It may be hard to believe, but Christmas is right around the corner, which means holiday shows, visiting Santa, snowy sleigh rides, and of course, checking out the amazing light displays throughout the state. These sparkling spectacles—some of which feature more than a million lights—are sure to impress even the grinchiest member of your family. So bundle up the kids and head out to one of these illuminating shows soon! And of course, you can find even more ways to be merry in the Mommy Poppins Holiday Fun Guide.
Storybook Land transforms into a twinkling wonderland for the holidays.
Storybook Land's Christmas Fantasy with Lights – Egg Harbor Township
November 12 – December 30
Storybook Land hosts a fabulous holiday celebration, with Santa himself illuminating the park with more than one millions lights. Children can visit Mr. & Mrs. Claus until December 23, when it’s time for them to return to the North Pole. All rides, attractions, and snack bars are also open during this time. On December 2 and 9, bring a toy for Toys for Tots and receive one free popcorn per toy donation.
Drive through the lights at Skylands. Photo courtesy of Skylands Stadium.
Skylands Stadium Christmas Light Show – Augusta
November 18 – January 1 (daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve)
Don't miss the annual Christmas Light Show at Skylands Stadium. The one-mile long, drive-through show features breathtaking displays set to joyful holiday music. With a new layout for 2016, there are more than two million lights on display, including nativity scenes, twinkling snowflakes, skating penguins, and jolly snowmen. Visitors are invited to stop by the indoor Christmas Village afterward to enjoy holiday snacks, fun activities, caroling, and photos with Santa. Admission to Christmas Village is free, though the drive-through portion is priced by the carload. Discounted tickets can be purchased at various Walgreens stores in the tri-state area or on discount nights (Mondays–Thursdays).
Holiday Lights Spectacular at Turtle Back Zoo – West Orange
November 18 – December 11 (Friday through Sunday)
December 12 –January 2 (daily except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day)
Stroll through the zoo after dark to see the animals frolicking under the incredible light displays. Animal- and holiday-themed figures, including wooden soldiers and stars, will illuminate the zoo and delight your little ones. Myrtle the Turtle, the zoo’s mascot, and other costumed characters will be on hand to greet visitors. Donations of canned goods, unwrapped toys, and winter coats are appreciated. FREE
Historic Smithville Holiday Light Show – Galloway Township
November 24 – January 2 (Thursday–Sunday)
This beautiful holiday show, featuring an orchestrated show of lights and music, makes historic Smithville feel magical. More than 120 Christmas trees made with more than 100,000 lights will float along Lake Meone, lit up in time with the music playing through the night air. Watch from either end of the village or on the bridge. In addition to the light show, you can enjoy the myriad shops and restaurants in the decorated village. FREE
Lights on Evergreen – 38 Evergreen Place, Demarest
November 25 – January 1
The Lights on Evergreen features more 100,000 lights that move in sync with music airing on 98.1 FM. The show (including 13 songs of all genres) is designed by a teen and his family in honor of his late mother, who loved Christmas. Donations are collected in support of the American Heart Association. FREE
Cranbury Christmas Lights collects donations to support local food banks. Photo courtesy of the home owners.
Cranbury Christmas Lights – 128 North Main Street, Cranbury
November 26 – December 31
If you're looking for something a little smaller but still incredibly cool, the Shaw home in Cranbury is aglow with 120,000 lights, all dancing to holiday tunes. It's free to view the lights, but donations to the local food bank are appreciated. Check the online schedule for the dates of choreographed lights, but the lights are on and viewable every night from 6–9. FREE
The Cook's Christmas Lights – 1 Carlson Court, Jackson
November 26 – January 1 (Sunday–Thursday, 6–10 p.m.; Friday–Saturday, 6–11 p.m.)
This home has 14,000 dancing lights synchronized to music. New for 2016 is a pixel matrix that you won't want to miss. The homeowners collect donations for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. FREE
Hagerty Family Christmas Lights – 133 North Avenue, Pitman
Starts first week of December (Weekdays 5:30–8:30 p.m., weekends 5:30–9:30 p.m.)
Pitman resident Frank Hagerty has been transforming his property into a Christmas wonderland every holiday season for more than 30 years. Visitors are welcome to walk through the displays of animatronic dolls, cartoon characters, Santa and his reindeer, and more. FREE
Historic Cape May – Various locations in town
First week of December through New Year's Day
The Victorian homes, inns, churches, and hotels in picturesque Cape May get decked out for the holidays in gorgeous lights, wreaths, and garlands. Check out Columbia Avenue, Washington Street, and Columbia Avenue for some of the best displays. FREE
The Kloos Family uses their lights display to collect donations for a good cause. Photo by pikey_von_pignose via Instagram.
Kloos Family Lights – 13 Sterling Court, East Brunswick
First week of December through approximately New Year's Day
It takes about $800 in electricity to fuel the annual Kloos Family Lights display, but that doesn't stop the Kloos family from putting on a spectacular light display accompanied by a musical score. Sometimes Santa even makes a guest appearance to watch the show with the neighborhood children. And every year, the Kloos family uses the display to help collect donations for a good cause. FREE
The Christmas Light Show – Woolley Road, Wall Township
December 10, 11, 17 (6:30 and 8:30 p.m.)
Celebrate the holiday season with this festive light show. The event is free, but donations will be collected to benefit Challenged Youth Sports. Please arrive early to allow ample time for parking and walking to the show. FREE
Crouch's Light Display – 119 Wild Oaks Drive, Salem
The Crouch family uses more than 22,000 lights and 11,000 feet of electrical cord to cover their 5-acre property in holiday cheer. Tune in to 105.5 to watch the lights move to the music. FREE
Bayville Christmas Light Show – 279 Woodhaven Blvd. SW, Bayville
Homeowner Tom Makowski, the winner of last year's Jersey Central Power & Lights holiday lights photo contest, promises to double the number of lights outside his home to 140,000 this year. The lights will dance to Christmas songs in this free display. Food donations are welcome, to benefit St. Barnabas Church.
Recently, the Township of Manchester revived its home-decorating competition, and the locals went all-out to win categories like Most Original and Spirit of the Holidays. Tour the town to take in all of the displays, and don't forget to hit Anjou Court, Southampton Boulevard, Lilac Lane, and Second Street, where the 2015 winners were located. FREE
First published in 2015. Updated in 2016
Top image: Kloos Family Lights. Photo by Jamesburg Family Eyecare via Instagram.