Weekend Family Fun: Kwanzaa, Hot Chocolate Hike, Sock Dolls, and More

This weekend family fun guide is sponsored by The Newark Museum of Art.


If you’re up for viewing some holiday lights, there are plenty to see in the area. Check out our roundup here!

We’ve also gathered information on a number of holiday shows. You can check them out here.

Hanukkah ends on Monday. You’ll find events and activities in this round up.

Montclair Tree Lighting. Photo: Chanda Hall

On Friday, head to Montclair Center for the Montclair Holiday Tree Lighting event at Church Street at 6 p.m.
Special Appearances by Montclair Community Band, Santa & Mrs. Claus, Toy Soldier, Snow and Gingerbread Persons. Experience a “snowy” winter festival with a giant snow globe, Candy Lane inflatable, kids’ activities and more.

On Friday at 7:30 PM, NJPAC will host The Princess Bride: An Inconceivable Evening with Cary Elwes. This is the ultimate event for fans of The Princess Bride. See the iconic film on the big screen, followed by a moderated conversation with actor Cary Elwes (the heroic Westley, of course!). He’ll discuss your favorite scenes, reveal never-before-shared secrets and tell tales of on-set antics. A limited number of VIP packages are available and include the best seats in the house, a meet and greet with Cary Elwes and a signed copy of his best-selling book, As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride. It’s sure to be a night you’ll always tweasure! Tickets are $39-$59.

State Theatre New Jersey (15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick) will present Anastasia: The New Broadway Musical this weekend. Performances will be on Friday at 8:00 PM, Saturday at 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM, and Sunday at 1:00 PM. Inspired by the beloved film, the romantic and adventure-filled new musical ANASTASIA is coming to NJ! From the Tony® Award-winning creators of the Broadway classic Ragtime, this dazzling show transports us from the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s, as a brave young woman sets out to discover the mystery of her past. Pursued by a ruthless Soviet officer determined to silence her, Anya enlists the aid of a dashing conman and a lovable ex-aristocrat. Together, they embark on an epic adventure to help her find home, love, and family. Tickets are $40-$98.

Bergen County Winter Wonderland 2021 continues through January 2 at Van Saun County Park (216 Forest Avenue, Paramus). Bergen County’s Winter Wonderland at Van Saun Park is northern New Jersey’s premier winter event featuring open air ice skating, a kid’s zone ice rink, hospitality tent, children’s games and activities, carousel rides, food trucks an indoor/outdoor beer garden and the Bergen County Express Train Ride! All activities (including skate rentals) are included with admission. Tickets are $15 and children 3 and under are free. Visit the website for a full schedule of activities.

The Frelinghuysen Arboretum (353 East Hanover Avenue, Morris Twp) continues to host the Family Photo Scavenger Hunt. Held daily from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, bring your camera or phone for this month’s hunt. There’s a new theme every month and the current theme is “Let It Snow.” Trees are shedding their leaves, but are they shedding their secrets? Explore the arboretum to find the big, the historic, and the most remarkable trees in this fun, family, non-contact photo scavenger hunt. The cost is $10 per family or group of 6 or less. Preregistration is required.

Shooting Star Dance Center (403 Broad Street, Bloomfield) will host pop up dance classes on Saturdays at 9:00 AM. Dazzle, twirl, leap and play with one of our instructors as they lead your dancer through a 30-minute dance adventure. Pop up classes are a great way to check out the studio without committing to more than 30 minutes at a time. All pop-up classes are $10. You must register in advance.

Montclair Public Library (50 S. Fullerton Avenue, Montclair) will host Ujamaa Outdoor Winter Market from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Montclair Public Library kicks off a month of Kwanzaa programs with the Ujamaa Outdoor Winter Market. Enjoy culinary delights and products from local chefs, artisans, and entrepreneurs. There will be gifts for holiday shoppers, and indoor programs such as balloon twisting, a magic show, and music. Everyone is invited to be a part of this community event. A schedule of events is available on the website.

On Saturday at 10:00 AM, Essex County Environmental Center (621-B Eagle Rock Avenue, Roseland) will host Hot Chocolate Hike from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM. Families can participate in a hike around the Environmental Center forest, build a winter campfire, sip hot cocoa, and make s’mores. Dress warmly. Advanced registration is required. Cost is $30 per family (up to two adults and two children); or $10 per child and $12 per adult.

