Ready or not, here comes the holiday season!
This month, celebrate Thanksgiving the old-fashioned way at Fosterfields Living Historical Farm and the Historic Village at Allaire. And it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, with the start of holiday train rides and holiday light shows like the ones at Skylands Stadium and Turtle Back Zoo. Santa Claus is coming to town, too, with celebrations of his arrival at Storybook Land and Camden Children's Garden.
November is also packed with exciting live performances, including Disney on Ice, Annie, and the National Acrobats and Martial Artists of China, as well as holiday shows like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical and A Charlie Brown Christmas Live On Stage. Beloved annual traditions return for another year, including the Mermaids at Adventure Aquarium and the 60th annual Model Railroad Show in North Haledon. And if you're looking for a New York City day trip, don't miss Play Fair at the Javits Center November 4-5.
Read on for more than 25 can't-miss events coming up in November, and for even more family-friendly choices, be sure to check out our Event Calendar, updated daily with new happenings. Happy (beginning of the) Holidays, New Jersey!
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The Great Pumpkin Sail — Mountainside
Bid farewell to your carved jack-o-lantern at Echo Lake Park the day after Halloween. Watch as your pumpkin is set afloat on the lake, sing songs around the campfire, and enjoy hot chocolate and marshmallows.
Moana debuts at Disney on Ice. Photo courtesy of Disney and Feld Entertainment.
Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream – Newark
This show celebrates your favorite princesses, including Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, Tiana, Elsa, and Anna. Moana will also make an appearance, along with Beauty and the Beast. Of course, Minnie and Mickey will be on hand, too.
Play Fair – Manhattan
A public celebration of play and entertainment for all ages, Play Fair brings new and beloved toy and pop culture brands together under one roof for an interactive and fun-filled live event open to families, fans, and media.
Junie B. Jones the Musical – Metuchen
November 4-5, 9-12, 18-19
The lovable Junie B. Jones takes on first grade in this musical based on the popular children's book series.
Mermaids at Adventure Aquarium – Camden
The mermaids are back! They'll be swimming with sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, and fish in Adventure Aquarium's 760,000-gallon Ocean Realm exhibit. Some mermaids will be available for meet-and-greets and photo ops, and there will also be an appearance by a pirate captain, as well as face painting, crafts, and more.
Performing pooches take the stage at Mayo Performing Arts Center this month in Mutts Gone Nuts.
Mutts Gone Nuts – Morristown
This canine comedy stunt show features high-flying Frisbee dogs, tightrope dogs, dancing dogs, and the one and only Sammie the Talking Dog.
Seussical the Musical – Red Bank
November 10-12, 17-19
The Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, and other beloved Dr. Seuss characters come to the Count Basie Theatre in this funny, fantastical family musical.
Popovich Comedy Pet Theater – Englewood
Performing pets take the stage again, this time at BergenPAC, in a show featuring Moscow Circus veteran Gregory Popovich and more than 30 animals, including dogs, cats, parrots, doves, and geese.
Welcome Santa and Mrs. Claus to Storybook Land at the annual Christmas lighting.
Christmas Fantasy with Lights Parade at Storybook Land – Egg Harbor
Welcome Santa and Mrs. Claus to Storybook Land with a parade featuring your favorite storybook characters. After the parade, Santa will appear in his chimney and light the park with more than a million lights for the holiday season.
Mini Maker Faire at Barnes & Noble – Various
Scientists, engineers, crafters, tech enthusiasts, students, and makers of all kinds will come together for this popular event held at all Barnes & Noble locations. Attendees can watch demonstrations of virtual reality, robotics, and programming, and meet the people behind some of today's coolest innovations. And, of course, there will be lots of opportunities to make stuff!
Thanksgiving Harvest Home & Armistice Observance – Morris Township
Enjoy interactive farm chores, take a wagon ride, and create a family-friendly craft. Then head to the 1915 Farmhouse to watch as a holiday feast is prepared. The afternoon also includes a special program honoring U.S. veterans and recognizes the 100th anniversary of U.S. involvement in WWI.
Brain Candy Live! – New Brunswick
Described as a two-hour play date with Walt Disney, Willy Wonka, and Albert Einstein, Brain Candy Live! stars MythBusters' Adam Savage and YouTube sensation Michael Stevens. They'll be showcasing tons of crazy toys, incredible tools, and mind-blowing demonstrations. You can also catch the show at Mayo Performing Arts Center on November 16.
