Sacramento Family Holiday Guide 2013

| November 5, 2013 | 232 Comments



The holiday season is the perfect time to make memories with our kids, keep traditions and create new ones! Here are over 50 things to do in the Sacramento area to celebrate this special time of year. Enjoy the magic of the season with your family!

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


Santa’s Secret Adventure
When: Every weekend November 29 – 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: $39.00 Kids (ages 2-14), $20.00 Kids under 1 1/2, $20.00 Adults
Info: Click here

Breakfast with Santa
When: Saturday, December 7; 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: Click here

Santa’s East Sac Adventure
When: Saturday, December 7; 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, $3 for petting farm, $5 for santa pictures, $10 for gingerbread house making workshop (cost is per house not per child). All other activities are free.

Cookies with Santa
When: Saturday, December 7; 5:30-8:30pm
Where: Fair Oaks Library
What: Join us for fun holiday crafts, cookies, and a chance to meet Santa! This event is presented in partnership with Fair Oaks Recreation and Park District. Pre-registration is required.
Cost: FREE
Info: Click here

Breakfast with Santa
When: Saturday, December 14; 8:30-10am or 10:30-12pm
Where: West Sacramento Community Center, 1075 West Capitol Avenue, West Sacramento
What: Eat Come eat breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus! Join us for yummy brunch items, pancake decorating, and hot chocolate! There will be tons of Christmas-themed activities for children; the opportunity to mail off letters to the North Pole, and of course, complimentary pictures with Santa.
Cost: Pre-sale – Kids $9.00, under 2 $6.00, Adults $11.00; At door – $15.00 all ages
Info: Click here

Breakfast with Santa
When: Saturday, December 14; 9-11am
Where: Cordova Senior Activities Center, Rancho Cordova
What: Bring the family to this festive event. We will be 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: Click here

Brunch with Santa
When: Saturday, December 14; 10:30am-12pm
Where: Jelly Belly Factory, Fairfield
What: Join Santa and friends for a yummy brunch and entertainment. Bring your camera for those unforgettable moments. Reservations required.
Cost: $19.99 per person, Kids 2 and under free
Info: Click here


Tree Lighting
When: Sunday, November 24; 5-6pm
Where: Fountains at Roseville
What: Join Fountains as we light up our tree for the holidays! Enjoy songs sung by carolers, carriage rides, and more. See Encore perform your favorite carols from 4-6pm. Carriage rides will take place before the tree lighting from 3-4:45pm. Rides will be $4.
Cost: FREE
Info: Click here

Annual Tree Lighting Celebration
When: Friday, December 6; 6-8:30pm
Where: West Sacramento City Hall
What: Enjoy an evening of music and holiday refreshments. The kids can get a keepsake picture on Santa’s lap. Holiday music by River City High School Choir, Russian Baptist Church Dawn Choir, West Sacramento Community Singers.
Cost: FREE
Info: Click here

Tree Lighting in Carmichael Park
When: Thursday, December 5; 5-8pm
Where: Carmichael Park, 5750 Grant Avenue, Carmichael
What: River City Concert Band at 5:30pm. Official lighting of the trees at 6:30. Food trucks, kids activities, Santa Clause.
Cost: FREE; Pictures with Santa $1 per child or free if you bring a canned food item.
Info: Click here


Theatre of Lights
When: November 27 – December 31
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: Click here

Cornish Christmas
When: Friday nights, November 29 – December 20; 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: Click here

Holiday Drop-Off Night
When: Wednesday, December 4; 5-9pm
Where: Sacramento Children’s Museum
What: Need time to sneak away from the kids for some holiday shopping? Maybe you’d like a Date Night? Either way, SCM is offering our very first Holiday Drop-Off Night on Wednesday, December 4th from 5pm to 9pm! Drop off your children at SCM for a night of Museum play and fun, along with snacks! Museum staff will host structured activities as well as free museum play. Children must be fully potty-trained to participate.
Cost: $25 per child, $20 per sibling (register in advance)
Info: Click here

