Experience a Victorian Christmas at the annual Charles Dickens Festival in Port Jefferson. Photo courtesy of the festival
Experience a Victorian Christmas at the annual Charles Dickens Festival in Port Jefferson. Photo courtesy of the festival

20+ Free Things to Do at Christmas and the Holidays with LI Kids

If your wallet is feeling the pinch from endless holiday spending (and, seriously, whose isn’t?) there are still plenty of things you can do with your family that won't cost you a thing.

From Christmas tree and menorah lightings to visits with Santa and holiday light displays, we’ve put together a list of 20+ FREE things to do at Christmas and the holidays with your kids. These events will keep your family entertained and you able to afford those last-minute gifts.

To find even more things to do, check out our guide to holiday fun on Long Island, December GoList, and events calendar.

As always, happy holidays.

Annual Leg Lamp Lighting — Northport
November 30, 2019
If your family is a fan of the iconic holiday film A Christmas Story, head over to Carl’s Candies in Northport Village for the annual lighting of the infamous Leg Lamp in the store’s window. Enjoy a live-action performance re-enacting the scene from the movie, a dance number by the high school dance team, the Northport Tigerettes, and more.

RELATED: Cut-your-own Christmas tree farms on Long Island

Wantagh Chamber of Commerce Winter Wonderland – Wantagh
November 30, 2019
Enjoy holiday shopping, live performances from the Wantagh American Legion Pipe Band, and a visit from Santa.

Santa’s Workshop at the Drowned Meadow Cottage — Port Jefferson
November 30, December 1, 7, 8, 14 & 15, 2019
This historic house in Port Jefferson Village is decked out for the holidays, including Santa’s workshop, giant nutcrackers, a gingerbread house, and other custom confectionery delights. As always, admission is FREE but this year a collection box for Cancer for Kids welcomes donations.

Vanderbilt Mansion Tree Lighting and House Tour – Centerport
November 30, 2019
The tree lighting includes carolers, an ornament workshop for kids, hot cocoa and cookies, and a visit from Santa and his Mrs. During the season, visitors can take a guided tour of the mansion (additional fee), which is all decked out it holiday splendor.

Tree Trimming Event at Fire Island Lighthouse — Fire Island
November 30, 2019
Help trim the lighthouse tree for the holidays. Bring along a homemade ornament that relates to the sea, nature, or the lighthouse. Free hot chocolate and cookies.

Connetquot River Boat Parade and Fireworks — Connetequot
November 30, 2019
Spectators can ooh and aah as decorated boats parade along the river. The boat parade begins at 4:45; fireworks at 7:15. Watch from a variety of locations along the parade route.

Holiday Music at Hicks — Westbury
Saturdays and Sundays beginning November 30, 2019
The festive sounds of a brass band at Hicks Nurseries are sure to get everyone into the holiday spirit.

Christmas Animated Story at Hicks Nurseries — Westbury
November 15, 2019 through January 1, 2020
Kids will delight in the animatronic scenes that tell this year’s holiday story, The Spirit of Christmas, at Hicks Nurseries. Admission is FREE, but donations of nonperishable food items for Long Island Cares are welcome. 

Santa photo-ops delight all season long. Photo courtesy of Hicks Nurseries

Meet Santa at Hicks – Westbury
November 29 through, December 23, 2019
Hicks Nurseries offers the perfect photo-op with Santa Claus. Don’t forget your camera. There’s also a North Pole mailbox, where kids can mail their letters and receive a response back from the big guy. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope and "mail" the letter by December 16.

RELATED: Great things to do with LI kids this holiday season

The TMB Model Train Show is guaranteed to amaze train-lovers. Photo courtesy of the TMB Model Train club

TMB Model Train Show — Farmingdale
November 30, December 1, 14-15, 2019; select weekends through March 8, 2020
Among the 10 larger-size trains running on 19 miles of track, you’ll find Thomas the Tank Engine and the Polar Express. For adults, there’s a model train layout that was once featured in an episode of The Sopranos.​

Christmas Celebration at Montauk Point Lighthouse — Montauk
December 1, 2019
Festivities start at 11am and include caroling, pony rides, refreshments, and, of course, a visit from Santa. The annual Light the Lighthouse holiday lights ceremony is Saturday, November 30 at 4 pm. 

Nassau Lionel Operating Engineers Open House — Levittown
December 6-8, 13-15, 2019
All aboard! Long Island’s largest operating O-gauge exhibit takes you on a journey through a decked-out-for-the-holidays miniature village.

Port Jefferson Village Annual Charles Dickens Festival — Port Jefferson
December 7-8, 2019
Step back in time and mingle with characters straight out of a Dickens’ novel, including Father Christmas and Scrooge. Enjoy plenty of family-friendly events including ice skating, magic shows, and more throughout the popular weekend-long festival.

Holiday Boat Parade —Freeport
December 7, 2019
Admire the many decorated and lighted boats as they sail along the Nautical Mile. Added bonus: Kids eat free at several local restaurants on parade night.

Promenade of Trees at the Stony Brook Village Center — Stony Brook
December 8, 2019 – January 1, 2020
This is an ongoing tree decorating contest. Families can vote for their favorite from more than 60 decorated trees throughout Stony Brook village. Santa visits on December 8.

Chanukkah Song and Story Time — Port Washington
December 8, 2019
Rabbi Mendelson from Port Jewish Center will be at The Dolphin Bookshop for a free holiday story time and craft.

Alive After Five Winter Wonderland — Patchogue
December 12, 2019
Main Street is closed to allow visitors to enjoy holiday shopping and dining along the main thoroughfare.

Tree Lighting and Visit from Santa at Planting Fields Arboretum — Oyster Bay
December 13, 2019
There is so much going on for the whole family, including a tree lighting, visit from Santa, caroling by the Barber Shop Quartet, and other musical performances. You can also take a self-guided tour of Coe Hall, which is decorated for the holidays.

RELATED: Nutcrackers and other holiday shows on Long Island, 2018

Thrill as Santa arrives by plane at the Fire Island Lighthouse. Photo courtesy of the Fire Island Lighthouse

Re-Enactment of Flying Santa at the Fire Island Lighthouse — Fire Island
December 14, 2019
Get your camera ready as kids enjoy a re-enactment of the Flying Santa as he arrives at the lighthouse.

Grand Menorah Lighting at Chabad Center for Jewish Life — Merrick
December 22, 2019
This year’s event theme is “Chanukah in Chocolate Heaven.” It begins with the lighting of the 12-foot menorah at Merrick LIRR station, and continues with a parade of vintage cars, a firetruck, and a rooftop menorah to the Chabad Center, where all can enjoy music, dancing, crafts, and all things chocolate!

Chabad of the Hamptons’ Chanuka Menorahcade — East Hampton
December 22, 2019
Join a parade of cars with menorahs on top and spread the light of the season. Ends at Herrick Park for the Grand Menorah lighting. Enjoy latkes, donuts, dreidels, hot chocolate and much more.

Holiday Craft for Kids at Lakeshore Learning Store — New Hyde Park 
Saturdays in December, 2019
Stop by the Lakeshore Learning Store and let your kids (3 and older) create a holiday craft to take home.

This post is updated annually.

Places featured in this article:

Holiday Boat Parade in Freeport

West End Electric Light Parade

Amagansett Menorah Lighting

Chabad of the Hamptons

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