BY TAMMY SCILEPPI
Now that the thrill of Black Friday and Cyber Monday has faded, it’s time to relax and let loose. So, rock around that Christmas tree or Hanukkah bush, Queens-style, as you re-discover the true meaning of the season. And don’t forget Kwanzaa!
Every Queens neighborhood celebrates the holidays in its own unique way. There are festive tree lighting ceremonies, parades and community gatherings, historic holiday tours, wreath-making workshops, menorah lightings, holiday markets, fun kiddie events and more.
“In many ways, Queens is a collection of diverse small towns,” said Queens Economic Development Corporation Tourism Director Rob MacKay, who pointed out that it’s nice to know that local celebrations, like tree lighting events, remain special holiday traditions.
“In some cases, attendees have known each other for decades. In other cases, immigrants are experiencing the events for the first time ever,” he continued. “The one theme is that they all get people excited for the season. Plus, there’s a rumor that Santa Claus is going to pop in to many of them.”
Here’s a sampling of exciting and diverse holiday happenings around the borough:
Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony – Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden in Astoria
When: Friday, Dec. 6, 4 to 8 p.m.
Swing by Bohemian Hall’s main hall for Astoria Market’s holiday artisanal goodies and score some one-of-a-kind handmade gifts (Sun., Dec. 8 & 15, 5 p.m.). Bohemian Hall will offer their scrumptious “Grandmas Kitchen” menu, which includes a variety of homemade soups and apple strudel, assorted platters, as well as eggnog, chestnuts, hot apple cider and other holiday faves.
Where: 29-19 24th Ave.
Free Holiday Concert at Maple Grove in Kew Gardens
When: Saturday, Dec. 7, 4 to 6 p.m.
Join the Friends of Maple Grove for their annual concert followed by the opening reception for their latest exhibit of fine art paintings and prints by Forest Hills artist Gloria Imperante (6 to 7:30 p.m.). Donations gratefully accepted; free parking on cemetery grounds.
Where: The Center at Maple Grove, Kew Gardens Road and 129th Street
Christmas in the Garden at Queens Botanical Garden in Flushing (Free)
When: Sunday, Dec. 8, noon to 5 p.m. / Astoria Market (noon to 6 p.m.)
Live music, photos with Santa (fee), tree lighting, holiday crafts, face painting (fee) and blowout sales.
Where: 43-50 Main St.
Kwanzaa event at Jamaica Performing Arts Center
When: Sunday, Dec. 8, 7 p.m.
A celebration of seven principles – unity; self-determination; collective work and responsibility; cooperative economics; purpose; creativity; and faith – culminating in a feast and gift-giving.
Where: 153-10 Jamaica Ave.
Woodside on the Move – Tree Lighting Holiday Event
When: Friday, Dec. 6, 6 to 9 p.m.
Caroling and dancing by three local public schools — P.S. 11, P.S. 152 and P.S. 361 — along with the kids from St. Sebastian’s. Sip hot cocoa and see Santa!
Where: Sohncke Park along Roosevelt Ave. at 58th St. (across from St. Sebastian’s Church) www.woodsideonthemove.org/718-476-8449
Queens County Farm Museum Wreathmaking Workshop/Holiday Market
When: Saturday, Dec. 7 and 14, and Sunday, De. 8 and 15, 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m.
Get in the holiday spirit with your own handmade evergreen wreath. No experience necessary. They’ll guide you and provide materials (just bring garden shears). Enjoy festive tunes, cider and cookies to keep the mood merry and bright. Snag good deals on pine trees, wreaths, poinsettias and special gifts at the market.
Where: 73-50 Little Neck Pkwy, Glen Oaks
Cost: $25 (non-member); $20 (member)
Jammin’ In My Jammies/Breakfast with Santa (Free)
When: Saturday Dec. 7, 8 to 10 a.m.
Kids can explore the wonder of Santa in the digital age with HGTV’s Santa HQ at Queens Center! This holiday, check out the interactive Elf Academy at Santa HQ. You can try on the latest elf looks with Santa’s Magic Mirror, create your very own Elf ID Card and scan yourself on the Naughty or Nice O’Meter. (Plus, new this year, spend less time in line and more time on holiday fun with a Fast Pass).
Where: Queens Center, 90-15 Queens Blvd., Elmhurst
Astoria’s 7th Annual Holiday Festival & Tree Lighting Celebration
When: Photos with Santa on Sunday, Dec. 8, from 4 to 5:30 p.m.; tree lighting at 5:30 p.m.
Enjoy free hot cocoa, pretzels and kids’ activities.
Where: On the Great Lawn at Astoria Park (19th Street and 23rd Avenue)
Maspeth Federal Savings is hosting a holiday event
Santa will grant wishes on Sat., Dec. 17, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and carolers will bring some holiday cheer from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Participants can also join the free holiday stocking raffle. Drawings at each branch on Monday, Dec. 19, at 2 p.m.
Where: 56-18 69th St., Maspeth
Free Kwanzaa Celebration at Langston Hughes Cultural Center & Library in Corona
When: Saturday, Dec. 14, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A full day of craft workshops, live music, dance, spoken word performances … and good eats. View “Black Candle” – a film about Kwanzaa’s beginnings.