Weekend Family Fun: Polar Express, Winter Wonderland, Shrek and More

Another weekend is upon us. How will you spend your time? If you’re looking for some fun and family friendly things to do in and around the area, we’ve got you covered!

Friday night, join Montclair Township and Montclair BID for the annual holiday tree lighting in Church Street Plaza with caroling by the The Fabulous Fezzy Wigs, local retailer vendors, ice sculptures, s’mores, cocoa and a visit from Santa!

On Friday, Barnes & Noble Clifton Commons (395 Route 3 East, Clifton) will host a Storytime and Activities Featuring The Polar Express at 7:00 PM. All aboard! Come in your PJs and join us for a magical evening as B&N hosts their annual Storytime of the beloved holiday favorite, The Polar Express. Hot chocolate and cookies to follow.

Gas Lamp Players will present Newsies – The Broadway Musical at the Ridgewood Avenue School (235 Ridgewood Avenue, Glen Ridge) this weekend. Performances will be Friday at 7:00 PM, Saturday at 1:00 PM and 7:00 PM, and Sunday at 1:00 PM. Newsies is the rousing tale of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a band of teenaged “newsies.” When titans of publishing raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack rallies newsies from across the city to strike against the unfair conditions and fight for what’s right! Based on the 1992 motion picture and inspired by a true story, Newsies is packed with non-stop thrills and a timeless message, perfect for the whole family and every audience. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children, students and seniors.

This weekend, Garden State Model Railway Club (575 High Mountain Road, North Haledon) will continue their 62nd Annual Model Railroad Show. See prototypical trains such as modern intermodal trains, coal drags, general freights and passenger equipment as well as the famous Santa Claus Express with various Disney and other pop culture characters for the children. Show hours are Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM. Tickets are $6 for adults and free for children under 12 when with an adult.

Van Saun County Park (216 Forest Avenue, Paramus) will host the Bergen County Winter Wonderland beginning this weekend. Hours are Friday 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM, Saturday 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM and Sunday 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Visitors can enjoy open air ice skating, kids’ beginner synthetic rink, Santa’s North Pole Dome and Workshop, a heated hospitality pavilion, kids’ activities and games, unlimited Bergen Express train rides and carousel rides, zoo entry and programing, indoor/outdoor beer garden, and food trucks. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for senior citizens and active military or veterans, and free for children age 3 and under. This weekend there will be Santa visits, a balloon artist, and face painting. A tree lighting ceremony will take place on Saturday at 6:30 and there will be live ice carving on Sunday. Check the website for a schedule.

Turtle Back Zoo’s Holiday Lights continues nightly through December 31. Holiday lights will be open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Enjoy a walk around the zoo, featuring thousands of holiday lights. Special events will be held on various nights. This weekend is “You’re a Mean One” Weekend, and Santa will also be on hand for a meet and greet. Check the website for details. Admission is free, though some events require a fee. Donations of non-perishable foods are requested.

The Polar Express Train Ride (1 Railroad Plaza, Whippany) will run on select dates through December 30th. Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, passengers will relive the magic of the classic story as they are whisked away on The Polar Express for a magical one-hour trip to the North Pole. Once on board, your car hosts will work their way through the coach and punch your golden ticket before hot chocolate and a delicious cookie are served y dancing chefs. Passengers then read along with the classic children’s book, The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. Passengers will take part in caroling and onboard entertainment and receive a keepsake sleigh bell to take home. Coach Class tickets start at $46 for adults and $41 for children. First Class tickets start at $70 for adults and $65 for children. Visit the website for ride schedules.

Skylands Stadium (94 Championship Place, Augusta) will host their annual Christmas Light Show and Village through December 30. With more than two million dazzling lights on a mile-long drive-through course plus a new outdoor village, it’s a must-see holiday attraction for the whole family. The Light Show cost is $20 per carload. The Outdoor Christmas Village includes Walk-Thru Lights, Santa’s Workshop, a Skating Rink, 8’ Polar Bear Statue, Yuengling’s Ice Cream Shop and Hot Chocolate Bar, S’mores Station, Carnival Games, Concessions, and Vendors. Admission and parking for the Village is free, though some attractions have an additional cost. The light show and village are open this weekend on Friday from 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM, Saturday from 4:30 PM to 11:00 PM, and Sunday from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM.

