Time to whip out those calendars (or pull up your Google Calendar) and start making plans on what shows/events you want to catch with the kids. I figured my weekly events are not advance notice enough during the holidays, so voila! a Monster Holiday events list for you.

This list has been a long time in the making. First I went back to 2010 and culled the events I had already listed. Then, I went to each site of major venues and checked out what holiday offerings they had. NJ has plenty to offer in terms of major shows and smaller theater offerings–you don't have to cross a bridge or tunnel or deal with parking to get your holiday culture fix!

Hope you have a great holiday season! And, if I missed anything, please email me at: mirabest@live.com


Santa Train Ride. (Dec. 4th, 10th, 11th, 17th, and 18th). Santa will give out gifts, take pictures, and visits from Mrs. Claus, Elves, too! Various times and locations (Whippany, Wayne, etc.) $13 adults; under 12 $8. Link here

Toys for Tots Annual Toy Drive. (Dec. 10th to 11th). Help the U.S. Marine Corps collect toys in North Jersey. The train will stop at 13 locations where you can drop off toys, board the train to see Santa Claus, experience railroad equipment and meet members of the Marine Corps. You can still drop off toys the first week of December. Link here

Christmas Celebration at Adventure Aquarium. (through 1/1; 9:30am to 5pm) Meet Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and enter a Christmas forest of glowing trees. Scuba Santa will dive into the Ocean Realm exhibit, boogie down at Gill's Holiday Dance Party, or get a free picture with the family! There will also be a Deep Sea Splash New Year's Eve Party. (Camden) Adults: $24.56; Kids: $19.21. Link here

20th Anniversary Gingerbread Wonderland. (Sat, Dec. 3rd to Sun., Dec. 11th. 9:30am to 5pm; until 8pm on Fri: 12/9). Marvel at over 200 edible creations. Past models have been of Notre Dame cathedral, menoras, Japanese temples, etc. Suggested $2 donation per person and $1 for children. Frelinghuysen Arboretum, Morristown. Link here

Irving Berlin's White Christmas. (Nov. 16 to Dec. 24th). Based on the beloved Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye film, this musical tells the story of two famous song-and-dance men who stage a show in a scenic Vermont inn and find love with to singing sisters. Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn. Link here

Holiday Festival of Lights. (through Dec. 31st). Fri. and Sat. evenings 5:30pm to 8pm. Over 100,000 holiday lights and animated light sculptures. You can ride the carousel, Butterfly spring ride or the train ride for additional fees. Tree decorating takes place on 11/24 and Santa will come by truck. $4 per person. Free parking. Camden Children's Garden. Link here

Breakfast with Santa & Holiday Boutique Event. (Sat., Dec. 10th: 10am to 1pm) Crafts, open play, shopping and delicious goodies from Dough Heads! Donate a new or slightly used toy and get $10 off! $15/child; adults free. Call 201-503-1300 to reserve your spot. Cutie Patooties, Englewood. Link here

Breakfast with Santa. (Sat, Dec. 10th: 9am)  Register with Simon Guest Services before Dec. 3rd. $8 adults/children. Breakfast, children's gift bag, entertainment.  Maggiano's at Riverside Square Mall, Hackensack.

"Shop for the Shelter" (Sat, Dec. 11th: 11am to 5:30pm) Shelter Our Sisters is a safe haven for battered women and their families. Help their cause by shopping at their Holiday Boutique. Crown Plaza Hotel, Englewood. Link here

Kwanzaa at NJPAC, Newark. (Sat., Dec. 17th: 12pm to 5pm). Workshops in African dance, music, storytelling, capoeira, drumming and more! Children's book fair, Arts and Crafts Village and more. Activities at NJPAC and at the Center for Arts Education at 24 Rector Street. FREE! Also, showing of Giwayen Mata at the Victoria Theater (2pm and 5pm). Link here

Hurray for Hanukkah. (Sun, Dec. 18th: 1pm crafts; 3pm concert). Stories, snacks, crafts and sing-along with Janet Sclaroff. Garden State Discovery Museum, Cherry Hill. Link here

Simply Christmas. (Fri, Dec. 16th: 8pm; Sat, Dec. 17th: 2pm and 8pm; Sun, Dec. 18th: 2pm). A musical tribute to Holiday's best songs. Smiling Rhino Theatre, Pompton Lakes. $22 adults/ $18 children plus tax. Link here

Livingston Hanukah Celebration. (Sat, Dec. 24th: 10:30am) Light the Menorah, spin the dreidel, tell stories, sing traditional songs and enjoy potato latkes. Beth Messiah Messianic Congregation, Livingston. Link here

*****LISTING BY VENUE*********

Saddle River Valley Cultural Center (http://www.SRVCC.org) Tickets $12 in advance…see site for purchasing tickets. 

