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5 ways to kick off the holiday season this weekend on LI

Santa rides down on a float during the

Santa rides down on a float during the Miracle on Main Street parade in Sayville. Credit: Steve Pfost

Now that your turkey's waddling into your rear view mirror it's the weekend to start thinking Christmastime.  And Long Island is just the place to get you into the holiday spirit, with lots of things to do and see from live reindeer, light shows and fireworks to decorator trees, a pop-up ice skating rink and a boat parade.

1. GO BACK IN TIME 

A scene straight from the beloved 1983 family movie, “A Christmas Story,” plays out live Saturday night in Northport, where a full crowd gathers around the window at Carl’s Candies in Northport to witness the lighting of its leg lamp at 6 p.m. The evening includes performances by dance and ballet troupes (631-651-8699, carlscandies.com). In Sayville, the village's "Miracle on 34th Street"-inspired celebration starts with a parade 10 a.m. Saturday followed by a pop-up ice skating rink, live reindeer and a gingerbread house competition before the community tree is lit at 6:30 (sayvillechamber.com).

2. GO TO A LIGHT SHOW

Get a bright outlook on the holiday season from the dazzling "Magic of Lights" drive-through experience at Jones beach State Park.  For $25 per car from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday, you can take a road trip that features holiday scenes and characters of the season using the latest LED technology and digital animations (magicoflights.com).  Another illuminating opportunity that can be enjoyed from the comfort of your car is the Riverhead Holiday Light Show.  Drive through Long Island Sports Park in Calverton to see dozens of displays from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.  Tickets $25, $23 in advance (631-210-6711, riverheadlightshow.com).

3. WATCH A BOAT PARADE

Give your holiday season both a colorful and exciting start with Saturday's Connetquot River Boat Parade and Grucci fireworks in Oakdale.  The parade begins at 4:45 p.m. and the fireworks display starts at about 7:15 p.m. Viewing locations are Snapper Inn, View, Oakdale Yacht, Nicoll's Point Marina, Vanderbilt Wharf Marina, Great River Town Ramp and Timber Point (connetquotboatparade.com). 

4. CHECK OUT THE TREES 

If you love a beautiful holiday tree there'll be lots to see at the 30th Annual Long Island Festival of Trees - a display of designer decorated trees that will be on exhbit Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City. Beyond the beauty of the trees there'll be entertainment, a gingerbread village, an appearance by Santa, children’s activities, and vendors. Proceeds benefit the Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County and the Cradle of Aviation Museum. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for ages 3 and older (516-378-2000, cpnassau.org).

5. SEE THE HALLS DECKED

See what an elegant Christmas from long ago was like with a visit to the newly-reopened Westbury House on the Old Westbury Gardens estate - the former home of John Shaffer Phipps, heir to a U.S. Steel fortune.  The Charles II-style mansion was closed for about a year for replacement of its 111-year-old roof.  On Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. visitors can view decorated period rooms and share in a holiday celebration with Santa, cookies and cider.  Admission is $12 for adults(516-333-0048, oldwestburygardens.org).

Centerport is the site of another Gold Coast estate decorated for the holidays.  The Vanderbilt mansion was once owned by businessman, philanthropist and sportsman William Kissam Vanderbilt II and guided tours will be offered starting at noon on Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $14 for adults, $11 ages 12 and younger (631-854-5579, vanderbiltmuseum.org).

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