The Lion's Club Santa Parade on Main Street steps off at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21, followed by the town's big holiday bonfire on the riverfront. File photo: Denise Civiletti

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. There’s no shortage of ways to enjoy the magic of the season in the Riverhead area and across the North Fork. Here’s a roundup of this year’s holiday events and happenings.

Big Duck Holiday Lighting 
Wednesday, Nov. 28, 7-9 p.m.
The festivities include a visit from Quackerjack along with duck carols, refreshments and the arrival of Santa Claus by fire truck.


Jamesport Christmas Tree Lighting
Thursday, Nov. 29, 6 p.m.
Tree lighting, caroling, hot chocolate. Santa arrives by fire truck. Free pictures with Santa. Sponsored by the Jamesport Fire Department and the Greater Jamesport Civic Association. George Young Community Center, South Jamesport Avenue, Jamesport.

Mattituck Tree lighting 
Friday, Nov. 30, 6 p.m.
Hot chocolate, cookies, caroling, and the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus. Raymond F. Nine Park, Main Road, Mattituck (in front of CVS). Hosted by the Mattituck Chamber of Commerce.

Santa Day in Mattituck
Saturday, Dec. 1, 10 a.m.
Enjoy a free movie with the kids at 10 a.m. at Mattituck Cinemas. Hot Chocolate, cookies and a visit with Santa after the movie. Mattituck Cinemas is located at 10095 Main Road #3, Mattituck. Sponsored by the Mattituck Chamber of Commerce

Greenport’s Parade of Lights and Christmas Tree Lighting
Saturday, Dec. 1, 5 p.m.
Parade begins at Center and Main Streets proceeds down Main to Mitchell Park for holiday songs, visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, tree lighting, free rides on the village carousel.

Flanders Tree Lighting
Saturday, Dec. 1, 6 p.m.
Pictures with Santa (6 to 7 p.m.), bonfire and refreshments. Middle School Show Choir will perform. Raffles and prizes. Hosted by Truth Community Church, 46 Bell Avenue, Flanders.

Community Menorah Lighting, Greenport
Sunday, Dec. 2, 4 p.m.
Menorah lighting in Mitchell Park, followed by a latke party at shul. Hosted by Congregation Tifereth Israel, Greenport

Community Menorah Lighting, Riverhead
Sunday, Dec. 2, 5:30 p.m.M
Menorah lighting on the Peconic Riverfront. Hosted by Temple Israel of Riverhead

Temple Israel celebrates Hanukkah with a menorah lighting ceremony on the Peconic Riverfront, which takes place this year on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 5 p.m.. File photo: Denise Civiletti

Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony, Orient
Friday, Dec. 7, 6:30 p.m.
Orient Beach State Park’s annual holiday tree lighting ceremony. Oysterponds Elementary School students will entertain patrons with holiday songs while Santa lights the holiday tree.

Christmas in Cutchogue 
Saturday, Dec. 8, 9:30 a.m.
Annual holiday celebration in Cutchogue Village. Magic show at Cutchogue firehouse at 9:30 a.m. followed by Santa’s arrival by helicopter at about 10:30 a.m. Afterwards, follow Santa to the Cutchogue New Suffolk Library for photos. Free.

Christmas Raffle and Chinese Auction
Saturday, Dec. 8, 2-5 p.m.
St. John Paul II Regional Schoo fundraiser. Admission includes a full buffet by Lighthouse Deli and desserts by Blue Duck Bakery. Chinese auction tickets at $25 per sheet. Christmas wreaths for sale on site or you may pre-order from the school by calling 631-727-1650. Admission: $20 per person; kids under 12: $5. Event takes place at Riverhead Polish Hall, 214 Marcy Avenue, Riverhead.

Riverhead’s annual holiday bonfire on the riverfront is set for Saturday, Dec. 8, starting right after the Santa parade. Hot cocoa, caroling and photos with Santa in his gingerbread house. File photo: Denise Civiletti

Riverhead Christmas Parade and Bonfire
Saturday, Dec. 8, Parade at 3 p.m., bonfire at 4 p.m.
The annual Lion’s Club parade will begin at the corner of Osborn Ave. at West Main Street and end at the Peconic River parking lot for the annual bonfire. The parade is open to participants of all churches, religious organizations, fraternal and service clubs. Guests are invited to take free photos with Santa in the town’s Gingerbread House. Free hot chocolate will also be served.