Christmas in the Village
When: Saturday, December 7; 10am–6pm
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: Click here or call (916) 967-2903

Wild Nights and Holiday Lights
When: December 7-8 and December 13-23; 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: Click here

Winter Wonderland
When: Thursdays – Sundays, December 12 – 15 & 19 – 22; 1-7pm
Where: Fairytale Town
What: Celebrate the holiday season at Fairytale Town! The storybook park will be trimmed with festive décor and lit up with a dazzling display of lights, starting at dusk. Enjoy hands-on craft activities, holiday vendors, and more at this family holiday event. Two of Santa’s reindeer will visit on December 14-15. Visit with Santa in his workshop on December 14-15 and 21-22.
Cost: $5.00 general admission Kids and Adults, 1 and under FREE
Info: Click here

Polar Express Pajama Party
When: Monday, December 23; 5-7:30pm
Where: BusyKidz, Folsom
What: While parents get in a few hours of last minute Christmas shopping, kids will enjoy showing up to BusyKidz in their pajamas for a screening of the movie. They will serve popcorn, hot chocolate and chocolate chip cookies, and make a bell ornament, just like the one in the movie.
Cost: $25 per child, sibling discounts (register in advance)
Info: Click here

Fairytale Town Free Admission Day
When: Tuesday, 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: Click here

Sacramento Zoo PJ Party
When: Tuesday, 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: Click here


The Christmas Train
When: Weekends November 29 – December 29
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 $30-$40
Info: Click here

Small Train Holiday
When: Friday, November 29 & Saturday, November 30; 10am-5pm
Where: California State Railroad Museum
What: Visitors will be dazzled by roving musical entertainment; fun, interpretive handcar rides; amazing scale and model toy train display; story time with Mrs. Claus and much more – all happening inside the Museum!
Cost: $10 adults; $5 youths ages 6-17; children ages 5 and under are free
Info: Click here

Santa Train
When: Saturday and Sunday, December 7-8, 14-15; 12-4pm
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: FREE
Info: Click here


A Merry Little Christmas Concert
When: Friday, December 13; 7:30pm, Sunday, December 15; 4pm
Where: See website
What: Holiday concert featuring Sacramento Children’s Chorus. This year the holiday concert features classical meets popular. They will incorporate popular pieces such as Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas along with classical repertoire. Get merry and get in the holiday spirit. A holiday treat for the whole family.
Cost: Tickets $12-$30
Info: Click here

Jingle All the Way! Holiday Concert
When: Saturday, December 14; 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: Click here or call (916) 788-7464

Holiday Concert with Francie Dillon
When: Sunday, December 15; 1-3pm
Where: Downtown Central Library
What: Family Sundays @ Central – Holiday Concert with Francie Dillon.
Family favorite entertainer Francie Dillon and Puppet Art Theater will delight with songs and stories to celebrate the season. Program begins at 2 pm. Craft activity at 1 pm: Decorate an ornament, gift bag or make a card with ArtWorks.
Cost: FREE
Info: Click here


42nd Annual Holiday Tapestry Christmas Show
When: Friday, December 6; 7pm & Saturday, December 7; 7pm
Where: Hiram Johnson High School Auditorium
What: Featuring Holiday music and dance from around the world.
Cost: $15 general, $12 students
Info: Click here


Downtown Ice Rink
When: Open daily November 8 – January 20
Where: 7th & K Streets, Sacramento
What: Ice skate on Sacramento’s original outdoor ice skating rink outside the Westfield Downtown Plaza.  Family Skate Night: Every Tuesday from 4-8 pm – free child admission with adult admission.
Cost: $8.00 all ages for 2 hours; $2.00 skate rental
Info: Click here

Folsom Ice Rink
When: Open daily starting November 8; 10am-10pm
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 $10.00, Kids $8.00; $2.00 skate rental
Info:Click here

