NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano visits three places that are open on Christmas Day for family fun. Credit: Newsday staff

It’s always a white Christmas at the Port Washington Skating Center, where staying open on the actual holiday has been a tradition for at least 20 years.

“People have said that they’re very happy, especially if they have kids, that they’re able to go out and do something with the family, keep the kids active,” manager Christian Nielsen says. “I think people do appreciate having something open when most businesses are closed. It’s part of why we continue to do it.”

For people who aren’t ripping off wrapping or spending the full day with familiy, there are two longtime options. Christmas is a big movie debut day, and theater chains will show “The Boys on the Boat,” “The Color Purple” and “Ferrari.” Except for arboretums and preserves, state parks are open as is the annual drive-thru light show Jones Beach State Park.

But this Dec. 25, one can also reach for the stars, skate past King Kong, take selfies with a dragon and, for the lucky, witness a mammal vs. eagle interaction.

Seal walk in Westhampton Beach

'Tis the season for seal watching at Cupsogue Beach.

Spottings of the marine mammals are almost guaranteed during a 1.2-mile walk, promises guide and marine biologist Artie Kopelman, president of the Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island. Most will be harbor seals, back from the brink of being wiped out south of Maine, he says, and December is a top viewing month during their November to May stay.

Also watch for bald eagles loitering on the sand near the mammals, a phenomenon that started a few years ago, Kopelman notes. “The seals either avoid them or just are very very careful,” he says. “Last year, we had three bald eagles spook 60 seals into the water.”

Federal law mandates distancing from wildlife, but field telescopes will help identify individual seals, perhaps one that’s back for its 19th year, says Kopelman.

When | Where: 11 a.m.; Parking lot of Cupsogue Beach County Park, 975 Dune Rd.

Cost: Free; donations accepted. Registration required.

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Roller skating in Seaford

Roll with hip hop skate Christmas night.

The United Skates of America features more than 10,000 square feet where young and old can roller skate or roller blade to the sound of up beats past King Kong by the Empire State Building and other iconic New York images on walls.

It’s the 28th year the rink has been open for Christmas Day and the second year it’s going to play hip hop music, exclusively.

“It drew a pretty decent crowd,” says general manager Lisa Ingenito of last year's event. “We had 150 people.”

First-time skaters can lean on two-sided frames on wheels, called “skate mates.”

When | Where: 7-10 p.m.; 1276 Hicksville Rd.

Cost: $12 includes skates; $6 for non-skating adults

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Astra Lumina in Queens

“Hello, children of planet Earth.”

This immersive experience of music, mist and light is billed as an “enchanted night walk among the stars” at the Queens Botanical Garden.

Visitors walk on a path through the garden, where the trees and meadows are the canvas to a story of how humans came from the stars and will one day visit them. A celestial carpet of color lights twinkle in one area. In another, hundreds of light beams roam and seem to caress the humans walking through them. Among the trees, the “Celestial Choir” of luminous globes glow and flash in various colors as they “sing” to each other.

“I was curious — what was around the next bend, what was I going to see that was going to inspire me,” says retired home design editor Susan Leaderman, a Syosset resident who came with her husband and two friends. “This is great. What can you do in the winter that’s outside that you can bring your family to? There’s not a whole lot.”

When | Where: 5:30-10 p.m.; 42-80 Crommelin St.

Cost: Starting at $22 entry, $18 parking

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Winter Lantern Festival in Floral Park 

A farm tractor can hardly be called delicate — unless it’s the life-size, red one glowing at the annual Winter Lantern Festival.

From dinosaurs to ducklings, more than 1,500 lights and 80 handmade Chinese lanterns transform the night into a colorful dream land at the Queens County Farm Museum. A magician and DJs also entertain.

This year, the festival’s Northeast locations showcase a legendary creature to herald 2024. “We are getting ready to celebrate the year of the dragon, so every one of our events has a big dragon tunnel right at front of the entrance,” says Xiao Tian Falig, operations manager for show creator Kaleido Arts and Entertainment Group.

When | Where: 5-9:30 p.m.; 73-50 Little Neck Parkway 

Cost: Starting at $15.99

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Ice skating in Port Washington 

Ansley Teng, 9, of Garden City practices her figure skating...

Ansley Teng, 9, of Garden City practices her figure skating routine on the ice at the Port Washington Skating Center, Dec. 13. Credit: Jeff Bachner

If you’re up for a challenge, the Port Washington Skating Center has one.

On Christmas Day, patrons can skate for three hours with the admission fee, which usually covers 90 minutes.

“Most skaters I would say tire out after an hour tops,” Nielsen notes. “There might be a few that would skate that long — some children that have boundless energy.”

When | Where: 12:45 — 3:45 p.m.; 70 Seaview Blvd.

Cost: $18, skate rental $6

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Fun in Flushing, Queens

For people who suddenly realize the day is here and they forgot to buy presents, Flushing is a gift.

Queens’ Chinatown slows a little on Christmas Day but it is still a hive of activity. Inside buildings with what seem like small storefronts, a warren of tiny shops can exist, selling cellphones and hot soup to comforters and Hello Kitty merchandise.

Beginners can start with Main Street.

Among the bubble tea and fresh juice that have sprouted in recent years, the glass storefront of Xing Fu Tang, 40-52 Main, allows passersby to watch the “pearls” of bubble tea being made.

In a new trend, gleaming chain stores have popped up selling Japanese brands of food, home goods and collectibles, such as cutesy monster dolls. Try Teso Life, 41-28 Main, and Ebisu Life, 40-48 Main.

The New World Mall, by Roosevelt Avenue, has a massive food court, a supermarket that’s typical of Asian grocery stores and gift stores.

When | Where: 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and beyond; Main Street, south of Northern Boulevard

Cost: Free to wander

More info:

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