Holiday Guide 2016

| December 2, 2016 | 639 Comments


The holiday season is the perfect time to make memories with our kids, keep traditions and create new ones! Here are festive things to do in the Sacramento area to celebrate this special time of year. Enjoy the magic of the season with your family!

This Holiday Guide includes the following categories in this order:
Meet Santa, Holiday Celebrations, Trains, Music, Dance, Ice Skating,
Holiday Arts & Crafts,  The Nutcracker, Parades, Theatre, New Year’s Eve

Big thanks to our wonderful sponsor:


Santa’s Secret Adventure
When: Every weekend November 26 – December 23
Where: Penryn Oak Stables, 2460 Del Mar Ave., Penryn
What: Ride through Santa’s secret place on one of his personal carriages.  Listen to Christmas stories around the Christmas fire.  Pony/Horse rides, petting zoo, visit Santa, hot chocolate and cookies.
Cost: $41.00 Kids (ages 2-15), $20.00 Kids under 1 1/2, $21.00 Adults
Info: Visit website

Winter Wonderland
When: Friday, December 2; 8:30-10am or 10:30-12pm
Where: West Sacramento City Hall, 1110 West Capitol Ave, West Sacramento
What: An evening of music and holiday refreshments. The kids can get a free keepsake picture taken on Santa’s lap.
Cost: FREE
Info: Visit website

Breakfast with Santa
When: Saturday, December 3, 8, 9,and 10; 8am, 9am, and 10am
Where: Pavilion, Elk Grove Regional Park
What: The holidays are here! Join us as we celebrate the season. Each child will have the opportunity to talk with Santa.
Cost: $5.00 advance tickets, $7.00 at door, $1.00 Kids 2 and under
Info: Visit website

Santa’s East Sac Adventure
When: Saturday, December 3; 10am-2pm
Where: Theodore Judah Elementary, 3919 McKinley Boulevard, Sacramento
What: Visit with Santa and get pictures, face painting, dance performances, Santa’s petting farm, gingerbread house making workshop and holiday boutique featuring local businesses!
Cost: Free entry to boutique, fees for activities
Info: Visit website

Winter Wonderland
When: Saturday, December 3; 5:30-7:30pm
Where: Fair Oaks Library
What: Holiday crafts, stories, cookies, and a chance to meet Santa!  Pre-registration is required.
Cost: FREE
Info: Visit website

Breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Clause
When: Saturday, December 3; 9:30 – 11:30am
Where: Cordova Senior Activities Center, Rancho Cordova
What: Serving pancakes, sausage, coffee, juice and cocoa. Stop by the holiday craft fair for last minute Christmas shopping or join Mr. and Mrs. Claus so the kiddos can tell Santa what’s on their Christmas list.
Cost: $5.00 Adults, $2.00 Kids 8 and under
Info: Visit website


Theatre of Lights
When: November 23 – December 24
Where: Old Sacramento
What: Experience the holiday magic of Old Sacramento’s 5th Annual Theatre of Lights. The free outdoor performances artfully mix the historic charm of Old Sacramento with state-of-the-art sound and lighting technology to create a memorable and visually-exciting holiday experience. With new storytelling elements incorporated this year, Old Sacramento’s Theatre of Lights blends a symphony of lights, sounds, and visual effects that transport the audience back in time with a reading of the famous poem The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore. The narrated reading of the powerful and nostalgic poem is brought to life through theatrical elements and visually-exciting lighting choreography that takes place on the balconies and rooftops of Old Sacramento’s historic buildings.
Cost: FREE
Info: Visit website

Cornish Christmas
When: Friday nights, November 25 – December 23; 6-9pm
Where: Downtown Grass Valley
What: Recapture the spirit of Christmas past amid the charming surroundings of historic downtown Grass Valley California during the annual Cornish Christmas Celebration. Started in 1967 as a way to preserve Grass Valley’s Cornish heritage and holiday traditions, Cornish Christmas remains one of our most popular events. Mill and West Main Streets are closed to motorized traffic and filled with the sights and sounds of an old fashioned Christmas; carolers, jugglers, musicians, the Grass Valley Cornish Carol Choir, Tommyknocker Cloggers and of course, Santa Claus.
Cost: FREE
Info: Visit website

Christmas in the Village
When: Saturday, December 3; 12pm-7pm
Where: Plaza Park in the Fair Oaks Village, Fair Oaks
What: Visit with Santa, sing Christmas carols, Winnie the Pooh Play (Free admission for 1 canned-food item), a parade at 4:30pm and then tree lighting right after the parade.
Cost: FREE
Info: Visit website

Wild Nights and Holiday Lights
When: December 2 – 3 and December 9 – 10; 5-8pm
Where: Folsom Zoo
What: Thousands of colorful LED lights adorn the zoo, enchanted forest of lighted and decorated trees, carolers and seasonal refreshments, visits from Santa Claus and our very own “Santa Paws”, animal presentations by Zoo docents.
Cost: $5.00 per person, 2 and under free.
Info: Visit website