Wading River Tree Lighting
Saturday, Dec. 8, 4-8 p.m.
Stop by to put a letter in Santa’s mailbox, enjoy live DJ and dancing and more holiday fun! Come see Santa and the firetrucks! The Shoppes at East Wind 5768 Route 25A, Wading River, New York 11792 (Rescheduled from Dec. 2 due to inclement weather.)

Toy Giveaway
Saturday, Dec. 22, 2-7 p.m.
New unwrapped toys for ages 0-12. Free hot chocolate and desserts. Visit and pictures with Santa. Free admission. Sponsored by LIR Clothing and Tyre Lodge. Takes place at Tyre Lodge, 200 Flanders Road, Riverhead. 

Holiday craft shows, fairs and open houses

Hallockville Country Parlor Holiday Folk Art and Gift Show 
Sunday, Nov. 25, Saturday, Dec. 1 and Sunday, Dec. 2, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
The historic Naugles Barn at Hallockville is transformed into a winter wonderland filled to the brim with holiday delights! Free admission to the show plus holiday shopping specials at Miss Ella’s Gift Shop in the Hudson House. Craft demonstrations. The Country Parlor features all handmade gifts, holiday decor and treasures for everyone on your holiday shopping list. Hallockville Museum Farm, 6038 Sound Avenue, Riverhead.

Winter Fair
Saturday, Dec. 1, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Indoor and outdoor vendors, food trucks. Pictures with Santa, 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Hot chocolate. Kids crafts. Fun for the entire family. Free admission. Riverhead Charter School, 3685 Middle Country Road, Calverton

Old Steeple Holiday Sale and Luncheon
Saturday, Dec. 1, 10 a.m.- 2 p.m.
Holiday greens, crafts baked goods for sale. Also features a Chinese auction and a raffle for handmade heritage quilt. Quilt raffle tickets will be available in advance, and Chinese auction tickets sold on the day of event. Quilt raffle tickets available in advance. (Call 631-722-3070) The drawings will begin promptly at 1:30 p.m.

A luncheon of salads, sandwiches, soup, hot dogs and beverages will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Old Steeple Community Church, 656 Main Road Aquebogue

A little boy reacts to Santa waving to him at the Riverhead Lions Santa parade in 2017. File photo: Denise Civiletti

Railroad Museum of Long Island Holiday Open House 
Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 1 and 2 (Greenport) 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8 and 9 (Riverhead) 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Santa arrives via rail car at noon. Refreshments will be served, along with gifts for good girls and boys. Do some holiday shopping at the railroad museum gift shop. Visitors have a chance to win a Lionel O-Gauge toy train set. Free Admission. 

Wooden Wonderland Holiday Craft Show and Sale 
Saturday, Dec. 1, 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
A family-friendly event featuring local handmade wooden items as well as other local artisans’ wares. Live woodworking and woodcarving demonstrations. The event includes local vendors, holiday arts and crafts, ornaments, home décor, rustic Santas and gnomes, unique handmade carvings and other wooden items, local artisan-crafted holiday and everyday gifts, handmade soaps, candles, hats and scarves, and much more. Free admission. Suffolk County Historical Society, 300 West Main Street, Riverhead.

Riverhead Recreation Holiday Open House
Saturday, Dec. 8, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Games, crafts, and Santa Claus. Take a picture with Santa from 11 to 11:45 a.m. Free admission, but each person is asked to bring one non-perishable food item to be donated to a local food pantry.

Pets can sit for photos with Santa at Kent Animal Shelter and Talmage Farm Agway (pictured here).
File photo: Courtney Blasl

Pet photos with Santa

Editor’s note: The Kent Animal Shelter event was canceled by the organizer due to forecast inclement weather.
Kent Animal Shelter pet photos with Santa
Sunday, Dec. 2, 12 noon – 3 p.m.
Complimentary homemade goodies, hot chocolate and cider. Minimum donation of $10 per photo. Kent Animal Shelter, 2259 River Road, Calverton.

