THE MERRIEST TIME OF YEAR CALLS FOR A FEAST SATIATE YOUR CRAVINGS FOR TWINKLING LIGHTS, THEATER, AND SEASONAL MAGIC WITH A CORNUCOPIA OF HOLIDAY DELIGHTS THROUGHOUT THE TRI-STATE AREA
BY LAURA D.C. KOLNOSKI AND AMANDA McCOY
THE NUTCRACKER ROCKS!
A magical reimagining of the holiday classic, The Nutcracker Rocks is a mixture of highpower music and dance. The beloved Tchaikovsky score is reimagined in collaboration with renowned rockers Gaslight Anthem’s Alex Rosamilia and Alex Levine. December 11-19. Axelrod Performing Arts Center, 100 Grant Avenue, Deal, 732.531.9106, axelrodartscenter.com
THE WIZARDS OF WINTER Features former members of classic rock bands The TransSiberian Orchestra, The Irish Tenors, Blue Oyster Cult, the Alice Cooper Band, and others, who bring their diverse world-class musical backgrounds to The Christmas Dream, a holiday rock opera based on their self-titled CD. December 15. Bergen PAC, 30 North Van Brunt Street, 201.227.1030, bergenpac.org
DARLENE LOVE’S SOULED OUT CHRISTMAS is a Basie holiday tradition. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, whom Rolling Stone called “one of the greatest singers of all time” performs holiday classics along with her own hits, including “Christmas Baby Please Come Home,” to get everyone in the holiday spirit. December 15. Count Basie Center for the Arts, 90 Monmouth Street, Red Bank, thebasie.org
SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK: CELEBRATING THE HOLIDAYS is a fusion of traditional American holiday spiritual songs and hymns mixed with music of other cultures and religions, from Africa to Israel, performed by a talented ensemble. December 17. McCarter Theater, 91 University Place, 609.258.2787, mccarter.org
A JOLLY HOLIDAY: CELEBRATING DISNEY’S BROADWAY HITS Broadway stars perform favorites from Disney’s top shows like The Lion King, Mary Poppins, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Frozen, and more. The whole family will be delighted. December 1 through January 2. Paper Mill Playhouse, 22 Brookside Drive, Millburn, papermill.org
RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER: THE MUSICAL The renovated State Theater celebrating its 100th anniversary presents holiday fare for all, beginning with everyone’s favorite red-nosed reindeer on November 29, followed by A Very Electric Christmas on December 1; Cirque Dreams Holidaze runs December 8 & 9; The Nutcracker takes the stage December 17 & 19; and a musical Salute to Vienna soars with orchestral greatness New Year’s Eve. State Theater, 15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, 732.245.7469, stnj.org
A SWINGIN’ LITTLE CHRISTMAS! Emmy and Golden Globe winner Jane Lynch (Glee, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Kate Flannery (The Office), and Tim Davis, Glee’s vocal arranger, join The Tony Guerrero Quintet for a musical comedy cabaret show that recalls 1950s and 60s Christmas television specials. December 9. NJ PAC, 1 Center Street, Newark, njpac.org
BIG BAD VOODOO DADDY’S WILD & SWINGIN’ HOLIDAY PARTY Together over 28 years, the trio sells out venues worldwide, has sold millions of records, and had their music appear in hundreds of movies and television shows. Their mission is to celebrate jazz and swing music. December 16. Wellmont Theater, 5 Seymour Street, Montclair, 973.783.9500, wellmonttheater.com
TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA America’s favorite Christmas rock group is sweeping across the country this season, and they land in Newark for a double-header on December 22. Catch favorites like Christmas Canon and Carole of the Bells at the Prudential Center at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. 25 Lafayette Street, Newark, 973.757.6000, prucenter.com
FESTIVE FARE FOR ALL
AUGUSTA/SKYLANDS STADIUM The Christmas Drive-Through Light Show requires advance timed ticket reservations this year. Touring the adjacent Christmas Village and vendors is free. Additional attractions including carnival rides and games, a skating rink, food, and Santa photos are available for additional cost. 94 Championship Place, 973.383.7644, skylandstadium.com
EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP/ STORYBOOK LAND This enchanting wonderland has delighted children of all ages with its fairytale and nursery rhyme replicas, rides, and colorful attractions since 1955. Marvel at millions of lights, music, Mr. and Mrs. Claus and the elves, and so much more. Winner of a Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor, it’s a must-see. 6415 E. Black Horse Pike, 609.646.0103, storybookland.com
In the Guinness Book of Records, the destination fills a large structure with realistic model railroad displays. Renovated by new owners, it features 100 trains running on eight miles of track, an outdoor railroad ride, doll museum, snack shop, and more. 495 Rt. 202, 908.782.4022, northlandz.com
The charming, picturesque destination for shopping, strolling, and dining turns it up at holiday-time. At dusk, enjoy seasonal music synchronized with over 120 floating Christmas trees on Meone Lake. Enjoy a warm grog or gracious meal at the 1787 Smithville Inn. Delight at the Magic Talking Tree and adjacent train ride. Route 9, 609.748.8999, historicsmithville.com
JACKSON/SIX FLAGS GREAT ADVENTURE “Holiday in the Park,” through January 2, features millions of lights, a drive-through experience, festive family entertainment, seasonal food and treats, Santa’s Village, rides, and attractions. Rts. 537 and 195, 732.928.2000. sixfl ags.com
PHILADELPHIA/CHRISTMAS VILLAGE Now in its 14th season, the city’s authentic German Christmas Market delights with vendors, music, rides, beer and wine tastings, and Phil the Reindeer, Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve. Love Park at City Hall. philachristmas.com
VERNON/LIGHTS FESTIVAL Marvel at over 100 fanciful light and modern art displays celebrating animals, dinosaurs, and international cultures created by world-class artisans. Try the Million Light Maze and Time Tunnel. November 29 through February 2. Glenwood Lake Arts Park, 1733 Glenwood Road (Route 565). vernonlightsfestival.com
More Helpful Holiday Websites: visitnj.org, bestofnj.com, new-jerseyleisure-guide.com, phillyfunguide. com, visitphilly.com, njtheatreallaince.org
CHRISTMAS IN CAPE MAY
CAPEMAYMAC.ORG is your comprehensive source for all the wondrous happenings in America’s oldest resort, a splendiferous Victorian enclave that attracts visitors from around the globe for its holiday magic. Starting in November, the seaside town transforms into a living gaslight-lit Dickens Village as the doors to gracious inns and top-flight restaurants swing open to welcome guests. A full roster of events throughout America’s only National Historic Landmark City is scheduled this year. NOTE: Limited capacity and advance ticket sales are required for some events. A kiosk on the Washington Street Mall at Ocean Street offers ticket purchases and valuable information.
TOURS – Walking tours, self-guided tours, Candlelight House Tours, and even virtual tours are scheduled. Inns, bed and breakfasts, churches, and hotels are included. Among the choices are the Lamplighter Christmas Tour, Holiday Inns tour, Evening Yuletide House Tour, and Cheery Cherry House Tour.
TROLLEY EXCURSIONS Cape May’s trolley tours, and their ever-fascinating on-board hosts, are legendary. Learn scintillating fun facts and a treasure trove of history while taking in the sights. Different versions include Santa’s Trolley Ride, the Ghosts of Christmas Past Trolley Ride, Holiday Lights Trolley Ride, and the All That Glitters Trolley Tour a New Year’s Eve tradition.
THE EMLEN PHYSICK ESTATE Home to Cape May MAC (Museums+Arts+Culture), Cape May’s only Victorian House Museum is a living museum of the era’s lifestyle year-round. In the gift shop, don’t miss the Upside Down Christmas tree that hangs over an elaborate Department 56 Dickens Village display meticulously crafted by volunteers. In the good doctor’s 1879 main house, the dining room table is set with Christmas finery, and the entire mansion is adorned with traditional greenery and decorations of the period.