The Women’s Club of Glen Ridge (219 Ridgewood Avenue, Glen Ridge) will host Winter Wonderland for Children of All Ages on Saturday from 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM. Children of all ages are welcomed to this magical Winter Wonderland. Games, crafts, activities, lunch, cocoa and holiday goodies will be available, and a professional photographer will take pictures with Santa. Admission is free; fees apply to some items. Register in advance and receive one free craft.

Clerestory Fine Art (40 Church Street, Montclair) offers a Kids Tour on Saturday from 2-3 p.m. of the gallery and latest exhibit – Mea Maxima Culpa – Mugshots and Martyrs.

Nutley Public Library (93 Booth Drive, Nutley) will host Joe Fischer’s Holiday Magic Show on Saturday from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM in the Children’s Room. A fun-filled event for all ages! Design your own holiday craft to take home after the show. Registration is not required.

Shrek the Musical continues this weekend at Axelrod Performing Arts Center (100 Grant Avenue, Deal Park) with performances on Saturday at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM and Sunday at 3:00 PM. Based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks Animation film, Shrek the Musical is a Tony Award-winning fairy tale adventure featuring all new songs and a sidesplitting book. Shrek brings all the beloved characters you know from the film to life on stage and proves there’s more to the story than meets the ears. Tickets are $27 for adults and $23 for students.

The Newark Museum of Art (49 Washington Street, Newark), formerly Newark Museum, will host Creative Play on Saturday beginning at 11:00 AM. Three- to five-year-olds and their caregivers enjoy a special time before the Museum opens to the public. Explore the Museum’s art and science collections through storytelling, song, playful activities and an art-making project. December’s theme is Shapes – Circles, Squares and Triangles, Oh My! Have fun connecting simple shapes to great works of art in the Museum’s collection – from the Seeing America galleries to the simple and complex shapes in the Asian galleries. From 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM, enjoy Maker Space Drop-Ins for children ages 5-12. Full STEAM Ahead! Children will be introduced to the different elements of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics through activities that push their creativity and critical thinking.

The Newark Museum of Art will also host several activities weekly on Saturday and Sundays, from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM:

  • Family Drop-Ins – December’s theme is Connections: Here, There and Everywhere! Connect sequences of ideas, history, relationships and material. Associations link worldly and local community happenings. Everything and everyone is connected.
  • Imagination Station – Spark your creativity while thinking outside the box. Have fun while achieving the challenge.
  • Family Back Pack – A fun self-guided tour for the entire family! Utilize a spy glass, a timer and more, as well as prompts as your family interacts with great works of art to explore Community / Animals / People / Places!

You can find information about all of the programs at The Newark Museum of Art on their website.

Barnes & Noble Clifton Commons (395 Route 3 East, Clifton) will host Storytime and Activities Featuring How the Grinch Stole Christmas!  on Saturday at 11:00 AM for children ages 2-5. Stop in for storytime and activities and receive a free Advent calendar, while supplies last. Plus, get a coupon for a grilled cheese sandwich with milk or juice for $4.

State Theatre New Jersey (15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick) will host City Stomp, the next event in their Milk & Cookies Series, on Saturday at 10:00 AM and 12:00 PM. City Stomp performs fun original songs, along with contemporary versions of traditional folk songs that celebrate Latin American, Caribbean, African, Irish, Jewish, and other world cultures. They take kids’ music to a new level with songs that the whole family will love! Milk & Cookies is a lively, interactive storytelling and music series for families. This program is the perfect way to introduce children ages 3-10 to live theater. Tickets are $5.

This weekend, Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center (247 Southern Blvd, Chatham Twp) will host Outdoor Skills: Hiking Basics for ages 10-15 on Saturday from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Learn wilderness and survival skills, such as preparing for a hike, keeping safe on the trails, and navigating using a map. Cost is $10 per child. Preregistration is required by calling 973-635-6629. Cost is $10 per child.

Fosterfields Living Historical Farm (73 Kahdena Road, Morris Twp) will host Woodstove Holiday Pie Class for ages 12 and up on Saturday from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Learn to cook a selection of savory and sweet pies over the woodstove. Try cooking the old-fashioned way as you learn to fire up a woodstove and create delectable dishes. Cost is $55 per person. Preregistration is required by calling 973-631-5022.

Just Kidding at Symphony Space (2537 Broadway at 95th Street, NYC) will present Puppetkabob: Dirty Gerts on Saturday at 11:00 AM. Puppetkabob’s “Dirty Gerts” is a paper pop-up extravaganza all about growing pains, made entirely out of re-purposed paper products! A groovy blend of historical fiction, 60s pop culture puppets, and colorful confetti! Come on get happy with Carol Lee Bell as she finds the fold to fitting in at school and discovers the best way is to not actually fit at all. Cost is $14 for members and $17 for non-members.