Saturday, Dec. 3rd (3pm to 3:45pm) 12 Dancing Princesses. Spectacular dancing and mystery that will captivate your little ballerina!  Old Stone Church Educational Building. 

Saturday, Dec. 10th 3pm to 3:45pm. Nutcracker Suite. A holiday classic for all ages! Meet the performers after the show. 

Sunday, Dec. 18th. 3pm to 4pm. A Christmas Carol. The timeless tale of Ebenezer Scrooge. A wonderful show for older children to enjoy. 


South Orange Performing Arts Center (http://www.sopacnow.org)

Sunday, Dec. 4th, (3pm and 7pm). The Nutcracker. New York Theatre Ballet performs their hour long production–great for all ages!. $30; $40.
Thursday, Dec. 8th, (7pm). Seton Hall University Orchestra: Winter Concert. FREE! 
Saturday, Dec. 10th, (8pm). John Pizzarelli Quartet. $45, $55. 
Friday, Dec. 16th, (8pm). A Freddy Cole Holiday. $35, $45
Saturday, Dec. 17th, (3pm and 7pm). Golden Dragon Acrobats. $30, $40. 
Sunday, Dec. 18th, (3pm). The Julliard Jazz Ensemble. $20



BergenPac, Englewood. (http://www.bergenpac.org)

Saturday, Dec. 3rd (4pm) and Sunday, Dec. 4th. (1pm and 4pm). The Nutcracker. New Jersey Ballet's production has special effects, gorgeous scenery and international artists. $20-$50.

Saturday, Dec. 10th. (3pm). Eliz Von Trap of the Sound of Music's Von Trap Singers and the Empire Brass Quintet. $20 to $55. 

Sunday, Dec. 11th. (1pm and 3pm). African Rhythm Tap (Kidz Cabaret). $17. 

Saturday, Dec. 17th. (8pm). Darlene Love's "Love for the Holidays." $35 to $79. 

Sunday, Dec. 18th. (4pm). Christmas Carol. Theatreworks USA brings Charles Dickens' story to the stage. $10 to $25. 


Mayo Performing Arts Center, Morristown. (http://www.mayoarts.org)

Sunday, Dec. 4th. (3pm). The Sound of Christmas presented by Empire Brass featuring Elisabeth Von Trapp. Songs from The Sound of Music and holiday favorites. $32 to $47. 

Saturday, Dec. 10th. (8pm). Wilson Phillips: Christmas in Harmony. $47 to $77. 

Saturday, Dec. 31st. (7pm). First Night Morris 2012. One admission button gets you access to more than 70 performances throughout downtown Morristown. Poetry, juggling, face painting, flea circus and Harlem Wizards. $20 buttons until 12/26; $70 for a 4-pack. 


Porch Light Theatre, Glen Rock. (http://www.porchlightproductions.org)

Wednesday, Dec. 7th. (7pm) The Wonderfun Family Magic Night. Three magicians will perform tricks and illusions and demonstrate beginner magic tricks. $10. 

Friday, Dec. 16th to Sunday, Dec. 18th. (Fri/Sat: 7pm; Sun: 1pm and 5pm). Once Upon a Christmas. Filled with romance, corruption, greed and some good-hearted orphans, Once Upon a Christmas is a modern holiday adventure with the charm and heart of a classic Christmas story. $15. 


Mayo Performing Arts Center, Morristown. Fri, Dec. 16th to Mon, Dec. 26th (select dates and times). The NJ Ballet puts on it's yearly performance with nearly 90 performers and full orchestra! Link here. 

The State Theatre, New Brunswick. Sat, Dec. 17th: 1pm and 4pm; Sun, Dec. 18th: 1pm and 4:30pm. American Repertory Ballet's production includes live orchestra, cast of over 100 performers, scenic effects and inventive choreography. $32 to $57. Link here

West Essex Regional High School, North Caldwell. Sat, Dec. 3rd and Sun, Dec. 4th: 2pm to 4pm. Roseland Performing Arts, Co. features world renowned ballet dancer, Tanner Schwartz. $15 advance, $25 at door. Advance tix, email: Jessica@roselandpac.com. Link here

Bergen County Academies, Hackensack. Fri, Dec. 9th: 7pm; Sat, Dec. 10th: 2pm and 7pm; Sun, Dec. 11th: 3pm. Production by the Nunnbetter Dance Theatre. Features a growing Christmas tree, Snow Flurries and The Sugar Plum Fairy. $25/child; $30/adult. Link here

Russ Berrie Center for the Arts, Mahwah. Fri, Dec. 2nd: 7pm; Sat, Dec. 3rd: 2pm and 6pm; (also running Fri, Dec. 16 & 17th, same times). Performed by the Kozlov Dance Studio. $20 adults; $30 preferred seating. Call for tix: 201-444-3223. 


For a listing of all the Nutcracker showings in NJ, Link here. For NY showings of the Nutcracker, see Mommy Poppins' list HERE

More holiday events listed here