle lightings to burn the sunset oil all week long.

Things To Do with Train-Loving Kids in New Jersey

If Thomas, Percy, and James are a part of your daily conversations, take advantage of the many train and railroad attractions throughout New Jersey. Each one offers a different experience that will surely put a smile on any train lover's face. From model trains to railroad museums, zoo and amusement park rides to North Pole excursions, the Garden State has it all—even the world's largest model railroad!

Read on for a list of places where you can ride the rails with your little one, check out amazing displays, and more. 

All Aboard! LI Holiday Model Train Exhibits

If watching a miniature train make its way around a tiny Christmas village isn’t on your family’s list of holiday traditions, why not make it one in 2018?

We guarantee children and adults alike will gaze with wide-eyed wonder at the sights and sounds of one of several model train exhibits on Long Island this holiday season. Not to mention the holiday-themed decorations of the towns through which they travel. To get you going, we’ve put together a list of some of the best displays, sure to delight the entire family.

And if all this train watching makes your family eager to climb aboard a real caboose, check out our roundup of Polar Express and other Santa trains near Long Island and NYC.

All aboard!

It's Christmastime at Sesame Place: A Parent's Review

This first snow has fallen, winter is coming, and it is Christmastime at Sesame Place! If you think Sesame Place is just a water park or summer attraction, put on your jacket and be prepared to be delighted by how they transform the entire park into a winter wonderland, with special guest visits from some of your favorite holiday heroes, including Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Bumble (aka the Abominable Snowman), and of course the big guy himself, Santa Claus, at their Very Furry Christmas celebration. 

I set out for a day of fun with my two kiddos (aged one and five) to get our holiday started extra early this year. With an early Thanksgiving, festivities are kicking into gear across the area and there are already a number of great winter-themed selections to partake in. If you have kids under 10, you will definitely want to make Sesame Place a holiday tradition. If your kids are older, be sure to check out our roundup of free holiday outings, and some can't miss events to celebrate the season, no matter your age.

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