The Frelinghuysen Arboretum (353 East Hanover Avenue, Morris Twp) will host Gingerbread Wonderland from 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM on Saturday and Sunday. Thousands of families make it a tradition to attend this holiday festival. Marvel at the creativity and skill that characterizes this charming exhibit of hundreds of edible structures. Past exhibits included models of Harry Potter scenes, Notre Dame Cathedral, Santa’s Workshop, European castles, and much more. Cost is $2 per person.

Each weekend, Dimenna Children’s History Museum (170 Central Park West at 77th Street, NYC) makes available a History Detective Briefcase. Calling all history detectives! Check out a free (with museum admission) History Detective Briefcase from the Membership Desk and use it to explore the Luce Center on the 4th floor, with its fascinating array of historical artifacts. Each briefcase provides fun, interactive, family-centered challenges—like games, sketching, and other activities—that help you discover even more about the past. At the end of your visit, simply return it to Membership! The Museum is open on Saturday from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM and Sunday from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Admission is $22 for adults, $17 for Seniors/Educators/Active Military, $13 for students, $6 for kids age 5-13 years old, and free for kids 4 and under.


Barnes & Noble Clifton Commons (395 Route 3 East, Clifton) will host Baby & Me Storytime Featuring Pop-up Peekaboo! Baby Dinosaur on Sunday at 11:00 AM. This activity is for caregivers and children 0-24 months old. Read a book and participate in activities featuring sensory growth for your little ones. Plus, get a coupon for a free tall, hot or iced Starbucks coffee.

Crowne Plaza Englewood Hotel (401 S. Van Brunt Street, Englewood) will host 2019 Holidays at the Crowne Plaza Englewood Hotel on Sunday from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM. Enjoy holiday festivities and activities for the entire family including cookie decorating with Blue’s Baking Bash, a local baking team teaching children how to create scrumptious sweet treats. The participation fee is $10 and includes a cookie, holiday ornament, and holiday beverages and snacks. Participants are also encouraged to bring an unwrapped gift for Englewood’s local PBA Toy Drive.

South Orange Performing Arts Center will present Angelina Ballerina: The Very Merry Holiday Musical on Sunday at 2:00 PM, with a Kids in the Loft activity from 1:00 PM to 1:45 PM. Angelina Ballerina and her friends are planning an absolutely, positively spectacular holiday dance pageant; the best in all of Mouseland! When a mix-up prevents the pageant from going on, Angelina and her friends must use their creativity to save the show. By working together, Angelina, Alice, Gracie, AZ, Marco, and Angelina’s little sister Polly discover the true spirit of the holidays. It’s not about things you receive, but the holiday cheer you share. With dancing, singing and festivities, this heart-warming musical is perfect for everyone’s holiday season! This performance is recommended for ages 4-9. Tickets are $25.

Montclair Art Museum (3 South Mountain Avenue, Montclair) will also host their Drop-In Studio on Sunday from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Drop by MAM’s Helen & Bill Geyer Art Studio to explore a range of art materials and processes based on artwork on view in the galleries. Each week features a new art-making activity and gallery talk inspired by current exhibitions. Reservations are not required, and visitors of all ages are welcome! This program is free for members and included with Museum admission for non-Members. This Sunday, we’ll be creating clay ornaments inspired by Virgil Ortiz’s artwork in the Rand Gallery and Laurie Art Stairway.

State Theatre New Jersey (15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick) will present PJ Masks Live! on Sunday at 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM. PJ MASKS LIVE! is back with an all new super-heroic, live musical show, featuring the heroic trio from your favorite series:  PJ MASKS! Watch Catboy, Owlette, and Gekko along with their new friend PJ Robot, as they try to save the day from the sneaky villains—Romeo, Night Ninja, and Luna Girl! Fluttering Feathers! Leaping Lizards! What a CAT-tastrophe! Leaping, flipping, and climbing—live on stage! Complete with your favorite music and brand-new songs you’ve never heard before! Don’t sleep through it—watch the PJ Masks save the day, live on stage! Tickets are $29-$59. Tickets are also available for a Meet and Greet Upgrade.

If you’re looking for holiday shows, check out our round up here.

For more upcoming events, check out Baristanet Calendar.