15 Holiday Attractions and Christmas Light Shows Near New Jersey & NYC – Holiday Family Fun for FREE or CHEAP

christmas light shows and attractions in nj and nyc cheap or free

Are you looking for some spectacular Christmas lights?  I’ve got the perfect list of holiday attractions to get your family in the Christmas spirit.  I know many people are decorating earlier this year, and I am one of them.  It is the most wonderful time of the year, and having everything decked out just makes me happy.  IMG_4589

Without further ado, here is my list of 15 events happening in New Jersey or NYC.  Enjoy!

1.The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting – 11/29/17

FREE and Open to the Public

Located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, between West 48th and West 51st Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

It gets super crowded, with thousands of people gathering to watch the lighting.  They also have live performances from 7-9 pm. The last day to see the tree lit up will be 9 pm on January 7, 2018.

2. 44th Annual Merry Tuba Christmas – 12/17/17

FREE and Open to the Public

This will take place at 30 Rockefeller Plaza on Sunday, December 17, 2017.  It starts at 3:30 pm and will include Christmas Carols and other holiday favorites.  There will be hundreds of tenor and bass tuba players of all ages performing under the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Plaza.

3. Ice Skating Rink at Rockefeller Center -Rink Opens 10/7/17

PEAK General Admission for Adults – Ranges between $27-32/ Children under 11 and Seniors $15 therinkatrockcenter.com

The rink is open daily and tickets can be purchased for sessions as show on their website.  They also offer skate rental and lessons.

4. Christmas Spectacular starring The Radio City Rockettes – Now thru January 1st Prices Vary www.rockettes.com

If you have never seen this show, it is definitely worth taking the trip to NYC.  It is absolutely amazing and magical.  My family went many years ago and it was a very memorable experience.  We haven’t been back because we have some younger children that probably won’t sit through the entire thing.  But, I highly recommend!

5. Bergen County’s Winter Wonderland at Van Saun County Park – 216 Forest Ave, Paramus, NJ 11/24/2017 – 1/1/18  www.bergencountywinterwonderland.com

Tickets are $16 for general admission, $14 for active duty military and veterans, $14 for senior citizens, and free for children under three. 

This is the 2nd annual Winter Wonderland at Van Saun Park.  They transform the park/zoo into a holiday spectacular with several activities for the kids. They can visit Santa at the North Pole Workshop, admire the beautifully lit Christmas tree. Admission also includes ice skating, carousel, and train rides.  They also have an indoor/outdoor beer garden and food trucks.

6. Holiday Lights Spectacular – Turtle Back Zoo, West Orange, NJ


My family loves visiting the Turtle Back Zoo, especially for the Holiday Lights Spectacular.  It is free admission, but they do have some stations set up by the parking lot to collect donations.  Last year, we brought some winter coats and canned goods.

The zoo is decorated with over 50 different lighted animals and winter decorations.  They kids really love walking through the zoo at night, lit up with their favorite animals.  Very fun family experience, and it’s free! Check out their website here for more information.

7. Christmas Festival – Morristown Green, Morristown 11/26/17 – 12/22/17

Activities are FREE; Photos with Santa $10

The festival begins on Sunday, 11/26 with the tree lighting and Santa’s arrival.  It continues all month-long with schedules performance by the choir, hot chocolate, and photos with Santa.  Check out the schedule of events here.

8. Christmas Ice Caverns – Fairfield, NJ 

Admission is $3.99 for everyone ages 1 and up.  

The Christmas Ice Taverns, at Jody’s Silk Florist and Patio Center, is supposed to be New Jersey’s largest animated walk through Christmas display.  There are storybook settings, Disney characters, Santa’s candy factory, a life-size Nativity scene, and lots more.

My family hasn’t been here yet, but this is at the top of our list for this year. It sounds awesome, and who doesn’t like animated Christmas displays? Check out their website here.

9. Skylands Christmas Light Show – Augusta, NJ  11/17/17 – 12/30/17

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday: $20 per carload
Monday–Thursday (Discount Nights): $17 per carload

*Advanced purchase and Walgreens coupon offer discounted admission

So this is a drive through Christmas light show with over 2 million lights.  I live nearby, and can tell you, there is definitely a lot to see.  If you go on the weekend, expect it to be crowded.

Inside, they also have a Christmas Village. There are photos with Santa and other activities for the kids.  For more info check out their website here.

10. Holiday Light Walk – Crystal Springs Resort 11/24/17 – 1/8/18


This takes place at the Grand Cascades Lodge Natural Grass Putting Course, in Crystal Springs Resort. The Winter Light Walk is daily from dusk until 10 pm.  For more info click here.

11. Sea of Lights – Jenkinson’s Boardwalk Aquarium & Pavillion

12/15-12/16, 12/22-12/23, 12/26-12/30

Admission: I didn’t see a price listed, but if it is the same as last year it is $7. Call ahead to confirm pricesjenkinsons.com

Indoor Holiday Light Spectacular at the Aquarium.  The dates range, as listed above, but the time shows 6-9 pm.

12. Holiday Light Show – Tropicana, Atlantic City, NJ 11/24 – 12/26/17 FREE

Free shows daily, every hour on the hour, starting at noon until midnight.  Tropicana’s Holiday Light Show includes a huge 35 foot tree and a 25 foot tall Pointsettia Tree.  The place is decked out in holiday decor, including interactive lights. The live music includes an array of selections from jazz to rock, and all the holiday favorites worldwide.

For more info check out their website here.

13. Christmas Underwater – Adventure Aquarium, Camden, NJ

12/2 – 12/30/17 Adventureaquarium.com

I believe it is general admission: Adults are $29 and Children 2-12 are $21. Call ahead to confirm pricing.

Admission for Milk and Cookies with Santa on 12/9/17: Adults are $35, Children 2-12 are $28.

The Christmas Underwater includes the world’s tallest underwater Christmas tree.  It is 18 feet tall and located in the Shark Realm. They also do photos with Santa, story time, and a dance party.  Check out their website for exact dates and times for these events.

14. Holiday Lights Trolley Rides – Cape May, NJ


Tickets: Adults are $12 and Children 3-12 are $10.  Go to their website to purchase your tickets in advance.

This takes you on a 30 minute tour through Cape May’s historic district.  The guide tells about Victorian Christmas traditions, leads a sing a long, and plays some Christmas music.

 15. Holiday in the Park – Six Flags, Jackson NJ

11/19-1/2/18    holiday.sixflags.com

General Admission: Adults are $72.00 /Children under 54″ are $46.99/ Under 2 years old is free

Enjoy your favorite amusement park decorated to the nine in holiday decor! There are added holiday thrill and attractions. Most of the rides are open, but some will be closed. There is a list on their website with more info.



Well, that’s my list of family holiday fun if you are in the New Jersey or NYC area.  I hope you stumbled across something new to try out with your family.  My family is going to check out the Ice Caverns in Fairfield!

If your family has been to any of these places let me know what you thought.  If you know of any other awesome holiday attractions, feel free to share them with me!