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Play retro arcade games and shop for the holidays at the new Festival of Games

Check out the Festival of Games, an exhibition

Check out the Festival of Games, an exhibition that explores the history of arcade games at the Cradle of Aviation Museum. Credit: DanielGoodrich

Holiday shopping can be a drag … but what if some seasonal fun was sprinkled in? Enter Festival of Games, a new event coming Saturday to the Cradle of Aviation in Garden City, where you can shop while also playing retro video games.

"This is like a mash-up of Cradle-Con and the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo with a holiday twist," says Seamus Keane, director of special events. "The event will be focused on promoting small businesses and gaming in general."

The festival will be broken into five sections that give attendees a full day into the video game vortex.


With over 70 vintage arcade cabinets to choose from, the Arcade Age exhibit will be open for free play all day. Come check out some new additions such as Donkey Kong 3, Golden Axe, Marvel vs. Capcom and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

"Kids get a kick out of playing a game while standing at a cabinet," says Keane. "It shows them the way games used to be played."


Outside the Arcade Age exhibit, visitors can enjoy a display of 30 home consoles featuring holiday-themed video games like Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Elf Bowling, Santa’s Christmas Caper, Christmas Nights and Die Hard Trilogy.

"We are also going to get every version of ‘Home Alone’ we can on the original Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Nintendo Gameboy and Sega Genesis," says Joel Albino, operations coordinator. "We are even going to have a section with the movie playing."


Inside the Red Planet Café, there will be more than 30 home consoles set up on CRT (cathode ray tube) TVs available for everyone to play on. The titles will focus on classics like Mario Bros., GoldenEye 007, Pac-Man, Metroid, The Legend of Zelda and Sonic the Hedgehog.

"People naturally gravitate to Pac-Man and Mario Bros. Those games transcend generations across the board," says Keane. "They like the simplicity of them. Both are very easy to just pick up and play."

The café will also be open to purchase food during the day and, in the evening hours, Teriyaki Plus food truck will serve sausage and peppers, hot dogs and hamburgers outside.


Those feeling competitive can engage in an array of video game tournaments inside Hangar 2 on titles such as Mario Tennis for Nintendo 64, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for Nintendo Switch, Def Jam: Fight For NY for PlayStation 2 and Guilty Gear Strive for PlayStation 4.

"It will be a max of 32 people in a single elimination tournament. Everyone gets matched up and plays against each other once," says Albino. "Once an hour, we are going to run pickup games of Mario Kart: Double Dash!! for Nintendo GameCube. The winners will get a gift certificate to spend in the vendor room."


All throughout the Atrium, pop-culture-themed vendors will be selling everything from retro video games to toys to comics to artwork.

Lost 4 Toys of West Hempstead will be one of the 60 vendors offering tables of gifts to purchase focusing on Marvel Legends action figures, superhero T-shirts and hundreds of Funko Pop figures to choose from.

"We will have a lot of holiday versions of Funko Pops such as Marvel Universe characters as gingerbread cookies plus Disney characters wearing Santa hats," says store owner Cliff Lee. "There’s such a wide range of collectors from kids 5 year-old to adults in their 60s. It’s wild."


WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, The Cradle of Aviation, Charles Lindbergh Blvd., Garden City

INFO 516-572-4111,

ADMISSION $20 adults, $15 kids (age 2-12)

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