Joy to the world–the holiday season is officially upon us. Across the country, families are prepping for celebrations. In New Jersey, there’s much more to do than just buy gifts. There are plenty of festive sights to see. Some towns in the Garden State go all out for the holiday season, from gigantic trees to villages and beyond. Not only are the decorations spectacular, but each town also hosts its own festivities that you don’t want to miss. Here’s a list of seven charming Christmas towns in New Jersey that you must visit before the holiday season.
Ring in the holiday season with a trip to Morristown. Though its houses are lined with shining lights and decked out with jolly decorations, the real festivities are at the Morristown Green.
The town kicked off its month-long Christmas Festival at the Green. For over 100 years, this celebration has featured a countdown to the “Lighting of the Green,” with a Christmas tree lighting. Spectators enjoyed music and even got pictures with Santa.
After the kickoff, there will continue to be various activities at the Green, similar to last year’s vintage oversized rocking horse to beautiful ice sculpture displays, a miniature wooden train ride and more, there is plenty to enjoy at the Green.
The schedule of the town’s events can be found on their website.
The Red Mill in Clinton is straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting during the holidays. It’s always a sight to see, but it’s even better in the winter–especially when it snows. Not only are houses decorated for the season, but shops are, too. Walking through the center of the town will be like walking through the streets in a Hallmark movie. Lined with garland, lights, and tinsel, it’s a perfect area for a quaint stroll through town. The town isn’t just known for its picturesque scenes, but its events, too.
At the Red Mill you can attend the Christmas Festival of Trees. At the festival, participants decorate and craft intricate Christmas trees for spectators to see. The event also features an outdoor market with plenty to explore and buy.
You may know Cape May as one of the iconic summer getaways the state has to offer, but the town is just as great during the winter. Cape May is known for its Victorian-era-style houses. During the holiday season, these dwellings are adorned with wreaths, garlands, and lights. Around the town, you can find beautiful displays, including light-up reindeer and a large Christmas tree outside of Congress Hall. Make sure to bring a camera, because this picture-perfect town is one that you’re going to want to remember.
There are plenty of events to enjoy in December. Head out on the first Saturday of December to watch the West Cape May Christmas Parade, take a holiday-themed trolley ride around the town, and even visit the Winter Wonderland at Congress Hall with concerts, children’s activities, and a shopping village.
This 17th-century historic town is known for its prestigious Princeton University and its colonial-style architecture. During the holiday season, this town looks like a sight out of a movie. Princeton is jam-packed with events this holiday season, which officially began in November with the annual Palmer Square tree lighting. And the tree is impressive, to say the least, standing 65 feet tall and decorated with 32,000 lights. While there, guests enjoyed live music and a visit from Santa to bring in the holiday spirit.
Around the town, you can partake in various winter activities. Take friends and family ice skating on the square at their eco-friendly synthetic skating rink. You can also experience the history of Princeton on a holiday trolley ride through the Princeton Tour Company.
From its quaint suburbs to its upbeat downtown, Maplewood goes all out for the holidays. Houses around the town are meticulously lined with lights and some boast displays on lawns. Though the houses are nice, the real festivities are located in the Village.
Maplewood brings “A Christmas Carol” to life during the holiday season with its annual Dickens Village event. Located in Ricalton Square, the area is filled with miniature houses. Take a look inside each house to find different arrays of miniature toys, stockings, fireplaces, and more. You can attend this event each Saturday in December until Christmas.
Maplewood hosted a tree lighting and a visit from Santa and may feature horse and wagon rides on Dec. 11 and 18 from 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
There are plenty of places to see beautiful lights and decorated shops in Red Bank. The town kicked off the holiday season with the 30th annual Town Lighting and Holiday Express Concert. There were live performances, a prize wheel, free refreshments, and more. The Red Bank Train Station may also host music and dance performances. Mr. and Mrs. Claus also appeared aboard the Red Bank fire engine. And the lighting isn’t just a tree–the entire town is lit to ring in “the most wonderful time of the year.”
And that’s not all the town has to offer. On Nov. 29, head to Riverside Gardens Park for a menorah lighting. Last year, the downtown arts and antique district hosted a Red Bank Elf scavenger hunt.
Every Saturday and Sunday, performers will be located at various downtown locations. Weekends will be filled with a festive musical cheer from carolers to choirs, jazz and brass bands, and more.
If you take a trip through the center of Collingswood, you’ll notice the red-colored “seasons greetings” sign welcoming you to the jolly town. There’s plenty to do to celebrate the holidays in Collingswood. Every weekend in December, Santa welcomes families for free at Extraordinary ED in the town. He’ll be there on Fridays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays from 1 to 3 p.m.
Once the town lights up for the season, downtown makes for the perfect spot to do some holiday shopping. Parking is free, and there are plenty of shops to wander through, featuring gifts of all types. Did you know that they even make it snow in the town during special events? For the full list of events, visit Collingwood’s website.
Have you ever been to one of these Christmas towns in New Jersey? Tell us in the comments.
Main image by Алсу Вершинина
About the Author/s
Kayla is a senior communication major at the University of New Haven. When she's not writing, she's keeping up on the latest pop culture news, listening to music, and cooking.