Local shops and venues are open for holiday cheer 

FREEHOLD, NJ – The leaves are falling, and so are the temperatures. The holiday season is upon us and December is here.  With classic holiday theater, breakfasts with Santa and festive town lightings and house tours there’s plenty to do, see, taste and hear.

One thing to be grateful for this December is that you can enjoy Monmouth County because it is open for business following the storms of the past season. It has been a busy month of cleanup, but many Jersey Shore and Monmouth County businesses are open and ready for your visit! 

You can get in the holiday spirit just by strolling down one of our lit-up downtown districts. Start in downtown Red Bank. It is bustling with activity this month. From weekend visits with Santa, holiday harmonies and horse & carriage rides to exciting Christmas shows and decorated shop windows, the town is sure to please.

It wouldn’t be December without these holiday theatre favorites:

  • “Scrooge” at Paramount Theatre in Asbury Dec. 8, 9, 15 and 16 and “Scrooge! The Musical” at Algonquin Arts Theatre Dec. 1 through 9.
  • The Orchestra of St. Peter by the Sea will perform holiday favorites at Monmouth University on Dec. 7.
  • The Nutcracker Ballet comes to Count Basie Theater on Dec. 8 and 9 and Algonquin Arts on Dec. 15 and 16.
  • The Holiday Express Benefit Concert, a Jersey Shore favorite, comes to Count Basie on Dec. 13.

If shopping is on your list, you may want to get a copy of the new Made in Monmouth Hyperlocal Shopping Directory that is available on the Monmouth County website at visitmonmouth.com. The interactive directory includes only Monmouth County small businesses. Email addresses, phone numbers, websites, and if applicable, store locations are included to provide easy holiday shopping. 

“Here’s a chance to get a jump on your holiday shopping and support our local businesses,” Freeholder Deputy Director Thomas A. Arnone said. “This easy to use, online shopping guide has links to makers and sellers of all sorts of products and gift ideas that are made right here in Monmouth County.”

And we certainly make it easy and enjoyable for you to keep close to home this holiday season.  The county’s calendar is overflowing with holiday lightings and entertainment:

  • Spring Lake presents its Christmas Celebration Kick-off on Dec. 1 with hayrides, Santa’s workshop and a candlelight Christmas Inn tour of the town’s famous B&B’s decorated in their holiday splendor.
  • Shrewsbury’s annual Christmas tree lighting is Dec.1.  Enjoy refreshments, caroling, holiday music and a visit from Santa. The lighting of the Menorah will take place Dec.10.
  • Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial annual holiday lighting ceremony is also Dec. 1, as well as Asbury Park’s tree lighting.
  • Colts Neck will be hosting its tree lighting Dec. 2 along with a Hurricane Sandy volunteer recognition.
  • Red Bank’s Westside Community tree lighting will take place on Dec. 1 and the Menorah lighting will take place Dec. 13
  • Visit Downtown Freehold for a tree lighting Dec. 4 and again on Dec. 10 for the Menorah lighting. Also, don’t miss the Freehold Boro holiday house tour and Santa Train Dec. 8, and Jolley Trolley Dec. 14 – 16.
  • Fair Haven, Hazlet Highlands Wall Township, Farmingdale and Sea Bright all have holiday lightings and entertainment Dec. 7.
  • Visit Ocean Grove or Manasquan Dec. 8 and 9 for holiday house tours.
  • Allenhurst’s tree lighting takes places Dec. 9 and Keyport’s annual candlelight house tour is on Dec. 15.

Finally, be sure to check our Calendar of Events to find out where you can have breakfast with Santa!

For a complete listing of events, go to www.visitmonmouth.com and click on the Tourism tab to find the Calendar of Events. Compiled by the Monmouth County Department of Public Information and Tourism, it is a comprehensive source for things to do and places to go and is updated regularly.

You can also call 1-800-523-2587 to have a packet of information mailed to you, or stop by One East Main St., Freehold to browse the extensive literature between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

The next time you are on Facebook be sure to “like” the Monmouth County Tourism Page. If you use Twitter, follow us on there, too.

Remember, Monmouth County is the place you want to be during the most wonderful time of the year!