THE FAMILY CHRISTMAS HOUSE TOUR – Step back in time with a Physick family member from the early 1900s. Additional activities on site include Holiday Lunch and Learns (Secrets of Victorian Christmases) and a Winter Wonderwalk. 1048 Washington Street.
CARRIAGE RIDES Blankets are provided in the open-air draft horse-drawn carriages that take riders through the streets and past the holiday lights of the town. The routes, as well as the tales told, vary depending on the driver. Ocean Street and the Washington Mall. 609.884.4466. capemaycarriage.com
WASHINGTON STREET MALL Mixing the nostalgic with the modern, the three-block pedestrian thoroughfare offers its own brand of holiday wonder. Eclectic shops offer the unusual, unique, and one of-a-kind to complete your gift list. Great restaurants and bars, Victorian carolers, candy shops, and more, all in the heart of Cape May. At the southern end, the 200-yearold Congress Hall, “America’s First Seaside Resort,” is adorned with eye-popping decorations and offers dining options, a gift shop, and lovely grounds across from the ocean. washingtonstreetmall.com
Glitter aplenty awaits those whose holiday traditions include escaping to New Jersey’s seaside entertainment mecca. In addition to seasonal decorations, themed shows, and New Year’s Eve revelry, a bevy of new dining experiences recently debuted. Your INDUSTRY Insider has done the reconnaissance so read on to discover what’s new!
AMERICAN GRILLE Say goodbye to Bobby Flay Steak, which vacated its longtime space this fall. Wolfgang Puck’s left earlier. In its place is the new American Grille, mixing modern and classic recipes while paying homage to the special flavors of the Northeast. Borgata, 1 Borgata Way, 609.317.1000, theborgata.com
MANNNHEIM STEAMROLLER CHRISTMAS, December 3, Live from Nashville – A Merry Country Christmas December 8, and The Atlantic City Ballet’s The Nutcracker December 19. Caesars, 2100 Pacific Avenue, 609.348.4411, caesars.com
SARAH BRIGHTMAN’S “A CHRISTMAS SYMPHONY” December 4, My Big Gay Italian Christmas December 18. Ocean Casino Resort, 500 Boardwalk, 609.783.8000, theoceanac.com
Experience the flavor of Hawaii with ocean views at Makai, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the former Player’s Club. Bring the Ohana (family) for authentic fare and colorful libations. The new Nola Bar & Lounge offers a sophisticated 2,800-square-foot live performance, entertainment, and cocktail experience. Ocean Casino Resort, 500 Boardwalk, 609.783.8000, theoceanac.com
MARIE OSMOND’S MAGICAL SYMPHONIC CHRISTMAS TOUR, December 10 & 11, featuring her son David Osmond. Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, 1000 Boardwalk, 609.441.0007, hardrockhotelatlanticcity.com
SANDPIPER COASTAL BAR & GRILL, replacing Roberts Steakhouse, hits the right seaside notes with local fish, fresh seasonal ingredients served sharing and tapas style, and a customized liquor program. Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, 1000 Boardwalk, 609.441.0007, hardrockhotelatlanticcity.com
PLANIT EXPO A Holiday Wedding Show takes place in the Ocean ballroom on December 5. Wedding professionals will help plan all aspects of your special day. Enter to win a $50,000 giveaway at planitexpo.com. Resorts, 1133 Boardwalk, 609.340.6300, resortsac.com
DOUGHERTY’S STEAKHOUSE AND RAW BAR has replaced Gallagher’s, on the gracious wood clad dining floor. Presiding is the legendary Dougherty family, owners of the city’s famed Knife & Fork and Dock’s Oyster House. In addition to luscious premium steaks and seafood, enjoy live entertainment and a daily happy hour. Resorts, 1133 Boardwalk, 609.340.6300, resortsac.com
NEW YEAR’S EVE Most casino/hotels told INDUSTRY they were still planning their parties at press time. Resorts announced that Tony Orlando will be their headliner in the main showroom, while Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville and Land Shark Bar & Grill will both have parties to ring in 2022 on December 31 with no cover, drink specials, and of course, a Margarita toast at midnight. Parrot heads welcome. Resorts, 1133 Boardwalk, 609.340.6300, resortsac.com
For more, visit allevents.in/ atlanticcity.com
NEW YORK CITY
While many of NYC’s annual holiday festivities were dim last year, the Big Apple dazzles once again this season with the return of in-theater experiences, buzzing holiday markets, galas and glitter, and more.
CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR After sitting out the 2020 season, the Radio City Rockettes are back in high-kicking action through January 2, with multiple shows daily in December. Radio City Music Hall, 1260 6th Avenue, 212.465-6741, msg.com
‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE… Cirque du Soleil presents its first Christmas-themed show, a contemporary spin on the holiday classic. Expect lots of Cirque signature glitter, acrobatics, curiosities, and jaw-dropping production. December 9-27. The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, msg.com
BANK OF AMERICA WINTER VILLAGE AT BRYANT PARK Browse an eclectic emporium of giftables, from handmade jewelry and wool shawls to local honey and custom hats, at one of the Big Apple’s most iconic holiday villages, now in its 20th season. More than 170 new and returning merchants will be on site, along with the city’s only free-admission skating rink, plus a panoply of food and drink pop-ups at the covered rink-side food fall, “the Lodge” by Prime Video. The open-air holiday market will run until January 2, and the ice rink will remain open until March 6. Bryant Park, bryantpark.org
TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY DINNER GALA AT ROCKEFELLER CENTER Watch in awe (and with ample elbow room) as the Rockefeller Christmas tree comes to life with more than 50,000 LED lights at this private dinner at the Terrace Club on December 1. Includes a cocktail reception with open bar, gourmet dinner buffet, professional photos, a DJ, and a bird’s eye view of the tree lighting. $499, Rockefeller Center, rockefellercenter.com
LUMINOCITY FESTIVAL The dramatic holiday light festival and immersive art experience is moving to the Island this year, set in Whitney Pond Park in Manhasset, less than 20 miles from Manhattan. The fairytail light show is worth the trip, filled with larger-than-life displays and hand-crafted sculptures, all tied to the theme Shine Again. On display through January 9. 133 Valley Road, Manhasset, luminocityfestival.com
CLASSIC HARBOR LINE HOLIDAY CRUISES Set sail around the island of Manhattan to drink in the festive sights along with cold-weather cocktails and gourmet hors d’oeuvres on a 1920s-style yacht dressed in holiday décor. There are three cruises to choose from: Statue & Skyline Holiday Cocoa Cruise, the Sunset & Holiday Cocoa Cruise, and New York City Lights Holiday Cocoa Cruise, all setting sail throughout December. sail-nyc.com
THE HOLIDAY TRAIN SHOW Now in its 30th year, this festive show on wheels at the New York Botanical Gardens features model trains chugging around recreations of 175 iconic city landmarks, from the Statue of Liberty to the Brooklyn Bridge, all crafted from natural materials like acorns, pine cones, birch bark, and cinnamon sticks. Now on display through January 23. New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, 718.817.8700, nybg.org
DICK CLARK’S NEW YEAR’S ROCKIN’ EVE will be celebrating its 50th anniversary (and 114th ball drop) this year, and host Ryan Seacrest will be joined by an A-list line-up of performers and fellow hosts to bid 2021 farewell in style. Many Times Square luxury hotels offer VIP NYE packages that offer a front row seat to the sparkle, including the Marriott Marquis, Millennium Broadway, the Premier Hotel, and more. Details surrounding performances and other celebrity guests had not been revealed as of press time, but check newyearsrockineve.com for updates.