On Saturday at 10:15 AM, The Newark Museum of Art (49 Washington Street, Newark) will host Creative Play: Mini Zoo Edition. Join in for a fun time with friends from Turtle Back Zoo. Enjoy story time and a presentation of live animals. There are new animals every week. This program is specifically designed for children ages 3-5 and their caregivers.

On Saturday, Fosterfields Living Historical Farm (73 Kahdena Road, Morristown) will host Civil War Hospitals on the Homefront from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM. Step back in time with the 2D NJ Brigade to experience a Civil War winter field hospital during the holidays. Through interaction with reenactors and educators, learn how soldiers were cared for both on and off the battlefield, and how civilians and farmsteads were intrinsic in their survival and recovery. Take a wagon ride to the program! This event is suitable for all ages and is $10 per person. Preregistration is required.

Turtle Back Zoo (560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange) will host Wonders of the Wild! On Saturday from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM. This program offers students ages 6-12 an opportunity to participate in supplementary science and nature-themed programs and projects that facilitate scientific literacy and life-long environmental stewardship. This week’s session is Invasion!!!! (Invasive Species). Cost is $30 for this in-person, drop off program.

The SpongeBob Musical continues this weekend at Axelrod Performing Arts Center (100 Grant Avenue, Deal Park). Performances will be held on Saturday at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM, and on Sunday at 3:00 PM. Presented by the Axelrod Performing Arts Academy, The SpongeBob Musical is based on the beloved animated series created by Stephen Hillenburg, TV’s number-one kids’ show for over 20 years. The Broadway production—which The New York Times called “brilliant”—was a surprise to children and adults alike! This production, directed by Broadway’s original Mrs. Puff, Abby C. Smith, takes place in Bikini Bottom where SpongeBob and his undersea cohorts face imminent annihilation. Thanks to the power of optimism (and musicals!), a new hero arises, and the world is saved. With a score by some of the great pop songwriters of the past 50 years, The SpongeBob Musical is the hippest kids’ musical to ever open on Broadway. Tickets are $36 for adults and $18 for students.

On Saturday and Sunday, Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center (247 Southern Boulevard, Chatham Twp) will host Apple Cidering Demonstrations for ages 4 and up. Find out why you’ve been looking at apples upside down your whole life and help make fresh apple cider by hand with an old-fashioned cider press. Cost is $5 per person. Preregistration is required. There are sessions from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM and sessions from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM.

The Garden State Model Railway Club’s 63rd Annual Model Railroad Show (575 High Mountain Road, North Haledon) will be open for the second of four weekends beginning this weekend. The show will be open from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Tickets are $8. Children under 10 are free with an adult. The show is fun for the whole family, including Thomas and special trains for children. Refreshments will be available.

Family in autumn forest with large lofty stones ( “Skeli Dovbusha” , Ivano-Frankovsk Region, Ukraine)


On Sunday, enjoy Sleep, Stay or Fly Away? at Pyramid Mountain (472 Boonton Avenue, Montville Twp) from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM. Every animal must make a choice in the wintertime in order to survive. Learn what NJ wildlife do – you’ll be surprised at the answers! – on an easy hike with a naturalist. Cost is $4 per person and preregistration is required. This activity is suitable for ages 6 and up.

On Sunday from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM, Turtle Back Zoo will host Family Nature Club: Nature Adventurers. Welcome winter! Welcome the season by making home decorations and ornaments of our very own! No need to bring any craft supplies, everything we’ll need is out in nature (unless you want to add a little special flair of course). Meet in the parking lot across from Regatta Playground (Cherry Lane, West Orange). This activity is recommended for ages 6+ and all minors must be accompanied by an adult. Cost is $10 per person.

Montclair Art Museum (3 South Mountain Avenue, Montclair) will host Sunday Studio: Sock Dolls with Nanci Iovino on Sunday from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Inspired by Fred Wilson’s artwork Old Salem in the exhibition Transformed, families will transform an ordinary sock into a fun plush toy while learning sewing and crafting techniques. This program is geared toward families with children ages 5–12, but all are welcome. This event is free with MAM admission. Registration is required.

Catch a screening of “A Christmas Story” at The Clairidge this Sunfay at 12:30 p.m. In the 1940s, a young boy named Ralphie attempts to convince his parents, his teacher and Santa that a Red Ryder BB gun really is the perfect Christmas gift.

Click here to sign up for Baristanet's free daily emails and news alerts.