Cape May's Victorian landmarks shine in all their holiday finery...

Cape May's Victorian landmarks shine in all their holiday finery for the annual Christmas Candlelight House tours. Credit: NEWSDAY/Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts

With the winter holidays approaching, it's time to celebrate the season with parades, attractions and festive events to get families into the spirit. If you're looking for a getaway full of decorations, light shows, arts and crafts, shopping and appearances by Santa himself, these locations in the Northeast are a must-visit this holiday season.

Santa's Workshop: New York 

For starters, this destination is literally located in North Pole (a hamlet in upstate Essex County) and the park is already open for business: Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 8 (also open Columbus Day), and Nov. 11-Dec. 17 (including Nov. 24). The layout is a representation of a village that Kriss Kringle would call home, with shops that sell candy, hats, toys, candles and baked goods. There’s also a blacksmith, mini roller coaster and kiddie Ferris wheel plus a real post office where you can have mail officially postmarked from the North Pole. 

Have breakfast with Santa and friends on select dates in October; dinner on Sundays in December (plus Dec. 18-23 daily); and Yuletide family weekends (for ages 2-10) that include time with Santa. The facility also hosts its nighttime Village of Lights, when the park is lit up, fire pits are on, shops are open, caroling takes place and Santa is on the grounds (Dec. 3, 10, 17-23). 

Cost $39.95 ages 3 and older. Meals with Santa an additional cost. Village of Lights is $24.95 ages 2 and older.

More info 324 Whiteface Memorial Hwy., Wilmington; 518-946-2211,

Cape May: New Jersey

The city is known as a summer seaside spot, but when it comes to Christmas, this community — famed for its Victorian houses — goes big with wide stretches of holiday lights, dangling ornaments and garland placed around town, Nov. 17-Jan. 1; self-guided Christmas Candlelight House tours held Dec. 2, 9 and 16 (5:30-8:30 p.m.; $45, $30 ages 3-12). The tree lighting is slated for Nov. 18 featuring the Atlantic Brass Band concert and Santa. For a meeting with Mrs. Claus, there’s the Santa’s Trolley Ride ($20, $15 ages 3-12), where Kriss Kringle’s better half leads riders in singing holiday songs and tells stories before Santa joins the jaunt on the grounds of the Emlen Physick Estate.


Six Flags Great Adventure: New Jersey

Holiday in the Park festivities are set for weekends and select days Nov. 24-Dec 31. The park will be decked out in holiday décor and more than a million lights. Guests can check out Joy to the World, a trail of lit trees and stained glass that showcase religious holidays from around the globe and take photos with costumed characters. Food and drink include hot turkey platters, seasonal beers and spiked eggnog. Fire pits will be lit for roasting s’mores and Santa Claus will be on-site through Christmas Eve.

INFO 1 Six Flags Blvd., Jackson, New Jersey; 732-928-2000,

Village Holiday Stroll: Lake Placid

A visitor meets with Santa at the Lake Placid Holiday...

A visitor meets with Santa at the Lake Placid Holiday Village Stroll. Credit: Cody Updike

This three-day event (Dec. 8-10) turns a village in the Adirondack Mountains into a family-friendly affair. Kriss Kringle will make appearances and there will be a tree-lighting ceremony at Mid's Park (2445 Main St.), holiday movie screenings at the Palace Theatre (2430 Main St.; 518-523-9271), a skating party, holiday craft-making, story time, a fire truck parade and free sleigh rides around Mirror Lake. The streets will be decorated with ice sculptures and stores will offer shopping deals; all are encouraged to wear merry costumes.


A Bethlehem Christmas: Pennsylvania 

Bethlehem is a city in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley region, and at the end of every year, it lives up to its "Christmas City" nickname by hosting a variety of festive events on select dates in November to December. Visitors can look forward to historic tours, a Christkindlmarkt German-inspired holiday market, a daily live Advent calendar that involves performances, vaudevillian shows, ice skating, carriage rides, spirit tastings and seasonal cocktails for purchase. There's also a free Christmas City trolley that gets people around town and a tree lighting held in the city’s Payrow Plaza (10 E. Church St.).



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