By Betsy Natter

The holidays are a time filled with shopping, cookie baking, decorating and the anticipation of spending time with friends and family. As always there is plenty of holiday spirit in Montgomery County too. Whether it’s petting a reindeer or riding a train with Santa one of these activities listed below is sure to put you in a festive mood.

Reindeer Guide for Kids
Norristown Farm Park
2500 Upper Farm Rd., Norristown, PA 19403
(610) 270-0215

Would you recognize a reindeer if you spotted one? Learn all about these famous animals from the far North in a workshop on Tues., Dec. 5 at 1 pm. Discover the differences between the white-tailed deer you may see every day and reindeer, caribou, elk. Young ones will definitely be allowed to play the reindeer games, listen to a story, and make a reindeer craft. This program is for children ages 3 and older with an accompanying adult. Pre-registration is required along with a fee of $5 per child.

Visit with Santa’s Reindeer
Ace Hardware
467 Main St., Harleysville, PA 19438
(215) 256-8893

Enjoy this great opportunity to get up close to a live reindeer on Sat., Dec. 9 from noon to 4 pm at this Ace Hardware special event. Take a photo with Santa and his two special flyers Dasher and Dancer. Enjoy hot dogs from the grill, story time, crafts and face painting too. The event is free to the public.

Reindeer Photo Op
Elmwood Park Zoo
1661 Harding Blvd., Norristown, PA 19401
(800) 652-4143

Visiting for the pre-holiday season, Santa’s reindeer are available for photos with Elmwood Park Zoo guests. Visit the zoo any day and have a zoo staff member snap a photo on your personal phone while you strike a friendly pose. The photo op is available for a $5 fee or $8 if you would like a photo print-out. Photo times are 10:15 to 10:45 am, 1:30 to 2:00 pm and 3:30 to 4:00 pm daily.

Tree Decorating Contest & Tree Lighting
Elmwood Park Zoo
1661 Harding Blvd., Norristown, PA 19401
(800) 652-4143

Gather the family or a team from work and use your creativity to decorate a tree for the 1st annual tree decorating contest from now until Dec. 1st. Bring an artificial tree either fully decorated or ready to be assembled at the zoo. Trees must be no taller than 8’ and will line the main path through the zoo. All ornaments must be securely fastened to endure weather conditions and ensure animal safety. To register to participate, please email [email protected]

On Dec. 1 from 5 to 7 pm, join other contestants and visitors for a meet and greet with Santa and watch the trees light up at 6:15 pm. Vote for your favorite tree before the night ends. Winners in the family, business, and staff categories will be awarded prizes.

Santa Comes to Town
Ambler Train Station
35 W. Butler Pk., Ambler, PA 19002

Join in the fun of this annual town tradition and greet Santa as he arrives in Ambler, PA on the SEPTA train on Thurs., Dec. 7 at 7 pm. Follow Mr. and Mrs. Claus to the Borough hall for a story and traditional milk and cookies! Free and open to everyone.

Santa’s Polar Bear Express
Colebrookdale Railroad
Washington and Third Streets, Boyertown, Pennsylvania 19512
(610) 367-0200

Join Santa on a two hour train ride through the scenic Secret Valley in western Montgomery County. Relax in the heated railcars, sip hot cocoa and write a letter to Santa (crayons provided!). Santa gives a gift to every child and photo opportunities are optional. Lunch and dinner selections are also available depending on the railcar you choose at ticketing. Visit the website at for available dates and ticketing options.

Or if you prefer a nighttime adventure, take a ride on the T’was the Night Before Christmas Train. Excursions include a reading of the famous tale and complimentary hot cocoa. Enjoy holiday music and lights on the two hour round trip. Rumor has it Santa may appear with a gift for every child.

King of Prussia Winterfest
King of Prussia Town Center
155 Village Dr., King of Prussia, PA 1940

Join in the festive spirit of the holiday season at the King of Prussia Town Center during its second annual Winterfest Celebration on Sat., Dec. 2 from 10 am to 2 pm. Enjoy food from local area restaurants, keep warm at the hot chocolate station and check items off your shopping list at the local shops. Take in the ice sculptures, winter-themed activities and a cookie decorating contest while listening to local school choir performances. Don’t miss Santa – he’s visiting at 12:30. Donations of coats will be accepted and given to charity partner Cradles to Crayons.

A Christmas Carol
Byers Choice
4355 County Line Rd., Chalfont, PA 18914
(215) 822-6700

If you want to keep the bah humbug spirit away this holiday season go see this one-man stage adaptation of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Featuring Gerald Dickens, the great great grandson of the famous author, the show brings the famous story to life on the stage. Shows will run on Sat., Dec. 9 at 1pm and 5:30 pm and on Sun., Dec. 10 at 1 pm. Tickets are available online at the Byers Choice website.

Hanukkah Celebration
Elmwood Park Zoo
1661 Harding Blvd., Norristown, PA 19401
(800) 652-4143

Join animal care staff at the Trail of Jaguar exhibit on Sun., Dec. 17 from 2 – 3:30 pm to learn about these amazing animals. Watch a training session and then take a stroll through the zoo with zoo veterinarian Dr. Denish and some donkeys. The celebration of the festival of lights will conclude with a lighting of a menorah at 3:30 pm.

Gingerbread Workshops
Bredenbeck’s Bakery
8126 Germantown Ave., Phila., PA 19118

Have you always marveled at the beautiful cookie houses that pop up during the holidays and wanted to try making one yourself? Now’s your chance. The bakers at Bredenbeck’s will provide all the supplies and show you how to assemble your very own masterpiece at their gingerbread workshops. Pricing varies by the number of people building the house. See their website for date and times ( and call the shop to register for your spot. 

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