Tag Archives: ballet

The most Christmas-y things to do in the Bay Area this holiday season

It’s the season to be jolly, and for a full embrace of the Christmas spirit, the Bay Area offers a ho-ho-host of things to do and see. We may not have snow, thankfully, but the weather is just nippy enough to justify that Santa-con suit as you make your way from one mistletoe event to the next. Here are the top to-dos:

Visit a Christmas tree farm
No, you won’t have to pack the sleigh for a trip to the North Pole (or Canada), just head beyond the city borders to one of a number of actual farms that grow and sell Christmas trees. Many have more to do than simply picking chopping down of a tree. Little Hills Christmas Tree Farms in Petaluma offers free popcorn and cider, ornaments for sale, and a visit and picture with Santa. While Santa’s Tree Farm near Half Moon Bay offers a Christmas village with train rides, miniature golf with Frosty, and reindeer mascots.

A tour of Christmas trees and lights
There are neighborhoods that live for this season to festoon their homes and yards with as much blinking doo-daddery as their utility budgets can manage. Christmas Tree Lane (Thompson Ave) in Alameda and Parkway Estates (Chestnut St) in South San Francisco are two of the best. You can tour these places for free, as well as hit all the public squares that have erected enormous lit trees and decorations, like Jack London Square and Pier 39, and your nearest mall.

See a Nutcracker performance
Besides an opportunity to support the arts, the Nutcracker is one of those classic Christmas traditions like roasting chestnuts or trimming the tree with actual lighted candles. Pretty much every professional ballet troupe will be performing the Nutcracker throughout December, including the San Francisco Ballet, Silicon Valley Ballet, San Jose Youth Ballet, Oakland Ballet Company, Berkeley Ballet Theater, etc.

Skate at Union Square
The park at the center of San Francisco’s retail district is ground zero for holiday-ness every year, with an 83-foot tall tree decorated with 33,000 lights and 1,100 shiny ornaments, an ice rink and a café that sells hot beverages. You’re also surrounded by Macy’s and other big department stores that spare little expense in decorations. You can be sure Santa will be making regular appearances as well.

Stroll through Christmas in the Park
Trying not to be outdone by its neighbor to the north, San Jose has its own downtown holiday spectacle. This one is all about community involvement, with everyone from the local Shriners to the Girl Scouts sponsoring one of the many decorated tree or displays. There are live performances (again by local groups), Santa, vendors, and an ice skating rink across the street.

Drive through Fantasy of Lights
The rather expansive Vasona Park in Los Gatos is the scene of a drive-thru holiday display every December, sponsored by Santa Clara County Parks and created by Los Gatoans. The 1.5-mile route meanders past an erupting volcano, Santa shooting hoops, and tunnels of lights, with special music and sound effects piped through your car’s radio.

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Top 5 things to do in the Bay Area this weekend

Jack London Square Tree Lighting
The square in Oakland kicks off the holidays with the lighting of its massive 55-foot Mt. Shasta fir Christmas tree, with an assortment of seasonal activities. Visit with Santa, feed live reindeer and shop from more than 90 popup vendors. Friday, 12/4, 5-7pm.

Los Gatos Christmas Parade
Enjoy the small town charm of Los Gatos while watching the 59 th annual Christmas parade, with marching bands, Santa Clause, and the Cucuzza Squash Drill Team expertly wielding massive gourds. Some 235 parade entrants will be marching along Santa Cruz Ave. Saturday, 12/5, 11am.

Union Street Fantasy of Lights
The Cow Hollow thoroughfare lights up for the holidays, with horse-drawn carriage rides, ponies dressed as reindeer, and of course Santa and his team of elves. Saturday, 12/5, 3-7pm.

Caltrain Holiday Whistle-Stop Tour
Santa travels by Caltrain this weekend for his annual whistle-stop tour from San Francisco to Santa Clara stations. The train is decked out with 70,000 lights, a rolling band, “snow” and Santa and his many friends. Check schedule for station stop times. Saturday and Sunday, 12/5-6, 4-9pm.

SF Ballet Meet & Greet w/ Light Show
It’s Nutcracker time of year again, and members of the San Francisco Ballet will be under the dome at Westfield Mall in downtown SF to meet admiring fans, while an animated 3D light show replays every 30 minutes. Saturday, 12/5, 5-6pm.