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

Activities and Events for Kids and Families on Long Island in December, 2018

No need to remind you of all that is going on in December. 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 shows, tree 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 December 30
Enjoy this luminescent holiday light show and tour the Christmas village at Long Island’s most popular state park. 

Town of Riverhead Holiday Lights Show — Calverton
Weekends through December 29, select weekdays
At this new holiday festival, 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. Read our review here.

Girls Scouts of Long Island Holiday Light Show — Shirley
Daily though December 30 (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day)
Another drive-through display, the Girl Scouts promise even more holiday illuminations this season. Credit or debit cards only; no advance ticket sales.

Community tree and menorah lightings — Islandwide
Beginning Friday,  November 30
Join your neighbors and fellow residents in ushering in the season. There are lightings in Floral Park, Long Beach, Cold Spring Harbor, the East End, well, just about anywhere on Long Island. The eight-day celebration of Hanukkah begins on December 2. 

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.

RELATED: The best things to do with kids on Long Island during the holiday season


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

Polar Express trolley rides — East End
Through Sunday, December 23
Depart from Riverhead or Southampton on a ride to the “North Pole,” where kids can share hot cocoa and stories with Santa. Listen to a dramatic reading of The Polar Express by actor Liam Neeson. Kids are encouraged to wear their pajamas. 

Holiday theater — Islandwide
All month long
Children’s drama comes alive in December. Kids can enjoy 'Twas the Night Before Christmas in Smithtown; Elf: The Musical in Northport, Barnaby Saves Christmas and A Christmas Carol in Port Jefferson; Frosty the Snowman in East Islip, Joyfully Jolly Jamboree in Sag Harbor; and more.

RELATED: 20-plus FREE things to do with kids on LI during the holidays


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

Holiday Boat Parade — Freeport
Saturday, December 1
Boat owners and residents of nearby homes go all out as Freeport ushers in the holiday season with a spectacular lights display. Follow our link here for other great LI light displays.     

Winter Wonderland — Wantagh
Saturday, December 1
Enjoy live music, Irish step dancing, pipers, a holiday lighting ceremony, and a visit from Santa. Visitors are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy for charity. 

RELATED: Polar Express and other Santa trains in NYC and LI 


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 1-Sunday, December 2
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. FREE

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 AlbertsonBabylon, Farmingdale, LevittownSayville, and elsewhere.

Holiday Spectacular — Holtsville
Weekends through Sunday, December 16
The Town of Brookhaven Ecology Site comes alive with lights and color. Proceeds support the site's care of more than 100 rescued animals.  

RELATED: LI model train shows and exhibits during the holiday season


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, Tuesday, 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. 

Santa’s Workshop — Port Jefferson
Saturday, December 1-Sunday, December 2
Santa and his elves welcome visitors to the famous Drowned Meadow Cottage in Port Jefferson’s downtown. Help bring the magic of the holiday season to life.

RELATED: LI's best indoor ice rinks for kids


Gingerbread houses await decoration at the Children's Museum of the East End. Photo courtesy of the museum

Family Gingerbread House Decorating — Bridgehampton, Bayville
Saturday, December 1; Saturday, December 8
Unleash your child’s culinary creativity as he or she decorates pre-made gingerbread houses at the Children’s Museum of the East End. Nassau County families can enjoy a similar event at Bayville Free Library on Saturday, December 8.  
 
 
Share your secret wish list with Santa at the Glen Cove Mansion.  Photo courtesy of the mansion

Breakfast with Santa — Glen Cove
Saturdays, December 1 and 8; Sunday, December 9 
Join St. Nick for a feast at the Glen Cove Mansion, where he will distribute candy canes, small toys, and holiday best wishes. For more Islandwide Santa brunches, see our link here.

Holiday Festival at Coe Hall — Oyster Bay
Saturday, December 8-Sunday, December 9; Saturday, December 15-Sunday, December 16
Kids can meet Santa, enjoy face painting, decorate holiday cookies, listen to holiday music, and more at Planting Fields Arboretum. 

RELATED: Holiday volunteering opportunities for Long Island kids


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

The Nutcracker as performed by the Eglevsky Ballet — Brookville
Saturday, December 15
The heralded Eglevsky Ballet brings its version of the holiday classic to Tilles Center. The one-hour length is ideal for children new to the performing arts. Follow our link here for Nutcracker and holiday performances across Long Island.

Candlelight Evenings Holiday Show — Old Bethpage
Friday, December 21-Saturday, December 29
Head to Old Bethpage Village Restoration for a 19th-century holidays celebration featuring a model train show, period songs, storytelling, and more.

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.

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