Elk Grove’s Ice Rink at Old Town
When: Open daily November 25 – January 21; 10am-10pm
Where: Southeast corner of Elk Grove Blvd. & Railroad St. in Old Town Elk Grove
What: Elk Grove’s first outdoor holiday ice rink.
Cost: Adults $11.00, Kids $9.50; includes skate rental
Info: Click here


Kids Workshops
When: Saturday, November 30 & December 7; 9am-12pm
Where: all Home Depot locations
What: Make a Small Toolbox or a fun Tic-Tac-Toe Game to use as holiday gifts. 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: Click here

Holiday Crafts
When: Saturdays, December 7 – 28; 11am – 3pm
Where: Lakeshore Learning
What: Make an Igloo Toss Game, Festive Frame Ornament, Snowy Bear Puppet, or a New Year’s Party Hat.
Cost: FREE
Info: Click here

Winter Holiday Crafts for Kids
When: Thursday, December 5; 4-5:30pm
Where: North Highlands-Antelope Library
What: Create holiday ornaments and gifts with everyday recyclable materials such as paper, cardboard, CDs, beads and junk jewelry. Join us for cookies and refreshments.
Cost: FREE
Info: Click here

Holiday Wreaths Program
When: Saturday, December 7; 2-3:30pm
Where: McClatchy Library
What: Have some family fun making pine cone holiday wreaths. Pine cones, foam wreaths, glue and some guidance will all be provided. Just in time for holiday decorating.
Cost: FREE
Info: Click here

Marshmallow Snowmen
When: Friday, December 13; 4-5pm
Where: Rancho Cordova Library
What: Build a marshmallow snowman to celebrate the winter season.
Cost: FREE
Info: Click here

Holiday Cards
When: Saturday, December 14; 2-3pm
Where: Carmichael Library
What: Make holiday cards for your family and friends! We will supply craft materials and holiday treats.
Cost: FREE
Info: Click here

Candy Cane Animals
When: Saturday, December 14; 3-4pm
Where: North Highlands-Antelope Library
What: Use delicious candy canes (along with clothespins, fuzzy pipe cleaners, and more) to make mice, reindeer, or whatever else your imagination can come up with. Instruction given by members of the North Highlands-Antelope Teen Advisory Board. Materials will be provided.
Cost: FREE
Info: Click here

Holiday Card Making
When: Saturday, December 14; 2-3pm
Where: South Natomas Library
What: An assortment of holiday themed rubber stamps will be provided for making cards and gift tags. The library will provide paper, rubber stamps, ink pads, stickers, glitter glue, and other craft supplies. Just bring your creativity!
Cost: FREE
Info: Click here


The Nutcracker
When: December 7 – December 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: Click here

Sugar Plum Fairy Tea
When: Sunday, December 8; 3:30-5:30pm
Where: Capitol Plaza Ballroom
What: Meet and great your beloved characters of The Nutcracker. Enjoy a bountiful dessert buffet, with your special tea or hot chocolate. Guests receive a special memory book, with collectors ornament. Don’t forget to bring your camera. A photographer will be there to take your photo with the Sugar Plum Fairy and Nutcracker for a $10 donation.
Cost: $30.00 (This event is sure to sell out, so get your tickets early)
Info: Click here

The Nutcracker
When: Saturday, December 14 & 21
Where: Sheldon High School Performing Art Center, Sacramento
What: The Capitol Ballet Company performs the beloved holiday classic.
Cost: $16.00-$22.00
Info: Click here


Roseville Holiday Parade
When: Saturday, November 23; 10am-12pm
Where: Vernon Street, Downtown Roseville
What: Ring in the Holidays at the 52nd Annual Sylvia Besana Holiday Parade! Typically held in November, the weekend before Thanksgiving, the Holiday Parade brings the entire community together for a festive time. Featuring entry category competitions, performances by local groups and floats by local businesses, this is a true All-American parade!
Cost: FREE
Info: Click here

Festival of Lights Parade
When: Saturday, December 7; 5:30pm
Where: Lincoln Way, Auburn
What: “Home for the Holidays” theme. Begins at 5:30pm at upper end of Lincoln Way and proceeds down to the fairgrounds.
Cost: FREE
Info: Click here