Winter Wonderland
When: Thursdays – Sundays, December 8 – 11 and December 15 – 18; 1-7pm
Where: Fairytale Town
What: The park is trimmed with festive holiday décor and lit up with a dazzling display of lights, starting at dusk each night. Don’t miss a flurry of snow falling nightly at 7 PM near the Mother Goose Stage! Plus, make holiday themed crafts, and visit the Peppermint Forest, Gum Drop Mountain and the Candy Castle! On the weekends, even more holiday fun awaits with hands-on activities, a holiday marketplace, Victorian carolers and more! Santa will also be making a special stop at Fairytale Town and will be available for visits and photos in his workshop, located in the Children’s Theater, from 3 – 6 PM. Photos will be available for purchase for an additional cost.
Cost: $4.75 – $5.75 per person
Info: Visit website

Fairytale Town Free Admission Day
When: Saturday, December 24; 10am-2pm (guests who are in the park by 2pm can stay and play until 3pm)
Where: Fairytale Town
What: Happy Holidays from Fairytale Town! Guests who visit Fairytale Town on Christmas Eve receive FREE admission. It’s the perfect opportunity to have some fun, enjoy a day of play in the park and take a break from the busy holiday season.
Cost: FREE
Info: Visit website

Sacramento Zoo PJ Party
When: Saturday, December 24; 10am-1:30pm
Where: Sacramento Zoo
What: Celebrate Christmas Eve at the Zoo and you don’t even have to change out of your pajamas.
Cost: FREE
Info: Visit website


Magical Christmas Train
When: Weekends December 2 – 23 (many dates already sold out)
Where: Sacramento River Train, Woodland
What: Very popular 2-hour show & train ride. The story of “Morgan & the Magical Christmas Train” book is brought to life featuring the little girl Morgan, jolly Santa, the Conductor, fun Elves and a playful Teddy Bear. You’ll also enjoy a musician, hot cocoa & cookies. As always, wearing pajamas are welcomed. Total experience lasts about 2 hours.
Cost: Tickets $44-60
Info: Visit website

Santa Train
When: Saturday and Sunday, December 3 – 4, 11 – 12; 11-3pm
Where: Live Steamers Train Yard inside Hagan Community Park behind the red barn
What: Take a ride on the Live Steamers’ miniature train.  Children of all ages are encouraged to visit with Santa and have their picture taken.
Cost: $5 per person, age 1 and under free
Info: Visit website


A Ceremony of Carols
When: December 3; 7:30-9:30pm and December 4; 4-6pm
Where: Westminster Presbyterian Church
What: Holiday concert featuring Sacramento Children’s Chorus.
Cost: Tickets $12-$30
Info: Visit website

Jingle All the Way! Holiday Concert
When: Saturday, December 17; 2pm
Where: St. Francis Catholic Church, 26th and K Streets, Sacramento
What: This concert is perfect for children because they’ll be performing many familiar songs kids are sure to know. They’re even invited to sing along. It’s a fantastic event for young ones with a short attention span, packed with fun—including a surprise visit from Santa.
Cost: Adults $5.00, Kids $3.00
Info: Visit website


42nd Annual Holiday Tapestry Christmas Show
When: December 2; 7pm and December 3; 1pm & 7pm
Where: Hiram Johnson High School Auditorium
What: Featuring Holiday music and dance from around the world.
Cost: $15 general, $12 students
Info: Visit website


Downtown Ice Rink
When: Open daily November 4 – January 16
Where: 7th & K Streets, Sacramento
What: Ice skate on Sacramento’s original outdoor ice skating rink outside the Westfield Downtown Plaza.
Cost: $12.00, ages 6 and under $6.00
Info: Visit website

Folsom Ice Rink
When: Open daily through January 16
Where: Folsom’s Historic Sutter Street
What: Historic Folsom’s ice skating rink is the perfect place to bring family and friends for some nostalgic winter adventure.
Cost: Adults $12.00, Kids $10.00; $3.00 skate rental
Info: Visit website

Iceland Ice Skating Rink
When: Open daily through January 8
Where: 1430 Del Paso Boulevard, Sacramento
What: Iceland open air Ice Skating Rink has been a fixture in Sacramento since 1940. Skate, take lessons, and have parties.
Cost: $10.00 for all ages, including skate rental
Info: Visit website

When: Open daily
Where: 1009 Orlando Ave, Roseville
What: Indoor ice arena and during the winter holidays we also offer outdoor skating.
Cost: $15.00, ages 10 and under $13.00 including skate rental
Info: Visit website


Kids Workshops
When: Saturday, December 3; 9am-12pm
Where: all Home Depot locations
What: Make a Gingerbread Candy Box. Hands-on workshops for kids ages 5-12. All kids get to keep their craft, receive a FREE certificate of achievement, and a Workshop Apron.
Cost: FREE
Info: Visit website

Holiday Crafts
When: Saturdays, December 3 – 17; 11am – 3pm
Where: Lakeshore Learning
What: Make holiday crafts.
Cost: FREE
Info: Click here


