Holiday Events to Usher in the Christmas Season at St. John’s

Fireworks at the St. John's Winter Carnival with students watching from 2022
November 30, 2023

Members of the St. John’s University community can enjoy the Christmas season together at a series of festive events planned for the coming weeks. 

Among those celebrations are the annual Winter Carnival festivities, to be held at the Queens and Staten Island, NY, campuses.

The Winter Carnival, on Monday, December 4, begins at 7 p.m. and culminates a week’s worth of events on the Queens campus presented by Student Government, Inc. The Winter Carnival is a tradition at the University and festivities climax with the lighting of the campus’s Christmas tree on the Great Lawn and a Fireworks by Grucci show. 

The annual ceremony also includes performances by the Voices of Victory St. John’s gospel choir and the St. John’s Kickline. Students can attend free of charge. 

Other seasonal events on the Queens campus include a Santa’s Workshop hosted by Campus Ministry on Thursday, November 30, in which students will decorate mason jars, cookies, and gingerbread houses. A Winter Wonderland movie night is scheduled for Friday, December 1. 

The Staten Island campus will be illuminated with cheer on Thursday, November 30. Festivities include Santa meet-and-greets, carnival games, giveaways, Christmas music, food vendors, and, of course, the Christmas tree lighting. The festival begins at 5 p.m. and admission is free.

“With finals approaching, these events are nice opportunities to get together with friends and members of the St. John’s community and celebrate the season,” said Nawsin Kamal, President, Student Government, Inc. “We are delighted to support them.” 

Alumni and other friends of the University can enjoy a private viewing of the Queens Christmas tree lighting and fireworks show, as well as hot chocolate and selfies with Santa and Mrs. Claus, for a $10 individual donation or a $20 family contribution. Guests can also bring an unwrapped toy in lieu of a donation. Toys will be donated to St. John the Baptist Parish and other local community partners. Monetary donations will support Vincentian service programs through the Office of University Mission, including Midnight Runs.

Alumni feeling especially festive can participate in a holiday “Ugly Sweater Contest” for a chance to win four tickets to the Red Storm vs. Butler Men’s Basketball game on January 2 at Carnesecca Arena.

Prior to the Christmas tree lighting in Queens, attendees can enjoy performances by the University’s Dance Team and the St. John’s-based Latin dance company Sensación from 6 to 8 p.m. in the D’Angelo Center, rooms 412 and 416. 

The Winter Carnivals are just a sampling of Christmas-themed activities at both campuses. The Staten Island Christmas Concert on Saturday, December 2 begins at 7:30 p.m. and features seasonal favorites performed by the Richmond County Orchestra. The event also features the Staten Island Ballroom Dancers and the Brighton Heights Reformed Church Youth Orchestra. Alumnae of Notre Dame College are welcome to a Christmas Tea social on Sunday, December 3, beginning with Mass at 11 a.m. at St. Vincent de Paul Chapel in Lavelle Hall on the Staten Island campus. 

In Queens, the Voices of Victory will perform their annual Christmas concert, titled The Gospel at Christmas, at The Little Theatre on Saturday, December 2 beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The St. John’s Chamber Music Society’s annual Winter Concert will take place on Thursday, December 7 at 7 p.m. in St. Thomas More Church. On Saturday, December 9 at 5:30 p.m., the Lessons and Carols program, also at St. Thomas More Church, will feature music and Psalm readings that chronicle the Advent season as told in scripture.

Members of The McCallen Society can celebrate the season at the organization’s annual Christmas party on Tuesday, December 5 at 6 p.m. at the Columbus Citizens Foundation on East 69th Street in Manhattan. 

These special events are opportunities for students at both campuses to bond a final time before the conclusion of the fall semester, and for alumni to unite in their appreciation of St. John’s and the festive season.

"I’m really looking forward to it,” said first-year student Amela Brkanovic of Middle Village, NY. “It’s going to be a great time getting together with my friends and the rest of the campus and ringing in the Christmas season.”