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LifestyleHolidaysWinter Holidays

Kickstart the holidays with these events and experiences happening on Long Island

Santa Claus rides during the Hempstead Town's annual

Santa Claus rides during the Hempstead Town's annual Christmas tree lighting. Credit: Marisol Diaz

Now that the Thanksgiving feast is over, it’s time to kick-start the holidays. Since 2020 was a quiet season due to the pandemic, this year, the activities have been turned up a notch. Here are a few ways to get your sleigh bells jingling:

SANTA SPOTTING: DRIVE-THRU SAINT NICK

Come see ol’ Saint Nick while social distancing at the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce’s "Drive-Thru Santa" event at the antique train car in Port Jefferson Station on Dec. 4.

"Santa is inside his sleigh in the middle of the road. Cars drive up right behind him, everybody pokes their head out the window and Snapshot Long Island will take your photo, then text it to you," says chamber president Jennifer Dzvonar. "There’s even a mailbox for kids to put their letters to Santa Claus into."

The event is free but donations will be accepted for a food drive for St. Gerard Majella R.C. Church of Port Jefferson Station and a toy drive for the Town of Brookhaven’s Interface Program.

WHEN | WHERE 6-8 p.m., Dec. 4, Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber Train Car, 1003 Rt 112 in Port Jefferson Station

INFO pjstchamber.com

ADMISSION Free

SHOPPING OP: HOLIDAY MARKET

Venture into the warehouse of the Great South Bay Brewery in Bay Shore to shop for gifts at the 4th annual Holiday Market on Dec. 4 and 5.

"If you come both days you’ll get different vendors with no doubles to ensure a broad spectrum of gifts," says coordinator Jessica Cunha of WKND Outpost in East Northport. "We try to keep it as local as possible."

There will be jewelry, clothes, handmade ornaments, painted signs, homemade cookies and chocolates, pet apparel, handbags and more for sale. Guests can grab a fresh pint in the tasting room from 25 taps and some nibbles at the food truck of the day.

WHEN | WHERE Noon-6 p.m., Dec. 4-5, Great South Bay Brewery, 25 Drexel Drive, Bay Shore

INFO 631-392-8472, greatsouthbaybrewery.com

ADMISSION Free

BREW FUN: HOLIDAY HOP BEER CRAWL

Head out east to follow the Riverhead Ale Trail for the inaugural "Holiday Hop Beer Crawl" on Dec. 3, enjoying craft beers at various breweries throughout downtown Riverhead.

"Everything is within walking distance," says organizer Kristy Verity. "Each location is approximately one block apart."

Participating locations include Peconic County Brewing, North Fork Brewing Company, Tradewinds Brewing and Montauk Distilling Co. The fun continues with food and entertainment during after-parties at River Walk Bar & Grill, Diggers Ale N’ Eats and Craft’D. All ticket proceeds go to the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless.

WHEN | WHERE 6-9 p.m., Dec. 3, check-in at Montauk Distilling Co. at 24 E. Second St., Riverhead

INFO downtownriverhead.org

ADMISSION $19.99 ($14.99 in advance), must be 21 and over

HOLIDAY SPLURGE: THE SANTA EXPERIENCE

Enjoy your own 20-minute encounter with Santa Claus in a private room at Einstein’s Attic in Northport Dec. 1 through Dec. 12. Participants can fill a sack full of toys after purchasing a store gift certificate and can decorate their own holiday ornament.

"Santa sits in a big red and gold throne beside 6-foot Christmas trees and wreaths with golden reindeer," says owner Lori Badanes. "He will talk to the children, read to them and tell jokes. Parents can even put in requests."

Each experience is reservation only. Photos and video are allowed plus social media posting is encouraged.

WHEN | WHERE 4-8 p.m., Dec 1-12, Einstein’s Attic, 79 Main St., Northport

INFO 631-261-7564, shopeinsteinsattic.com

ADMISSION Must purchase a $250 store gift certificate

FESTIVE CONCERT: NUTCRACKER SUITE

Witness Tchaikovsky’s "Nutcracker Suite" with a 17-piece big band at The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook Dec. 2-4 plus an encore performance on Dec. 23. The nightclub setting offers craft beers, local wines and homemade spiked eggnog during each show.

"This event draws three generations — parents, children and grandparents," says Jazz Loft president/musical director Tom Manuel. "It’s as classic old-school Americana as you can get."

A second set features singer Allan Harris (Nicole Zuraitis on Dec. 23) performing holiday classics like "The Little Drummer Boy," "I’ll Be Home for Christmas," "The Christmas Song," "Sleigh Ride" and "Winter Wonderland."

WHEN/WHERE 7 p.m., Dec. 2-4 and 23 (plus a 2 p.m. matinee on Dec. 4), The Jazz Loft, 275 Christian Ave., Stony Brook

INFO 631-751-1895, thejazzloft.org

ADMISSION $35 ($30 seniors, $25 students, $20 children 16 and under)

LIGHT UP: TREES AND MORE

Early December brings plenty of town tree lightings, light shows and more. At 7 p.m., Dec. 1, the annual ceremony to light the Holiday Big Duck will take place. See Santa and listen to carolers; free.

Bright Lights at the Vanderbilt Museum, taking place through Dec. 23, features holiday lights, themed displays, festive food and more; 5-9 p.m.; $25, $15 younger than 12.

The Village of Hempstead held its Christmas tree and menorah lighting late November, but its annual Kwanzaa celebration is still to come. Taking place virtually on Dec. 26, make your own dinner to eat while you watch a guest speaker, dancers and singers. A traditional Kwanzaa chief will discuss the seven principles of the holiday; hempsteadny.gov.

And over in Montauk, drop by and see the lighthouse which is now fully lit.

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