December GoList: Things to Do with Long Island Kids This Month

No need to remind you of all that is going on in December on Long Island. In fact, of our 12 monthly GoLists, it’s unlikely you’ll find one with more entertainment possibilities than December, assuming, of course that between shopping, and surfing (the Web), traveling, and cooking you have time to take advantage of them.

From light shows to train showstree and menorah lightings, Santa brunches, and even family-friendly New Year's Eve celebrations, our gift to you this holiday season is 31 days of possibilities. So enjoy, and remember we are committed to being your source for the best seasonal entertainment on Long Island.

With so much to do, what’s the point of a lengthy introduction? Let’s move headfirst into the month’s must-do events. And for more great seasonal happenings, why not head to our Long Island guide to the holiday season or our Long Island events calendar.  As always, best to you and all those who matter to you from your friends at Mommy Poppins. 

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Thrill to the drive-through holiday light show at Jones Beach. Photo courtesy of Magic of Lights

Magic of Lights — Jones Beach State Park
Daily through January 4, 2020
Enjoy this luminescent holiday light show and tour the Christmas village at Long Island’s most popular state park. Thrill to a two-mile drive amid seasonal music, lights, digital animations, hot cocoa, smores, and, of course, Santa. On Tuesdays, cars can drive through a second time for FREE.

Holiday magic awaits across Long Island this month. Don't mss Bayville's Winter Wonderland. Photo by Lisa Fogarty

Winter Wonderland — Bayville
Through New Year’s Day, Wednesday, January 1
Enjoy holiday express train rides, Santa’s toy workshop, ice skating, rock climbing, holiday stories, and more at this pop-up display at Bayville Adventure Park. Add a magical family Santa experience for $15.

Take a Polar Express ride on the East End for a visit with Santa. Photo by Jaime Sumersille

Polar Express Trolley — Riverhead, Southampton
Through Saturday, December 22
Families can join the train at the North or South Fork stops and enjoy Liam Neeson’s reading of The Polar Express. Afterward, enjoy cocoa and cookies with Santa. Children (and parents) are encouraged to attend in pajamas for a truly authentic holiday experience.

Breakfast or Brunch with Santa — Islandwide
Through Christmas Eve, Tuesday, December 24
Join St. Nick all across Long Island, where he will distribute candy canes, holiday best wishes, and who knows, maybe even a small toy or two. Just remember, Santa has some work to do and must return to the North Pole on Christmas Day.

Holiday Theater — Islandwide
All month long
Children’s drama comes alive in December. Kids can enjoy 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and The Very Hungry Caterpillar Christmas in Greenvale; Scrooge in Westbury; Elf: The Musical in Patchogue, Barnaby Saves Christmas in Port Jefferson and A Christmas Carol in Bellmore; Frosty the Snowman in East Islip; and more. See our roundup of seasonal children's performances here

Town of Riverhead Holiday Lights Show — Calverton
Weekends through December 29, select weekdays
Visitors enjoy a 25-minute car ride through 1½ miles of holiday lights. Tickets purchased online can be redeemed for any day the show is open. The show’s debuted in 2018 to great fanfare. You can read our review of the 2018 show here.

Family Gingerbread House Decorating — Bridgehampton, Bayville
Saturday, December 7, Saturday, December 14 in Bridgehampton; all month in Riverhead
Unleash your child’s culinary creativity as he or she decorates pre-made gingerbread houses at the Children’s Museum of the East End. Similar fun can be had at Gingerbread University in Riverhead, where kids can make take-home gingerbread houses from, chocolate, fudge, cookies, and other seasonal treats. Reservations are recommended at Gingerbread University.

Meet the enduring characters of The Nutcracker in the timeless classic. Photo courtesy of Tilles Center

The Nutcracker — Islandwide
All month long
Enjoy the holiday classic all across Long Island in December. Thrill to the Sugar Plum Fairy, her dashing cavalier, the Mouse King, angels, dolls, and more. There are performances in Greenvale, Syosset, Brentwood, East Hampton, Huntington, Patchogue, and Ronkonkoma.

Tree Lightings — Islandwide
Saturday, November 30-Sunday, December 1
Deck the halls at these first-of-the-season tree trimmings at the Vanderbilt Mansion in Centerport; the Fire Island Lighthouse; and, of course, the Montauk Point Lighthouse. Meet Santa, and at Montauk Point enjoy caroling, pony rides., refreshments, and more.

Girls Scouts of Long Island Holiday Light Show — Smith Point County Park, Shirley
Sunday, December 1-Monday, December 30 (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day)
Another drive-through display, the Girl Scouts promise even more holiday illuminations this season. Buy your tickets in advance of the December 1 opening and you are automatically entered into a raffle for a year’s worth of free Girl Scout cookies.

Cut Your Own Christmas Tree — Islandwide, mostly in Suffolk County
Through Christmas Eve
Make the search for your family’s holiday tree an outdoors event at one of the many cut-your-own farms on Long Island. Some of these destinations offer holiday train rides, cocoa, caroling, and even a visit from St. Nick himself.

Train Shows — Islandwide
Saturday, December 1-Sunday, December 2; Friday, December 7-Sunday, December 9; some thereafter
Young train enthusiasts will marvel at the variety of engines and layouts on display. Enjoy shows in AlbertsonFarmingdaleLevittown, and elsewhere.

See boats adorned in seasonal regalia at the holiday parade in Freeport. Photo courtesy of the event

Holiday Boat Parade — Freeport
Saturday, December 7
Boat owners and residents of nearby homes go all out as Freeport ushers in the holiday season with a spectacular lights display. An added bonus: Kids eat free at several local restaurants that night. Follow our link here for other great LI light displays. FREE   

Turn back the clock to the Victorian era at Port Jefferson's Dickens Festival. Photo courtesy of the festival

Dickens Festival — Port Jefferson
Saturday December 7-Sunday, December 8
The village turns back the clock to the 19th century, bringing to life some of Charles Dickens’ immortal characters, including Ebenezer Scrooge. It’s one of LI’s most charming holiday spectacles. Also enjoy ice skating at the Village Center, a cappella performances by local choirs, seasonal musical concerts, magic shows, and more. FREE

Community Menorah Lightings — Islandwide
Beginning Sunday,  December 15
Join your neighbors and fellow residents in ushering in the festival of lights. There are menorah lightings in Farmingdale, Merrick, Long BeachCold Spring Harbor, the East End, well, just about anywhere on Long Island. The eight-day celebration of Hanukkah begins on December 22. 

RELATED: Great Holiday Season Day Trips Near Long Island

New Year’s Eve Family Parties — Islandwide
Sunday, December 31
Parents can share some New Year’s Eve best wishes with their kids before the countdown to midnight and 2019 begins. Family events are planned in Bayville, BrentwoodCold Spring Harbor, Garden CityLong Beach, RiverheadWesthampton, and elsewhere.