Whatever holiday you celebrate, one thing's for sure — you'll find events for children on Long Island throughout the month of December. From holiday performances to crafts, gingerbread houses, light shows, Santa breakfasts and more, here are some of our favorites.
The Magical Polar Express
Families travel via trolley (must be age two or older; no children younger permitted) to "The North Pole," a top-secret spot where families can grab hot cocoa and cookies then meet Santa, elves and other characters (for about 30 minutes) before returning to points of departure. Trolley rides feature music and storytelling. Pajama-wearing is encouraged; photo-taking is free. Trolley departs from All-Star Bowling in Riverhead and The Omni Hampton Jitney Terminal in Southampton; 7 p.m.-9:30 p.m. mostly Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays Nov. 29-Dec. 23 (additional times may be available; arrive 30 minutes in advance)
INFO 631-369-3031, northforktrolley.com; $57 per person, includes trip, refreshments and small gift for kids.
Laurie Berkner: A Live Holiday Concert!
One of the superstars of the kids music scene for close to two decades, there are young adults out there who grew up on Laurie Berkner's happy-peppy-indie sound--and she'll be appearing at The Paramount for this holiday concert that will combine some of her most popular hits with songs that match the time of the year. With Susie Lampert. WHEN | WHERE 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8; 370 New York Ave., Huntington INFO Prices start at $19.50; 631-673-7300, paramountny.com
"Elf, The Musical"
Pack up the family and head to the Patchogue Theater (71 East Main St., Patchogue) for a kid-friendly musical about Buddy, a human who grows up in the North Pole, believing he is an elf. When Santa tells him the truth, Buddy heads to New York City to find his father. There are 12 shows from Dec. 20 through Dec. 29 (except Dec. 24-25). Price: $29.50-$89; thegateway.org.
Animated story and Santa at Hicks Nurseries
Santa will be at Hicks Nurseries (100 Jericho Tpke., Westbury) from Nov. 29-Dec. 23, so bring a camera for photos (no fee). Kids can also mail their letters to Santa at the North Pole Mailbox and Santa will answer them (last day for letter mailing is Dec. 16; a self-addressed, stamped envelope must be included to receive a reply). An animated Christmas story runs for free Nov. 15-Jan. 1 but customers are asked to donate a non-perishable food item to Long Island Cares. On weekends, (Nov. 29-Dec. 15) there will be live music with a brass band from noon-4 p.m. Price: Free. Visit hicksnurseries.com or call 516-272-4624 for more details.
Girl Scouts Holiday Light Show
The Girl Scouts Holiday Light Show returns to Smith County Point Park (1 William Floyd Pkwy., Shirley) offering a drive-thru program with lights and displays Dec.1-30 (Closed Dec. 24-25); each show starts at 5 p.m. INFO: $20 per car, $40 for mini-buses and RVs, $70 for coach and school buses; no cash, only credit and debit cards will be accepted for payment at the gate. Ending times vary; for more information visit gssc.us or call 631-543-6622.
Bayville Winter Wonderland
During the holiday season, Bayville Adventure Park (8 Bayville Ave.) turns into a Winter Wonderland. Families can visit Santa's Toy Factory Funhouse, watch Captain Bay's "Yo-Ho-Holiday" light show, ride the Holiday Express train and check out the ice skating rink, among other attractions. The Winter Wonderland runs from Nov. 29 through Jan. 1 on Saturday-Sunday; kids can meet Santa daily. Price: to be announced. More information at bayvillewinterwonderland.com.
See how Jenny and Frosty save their town of Chillsvile from mean Ethel Pierpot, who wants to melt all the snow. They'll need everyone's help -- including yours -- to get Frosty to the North Pole. WHEN | WHERE Nov. 23-Dec. 29; John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport INFO $15; 631-261-2900, engemantheater.com
Riverhead Holiday Light Show
The drive-thru Riverhead Holiday Light Show features more than a million lights depicting holiday scenes and displays. WHEN | WHERE Nov. 22-Dec. 29; Long Island Sports Park: 149 Edwards Ave., Calverton INFO$25, $23 in advance; 631-210-6711, riverheadlightshow.com.
Holiday tree and crafts at Old Westbury Gardens
Head to Old Westbury Gardens (71 Old Westbury Rd., Old Westbury) to see the period rooms decorated with wreaths, mantelpiece drapes, topiaries and other plants and more. Kids can create crafts, share their holiday wishes with Santa and enjoy hot cider and cookies. The lighting of the holiday tree takes place Dec. 7 from 6 p.m.-8 p.m., featuring a visit from Santa, another tree lighting outside (at 7:30 p.m.) and live music by members of the Bethel Concert Choir. Price: $15, $12 for members, $10 for children ages 7-17 (ages six and younger, member children: free). Advance registration is required, register online at oldwestburygardens.org.
Holiday crafts take place 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 30, Dec. 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22; Price: Free with admission. More information and full event calendar at oldwestburygardens.org .