Downtown Santa Parade
When: Saturday, December 14; 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: Click here

Santa & Sirens Parade
When: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, December 12-14; 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: Click here


It’s A Wonderful Life the Musical
When: November 27 – December 22
Where: Sacramento Theatre Company, main stage, 1419 H Street, Sacramento
What: Book and Lyrics by: Keith Ferguson Music by Bruce Greer, from the screenplay by Frances Goodrich, Frank Capra and Jo SwerlingRunning Time: 2 hours and 20 minutes Parental Guidance: Appropriate for all ages
Cost: $12-$27
Info: Click here

An Irish Christmas
When: November 29 – December 1
Where: Harris Center, 10 College Parkway, Folsom
What: An Irish Christmas makes a welcome return to Folsom! This wildly popular show with Kevin Horton of Riverdance and Magic of the Dance stars Collette Dunne & Ciaran Maguire leading the dance, brings just about everything to the table this year – joy, hope, laughter, friendship, celebration of life through storytelling, music, song, and dance in a night that sparkles with life and a bit of ‘magic’! Dancing through the generations over brooms, on half doors, around butter churns and shoemakers, into the world of mythology and out again; singing that spins itself out of the mists and into the familiar Silent Night, Little Drummer Boy and Carol of the Bells, and superb music of the pipes, flutes, fiddles, button accordion and bodhráns are just the beginning of this great Irish night!
Cost: $20-49
Info: Click here

A Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tail
When: Saturdays and Sundays, December 7-29; 1 or 4pm
Where: Sutter Street Theatre
What:  A very special Friend-and-Relation tells Christopher Robin a story of a Christmas Eve very long ago (about last year) when Eeyore, the old gray donkey who lives by himself in the thistle corner of Hundred-Acre Wood, was absolutely miserable. It seems that he lost his tail and Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet got all of their friends and a search was organized. There is a great deal of fun and excitement, plus delightful songs, in the adventure that follows. Its theme, which concerns caring, sharing and the importance of cultivating friends, makes this a very special and enchanting musical suitable for the entire family.
Cost: Adults $17.00, Kids $13.00
Info: Click here


The Boy Who Cried Wolf: The Holiday Version
When: Thursday, December 19; 4-4:45pm
Where: Arcade Library
What: Join us for an updated, zany, holiday version of a classic tale. The boy is bored watching his lamb and decides to make things more exciting by turning on his dad’s wolf alarm, the “Wolf Alert 3000.” Tricking his dad is all fun and games until a real wolf shows up. Will the audience help the boy escape from the wolf? This production will include fun holiday twists.
Cost: FREE
Info: Click here


New Year’s Eve Show with Mister Cooper
When: Tuesday, December 31; 11am
Where: Robbie Waters Pocket Library
What: TBA
Cost: FREE
Info: TBA

Noon Year’s Eve Family Festival
When: Tuesday, December 31; 10am-2pm
Where: Crocker Art Museum
What: Say a big hello to 2014 with a high energy New Year’s celebration that takes you around the world and back again. Families can count down to the New Year at noon at this fun and free celebration of global cultural experiences. With live music and 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: Click here

Midnight Madness Kid’s New Year’s Eve
When: Tuesday, December 31; 8:30pm – 2am
Where: Riverview Community Center, Rancho Cordova
What: Parents, make your New Year’s Eve plans and let the kid’s bring in the New Year with us. Under staff supervision, kids will celebrate the New Year with crafts, activities, bouncers, midnight snack and a movie! For ages 8-14.
Cost: $50 per child (register by 12/15)
Info: Click here

New Year’s Eve Sky Spectacular
When: December 31
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, fireworks, live music, dinner specials, hot food and drink vendors, and a variety of colorful street entertainment. The children’s program features The Radio Disney Rockin’ Road Crew.
Cost: FREE
Info: Click here

Happy Holidays from Sacramento Sidetracks!

We will continue to update this guide as new events pop up, so please come visit again!

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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