Lights, Winter, Action in Wilmington
The Grand brings a drive-thru holiday light show to the Riverfront.
From the socially distanced holiday lights display at the Bronx Zoo to the drive-thru lights at Skylands Stadium, PNC Bank Arts Center and Six Flags Great Adventure, there are a lot of ways to add some pandemic-safe sparkle to your December.
Here, from north to south, are some options.
Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights
The Bronx Zoo’s holiday light show runs on select dates through Jan. 10. This year’s experience will be larger than in years past and organized to accommodate social distancing. There are five geographically representative lantern safaris that include species from different regions of the world.
A new Luminous Garden will feature larger-than-life plants and animals including flowers, mushrooms, butterflies and other insects. And since S’mores have been so popular, the event will have now have 12 fire pits where people can make their own s’mores or sample some created onsite.
Go: Tickets must be purchased online in advance. All guests over 3 years old are required to socially distance and wear face coverings. For a full list of COVID-19 protocols, visit bronxzoo.com.
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Randall’s Island is transformed into a light park where visitors take a 30-45 minute walk through different themes such as “Pop Culture” which includes a dozen light sculptures of famous cat and dog influencers. There is also a Mini Gallery, which introduces the traditions and culture behind the practice of lantern-making that inspired the origin of Luminocity, and a giant Christmas Tree, the perfect backdrop for holiday photos and Instagram posts.
Go:: Through Jan. 10, from 4-10 p.m. Randall’s Island Park. Tickets and info, including transportation options to Randall’s Island, at luminocityfestival.com
NYBG GLOW, an all-new nighttime outdoor experience, will illuminate the landscape at the New York Botanical Garden on 14 select evenings, beginning Nov. 27.
With lots of room to spread out, visitors can explore a glowing world of color and light featuring the Haupt Conservatory as the centerpiece. As part of the experience, visitors can also enjoy artistic ice carving displays, roving dancers and musicians, and more outdoor fun.
Go: NYBG GLOW will take place from 5 to 10 p.m. Dec. 5, 12, 18, 19, 26, 27, 28, 29; Jan. 1, 2 and 9. Tickets are $30 for adults, $18 for kids ages 2-12 and must be reserved in advance. The Botanical Garden’s annual Holiday Train Show is open to members only this year. Go to nybg.org for tickets and info.
Grand Holiday Illuminations
The popular nighttime light show that embraces many secular celebrations around Christmas will return to Untermyer Park & Gardens, from Dec. 12 through Jan. 3, from 4:30-8 p.m. The Illumination will be free, outdoor, socially distanced and masked. Visitors will need timed entry ticket reservations to view the illumination. Visitors will not be allowed in the gardens without a reservation.
The Walled Garden is illuminated with nearly 100,000 festive holiday lights, highlighting the rich architectural and horticultural elements of the garden. Beautiful holiday music in the Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Zoroastrian traditions will be played.
Go: Tickets are available at untermyergardens.org. 945 North Broadway, Yonkers.
A merry village
Skylands’ Christmas Light Show runs until Jan. 3 at the Sussex County Miners ballpark. The show features a mile-long drive over 2 million twinkling lights in a new layout and new displays.
Tickets are $29 per carload and must be purchased online. Timeslots must be reserved.
There will be an outdoor Christmas Village with carnival rides and snacks, a walk-through light tunnel, a hot chocolate bar, a s’mores fire pit, Christmas crafts and shopping and ice skating.
Admission into the village and parking are free and strict social distancing, mask and capacity rules are in place.
Until Dec. 6, the village and show are only open on weekends. From Dec. 10 until Jan. 3, the show and village are open every day between 4:30 or 5:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. on weekdays; 4:15 until 11:30 on Fridays; 4 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. on Saturdays; and 4:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. on Sundays.
Go: 973-940-0222 or 973-383-7644, skylandsstadium.com.
