Top Holiday Events in the Sacramento Area
The most wonderful time of the year is upon us, and throughout the greater Sacramento area, there are many ways to celebrate! Whether your definition of holiday cheer includes musical performances, parades, fun runs or theater, there is bound to be an event for you! Following are our picks for the top holiday events in and around the greater Sacramento area, where you can bring the whole family and spread the holiday cheer!
Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink
Nov. 1–Jan. 20 | Daily | Directions
Photo courtesy Downtown Sacramento Partnership
Lace up your skates and take a spin around the ice at this iconic outdoor rink in the heart of downtown Sacramento. You can rent your skates (even an ice scooter!) and warm up with a cup of hot cocoa from the onsite stand. Take advantage of special events, such as the Silent Disco on Dec. 5 or Kids Day with the Sacramento Kings on Dec. 15. Save money with your same-day receipt from Downtown Commons or Sac RT ticket.
Holiday Weekends at the Wineries
Nov. 29–Dec. 22| Weekends, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. | Directions
Head to the Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg for a month-long holiday celebration. Holiday Weekends at the Old Sugar Mill will feature live music, food trucks, chef demos, wine tasting, wine tours, and much more. RSVP today to receive your complimentary souvenir wine glass upon your arrival.
Sacramento Lighted Boat Parade
Dec. 7 | 6–9 p.m. | Various locations
Photo courtesy Capitol City Yacht Club
Members of the Capitol City Yacht Club decorate their boats with colorful lights and holiday décor, then travel up the river to the marina and back again. Viewing options include the restaurants near the river, including Chevys Fresh Mex and Crawdads, as well as spots near Old Sacramento.
Sac Theatre Company’s A Christmas Carol
Through Dec. 29 | 2 p.m., 7 p.m. & 8 p.m. | Directions
Presented by the Sacramento Theatre Company, this adaptation of the classic Dickens novel stars Matt K. Miller reprising his role as Ebenezer Scrooge. This age-old tale traverses Scrooge’s greed-filled past, his regrettable present void of forgiveness, and his fated future. Get your tickets for this holiday classic with afternoon and evening shows throughout the month of December.
Tree Lighting at El Dorado Hills Town Center
Dec. 7 | 4–8 p.m. | Directions
Photo courtesy El Dorado Hills Town Center
The annual tree lighting ceremony at the El Dorado Hills Town Center includes a merchant open house and Stuff Your Stocking Game, where children visit local stores to fill their stockings with special gifts. There will also be live music, a caroling contest, and Santa’s arrival on a fire truck! Cookies, hot chocolate and warm nuts are available to fill up those grumbling tummies.
ALT 94.7’s Electric Christmas
Dec. 6 | 7:30 p.m. | Golden 1 Center
Radio 94.7 presents the always-exciting Electric Christmas at Golden 1 Center, featuring performances by The 1975, The Head and the Heart, Catfish and the Bottlemen, and Local Natives. This year, ALT 94.7 is hosting a pajama drive in the DOCO plaza prior to the show. Bring a pair of new, store-bought PJs (or a monetary donation) and support Easter Seals! The first 100 people to stop by will get an exclusive signed item from an Electric Christmas artist.
Breakfast With Santa & Holiday Craft Fair
Dec. 14 | 9–11:45 a.m. | Directions
Photo courtesy Becca Niles via the Cordova Recreation and Park District
Hang with the man in the red suit at this annual holiday event held at the Neil Orchard Senior Activities Center in Rancho Cordova. Bring the whole family for pancakes, sausage, coffee, juice and cocoa! Then stop by the holiday craft fair to find a one-of-a-kind gift, meet the Snow Queen, and take a family portrait in the festive photo booth. There are three sittings to choose from this year: 9–9:45 a.m., 10–10:45 a.m. or 11–11:45 a.m. There will also be a craft area for children to work on a special holiday project.
Tower Theatre Polar Express Pajama Party
Dec. 7 | 10 a.m. | Directions
Stay in your pajamas for the Polar Express Pajama Party at The Tower Theatre! Enjoy hot cocoa while you watch “The Polar Express,” an inspiring adventure based on the beloved children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg. The story follows a young boy along an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole as he discovers that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe.
