18 Free Holiday and Christmas Activities on Long Island

If your wallet is feeling the pinch from endless holiday spending (and, seriously, whose isn’t?), there are still plenty of things you can do with your family that won’t cost you a thing.

From Christmas tree and menorah lightings to visits with Santa and holiday light displays, we’ve put together a list of 18 FREE things to do at Christmas and the holidays with your kids. These events will keep your family entertained and you able to afford those last-minute gifts.

To find even more things to do, check out our guide to holiday fun on Long Island and our events calendar.

As always, happy holidays.

Santa photo-ops will delight kids all season long. Photo courtesy of Hicks Nurseries

1. Take in an Animated Story — Westbury

Through Sunday, January 2, 2022
Kids will delight in the animatronic scenes that tell this year’s holiday story at Hicks Nurseries. Admission is FREE, but donations of nonperishable food items for Long Island Cares are welcome. 

2. Enjoy a Holiday Parade — Farmingdale

Saturday, November 20
The Village of Farmingdale’s parade features a public school marching band, the Dalerettes kick line, and Hardscrabble Girl Scouts in holiday costume. Bring your camera for photos with Santa.

3. Meet Santa at Hicks Nurseries — Westbury

Friday, November 26 through Thursday, December 23
Santa will be in the store daily for a visit and photo opportunities. Bring your own camera to capture a special moment with jolly ol’ St. Nick.

4. Celebrate at Winter Wonderland — Wantagh

Saturday, November 27
Enjoy holiday shopping, live performances from the Wantagh American Legion Pipe Band, and a visit from Santa. The Wantagh Preservation Museum and train will be open and food trucks will be on hand for dining options.

5. It’s Tree Trimming Time at Fire Island Lighthouse — Fire Island

Saturday, November 27
Help trim the lighthouse tree for the holidays. Bring along a homemade ornament that relates to the sea, nature, or the lighthouse. Free hot chocolate and cookies.

6. Boat Parade and Fireworks — Great River

Saturday, November 27
Spectators can ooh and aah as decorated boats parade along Connetquot River. The boat parade begins at 4:45pm; fireworks at 7:15. Watch from a variety of locations along the parade route.

7. Light the Light — Montauk

Saturday, November 27-Sunday, November 28
Festivities at Montauk Point Lighthouse start at 11am and include caroling, pony rides, refreshments, and, of course, a visit from Santa. The annual Light the Lighthouse holiday lights ceremony is Saturday, November 27 at sunset. 

RELATED: Great Things to Do with LI Kids This Holiday Season

The TMB Model Train Show is sure to amaze train lovers. Photo courtesy of the TMB Model Train club

8. All Aboard for a Model Train Show — Farmingdale

Saturday, November 27, Saturday, December 11-Sunday, December 12; select weekends through January 2022
Among the 10 larger-size trains running on 19 miles of track, you’ll find Thomas the Tank Engine and the Polar Express. For adults, there’s a model train layout that was once featured in an episode of The Sopranos.​

9. Parade with Santa — Port Jefferson

Sunday, November 28
The parade begins on Main Street with civic groups, vintage cars, and floats following along. Meet Santa in the Drowned Meadow Cottage for a visit afterwards. 

10. Join the Hanukkah Menorahcade — East Hampton

Sunday, November 28
Join a parade of menorah-adorned cars and spread the light of the Hanukkah season, beginning at Chabad of the Hamptons. The route ends at Herrick Park for the grand menorah lighting. Enjoy latkes, donuts, dreidels, hot chocolate, and much more.

11. Watch the Grand Menorah Lighting — Merrick

Sunday, November 28
This year’s event theme is “Hanukkah in Chocolate Heaven.” It begins with the lighting of the 12-foot menorah at the Merrick LIRR station, and continues with a parade of vintage cars, a fire truck, and a rooftop menorah to the Chabad Center for Jewish Life, where all can enjoy music, dancing, crafts, and all things chocolate.

12. Visit Santa’s Workshop — Port Jefferson

Sunday, November 28; Saturdays, December 4, 11, 18
The historic Drowned Meadow Cottage in Port Jefferson is decked out for the holidays, including Santa’s workshop, giant nutcrackers, a gingerbread house, and other custom confectionery delights. As always, admission is FREE. 

13. More Holiday Trains — Levittown

Friday, December 3-Sunday, December 5; and Friday, December 10-Sunday, December 12
Take a peek at Long Island’s biggest operating O-gauge train layout at the Nassau Lionel Operating Engineers Open House.

RELATED: Cut-Your-Own Christmas Tree Farms on Long Island

Boats light up the night at the Freeport Boat Parade.

14. And More Holiday Boats, Too  — Freeport

Saturday, December 4
Admire the many decorated and lighted boats as they sail along the Nautical Mile. Added bonus: Kids eat free at several local restaurants on parade night.

15. Turn Back the Clock at the Charles Dickens Festival — Port Jefferson

Saturday, December 4-Sunday, December 5
Step back in time and mingle with characters straight out of a Dickens’ novel, including Father Christmas and Scrooge. The festivities feature many returning favorites, ice skating at the Village Center, a cappella performances by choirs and harmony groups, Nutcracker performances, magic shows, and performances by area musicians.

16. Vote on Your Favorite Tree — Stony Brook

Sunday, December 5-Wednesday, December 22
The Promenade of Trees is an ongoing tree decorating contest. Families can vote for their favorite from more than 60 decorated trees throughout Stony Brook Village. Santa visits on Sunday, December 5.

RELATED: Nutcrackers and Other Holiday Shows on Long Island, 2021

Thrill as Santa arrives by plane at the Fire Island Lighthouse. Photo courtesy of the Fire Island Lighthouse

17. Flying Santa Returns — Fire Island

Saturday, December 11
Back in 1953 Pilot Snow (aka “Flying Santa”) flew his plane past the Fire Island Lighthouse and left packages of holiday gifts for the lighthouse keeper and his family. Relive this historic event and expect a special guest in a red suit.

18. Visit with Santa While Shopping — Wading River

Saturdays, December 11 and 18
Along with a traditional winter fest of holiday shopping, families can visit Santa at The Shoppes and take a free photo under the gazebo. Enjoy a spin on the carousel as well.

This post was updated in November 2021.

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