The most wonderful time of the year is fast approaching, and if you're looking for ways to celebrate this holiday season, Bergen County is offering festive fun for the whole family. Winter Wonderland at Van Saun County Park is back for its second year with exciting additions that will appeal to all age groups.
Winter Wonderland, which opens for the season on November 24, is Bergen County's holiday gift to Garden State residents who are hoping to skip the traffic and bridge-and-tunnel fees associated with a trip to Rockefeller Center or Central Park.
"Winter Wonderland has something for everyone, no matter what age or interest," Bergen County Executive James Tedesco said in a press release.
Set on three-and-a-half acres, Van Saun Park will be completely transformed into a spectacular destination that's as close to the North Pole as you can get without a sled and team of flying reindeer.
As visitors make their way through the Forest Avenue entrance, they'll be greeted by giant tinsel candy canes, offering a sweet and whimsical welcome. An enormous Christmas tree, adorned with multi-colored ornaments and a bright star, serves as the Wonderland's stunning centerpiece. In addition, Bergen County's 70 municipalities have each decorated their own smaller evergreens, which will be replanted in their towns at the end of the event.
While the setting itself is enough to get even the Grinch in the holiday spirit, activities and attractions abound that are sure to make you feel merry and bright. The Christmas tree lighting is set for November 25 at 6:30 p.m., and starting on December 8, Santa, and Mrs. Claus will be available to hear the wish lists of boys and girls from 4–8 p.m. (Visit the Winter Wonderland's website for hours by date.) On Saturdays from 3 p.m. on, families can check out live ice carving demonstrations. A menorah lighting is scheduled for December 15 at 6 p.m.
Expect a larger outdoor ice skating rink this year, plus a synthetic rink that's perfect for beginners.
What's new for 2017? Skaters will be thrilled to hear that this year's open-air ice rink has doubled in size, so prepare to lace up those skates. A children's beginner synthetic rink allows parents to accompany their amateurs without having to sport skates (and fear slipping). This season, more children's activities and games have been added to the list of entertaining offerings, which includes the always-popular carousel and the Bergen County Express train ride. Visitors of all ages can hop aboard for a scenic tour through the park and take in the splendor of the illuminated holiday decor.
In addition, movies will be shown in the North Pole pavilion, and children can have their faces painted. Hungry revelers wishing to enjoy a full day at the park can visit the indoor/outdoor food tent, complete with a beer garden. Grab a bite, and maybe some hot cocoa, from some of the most popular food trucks in New Jersey.
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Kids can visit Santa and Mrs. Claus starting on December 8.
Due to the popularity of last year's inaugural event, which saw more than 35,000 visitors, increased attendance is anticipated. With that in mind, tickets can be purchased in advance via Winter Wonderland's website. Tickets include entry to the zoo, unlimited carousel and trains rides, as well as unlimited skating and skate rental.
Admission and Hours
November 24 through January 1. Through December 24, hours are Fridays from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Beginning December 26, the park will open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. to provide a "wonder"ful way for families to spend winter break.
Presale general admission is $14, and regular general admission is $16. Children under 3 are free.
All photos courtesy of Derek Sands/Bergen County Executive's Office.