Talmage Farm Agway Pet Santa
Saturday, Dec. 8, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Free Pet Photo with Santa Claus. Photos are emailed to you.
All pets get a free gift. All pets are welcome — dogs and cats, horses, birds, guinea pigs, rabbits, chickens and more. Santa will be happy to take a free picture with your children, too. Hosted by Talmage Farm Agway, 1122 Osborn Avenue, Riverhead.

Other events and activities

Riverhead Holiday Light Show
Thursdays through Sundays through Dec. 23
Daily, Dec. 24-29. 5 to 9 p.m. all dates
Drive-through light show featuring dozens of dazzling displays to delight the entire family. The show is approximately 20-25 minutes long. Tickets: $25 per car at the gate or $23 per car online. L.I. Sports Park, 149 Edwards Avenue, Calverton.

Magical Polar Express Trolley Ride 
Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays through Dec. 23
Inspired by the iconic film and award-winning book by Chris Van Allsburg, the magic of The Polar Express comes to life on a trolley ride where you will interact with characters from the story, then disembark and visit with Santa and his elves. Santa will present children with the first gift of Christmas. Finish the night with hot cocoa and cookies. Trolley leaves from All-Star Bowl. Tickets: $55 per person. Buy rickets online.

Holiday Tea and Antiques Appraisal
Friday, Dec. 7, 7 p.m.
The Wading River Historical Society’s 23rd annual Holiday Tea and Antiques Appraisal. Admission includes an antique appraisal, a musical performance by Shoreham-Wading River High School Students, sandwiches, desserts, tea and mulled cider. Tickets are $18 per person in advance (non-refundable) or $20 per person payable at the door. To reserve a seat, call 631-929-7257. Wading River Congregational Church reception hall, 2057 N. Country Road, Wading River.

Brunch with Santa at Desmond’s
Dec. 9 and 16, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Bring the kids and meet the jolly old elf himself, while enjoying a hearty and delightful brunch. Some featured items include: Little Elf Kids’ Buffet with scrambled eggs, chicken fingers and more, an Omelet Station and Carving Station, Mrs. Claus’ Brunch, Santa’s Salad Station and Holiday Dessert Table including a Chocolate Fountain! $39.95 per person plus tax and gratuity. Desmond’s at East Wind, 5720 New York 25A, Wading River. Reservations required; call 631-846-2335.

FRANCA holiday party and toy drive
Wednesday, Dec. 12 from 6 to 9 p.m.  
The theme for the party is ugly sweaters, so the more unpleasant yours is, the better. Admission to the party is a new unwrapped toy or a gift from the Butterfly Effect’s project Amazon wishlist. All gifts collected will be distributed to families in need. Crohan Community Center

Carols and Cookies
Friday, Dec.14 at 6:30 p.m.
Celebrate the season at “Carols and Cookies,” Dec.14 at 6:30 p.m. Dena Tishim will be back with her Riverhead High School Chamber Chorus to perform seasonal selections and lead attendees in a sing-along of popular carols, followed by cookies and mulled cider in the lecture room. Suggested $5 donation for adults. Jamesport Meeting House.

‘One Christmas Night’
Friday, Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 16 at 3 p.m.
Living Water Church will be presenting its new musical ‘One Christmas Night.’ Living Water Church, Shade Tree Lane, Aquebogue

North Shore Community Band holiday concert
Friday, Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m.
The band will play festive melodies, classics, traditional and popular favorites including the Hallelujah Chorus, Sleigh Ride and a special tribute to Silent Night, the most beloved carol of all time, which celebrates its 200th anniversary this year.
St. John the Baptist Church, North Country Road, Wading River.