A winter walk
Taylor Park in Millburn lit up in November for its annual Winter Walk Holiday Lights display. Thousands of sparkling lights adorn the trees and bridges within the park and the Community Center is decorated.
The lights will be displayed until Jan. 31 and are sponsored by the Millburn-Short Hills Chamber of Commerce.
Masks must be worn at all times and it is requested that no large groups gather.
Go: Visit Winter Walk Holiday Lights on Facebook.
Holiday farm fun
Brookhollow Barnyard in Boonton has a drive-thru light display that allows you to see it as many times as you’d like during a half-hour slot. Cars can drive through the popular farm from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays through Thursday, December 31.
The Christmas tree on the farm is part of a 9-minute show to four different songs and guests can bring carrots to throw to the animals on the farm.
Reservations must be made a day in advance and cost $20 per carload.
Pick a favorite display
Demarest Farms opened its Orchard of Lights display in Demarest just before Thanksgiving. Open until Dec. 29, people can come and drive through 32-acres of displays. The display is open 7 days a week from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Hot chocolate and holiday treats can be purchased at the farm’s retail market and people can warm up by the fire pit, make s’mores, take a photo with Santa and listen to his singing reindeer. Masks are required for photos with Santa, who will also be wearing a mask.
Tickets must be booked online, and visits will be limited within a time frame. Tickets are $35 per car.
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Parade of lights
Thrill park Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson will allow guests drive through its annual seasonal spectacular Holiday in the Park amid the million-plus shimmering lights and other festive décor.
The Holiday in the Park Drive-Thru Experience will be Monday through Thursday evenings through Dec. 17.
The Holiday in the Park Drive-Thru Experience will feature 12 areas across the 140-acre park that include live entertainment, music and plenty of lights, as well as a drive-by encounter with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Advance ticket purchases and reservations are required. Reservation and ticket availability will open at noon on Wednesday.
Admission will be free for active park members and season pass holders. Single-visit tickets are $14.99 plus tax; guests 2 and younger are free.
See the magic
PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel has its annual Magic of Lights 2.5-mile display through thousands of beautiful lights.
The Toyota Mega Tree Spectacular returns with 240 feet of LED Christmas trees. Guests can drive through the Blizzard Tunnel and see the 12 Days of Christmas, Winter Wonderland and The Night Before Christmas.
The show is open every day from dusk until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
A carload is $25 in advance or $30; a limo is $50 in advance, $55 at the gate Monday through Thursday; $60 at the gate Friday through Sunday; a bus is $100 in advance and at the gate Monday through Thursday and $125 at the gate Friday through Sunday.
Holiday cheer and goodwill
The Casqueira family in Brick will host their light show at their home, which syncs up their beautifully decorated house to music they transmit through radio station 103.1 FM.
They are located at 843 Downey Ave., and will be collecting letters for Santa (that they will respond to!) in the red mailbox. They will be collecting donations Rock 2 Adopt, a non-profit organization that assists the shelter at Popcorn Park Zoo with adoption events and fundraisers to care for the animals. Message the family on Facebook so they are able to bring donated items inside.
The show begins at 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. every day until Christmas Day. The show will run from 2 p.m. until 1 a.m. on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The family asks that those coming to view the display be kind and courteous to their neighbors and other viewers.
Fairyland of holiday lights
The Winter Wonderland Lights Spectacular returns to the Middlesex County Fairgrounds in East Brunswick for a half-mile spectacle of beautiful, animated lights. There are new lights on display and the show has expanded from six to 10 acres.
The display is open from 5:30 until 10 p.m. beginning Dec. 1 until Jan. 3.
It is $27 per carload and tickets are available online.
Go: winterwonderlightsnj.com or search “The Winter Wonderlights Spectacular” on Facebook
Nightmare at Christmas
BloodShed Farms’ Creepy Christmas Drive-thru in Mansfield is a contact-free, twisted Christmas experience.