Theatre of Lights
Thursdays–Sundays Through Dec. 24 | 6 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. |Directions
This free, family-friendly holiday light show takes spectators along for a live-action rendering of “The Night Before Christmas.” Visitors will be dazzled by the light displays along the historic buildings, all set to music and sound effects. Stick around and watch St. Nick himself light the Christmas tree!
Nevada City Victorian Christmas
Dec. 8, 15 & 22, 1:30 p.m.–6 p.m.; Dec. 11 & 18, 5–9 p.m. | Directions
Photo courtesy Nevada City Chamber via Flickr
This old-fashioned, family-friendly street fair features strolling minstrels, yuletide delicacies (think roasted chestnuts!) and of course, Father Christmas! Dozens of skilled artisans will be hawking their wares, which include hand-forged jewelry, woodwork, gourmet food items and more. Take in the quaint historic buildings, authentic gas lamps, and scenic beauty of the Sierra foothills.
Wells Fargo Home for the Holidays
Dec. 7 | 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. | Directions
Held at the Memorial Auditorium, the Sacramento Choral Society & Orchestra’s annual performance ushers in in the holiday spirit! The event features radiant Christmas music, a candlelit procession, an audience sing-along, and a special guest performance by the Sacramento Children’s Chorus.
Holiday Gifts & Goods Show
Dec. 7 | 10 a.m.–3 p.m. | Directions
Get your holiday shopping done at the Holiday Gifts & Goods Show at Sierra 2 Center. Vendors and local artisans will be selling a variety of goods, including art, jewelry, bath and body products, winter wear, home and garden decor, wood goods, and more! You can even swing by the DIY Craft Tent to put a personal spin on your gifts. Daisyhead Florals will be on hand to help you create gorgeous holiday arrangements, and the Craftopolis Craft Club will have water marbling trays out so you can marble silk scarves, hankies, coasters and more! Admission and parking at the event are free.
El Dorado Hills Homes For the Holidays Tour
Dec. 7–8| 10 a.m.–5 p.m. (Saturday) & 11 a.m.–4 p.m. (Sunday) | Various locations
This popular holiday tradition highlights five private residences in El Dorado Hills decked out in holiday splendor, displaying traditional and whimsical decorations and collectables to inspire your holiday decorating. After receiving decor inspiration, shop for gifts at the holiday boutique, visit with Santa, sip on wine or hot apple cider, and snack on homemade cookies and candy. All proceeds go to the Assistance League Sierra Foothills to assist homeless and disadvantaged children, teens and seniors in El Dorado County.
Placerville Hangtown Christmas Parade
Dec. 8 | 1 p.m. | Directions
This cheerful holiday parade wends its way through downtown Placerville, with horse-drawn carriages, fire engines, vintage trucks and tractors and marching bands waving to the crowd. It is free to attend, but spectators are asked to bring an unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots.
Folsom Zoo Wild Nights and Holiday Lights
Dec. 6–7, 13–23 & 26–30 | 1–7 p.m. | Directions
Thousands of bright and colorful lights, sparkling ornaments and trees, lighted animal figures, and displays will transform the zoo sanctuary with holiday spirit. Guests can visit with Gus the horse, Ernie the zebu, and of course, the right jolly old elf himself, Santa Claus! Local caroling groups and musicians provide the merry sounds of the season, and the Folsom Valley Railway miniature steam train provides special nighttime rides.
Placer Theatre Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Dec. 7–8 & 14–15 | 12 p.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. & 5 p.m. | Directions
Placer Theatre Ballet is a youth ballet company dedicated to the joy of storytelling through the art of dance. Join Clara as she steps from a festive party into a magical dream, where a dazzling cast of characters from around the world give her an evening full of fantasy that she will never forget. Watch the iconic story come to life in front of your eyes with this exciting, quality performance at Placer High School in Auburn.
Winter Wonderland at Fairytale Town
Dec. 14–15 & 21–22 | 1–7 p.m. | Directions
Photo courtesy Fairytale Town
Enter into a magical land filled with festive decor and a dazzling display of holiday lights at Fairytale Town’s Winter Wonderland. Enjoy holiday-themed hands-on activities, listen to strolling Victorian carolers, shop for gifts from local vendors, step inside a giant snow globe, and watch a flurry of snow fall each night near the Mother Goose Stage. And of course, don’t miss a special visit and photo opportunity with Santa in his workshop, located in the Children’s Theater.
