Well, here we are… the beginning of the holiday season in New Jersey. Time to reflect on our blessings and give thanks and, for many of us, time to kick off the Christmas season as well. There’s a lot going on around New Jersey this week, with many events centering around Thanksgiving and the beginning of the Christmas season. Here’s a roundup of the top five things to do in New Jersey this week…
1. The Annual Holiday Wine Trail Weekend
Participating wineries statewide.
Celebrate the start of the holiday season while sipping your way along the New Jersey Wine Trail! Enjoy special wine tastings, discover wine and food pairings, take advantage of special discounts, and enjoy fabulous live entertainment at more than two dozen New Jersey wineries around the state. Wine enthusiasts traveling the Holiday Wine Trail will receive a holiday grapevine wreath and an ornament at the first winery they visit, and an additional ornament to decorate the wreath at each subsequent winery visited. Each New Jersey winery adds its own festive touch to this special wine trail weekend. Visit the Garden State Wine Growers Association online for a full list of participating New Jersey wineries.
2. Holiday Lights at Turtle Back Zoo
Essex County Turtle Back Zoo
560 Northfield Avenue
West Orange, New Jersey
Celebrate the season of giving at Essex County’s Turtle Back Zoo with free admission to this magical holiday light display. In turn, visitors can help others who are less fortunate by bringing donations of non-perishable food, new toys, gently used coats, and pet food. Donation stations will be placed at each entry to the zoo. Enjoy a family-friendly holiday tradition and help make the season merry for those who are less fortunate. Holiday Lights at Turtle Back Zoo continues through the beginning of January (see website for operating dates).
3. Christmas Express with Santa Claus
The New Jersey Museum of Transportation at Allaire Village
4265 Atlantic Avenue
Wall Township, New Jersey
Tickets: $6 (advance purchase recommended)
The Christmas Express has been a New Jersey holiday tradition for over 30 years and it kicks off another season this weekend! Enjoy a scenic railroad ride across the grounds of Allaire State Park and a visit from Santa! Santa rides the Christmas Express and talks to all the children. Trains leave every half hour from 11am to 4pm, weather permitting. The Christmas Express continues operation on weekends through December, with night rides beginning on December 5th.
4. Disney On Ice presents Frozen!
50 New Jersey 120
East Rutherford, New Jersey
The Academy Award winning movie Frozen is live and coming to New Jersey with dazzling special effects, amazing figure skating, and inspiring songs like “Let It Go.” Join Elsa and Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, his reindeer Sven, as well as other favorite Disney characters such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse as you are whisked away into the wintery world of Arendelle, where together you will journey to discover that true love is the most magical power of all! This heartwarming celebration of love and friendship will thrill children of all ages and leave your family with memories to last a lifetime.
5. Thanksgiving Community Gathering at Tuckerton Seaport
Tuckerton Seaport & Baymen’s Museum
120 West Main Street (Route 9)
Tuckerton, New Jersey
Out of the horrific events of Superstorm Sandy, a heartwarming New Jersey tradition was born. Following the storm, the Tuckerton Seaport opened its doors for a Community Gathering on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, bringing local families in need together with families who wanted to give. It was a special time for the community to pull together in the face of tremendous obstacles and it was clear that adversity brought out the best in the people of New Jersey. The community gathering has become a South Jersey tradition with over 578 guests being served last year. Two years after Superstorm Sandy, many local families are still in need and even more families are looking for ways to give back. In addition to a family meal, the Community Gathering will feature other fun things to do including making crafts and holiday decorations, photos with Santa, games, and entertainment. Families wishing to give back to the local community can bring canned goods to the event to be donated to local food pantries or select a local family from the Giving Tree to purchase gifts for.