Guests are invited to take an immersive drive around the haunted hayride trail at the Columbus Market at 2919 Route 206.
Laugh, and maybe scream, as you journey through a “frightmare” of scenery and lights, encountering dozens of crazed Christmas characters including sadistic elves, Christmas ghosts, wicked snowmen, a winter carn-evil, crotchety Xmas clowns, Krampus and Zombie Santa.
Vehicles with a working FM stereo may broadcast the sounds of the event.
Hours are from 6 to 10 p.m. Dec. 4 and 5, to 10 p.m. Dec. 5. Rain dates are Dec. 11 and 12.
The VIP “Christmas Carnage” upgrade offers a more interactive experience. It includes permission for the vehicle to be touched by actors and props. Vehicles may be subject to fake blood, ectoplasmic goo, water, soap and more. Vehicle-safe liquid products will be used but BloodShed Farms will not be responsible for damage to a vehicle when this option is purchased.
Tickets are $50 per car, includes downloadable vehicle photo. VIP upgrade is $20. Tickets are timed and must be purchased online and in advance.
The number of passengers per car is limited to the number of seatbelts available. Seatbelts must be worn.
Go: (609) 251-6707; bloodshedfarmsfearfest.com or BloodShed Farms on Facebook.
Holly, Jolly Speedway
The South Jersey Holiday Light Show, a drive-through holiday light spectacular presented by BOLD Media, will offer safe, holiday fun at Bridgeport Speedway at 83 Flood Gate Rd in Swedesboro.
Visitors will travel along a one-mile trail to view dozens of larger than life, holiday-themed displays, some as tall as three stories and spanning more than 50 feet. The drive will take about 20 to 25 minutes.
As visitors view the display, they may also enjoy listening to holiday music broadcast on FM radio, which will be synchronized with the show.
The light show will open at 5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, through Dec. 30, plus Dec. 21 to 23 and 28 to 30.
Tickets purchased in advance are $23 per carload and are valid any day the show is open. A limited number of tickets may be available at the gate for $25.
Go: 856-213-2838; southjerseylightshow.com.
Dig into the Season
During the holiday season, Diggerland USA will host Holidig, a drive-thru light show featuring real pieces of construction machinery decked out for the season plus iconic holiday themes and displays.
Hours are from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, through Jan. 3, plus Dec. 28 and 29.
Guests are invited to enjoy socially distant holiday fun. Commercial-free holiday tunes and fun information will be available on 95.5 FM.
Plus tasty treats, such as hot cocoa, churros and soft pretzels will be available for purchase at the Fork Lift Café.
Tickets are $29.95 per vehicle. Capacity is limited and reservations are required unless a specific day ticket is purchased online.
Diggerland is at 100 Pinedge Drive, West Berlin.
Lights on the lake
Historic Smithville Village will continue to hold its annual lights show on Lake Meone. Over 100 Christmas trees float on the water and light up to music. The show runs Thursday through Sunday from 5:30 until 8:30 p.m.
There are also holiday train rides for $3 per person.
Nothing Shady about It
26th annual Holiday Light Show at Shady Brook Farm runs through Jan.10 at 931 Stony Hill Road, Lower Makefield.
You can see all your favorites, from the Twelve Days of Christmas to the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal, to the Grinch himself.
Remember 2020 with a photo of Santa and your loved ones sporting a mask and keeping a safe distance. Don’t leave without a car or wagon ride through the Holiday Light Show.
With more than three million lights illuminating the vast farm, this 2-mile ride around is something to behold on a chilly wintry night.
Finally, bundle up and toast some S’mores at a distanced bonfire or rent your own pit if you are with a large group.
May your days be furry & bright
An All-New Furry & Bright Christmas Drive-Thru Experience has taken shape at Sesame Place.
It offers Muppets-inspired fun through Dec. 23 at 100 Sesame Road, Middletown.
