RIverheadLOCAL file photo.

It’s the holiday season, and there’s plenty to do and see to celebrate.

Here’s a sampling what’s going on this year in and around Riverhead Town this holiday season. For more, visit our community events calendar.

Holiday lights

The Big Duck Lighting 

The annual holiday lighting of the Big Duck in Flanders will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 29 from 7-9 p.m. at the historic landmark on Flanders Road. The event will feature a visit from Santa on a fire truck and duck-themed holiday caroling. 

Town Square Tree Lighting

Riverhead Townscape and the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce will host the lighting of the Colorado blue spruce tree at the town square in downtown Riverhead on Saturday, Dec. 2. The festivities start at 3:30 p.m. with the “Goat on a Boat” puppet show, holiday crafts for kids and musical performances. The tree lighting ceremony will start at 5 p.m..

Town square tree lighting, 2022 Photo: Alek Lewis

Tree Lighting at The Shoppes at East Wind

The Shoppes at East Wind in Wading River will host its 7th Annual Tree Lighting on Saturday Dec. 2. The festivities start at 4 p.m. and last until 8 p.m., where all can enjoy live DJ entertainment and a dance number by All Star Dance Academy. Children can ride Rudolph on the carousel and put in a letter in Santa’s mailbox. Santa arrives on a Wading River Fire Department fire truck at 6pm to light the tree.

Jamesport tree lighting and holiday celebration

Jamesport will celebrate the holidays with a tree lighting, Christmas caroling and a visit from Santa on Wednesday, Dec. 6 at 6 p.m., hosted by the Jamesport Fire Department and the Greater Jamesport Civic Association. Free hot chocolate served by Duffy’s Deli and the Treatery.

Rabbi Michael Roscoe of Temple Israel of Riverhead lights the first candle on the menorah in town square, December 2022. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Menorah Lighting Ceremony

Celebrate Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, at a community menorah lighting on Sunday, Dec. 10 at 5 p.m. at the Peconic Riverfront park. The ceremony will be followed by refreshments at Temple Israel of Riverhead. 

Holiday Light Show at Splish Splash

The Riverhead Holiday Light Show returns this year. Drive through the parking lot at Splish Splash water park and experience one mile of light displays accompanied by music played through your car’s radio. Shows start this weekend on Friday, Nov. 17. More details can be found on the Holiday Light Show’s website.

Holiday and parade and bonfire 

Holiday bonfire, 2022. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, right down — Main Street in Riverhead! The Riverhead Lions Club 71st Annual Holiday Parade will start at 3 p.m. on Saturday Dec. 9 and march east from along Main Street starting at Osborn Avenue. 

The parade will loop south to the Peconic Riverfront, where the 22nd annual Riverhead Business Improvement District bonfire will be ablaze keeping everyone warm from 4-5 p.m.. Free hot chocolate will be available. A food truck and toy vendors will also be on the riverfront this year. Santa will be available for free pictures in his gingerbread house.

The rain date for the event is scheduled for Dec. 16.

Holiday runs & Polar plunge

Turkey Trot

Riverhead Town’s Recreation Department will host its annual Family Turkey Trot this Saturday, Nov. 18 from 9-11 a.m. at the George Young Community Center in Jamesport. Run or walk the one-mile course from the community center to Miamogue Park. The event costs $12 for Riverhead Town residents and $18 for non-residents. The first 50 people to register will receive a run shirt. Refreshments will be served after the run. Color run chalk will be available for spectators to celebrate throughout the run, so anyone running is encouraged to dress for a mess!

Rudolph’s River Run

The annual Rudolph’s River Run four-mile race will take place on Sunday, Dec. 3 at 9 a.m.. The race starts at Tanger Outlets and finishes in downtown Riverhead. All athletes are encouraged to donate a new unwrapped toy for sick and underprivileged children across Long Island to the race. Registration for the event is available online at this website.

Polar Plunge at South Jamesport Beach 

Take a chilly dip into the Peconic Bay on Dec. 9 at the Riverhead Recreation Department’s Polar Plunge: Freezin’ for a Reason event at South Jamesport Beach. Warm drinks, light refreshments, and music will set the scene for a winter swim to raise money for a charity of the swimmer’s choice. Beach towels will be gifted to the first 50 registrants. The event, open to all ages, takes place from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. For more information and to register, visit the Riverhead Recreation Department’s website.

Historic holidays

The historic Hallockville Homestead. Courtesy photo.