National Acrobats and Martial Artists of China – New Brunswick
These incredible performers put on a jaw-dropping show filled with acrobatics, circus feats, and traditional Shaolin martial arts.
Skylands Stadium Christmas Light Show – Augusta
November 17 – December 30
This drive-through holiday light show features more than two million lights on a mile-long course. Afterward, head indoors to visit the Christmas Village to take pictures with Santa, have a snack, make crafts, and see live entertainment.
Wear your jammies and meet Santa on the Polar Express.
Holiday Train Rides – Various
Starting November 18
Get a jump on your Christmas celebrations with a holiday train ride. Several New Jersey Railroads start their annual Christmas rides this month, including the Christmas Express, the Polar Express, and Santa's Paradise Express. Check out our roundup of holiday trains for more info.
Turtle Back Zoo Holiday Lights – West Orange
November 18 – January 2
Turtle Back Zoo transforms into a twinkling winter wonderland after dark starting November 18, with more than 50 illuminated winter scenes and characters decorating the property. Bundle up, grab a hot cocoa, and take a stroll with the family—it's festive and it's FREE
Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs – South Orange
People and puppets bring the story of Snow White to life in this new twist on the classic fairytale. The performance runs about 60 minutes and is recommended for ages 4–10.
The Laurie Berkner Band Holiday Concert – Morristown
The beloved Laurie Berkner Band celebrates the season with traditional holiday songs, Hanukkah music, selections from the A Laurie Berkner Christmas album, and a selection of Laurie's greatest hits.
Early 19th Century Thanksgiving – Farmingdale
Celebrate an old-fashioned Thanksgiving at the Historic Village at Allaire, where you can see a reenactment of a typical 19th-century holiday feast.
Annie – Millburn
November 22 – December 17
Everyone's favorite redheaded orphan comes to Paper Mill Playhouse just in time for the holidays. The production stars Tony Award winner Beth Leavel as Miss Hannigan and Tony nominee Christopher Sieber as Oliver Warbucks.
Holiday Light Show – Smithville
November 23 – January 6
After your Thanksgiving feast, head to Historic Smithville Village to see more than 100 Christmas trees magically float on Lake Meone. The trees light up to music in an orchestrated show every Thursday–Sunday from 5:30–8:30 p.m.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical – Red Bank
Rudolph and his pals, including Hermey the Elf and Bumble the Abominable Snowman, come to life in two performances at the Count Basie Theatre. Parents who grew up watching the holiday special on TV can can share a bit of their youth with their own kids (while boring them with tales of a time when shows were only on at certain times of the year).
Disney Live! Mickey and Minnie's Doorway to Magic – New Brunswick
Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy lead a production filled with 25 beloved Disney characters at the State Theatre New Jersey. The show features iconic moments from Disney films, including the Fairy Godmother transforming Cinderella's rags into a ball gown in a split second. Other special guests include Snow White, Tinkerbell, and Aladdin's Genie, plus the stage debut of Rapunzel and Flynn Rider.
The Model Railroad Show includes 1,200 square feet of tracks. Photo courtesy of the Garden State Model Railway Club.
60th Annual Model Railroad Show – North Haledon
November 24-26, plus more dates in December and January
Train fanatics young and old will go wild for this event, hosted by the Garden State Model Railway Club, which features a 1,200-square-foot layout filled with steam and diesel locomotives, freight and passenger trains, rural and urban scenes, and working signals.
Santa's Arrival Celebration – Camden
Camden Children's Garden kicks off the Christmas season with the arrival of the man in red. The event includes holiday treats, festive crafts, and photo ops with Santa.
Roxey Ballet presents its 23rd annual production of The Nutcracker this season.
Roxey Ballet's Nutcracker – Ewing
November 25 – December 3
Continue a holiday tradition or start a new one by taking the kids to see this enchanting ballet featuring magical mice, marching soldiers, swirling snowflakes, waltzing flowers, and the beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy.
A Charlie Brown Christmas Live On Stage – New Brunswick
Good grief! Don't miss your chance to see Charlie Brown and friends discover the true meaning of Christmas when the beloved animated holiday special comes to the stage in a live show at State Theatre New Jersey. The performance features all of your favorite characters and Vince Guaraldi's classic score.
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Unless otherwise noted, photos courtesy of the venues/events.