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

Experience a Victorian Christmas at the annual Charles Dickens Festival in Port Jefferson. Photo courtesy of the festival
Free Christmas Events and Activities and More Holiday Fun On Long Island, New York, 2018

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 our favorite FREE events that 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 24, 2018
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

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

Santa’s Workshop at the Drowned Meadow Cottage — Port Jefferson
November 24, December 1, 2, 8, 15, and 22, 2018
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.

Tree Trimming Event at Fire Island Lighthouse — Fire Island
November 24, 2018
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 24, 2018
Spectators can ooh and aah as decorated boats parade along the river. The event begins at 5:30. Watch from a variety of locations along the parade route.

Holiday Music at Hicks — Westbury
Saturdays and Sundays November 24 through December 16, 2018
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
Now through December 26, 2018
Something Special for Santa uses animatronic scenes to tell this year’s holiday story at Hicks Nurseries. Admission is FREE, but donations of nonperishable food items for Long Island Cares are welcome. 

Meet Santa at Hicks – Westbury
Now through Sunday, December 23, 2018
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 17.

TMB Model Train Show — Farmingdale
November 24-25, December 8-9, 2018; select weekends through February 3, 2019
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.

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

Christmas Celebration at Montauk Point Lighthouse — Montauk
November 25, 2018
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 24 at 4 pm. 

Nassau Lionel Operating Engineers Open House — Levittown
November 30; December 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 2018
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 1-2, 2018
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 1, 2018
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.

Ward Melville Heritage Organization Festival — Stony Brook
December 2, 2018
Lots going on at this event, including a giant puppet parade, carolers and other live music, holiday tree lighting, and a visit from Santa. Also, the Promenade of Trees is an ongoing tree decorating contest. Families can vote for their favorite from more than 60 decorated trees throughout Stony Brook village.

Grand Menorah Lighting at Chabad Center for Jewish Life — Merrick
December 2, 2018
The event 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 more.

Chanukkah Song and Story Time — Port Washington
December 2, 2018
Rabbi Mendelson from Port Jewish Center will be at The Dolphin Bookshop for a free holiday story time and craft.

Chabad of the Hamptons’ Chanuka Menorahcade — East Hampton
December 2, 2018
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.

Tree Lighting and Visit from Santa at Planting Fields Arboretum — Oyster Bay
December 7, 2018
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.

Ugly Sweater Cookies at the Plainview Public Library — Plainview
December 7, 2018
Why just wear an ugly sweater? At this library, families get to decorate 10 ugly sweater cookies and then take them home to eat.

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 8, 2018
Get your camera ready as kids enjoy a re-enactment of the Flying Santa as he arrives at the lighthouse.

Holiday Craft for Kids at Lakeshore Learning Store — New Hyde Park 
Saturdays in December, 2018
Stop by the Lakeshore Learning Store and let your kids (3 and older) create a holiday craft to take home.

Gingerbread House Decorating at the Westbury Library — Westbury
December 13, 2018
Learn how to create a gingerbread house, complete with cookie cutouts, royal icing, and candy, from the Baking Coach. Each family takes home their finished product.

Alive After Five Winter Wonderland — Patchogue
December 20, 2018
Main Street is closed to make way for an ice skating rink and other fun, family-friendly winter activities. This year’s theme is “It’s a Wonderful Life, Patchogue!”

This post is updated annually.

Hicks Nurseries
100 Jericho Tpke.
Westbury , NY 40° 45' 48.4524" N, 73° 35' 50.6004" W
New York
Village of Port Jefferson-Village Center
101 E Broadway The Drowned Meadow Cottage
Port Jefferson , NY 40° 56' 25.8756" N, 73° 3' 43.3404" W
New York
Heritage Farm & Garden
6050 Northern Blvd.
Muttontown , NY 40° 50' 11.382" N, 73° 32' 56.2164" W
New York
Holiday Boat Parade in Freeport
Woodcleft Ave.
Freeport , NY 40° 38' 1.7592" N, 73° 34' 55.236" W
New York
Cue Hall
2953 Hempstead Tpke Basement Nassau Lionel Operating Engineers Open House
Levittown , NY
40° 43' 31.3968" N, 73° 31' 35.6664" W
New York
Sagamore Hill
20 Sagamore Hill Rd. Christmas with the Roosevelts
Oyster Bay , NY 40° 52' 54.8724" N, 73° 30' 17.3664" W
New York
Westfield Sunrise Mall
1 Sunrise Mall, near Sears
Massapequa , NY 40° 41' 4.3008" N, 73° 26' 3.5448" W
New York
Westfield South Shore
1701 Sunrise Highway
Bayshore , NY 40° 44' 23.136" N, 73° 14' 46.6044" W
New York
The Dolphin Bookshop
299 Main St.
Por. Washington , NY 40° 49' 57.5472" N, 73° 41' 57.3324" W
New York
Babylon Town Hall
47 W. Main St.
Babylon , NY 40° 41' 47.5728" N, 73° 19' 26.9832" W
New York
Southside Hospital
301 East Main St.
Bayshore , NY 40° 43' 32.7396" N, 73° 14' 29.418" W
New York
Heritage Trust
633 Mt. Sinai Coram Rd. & County Rd. 83
Mt. Sinai , NY 40° 55' 59.0916" N, 73° 0' 31.8204" W
New York
Planting Fields Arboretum
1395 Planting Fields Rd.
Oyster Bay , NY 40° 51' 40.1832" N, 73° 33' 25.9812" W
New York
TMB Model Train Club
120 Schmitt Blvd.
Farmingdale , NY 40° 44' 52.3212" N, 73° 25' 0.2748" W
New York
Lakeshore Learning Store
2079 Hillside Ave.
New Hyde Park , NY 40° 45' 6.1812" N, 73° 40' 28.6104" W
New York
Old Mill Nursesries
1862 Newbridge Rd.
Bellmore , NY 40° 40' 36.39" N, 73° 32' 22.0272" W
New York
West End Electric Light Parade
West Beech St.
Long Beach , NY 40° 35' 9.8304" N, 73° 40' 57.7704" W
New York
Amagansett Menorah Lighting
Main St. & Atlantic Ave.
Amagansett , NY 40° 58' 45.3828" N, 72° 8' 1.5324" W
New York
Chabad of the Hamptons
17 Woods Lane
East Hampton , NY 40° 57' 10.872" N, 72° 11' 46.248" W
New York
Kennedy Plaza
Center Street & W Chester Street Grand Menorah Lighting at City Hall
Long Beach , NY 40° 35' 21.858" N, 73° 39' 57.222" W
New York
Williston Park Library & Village Hall- 3rd floor
494 Willis Avenue Pop Up Shabbat
Williston Park , NY 40° 45' 27.2844" N, 73° 38' 41.6076" W
New York
Kirk Park
95 S Emerson Ave. Montauk Menorah Lighting
Montauk , NY 41° 1' 56.874" N, 71° 56' 44.304" W
New York
Carl's Candies
50 Main St.
11761 Northport , NY 40° 54' 0.0792" N, 73° 21' 4.2552" W
New York