Santa Brunch at the Sea Star Ballroom
Sunday, Dec. 16, seatings at 10 a.m., 12 noon and 2 p.m.
Celebrate the season at the L.I. Aquarium’s annual Santa Brunch. Enjoy a delicious buffet brunch in the Sea Star Ballroom, and take along a camera to capture a family photo with Santa. The kids will make a special take-home holiday keepsake. Admission to the aquarium is included with brunch. Children ages 3-12: $26.95 (Members: $23.95) Children age 2 and under: $5. Adults: $54.95 (Members: $49.95) Long Island Aquarium, 431 E Main St, Riverhead, New York 11901. Reservations required; call 631.208.9200, ext. 426.

The Spirit of Christmas 
Sundays, Dec. 2, 9, and 16, 12-3 p.m.
Spirit’s Promise Equine Rescue presents In the Spirit of Christmas. Visit with Santa, say hello to equine reindeer, story time, cookies, vendors, food trucks. Admission donation $25 adult, $5 child. 2746 Sound Avenue, Riverhead.

First Baptist Church Christmas Concert
Sunday, Dec. 16 6 to 8:30 p.m.
Spectacular Christmas concert performance by the First Baptist Church choir. Free admission.
First Baptist Church of Riverhead, 1018 Northville Turnpike, Riverhead.

Christmas Quiz
Wednesday, Dec. 19 7 p.m.
This is a fun-filled night for the entire family at Living Water Church when we have some cocoa and cookies and group up with a team and take the quiz that tells us how much we really know about Christmas – expect a lot of laughs at this one.

Breakfast with Santa
Saturday, Dec. 22, 9-11 a.m.
Kids enjoy a free pancake breakfast with Santa, and a chance to pose for pictures with him. Living Water Church, 24 Shade Tree Lane, Riverhead.

Holiday performances and concerts

Santa and ‘Frozen’ at The Suffolk
Sunday, Dec. 9 at 1 p.m.
Take pictures with Santa, Olaf, and various other characters from the movie “FROZEN” in front of the giant Suffolk Theater Christmas Tree, and then enjoy a screening of the Holiday Classic “Frozen.” Tickets: $5 Suffolk Theater, 118 E. Main St., Riverhead. Buy tickets online

‘One Christmas Night’
Friday, Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 16 at 3 p.m.
A holiday extravaganza for the entire family – from traditional Christmas standards to seasonal sounds of gospel hits. This event helps Living Water raise some money for various community organizations that will help those less fortunate at the holidays. Tickets are $15. Buy tickets online.

‘Ronnie Spector Christmas Show’
Saturday, Dec. 14, 8 p.m.
The ultimate rock and roll Christmas show with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legend Ronnie Spector and the Ronettes, known for the iconic rock and roll Christmas hits Frosty the Snowman, Sleigh Ride, Rockin Around the Christmas Tree, I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. Tickets: $60, $79. The Suffolk Theater, 118 E. Main St., Riverhead. Buy tickets online.

‘WLNG’s Rockabilly Christmas 2018’
Saturday, Dec. 15, 8 p.m.
Join Sun Records’ last recording artist, madman Jason D. Williams on piano; Gene Casey – the East End’s prodigal ‘rockabilly king’; and Prentiss McNeill, member of the Drifters for 30 years. Sponsored by WLNG. Tickets: $39, $45, $49. The Suffolk Theater, 118 E. Main St., Riverhead. Buy tickets online.

First Baptist Church Christmas Concert
Sunday, Dec. 16, 6 p.m.
Spectacular Christmas concert performance by the First Baptist Church choir. Free admission. First Baptist Church of Riverhead, 1018 Northville Turnpike, Riverhead.

‘It’s a Wonderful Life- A Live Radio Play’
Sunday, Dec. 16, 6 p.m.
Every time a bell rings… well, you know the rest. Join Clarence, George Bailey, Mary Bailey, Uncle Ernie, Zuzu, Sam Wainwright, and the whole gang for “It’s a Wonderful Life – A Live Radio Play,” directed by Cindy Clifford. Performed live in the style of the old time radio shows.
Tickets: Children, $5; Adults $15.The Suffolk Theater, 118 E. Main St., Riverhead.  Buy tickets online.


Be sure to visit the LOCAL events calendar for information about things to do all year through!

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.