The San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker is a wondrful family holiday tradition.
Other Holiday Happenings: holiday ice skating, visit with Santa Claus, North Bay Christmas Tree Farms and Lots, festive holiday teas, holidays in San Francisco, and visit one of Marin's Amazing Lighted Houses.
Friday, December 15
- Christmas House at West End Nursery
Friday & Saturday, 8 am–5 pm, Sunday 9 am–4 pm
Get in the holiday spirit and visit the amazing Christmas House at San Rafael's West End Nursery. This magical setting includes lights, decorated trees, and more. It's a holiday must-visit in Marin. Free admission; ornaments and decor are for sale. Location: 1938 5th Avenue. Event details.
- Holiday Ice Skating in Union Square
Friday–Sunday, 10 am–11:30 pm
Union Square, San Francisco's main shopping district, gets into the ice skating spirit during the holiday season with an outdoor ice rink sponsored by Safeway. 90-minute sessions start on every even hour. Admission: $18 for adults (includes skates), $13 for children 8 and under. For info, call (415) 781-2688 or visit their website.
- Children’s Magical Tea
Mark Hopkins Hotel, San Francisco
Friday & Saturday, noon–4 pm
Magical Holiday Tea is open to kids and adults of all ages, and features Raul the Master Balloonatic, Face Painting by Drea, Wendy the Whimsical Elf, and a Cookie Decorating Station. Santa will visit on Saturdays, too! $75 per person; $70 with toy donation to the San Francisco Firefighters Toy Drive. Advance reservations required: (415) 616-6941. Location: 999 California Street. Event details.
- San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker
War Memorial Opera House
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 2 & 7 pm
San Francisco Ballet’s awe-inspiring production is like no other, with colorful, larger-than-life scenery, over 200 dazzling costumed characters, and of course Tchaikovsky’s beautiful score performed live by the world-class San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. Ticket prices start at $59. For more info, call (415) 865-2000 or visit their website.
- Holiday Party! (ages 0–6)
Sing Dance Play, Novato
Friday, 3:30–6 pmCelebrate the holidays, Music Together style! Musical play, followed by unstructured play for the whole family, geared toward children under 6. Refreshments provided. Open Play members are free; otherwise $10 per family at the door. Location: 5420 Nave Drive, Novato. Event details.
- Zoo Lights
San Francisco Zoo
Friday–Sunday, 5–8 pm
Come enjoy the San Francisco Zoo at night under magical holiday lights. Shop at the all-new Holiday Marketplace, see the reindeer romp, enjoy hot apple cider and cocoa at Cafe Playfield, and hum along to seasonal music as you play in the Elinor Friend Playground. Adults $10, kids 14 and under $8, kids 3 and under: free. Parking $8. For more information, visit their website.
- Zoo Lights
Friday–Sunday, 5:30–9 pm,
Soar over the Oakland hills in our festively-lit gondolas and see the entire Bay Area like never before! Check out the cool new laser light shows, candy cane lane-themed Adventure Landing with rides your kids will love, an adventure on the Outback Express train, rocking around the Christmas trees and a music-themed light show. Santa will be here from 6-9 pm this weekend too. ZooLights is a separate event and is not included in regular Zoo Admission. $10 adults, $9 children 2–14 and seniors 65+, free for children under 2 and adults over 80. Event details.
- Holiday Movie Night: Elf
Diesel, A Bookstore, Larkspur
Friday, 6 pm
Meet us at the Mart to get in the holiday spirit with a screening of Elf! Enjoy complimentary hot cider or hot chocolate from Fisher's Cheese & Wine and settle in for a treat of a movie night at our favorite bookstore, Diesel. Event details.