Guests can now experience Tuesdays and Wednesdays beginning at 5 p.m. from the comfort of their own vehicle. Journey through a winter wonderland with millions of twinkling lights, holiday décor, a festive Christmas soundtrack and everyone’s favorite Sesame Street friends dressed in their warm winter best.
Guests will travel through Candy Cane Lane, lined with 6-foot versions of the red-and-white striped iconic treat followed by a 50-foot tunnel made up of millions of twinkling lights that resemble a night sky. Next up is Snowflake Way, where guests will be enchanted by a winter’s snowfall experience.
As guests enter the park, they will feel like they have become a part of The Neighborhood Street Party Christmas Parade as they are greeted along the way by their furry friends dressed in their warm winter best atop their festive floats. They will also have the chance to gaze up at an illuminated nine-foot menorah in celebration of Hanukkah. To cap off the trail, guests can wave to the jolly man himself, Santa Claus, as he wishes everyone a happy holiday season! Face coverings are required at transaction points (admission, merchandise, and culinary) during your experience.
Not a drive-through, but a holiday tradition
The beloved event at Longwood Gardens (1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania) will run through Jan. 10.
All the trappings will be there for those looking for little dazzle: a half-million lights, fountain shows, fire pits and, of course, more than 100 trees.
While the traditions remain, there are many extra precautions being taken this year due to COVID-19.
Capacity has been reduced to 35 percent and masks are required to enter the gardens and in all indoor spaces. Outdoors masks will be required unless you are able to socially distance from those not in your group.
In addition, there will be one-way paths and routes to avoid congestion. There also will be no organ sing-a-longs or concerts in the ballroom and the Indoor Children’s Garden is closed.
All tickets must be purchased in advance. There will be no on-site sales for the new contactless entry system.
Timed admission tickets for “A Longwood Christmas” cost $30 for adults, $27 for seniors and college students, $23 for active military and veterans and $16 for ages 5-18.
The Exhibition Hall’s classic take on the holiday with two 20-foot Frasier firs covered in red and gold ornaments along with “a sea of seasonal plants and fountains with intertwining ribbons of red and white poinsettias.”
The Music Room’s 18-foot rotating Fraser fir will look like Christmas morning with “beautifully decorated packages, and overflowing stockings hung by the chimney with care.”
- The East Conservatory’s “wintery white plant palette” along with a towering 24-foot tall Fraser fir dressed in silver, white, and blue.
- The Fruit House’s trees, which were decorated by the garden’ youngest members.
- The large trees surrounding the garden’s Large Lake, which “are the backdrop for an illuminated light show set to holiday music classics.”
- The Meadow Garden’s “140-foot tunnel of light in the winter landscape and discover a grove of glowing orbs that pulse and change color. “
A Grand display of cheer
After a summer of drive-in concerts and an autumn of drive-in films, The Grand is about to launch a new outdoor series for the winter since its indoor theater is still dark due to the pandemic.
“Winter in Wilmington Drive-Thru Holiday Light Show” will be held on the city’s Riverfront starting Nov. 27 and running through Jan. 3.
The Black Friday start will find families driving through a light show being built in the outfield parking lots of Frawley Stadium, across from the Delaware Children’s Museum and Penn Cinema Riverfront 14 + IMAX.
“Thousands of lights make up this dazzling show,” organizers said announcing the event. “Your family will love the animated installations, interactive music and holiday cheer.”
The Grand has partnered with the Riverfront Development Corporation for the event. It will run Thursday through Sunday, but will not be open Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. It takes about eight to 10 minutes to make your way though the trail, organizers said.
Gates are open 5 to 9:30 p.m. and it costs $25 per car. No one is allowed to leave their vehicles.
Go: Tickets are available at thegrandwilmington.org.
Karen Croke, Jenna Intersimone, Lisa Voit, Anthony DiMattia, Ryan Cormier and Sarah Griesemer contributed to this article.
Kaitlyn Kanzler covers Essex County for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
Email: [email protected]
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