A Master Singers’ Christmas
Dec. 15 | 7 p.m.| Directions
One of the region’s most versatile choral chamber ensembles, presents this annual performance at the Harris Center in Folsom. The performance includes a mystical candlelight processional, exuberant spirituals, timeless carols and more. Find out why this magical, uplifting celebration of the season has become a Sacramento tradition.
Sacramento Santa Parade
Dec. 14 | 10 a.m. | Directions
Circling Capitol Park in downtown Sacramento, the annual Santa Parade features marching bands, high-stepping horses, colorful clowns, dazzling floats and vintage vehicles — all embodying the spirit of the holiday season. Of course, a Santa Parade would’t be a Santa Parade without the Big Guy himself, and he’ll be there too, spreading the holiday cheer to spectators.
Arthritis Foundation Jingle Bell Run
Dec. 14 | 7:30 a.m. | Directions
Be a part of the longest-running holiday-themed 5K race series anywhere — and join the fight to conquer arthritis. Benefitting the Arthritis Foundation, the Jingle Bell Run raises funds and awareness to cure America’s number one cause of disability. Put on your holiday costume, tie jingle bells to your shoelaces, and join in the festivities at Crocker Park!
Pamela Hayes Classical Ballet Theatre Presents The Nutcracker
Dec. 19–22 | 1 p.m., 5 p.m. & 7 p.m. | Directions
Photo courtesy of Ben and Anne Hansen, AB Photography via Pamela Hayes Classical Ballet Theatre
The Pamela Hayes Classical Ballet Theatre presents a rendition of “The Nutcracker” with Maestro Peter Jaffe & Members of the Folsom Lake Symphony. Join Clara and her Nutcracker Prince on an enchanted journey through the Land of Snow and Kingdom of Sweets in this timeless holiday classic. Infusing fantasy with comedic choreography and stunning costumes, Pamela Hayes Classical Ballet Theatre transforms this wonderful story ballet into a feast for the eyes. Audiences young and old will be swept away as they enjoy this delightful holiday tradition.
Sacramento Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Dec. 12–22 | 2:300 p.m. & 7 p.m. | Directions
The most beloved of all Sacramento traditions, the Sacramento Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” is the crown jewel of holiday entertainment in the city. This year, choreographer Amy Seiwert has put a new twist on this classic performance. Follow the enchanting story of Clara as she encounters the Mouse King, the soaring Magic Balloon, the sparkling Snowflake Forest, and the radiant Sugar Plum Fairy.
The 5th Annual Folsom Christmas Classic
Dec. 14 | 8 a.m. | Directions
Photo courtesy Folsom Christmas Classic
Don’t miss the 5th Annual Folsom Christmas Classic, featuring a Santa Fun Run for kids at 8 a.m., followed by 10K and 5K races. Both the 10K and 5K routes wind along beautiful paved trails in Folsom and the Santa Fun Run is about 200 yards in length. This festive annual event benefits the Keaton’s Child Cancer Alliance, a local nonprofit with a mission to support children who have cancer and their families with emotional, educational, and financial support while increasing awareness and funding research toward a cure. Register in advance for the Santa Fun Run, 5K or 10K!
Sacramento Santa Run
Dec. 21 | 9 a.m. | Directions
Lace up your tennies and join thousands of Santas as they run through downtown Sacramento to spread holiday cheer! Costumes are encouraged, and each runner will be given one big red Santa suit for the occasion. All participants are encouraged to bring unwrapped toys to packet pick-up or the start line main stage. Local law enforcement will distribute gathered toys to families in need in the Sacramento area throughout the holidays. Proceeds benefit Ainsley’s Angels, which supports the special needs community.
Category Local Events
Elizabeth Penney is a content writer for Lyon Real Estate and the Lyon Local blog. A Sacramento native with a marketing background, she shares her insider knowledge on restaurants, attractions and outdoor activities throughout the greater Sacramento area and beyond.