- Rombeiro Christmas House
Devonshire Drive, Novato
Friday–Sunday, 6–10 pm
Their home is something that truly has to be seen to be believed, and photos don't really do it justice. There are something like 140,000 lights as well as countless figurines, dioramas, and decorations adorning the front and side yards, walls, and roof of the Rombeiro house. If you think the outside is impressive, then you need to go on inside and get a healthy dose of Christmas spirit. You'll find model trains, more figurines, Christmas trees, and the biggest lighted holiday village you've ever seen. Location: 34 Devonshire Drive, off of Center Road, Novato. For more info, read about our visit here.
- Mickey Mouse Christmas House
417 Blackstone Drive, San Rafael
Friday–Sunday, 6–10 pm
One of my children's favorite decorated and lighted Christmas house is the Mize family's Mickey Mouse House (AKA "Mickey's Christmas House") in Marinwood. Get out of your car and walk up the short driveway, though and you'll see why it's worth a visit for kids of all ages. Every evening, the two-car garage is opened to reveal two galleries of what has to be every Walt Disney toy, stuffed animal, decoration, and gimgrack ever produced, all artfully arranged in two spectacular holiday displays. Read more about our visit here.
- The Nisja Bear House
383 Quietwood Drive, San Rafael
Friday–Sunday, 6–9 pm
The Nisja Bears House has been charming Marin families for 36 years. With the trains and bears and animated figures, there's plenty here to get everyone in the Christmas spirit. Check out the display case to the left of the driveway for more bears and Christmas decorations. The bear that blows bubbles is always a hit with the kids, too. Read more about our visit here.
- 2017 Lighted Boat Parade
Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco
Friday, 6–8 pm
The Fisherman's Wharf Community Benefit District and the St. Francis Yacht Club present the oldest and largest lighted holiday boat parade on San Francisco Bay. A holiday tradition since 1994, the parade includes members of the St. Francis Yacht Club, Fisherman's Wharf Fishing Fleet, Golden Gate Yacht Club, PIER 39 Marina, and the Sea Scouts. The parade route will begin just off of PIER 39, proceeding west past Fisherman's Wharf, Fort Mason and the St. Francis Yacht Club, and will turn around off of Crissy Field to return along the waterfront. Spectators can enjoy wonderful views from Aquatic Park, PIER 39, the Marina Green, and Crissy Field. Free. Event details.
- A Christmas Carol
A.C.T.’s Geary Theater, San Francisco
Friday, 7 pm, Saturday, 2 & 7 pm, Sunday, 1 & 5:30 pm
Featuring a lively cast of dozens, gorgeous costumes, and those deliciously spooky ghosts, the Bay Area's favorite holiday tradition returns with a sparkling, music-infused production of A Christmas Carol. Bring your family, bring your friends, and check your “humbugs” at the door! Event details.
- Petaluma School of Ballet Nutcracker
Sonoma State University, Rohert Park
Friday, 7:30 pm, Saturday, 1:30 & 6:30 pm and Sunday, 11 am & 3 pm
Petaluma School of Ballet and North Coast Ballet California present a full-length production of The Nutcracker. Tickets start at $18. Purchase tickets.
- Santa Rosa Dance Theater Nutcracker
Spreckels Performing Arts Center, Rohnert Park
Friday, 7 pm, Saturday, 2 & 7 pm and Sunday 2 pm
Set to the beloved music of Tchaikovsky and featuring new choreography by incoming Artistic Director Joshua Trader, Santa Rosa Dance Theater invites you to spread the joy, share the magic, create an annual tradition and make memories to cherish for years to come at their production of The Nutcracker. Tickets: $30 general, $28 seniors, $25 youth 12 and under. Purchase tickets.
- Berkeley Playhouse: Annie
The Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, Berkeley
Friday, 7 pm, Saturday, 1 & 7 pm, Sunday, 2 pm
Leapin’ lizards! One of the most popular musicals of all time returns to Berkeley Playhouse in an all new production that’s going to “shine like the top of the Chrysler Building!” Perfect for the entire family. Location: 2640 College Avenue, Berkeley. Tickets: $20–$45. Event details.
