Brooklyn's lovely Botanic Garden offers free admission to visitors entering before noon on Saturdays, always free for those 16 & under & Tuesdays are free all day. "Blooming Lights" light up the Garden with holiday displays, entertainment & refreshments [Weds.-Sun. 5:30-9, through 1/2, $5, $2 child./s.c.]; Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1000 Washington Ave. (Eastern Pkwy.), 718-623-7200; Weds.-Fri. & Tues. 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. & Sun. 10-6.
children's museum of the arts
Museum feat. daily activities & exhibitions incl. children's art shows & art studio, interactive computer art station, creative playroom, actor's studio, costume shop, community group workshops, after-school art programs & birthday parties. Workshops this week incl. "Crazy Creature Workshop" (Weds. 2-5), "Under the Sea Mural" (Thurs. 12-5) & "Making & Playing Music" (Fri. 12-5); 182 Lafayette St. (betw. Broome & Grand Sts.), 274-0986; Weds. 12-7, Thurs.-Sun., 12-5, $5, s.c. & kids under 1 are free.
NY BOTANICAL GARDENS
"A Victorian Holiday" celebrates the holidays with a 30-foot glowing tree, miniature trains, caroling & holiday puppet show. Watch bunnies skate & ice fish at "City Bunnies' Winter Wonderland" [through 1/9]. Get your picture taken with Thomas the Tank Engine from Fox [call for times, through 1/9]. Family theater feat. The Little Engine That Could (Sat. & Sun., call for price); NY Botanical Garden, 200th St. (Southern Blvd.), Bronx, 718-817-8773; noon-5, free w/grounds adm., free after 4.
PROSPECT PARK'S WOLLMAN RINK
The NY Rangers Yukon Zamroadie gives out free Ranger promotional items incl. hats, posters & stickers (Weds. 7-9); "Skate into 2000" with $2 rentals all day Wednesday; Prospect Park, Parkside Ave. (Ocean Ave.), Brooklyn, 718-287-5538; Weds. [through 1/1].
HOLIDAY AT SEA
Make calendars & learn hand printing during KIDS! vacation at the South St. Seaport Museum; Children's Center, 165 John St. (betw. Front & Water Sts.), 748-8758; Weds.-Sun. 1-4, call for info.
PICTURE BOOK HOUR
For ages 5-8; 96th St. Regional Library, 112 E. 96th St. (betw. Park & Lexington Aves.), 289-0908; Mon. at 4, free.
rock climbing classes
Offered by Central Park Conservancy, free for ages 9 & up?learn rope management, anchor set-up, knot tying & more; North Meadow Recreation Center, 97th St. (midpark), 348-4867, res. req.; Tues. 3:30-5:30, free [through 1/29].
Things to See & Hear
BIG APPLE CIRCUS
Returns to Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center, B'way (64th St.), 307-4100 or 800-922-3772; call for times, $15-$60 [through 1/10].
HOLIDAY PUPPET THEATER
Ralph Lee pres. The Little Engine That Could at NY Botanical Garden; 200th St. (Southern Blvd.), Bronx, 718-817-8700; Sat. & Sun. at 1, 2 & 3, $2 [through 1/2].
MISS MAJESTY'S LOLLIPOP PLAYHOUSE
Santa & the Snow Queen (1:30) & The Three Bears' First Chanukah (3:30); Grove St. Playhouse, 39 Grove St. (betw. Bleecker & Hudson Sts.), rsvp 741-6436; Sat. & Sun., $8.50 [through 1/2].
NEW YORK NEW YEAR
TADA! youth theater's musical celebration of NYC; TADA! Theater, 120 W. 28th St. (betw 6th & 7th Aves.), 627-1732; Fri. at 7, Sat. & Sun. at 2 & 4, $12, $6 child. [through 1/17].
RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR
Radio City Rockettes, dancers & Santa Claus continue to entertain families during a 90 minute production incl. "Parades of the Wooden Soldiers" & "The Living Nativity;" Madison Square Garden, 2 Penn Plaza (34th St.), 465-MSG1, call for schedule, $29-$77 [through 1/2].
Musical adaptation of Rumplestilskin; Thirteenth St. Rep, 50 W. 13th St. (betw. 5th & 6th Aves.), 675-6677; Sat. & Sun. at 1, $7 [through 1/22].
Sony hosts holiday activities for families. This week, Sesame Street Celebrates Around the World screening; Sony Plaza, 550 Madison Ave. (55th St.), 883-8100 for info., rsvp 833-7858; Weds. & Thurs. at 2, free.
Marianna Loosemore directs production about Clifford the Pig's birthday; Thirteenth St. Rep, 50 W. 13th St. (betw. 5th & 6th Aves.), 675-6677; Sat. & Sun. at 11 a.m., $7 [through 1/22].