14 cool festivals and events happening in NJ this winter
Ahhh…the doldrums of winter are here. For many, the winter season (usually January and February) means cold, dark, grey days with nothing to do. But here in New Jersey, there are plenty of activities happening to help brighten that boredom.
Here are just a few you still haven't missed
Skating on the Square
Hulfish Street (behind the Nassau Inn Hotel)
Now until Feb. 26
Every Thursday - Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Every Saturday - Sunday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The cost is $10 cash per person and $12 plus fees if using a credit card.
Bring your own skates or borrow theirs (skate rental is included in the ticket price) for skating on the square. Have fun skating on this “eco-friendly” outdoor synthetic rink.
No reservations are required. Tickets are sold at the door.
Valentine’s Craft Fair
Old Bridge High School
4209 Highway 516, Matawan
Sunday, Feb. 5 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Just in time for the most romantic day of the year. Stop in at the Valentine's Craft Fair and treat a loved one or yourself to something unique and special. Buy local and support small businesses while supporting a great cause, Relay for Life of Old Bridge.
Admission is free. Enjoy food and refreshments, crafts and activities, shopping, door prizes, a photo booth, and more.
Love and Romance Expo
1133 Boardwalk, Atlantic City
Sunday, Feb. 26 at 1 p.m.
Getting married or planning to get married? This bridal expo is the place to be for future brides, grooms, parents, bridesmaids, groomsmen, and more. Vendors for gowns, DJs, photographers, caterers, florists, and more will be on hand.
Maple Sugaring Demos
Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center
247 Southern Blvd, Chatham
Saturdays and Sundays from Jan. 21 - Feb. 26 from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The cost is $6 per person. Pre-registration is required. Call 973-635-6629.
During the maple sugaring demos, learn how to identify and tap maple trees, collect sap, and make real maple syrup over a wood-fired evaporator. Finish with a syrup taste test.
It’s only an hour but will be held entirely outdoors so dress for the weather.
You missed these others!
Let It Glow: A Holiday Lantern Spectacular
Bergen County Zoo at Van Saun County Park
216 Forest Avenue, Paramus
Through January 15
Thursday and Sunday: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 4 pm. to 9 p.m.
For those who still have a little bit of holiday zip in them, this holiday lantern spectacular is a great event to do with the family. Larger-than-life lanterns have been installed creating more than 30 glowing scenes. You’ll see animals, but real and imagined throughout the zoo.
Let it Glow is a symphony of vivid growing colors to tease your eyes and dazzle the mind. Enjoy the lovely stroll throughout the zoo and be amazed by these lanterns and artistic wonders.
The cost is $18 for adults and $9 for children aged 3-17.
Family Woodland Hike
New Jersey Botanical Gardens
2 Morris Road, Ringwood
Sunday, Jan. 15 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
The event will be canceled in the event of snow or rain.
Join hike leaders for the free, easy, child-friendly hike in the Garden’s woodlands where you’ll learn about the plants and animals around you. Wear sturdy shoes, and meet at the Carriage House.
The Garden State Outdoor Sports Show
New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center
Raritan Center Expo Hall
97 Sunfield Avenue, Edison
January 12 -15
The cost is $10
The 38th Anniversary Show is fun for the entire family and outdoor enthusiasts. The event kicks off with a pro-staff fishing demo on the world-famous Hawg Trough, a 5000-gallon aquarium.
The latest in boats, fishing tackle, Powersports, hunting gear, and more will be featured on the expo floor. Enjoy four days of seminars and multiple entertainment events.
Ice Carving Exhibition
Long Branch, NJ
Saturday, Jan. 14
Come for an afternoon of ice carving, starting at noon in Pier Village. Watch award-winning sculptors design and carve 14 sculptures in an elimination-style “speed carving” format until 3 p.m.
Witness carvings formed in less than 30 minutes right before your eyes. New sculptures will be illuminated and displayed for future viewing.
The event also includes ice skating, food, drinks, and shopping.
Winter Wonders in the Garden Horticulture Tour
Grounds for Sculpture
80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton
Wednesday and Saturday, January 18 and 21 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Cost: $15 for members and $25 for non-members.
Meet at the Welcome Center and the hour-long Winter Wonders program will take place in light rain, if necessary. Dress comfortably for walking the grounds.
Horticulturist Janis Napoli leads the tour of the winter wonders in the gardens. Explore the trees and plants of winter and learn how the garden is maintained.
Seashore Open House
Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park
221 Ocean Avenue, Long Branch
Sunday, Jan. 29 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Enjoy seashore fun while enjoying this free event at the Seashore Open House. There will be hands-on activities to entertain and educate the whole family about the shore and the sea.
Speak with a park system naturalist about your own shell collection or about the aquatic animals on display. You can even create a beach keepsake to take with you.
Brunch is a Drag - Disney Extravaganza!
Villari’s Lakeside Restaurant
2375 Sicklerville Road, Sicklerville
Sunday, Jan. 15 from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Tickets cost $54.95 each (includes server-attended brunch buffet, drag show, and server gratuity).
Enjoy delicious food, refreshing cocktails, and a magical Disney-themed drag brunch filled with drag queen performances and costumes.
This will be an afternoon full of hilarious skits, side-splitting performances, and whatever other ridiculousness these divas can conjure up.
Grab your BFFs and enjoy and fun-filled afternoon while shaking off the winter blues.
Disney-themed attire is encouraged!
Fire and Ice Festival
Downtown Mount Holly
Saturday, Jan. 28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This free family-friendly Fire and Ice Festival event features about a dozen professional ice carvers from up and down the east coast. The ice carvers will transform 300-pound blocks of ice into beautiful crystalline masterpieces of art, right before your eyes.
Where does the fire come in? There will be a chili cook-off with some of the greatest chefs lined up to whip up a variety of interesting chili concoctions.
There will also be entertainment to please all age groups.
Baby, It’s Cold Outside Soup and Wine Pairing
225 North White Horse Pike, Hammonton
Friday, January 20 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The cost is $24.95
Nothing warms you up best on a cold winter’s day like a hot bowl of soup and a delicious glass of wine.
Come to Tomasello Winery for a night of soup and wine pairing put together by Pete, the executive winery chef.
The menu includes beef barley, creamy chicken saffron, and Manhattan clam chowder, and cheesecake.
To make a reservation, call 1-800-666-9643 ext. 1.
Barefoot Grape Stomping
Four Sisters Winery
783 N. Bridgeville Road, Belvidere
Saturday, Jan. 21 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Tickets cost $47.50 per person plus tax
Have a smashing fun time during this one-of-a-kind grape stomping experience.
The event at Four Sisters Winery begins with a formal wine tasting, followed by a Chicken Parmesan dinner served with roasted vegetables, salad, bread, and dessert. The dessert is paired with dessert wines, too.
You’ll even receive an embossed souvenir glass.
After dinner, it's off to stomp grapes in what is promised to be a “barrel” of laughs experience.
There is so much to do to pull you out of the winter blues in New Jersey. Pick something from here or do a little digging on your own. You’re sure to find a hidden gem for you and the family to enjoy.
Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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