MONTVILLE, NJ – The holiday season has arrived, and in between baking cookies or finding just the right candles for the hanukkiah, there’s plenty to do in Montville Township and the county to celebrate the season.

Bright Lights

The township’s annual Christmas tree lighting will be held Monday, Dec. 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the municipal building. Santa, the Snowman and Elvis the Elf will arrive via fire truck thanks to the Pine Brook, Montville and Towaco Fire Departments. There will be music and light refreshments thanks to the Girl Scouts and the Women’s Club. Bring your camera and take pictures with the special guests.

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Meet Santa

If your child would like more time with the big guy, have Pancakes with Santa on Saturday, Dec. 17. This event, sponsored by the Montville Township Police Explorers, will be at the Senior House from 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. Tickets can be purchased at the Police Department or at the Recreation Department for $10 for adults and $8 for kids. Children under 3 are free.

Shop Local

If you’re feeling the crunch to get holiday shopping done, the Pine Brook Jewish Center’s Sisterhood is once again sponsoring its Marketplace on Tuesday, Dec. 6, from 4:00 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. at the Pine Brook Jewish Center, 174 Changebridge Road in Montville. There will be accessories, clothing, gourmet treats, cosmetics, housewares and many other items for sale.

Student Music

Nothing makes the holiday season special like music. Montville Township High School is holding its winter concert on Thursday, Dec. 8 at 7:00 p.m. at the school, located at 100 Horseneck Road in Montville. The band, choir and orchestra will be performing, as well as the special ensembles.

Sing-along

Maybe you prefer a more active role in your Christmas music. The Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit’s annual Christmas carol sing and concert will be held on Sunday, Dec. 11 at 3:30 p.m. Music director Lauris Partizian’s pieces will be performed, and favorite Christmas carols are also on the program. Christmas crafts for children will be available after the concert, along with refreshments. A free will offering is welcomed. The church is located at 70 River Road, Montville.

Ring Christmas Bells

St. Pius X Church Music Ministry will also be presenting its Christmas concert on the 11th, but at 3:00 p.m. at the church, located at 24 Changebridge Road in Montville. The concert will feature the St. Pius X Choir, the Children's and Middle School Choir, the Handbell Choir and the St. Pius X Concert Orchestra. No tickets are required, but a freewill offering is requested. There will be a reception following the concert.

Oh Hanukkah

Hanukkah is late in December this year, and the township’s annual hanukkiah lighting will be held Monday, Dec. 26 at 6:00 p.m. at the municipal building, 195 Changebridge Road in Montville. It is sponsored by the Pine Brook Jewish Center. The children from the PBJC will be singing Hanukkah songs.

Out and About in Morris County

If you’re interested in other activities, there’s lots to do in the county, as well.

It wouldn’t be the holidays without the smell of gingerbread, and the Frelinghuysen Arboretum is happy to provide that with its annual Gingerbread Wonderland, running from Dec. 2 through the 11th. Your $2 admits you to a room full of delicious creations from Girl Scout troops, families and students who put lots of time and candy into their works of art. For hours and info, click: Gingerbread.

Or how about a dessert tasting event? On Dec. 16 and 23, there will be a dessert tasting and a holiday dance party on the Morristown Green as part of the Christmas Festival held on the Green every weekend in December. The party starts at 5:00 p.m. For details and a schedule of the miniature train rides, Santa visit times, and storytimes with Elsa and Anna, click: Green.

Weekends and then every evening starting Dec. 9, Turtleback Zoo is lit up with 50 Christmas light displays throughout the park from 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. You can see some of the animals, too – even the penguins! Admission is free when you bring a food item, unwrapped toy or gently used coat for the less fortunate. Special events include photos with Santa, princesses, and “members of either side of the force.” For info click: Zoo.