Holiday fun at White Post Farms
Head to White Post Farms (250 Old Country Rd., Melville) for their Holiday Extravaganza taking place starting Nov. 29. Guests can use their own cameras and take photos with Santa and the Mensch on a Bench for no charge; other features include indoor Holiday Train Rides and Indoor Pony Rides and entrance to the Monkey Barn, among other attractions. Price: $16.95; trips on the holiday train and indoor pony rides will be available for an added fee. For more information, call 631-351-9373 or visit whitepostfarms.com.
See the Holiday Lights Spectacular at Jones Beach
At Jones Beach State Park, West End in Wantagh, kids can meet Santa after a drive through the Holiday Lights Spectacular from Nov. 22 to Jan. 4. After the drive through Holiday Park, which features more than 150 displays and animated characters synced to holiday music, families can stop by the heated Holiday Village for pictures with Santa. Kids can also make their own s'mores, check out holiday-themed vendors and even visit the Samoyed Dogs (only on particular nights). $25 Mon-Thurs, $30 Fri-Sun, $20 in advance; magicoflights.com.
‘A Christmas Carol’
This is Theatre Three's 36th annual production of Charles Dickens' timeless tale of redemption in which miserly Ebenezer Scrooge explores Christmases past, present and future to learn the true meaning of the holiday. WHEN | WHERE Fri-Sun Nov. 16-Dec. 28 (with added performances Dec. 4, 12, 19 and 24); 412 Main St., Port Jefferson INFO $35, $20 children 5-12; 631-928-9100, theatrethree.com
Breakfast/brunch with Santa
There's no better way to meet and greet Old St. Nick himself than with a hearty morning meal. Many places around Long Island are offering breakfasts and brunches with Santa, all with favorite sweets and holiday treats. These are great photo opportunities, so don't forget your camera. Check out some of the many places offering breakfast with Santa events.
'Barnaby Saves Christmas'
As the littlest elf, Barnaby and his reindeer friend Franklynne set off on a journey to save Christmas, and on their way, they meet new friends and learn the true meaning of Christmas, Hanukkah and the holiday season. WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m. Nov. 23, 30-Dec. 7, 14, 21, 24, 27-28; Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson. INFO $10; 631-928-9100, theatrethree.com.
'Elf on the Shelf' movie nights, more holiday fun at Dees'
Dees' Nursery (69 Atlantic Ave.) in Oceanside is hosting a bunch of holiday events for kids. Santa will be available for photos 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Nov. 29-30 and Dec. 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22; families are welcome to take their own pictures but photo packages will also be available.
"Elf on the Shelf" movie nights will take place on Dec. 18-19 at 6 p.m. The fee includes an elf hat, Christmas ornament craft, scavenger hunt and refreshments for the film screening. PRICE: $22.99 per child; reservations required.
Kids can also take part in a Children's Gingerbread Night (Dec. 20) with Pastry Chef Chad Pagano; fee includes a chef hat, gingerbread house, icing, candy, decorations and an apron craft. PRICE: $44.99 per child.
The Pancake Breakfast with Mrs. Claus will be on Dec. 7-8 and 14-15 at 9 a.m. Mrs. Claus will read a story, and kids can participate in crafts and a scavenger hunt. PRICE: $24.99 per child.
The Pajama Night with Mr. & Mrs. Claus will take place on Dec. 12-13 at 6 p.m. Santa and Mrs. Claus will read stories; kids will also take part in making a Christmas craft, and get to decorate a cookie. Children are welcome to wear their pajamas; complimentary refreshments are served for adults. PRICE: $24.99 per child. Tickets should be purchased ahead of time for all events by calling 516-678-3535; reservations are required for most events. Visit deesnursery.com for more information.
Visit with Santa
Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa Claus landed his sleigh on Long Island and is ready to meet and greet kids, hear their wish lists and find out if they've been naughty or nice. Old St. Nick will be making appearances all over Nassau and Suffolk throughout the holiday season, from local malls and nurseries to more off-the-beaten-path venues. Check out our complete guide of places to see Santa.
Charles Dickens Festival in Port Jeff Village
The annual Dickens Festival takes over Port Jefferson Village, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 7-8. See costumed street performers inspired by characters from "A Christmas Carol," including Scrooge and chimney sweeps. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride or visit Santa's Workshop. Festivities will include lots of live musical performances, a "Festival of Trees and the "Fezziwig Ball," both at the Village Center. Free, but some fees apply; 631-802-2160, portjeff.com.
Boardwalk Lights in Long Beach
A nautical-themed light show will be on display along the Long Beach boardwalk from Long Beach Boulevard to Magnolia Boulevard now through mid-January 2020. Stroll the boardwalk and then grab dinner with your family in town. Lights will also be displayed throughout Long Beach on Park Avenue, the West End, East End and Canal Bridges.
Santa Brunch at Long Island Aquarium
Santa will be visiting the Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center (431 E. Main St.) in Riverhead on Dec. 15 for the annual Santa Brunch at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. There is a buffet brunch in the Sea Star Ballroom, guests can make a take-home holiday craft, and there are photo opportunities with Santa; bring your camera to capture the moments. Admission for children 2 and younger is free; children 3-12 $26.95; adults $54.95. Reservations are required; call 631-208-9200, ext. 426; longislandaquarium.org