Get into the holiday spirit by enjoying Historic Holidays at Hallockville Museum Farm. visitors to experience old-fashioned holiday traditions during the Historic Holidays at Hallockville open house on Sunday, Dec. 3, from 12 to 3:30 p.m. Costumed docents will lead tours of historic homes at Hallockville, while sharing stories of past holiday celebrations. The Hallock Homestead, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, will be decorated for a Victorian Christmas. In the Cichanowicz Farmhouse, docents will recreate a Polish Christmas Eve celebration from the 1930s. Visitors may view an exhibit of antique toys, take in the aroma of baking in an antique wood stove, and learn how Christmas celebrations were banned by early East End settlers and eventually came to the North Fork primarily as a secular celebration. The event is free and open to the public as Hallockville’s holiday gift to the community. Hallockville Museum Farm is located at 6038 Sound Ave. in Riverhead. 

Local holiday theater 

The Riverhead Faculty and Community Theater will perform “Miracle on 34th Street: A Live Musical Radio Play” this weekend at Riverhead High School. Performances are Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 19 at 2 p.m.. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students.

The Vail-Leavitt Players will perform a radio play adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” at the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall on Dec. 8 at 7 p.m., Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 10 at 3 p.m.. Tickets are $25 and are available at the door and online at www.carol23.com.

The Suffolk will host several holiday themed concerts including the Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s  “A Creole Christmas” (Nov. 26); the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Wild & Swing’n Holiday Party (Dec. 8); Rockabilly Xmas (Dec. 15); Cherish The Ladies: A Celtic Christmas (Dec. 16); A John Denver Christmas (Dec. 17); and A Classical Christmas (Dec. 22). There are also screenings of the holiday movie Elf (Dec. 6); How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Dec. 13); and Home Alone (Dec. 20).

Photo: Emil Breitenbach Jr.

Visits with Santa

Santa visits the Railroad Museum of Long Island

The Railroad Museum of Long Island will host its Holiday Open House on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2 and Dec. 3 from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at its Restoration and Visitor’s Center located at 416 Griffing Avenue. Admission is free. Santa arrives from the North Pole at 12 noon both days with a gift for all good boys and girls. 

George Young Community Center

Santa arrives by fire truck on Wednesday, Dec. 6 immediately following the Jamesport tree lighting event. (Tree lighting starts at 6:30 p.m.) Kids of all ages can visit with Santa and pose for pictures at inside the community center.

Santa Brunch in downtown Riverhead

The Long Island Aquarium will host a Santa Brunch in the Sea Star Ballroom on Dec. 10.  

Admission to the aquarium is included in the cost of the brunch. See the aquarium’s website for more information.  

Pet Photos with Santa 

Take your pet to take a free photo with Santa at Talmage Farm Agway on Osborn Avenue on Saturday Dec. 9 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and on Sunday Dec. 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.. All pets and kids are welcome. Pictures are available by appointment online.

The North Fork Animal Welfare League animal shelter on Church Lane in Aquebogue will also host a photo event and open house on Dec. 9 from 12-3 p.m.. Shelter tours will be given throughout the afternoon and refreshments will be served. 

Ulka, a German Shepard from Jamesport, tells Santa what she wants for Christmas.
File photo: Courtney Blasl

Holiday Shopping

East End Food Holiday Market

Stock up on holiday gifts and essentials from over 30 local food, farm and craft vendors during East End Food Market’s holiday season. Discover festive flavors, artisanal treats and unique gifts all while supporting your local community. The market is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 139 Main Road in Riverhead.

Holiday Folk Art and Gift Show at Hallockville Museum Farm

The Hallockville Museum Farm will host the annual Country Parlor Holiday Folk Art and Gift Show on Friday, Nov. 24, Saturday, Nov. 25 and Sunday, Nov. 26. The Friday event will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and all of the Saturday and Sunday events will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.. The Naugles Barn on the farm will be transformed into a holiday shopping venue featuring handcrafted items, artwork and other holiday decor made by artisans and craft makers.

East End Arts Merry Mart

East End Arts will hold a “Merry Mart” on their East Main Street campus on Dec. 2 and Dec. 9 from 1-6 p.m.. The event showcases purchasable gifts made by local vendors.

Suffolk County Historical Society Wooden Wonderland

The Suffolk County Historical Society will hold its 11th annual Wooden Wonderland: Holiday Craft Show and Sale at its museum on Main Street on Saturday, Dec. 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Vendors will offer handmade gifts for purchase, including ornaments, home decor, wreaths, soaps and candles, rustic Santas and gnomes, wood carvings, hats and scarves. There will also be live wood carving and woodworking demonstrations inside the historic galleries and outside on the museum’s lawn.

Santa cruises the riverfront on a scooter in 2010. Photo: Peter Blasl

Editor’s note: The author is a member of Riverhead Faculty and Community Theater and is performing in “Miracle on 34th Street: A Live Musical Radio Play.”

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: alek@riverheadlocal.com