The Nutcracker
When: December 10 – 23
Where: Community Center Theater (part of Convention Center), 1301 L St., Sacramento
What: Best-known and most beloved of all Sacramento holiday traditions, Ron Cunningham’s delightful The Nutcracker
is a true theatrical spectacular.
Cost: $18 – $75
Info: Visit website

The Nutcracker
When: Saturday, December 10; 1:30 and 7:30
Where: Sheldon High School Performing Art Center, Sacramento
What: The Capitol Ballet Company performs the beloved holiday classic.
Cost: $18.00-25.00
Info: Visit website


Festival of Lights Parade
When: Saturday, December 3; 5:30pm
Where: Lincoln Way, Auburn
What: “Let it glow…let it glow…let it glow” theme. Begins at 5:30pm at upper end of Lincoln Way and proceeds down to the fairgrounds.
Cost: FREE
Info: Visit website

Downtown Santa Parade
When: Saturday, December 10; 10am (rain or shine)
Where: 9th & I to 7th & K, Sacramento
What: The Santa Parade has a spirit of its own, embodied by the many wonderful parade entrants–from tuneful marching bands to high-stepping horses, colorful clowns to vintage vehicles, skillful twirlers to dazzling floats.
Cost: FREE
Info: Visit website

Santa & Sirens Parade
When: December 6 – 8; 7-9pm
Where: Elk Grove – 3 different locations
What: Get in the ho…ho…holiday spirit with friends, neighbors, and your local police and fire personnel. The Cosumnes CSD Fire Department and the Elk Grove Police Department have teamed to host a series of neighborhood parades. Come out and greet Santa and his elves. New unwrapped toys for the Police/Fire toy drive will be accepted along the route.
Cost: FREE
Info: Visit website


The Elves and the Shoemaker
When: Saturday, December 3; 1pm and 3pm
Where: Harris Center, 10 College Parkway, Folsom
What: Laugh when two merry elves arrive at a small village in the Black Forest to discover a poor, gentle shoemaker who clearly needs their assistance. Their good deeds, kindness and resourcefulness save the shoemaker and his wife from a bleak and unhappy holiday in this beloved CTC classic adored by both children and adults. Suggested for grades K-5.
Cost: $9-15
Info: Visit website

A Seussified Christmas Carol
When: Saturdays and Sundays, December 10 – 24
Where: Sutter Street Theatre
What: A whimsical reinvention of Dickens’ most beloved Christmas story in wacky rhymed couplets. With zoot fruited juices and binka bird geese, from Bed-Headed Fred to Timmy Loo Hoo, this tale of glorious holiday cheer is similar to something Dr. Seuss might have come up with — if he ever had his way with the story…
Cost: Adults $17.00, Kids $13.00
Info: Visit website


Noon Year’s Eve Family Festival
When: Saturday, December 31; 10am-2pm
Where: Crocker Art Museum
What: The Crocker’s beloved, high-energy New Year’s party for families is back! Now one of Sacramento’s major annual traditions, families can count down to the New Year at noon at this fun and free celebration. With live music, dance performances, and festive art activities happening throughout the Museum, this is one New Year’s celebration everyone can stay awake for.
Cost: FREE (following the event, the Museum will be open and free until 5pm)
Info: Visit website

Who Year New Year’s Celebration
When: Saturday, December 31; 9am-4pm and 9pm-12:15am
Where: Sacramento Children’s Museum
What: Celebrate the New Year as the clock strikes midnight in various countries throughout the world with cultural activities, noise maker-making, bubble stomps, and more! Who Year activities will occur every hour starting at 10 a.m. or the first year ever, we will be adding a kid-oriented after-hours component to our Who Year daytime activities! Join them from 9 p.m.-12:15 a.m. for dancing, continued noise-maker making and bubble stomps, games, light refreshments, and, of course, Museum play, culminating in a festive New Year’s countdown!
Cost: General admission for daytime celebration; $5 per person for after-hours party (advance registration)
Info: Visit website

New Year’s Eve Sky Spectacular
When: Saturday, December 31; 6-9pm
Where: Old Sacramento
What: Sacramento’s best New Year’s Eve tradition lights up the skies above Old Sacramento with bright colors and flashes during the New Year’s Eve Sky Spectacular. This free celebration is open to all residents and features activities for the whole family to enjoy. Including children’s programming, live music, dinner specials, hot food and drink vendors and a variety of colorful street entertainment. Fireworks over the Sacramento River and Tower Bridge at 9pm.
Cost: FREE
Info: Visit website

Happy Holidays from Sacramento Sidetracks!

Be sure to check back as we will continue to update this guide as new events pop up!


Written by Keilah Woodard

Keilah Woodard

Keilah Woodard is the founder of She has a passion for finding adventures with her three kids. As a native Southern Californian, she has been exploring Sacramento for the last twelve years, happily finding hidden treasures and sharing a firsthand perspective with fellow parents.

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