Saturday, December 16
- Holidays Along Farm Trails
Saturday & Sunday, various times
'Tis the season to celebrate with our community. Join Sonoma County farmers and producers as they open their gates and barn doors to offer a behind-the-scenes peek at life on the farm. Shop their unique farmstands for your holiday meals, cut your own Christmas tree, make a gift at DIY workshops, greet farm animals, and so much more. Free. Register online for a list of each weekend's participants. Event details.
- Wreath Making Workshop
McNears Beach Park, San Rafael
Saturday 10 am–noon
Bring the beauty of nature to your front door with a festive, homemade wreath! Join rangers at McNears Beach Park for a day of sipping hot chocolate, listening to holiday tunes, and creating your own natural wreath to take home. Fresh greenery, pinecones, and other natural materials will be provided. You are encouraged to bring your own decorations to use. All skill levels are welcome and no experience is necessary. Healthy snacks provided. RSVPs appreciated but not required: [email protected] or (415) 446-4424. Park entrance waived for participants. Location: 201 Cantera Way, San Rafael. Event details.
- Craft-n-Create: Family Workshop @ the Makerspace
South Novato Library
Saturday, 10 am–noon
Families are invited to meet South Novato's new librarians, Amy and Adrienne, see our amazing makerspace and create a special craft the whole family can enjoy! Drop in any time between 10–noon. Warm apple cider and cookies will be available! For ages 2 and up; children under 8 must be accompanied by an adult. Event details.
- Fancy Flea
Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–3 pm
Meet us at the Mart to shop a curated collection of designers, artisans, artists, makers, and antique collectors. Indulge in a hot toddy from Farmshop, snack on a tamale, and have the Trading Post gift wrap your finds for free. Elsie Green will be showcasing her hand-selected French antiques and housewares alongside other local and visiting craftspeople and artists, both vintage and contemporary. Event details.
- Teddy Bear Tea at the Ritz-Carlton
Saturday & Sunday, 10 am & 1 pm
Children and their favorite stuffed animals gather in the Terrace Room of the Ritz-Carlton to enjoy holiday treats and this popular family show featuring an entertaining elf and his animated sidekick and a giant teddy bear. Each child will receive a teddy bear gift and photo with the giant teddy bear to take home. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Make-A-Wish® Greater Bay Area. Cost: $125 adults, $115 children. Locaation: 600 Stockton at California Street, San Francisco. For more info and reservations, visit their website.
- Reindeer Romp
San Francisco Zoo
Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–4 pm
Santa is sending his favorite reindeer, Belle, Holly, and Peppermint to spread holiday cheer at San Francisco Zoo & Gardens! Until January 1, majestic reindeer will be romping at SF Zoo's Playfield Lawn, near the spectacular Elinor Friend Playground. Zoo admission applies. Location: Sloat Blvd. at the Great Highway, San Francisco. Event details.
- Santa Fly-In
Pacific Coast Air Museum, Santa Rosa
Saturday, 10 am–2 pm
Thanks to the generous sponsorship by Active 20-30 of Santa Rosa, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be flying in on a helicopter provided by Helico Sonoma around 11 am. There will be free bags of goodies, a chance for kids to whisper their holiday wishes into Santa’s ear, an air slide and jumpee house, hot dogs and more. This free event is open to the public. Event details.
- Holiday Wreathmaking
Mill Valley Lumber Yard
Saturday, 10 am–4 pm
As we celebrate the season and let nature embrace your inner creativity. Gayle, floral designer & founder of Bloomgayles, will be teaching you tips & tricks on how to use fall-inspired flowers and foliage to make timeless home decor designs.These wreaths are no ordinary wreaths. Gayle sources only high-quality nature and winter inspired holiday foliage, pods and berries. Cost: $65. Get your tickets here. Location: 129 Mill Avenue, Mill Valley. Event details.
- Reindeer Visit the BADM
Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
Saturdays & Sundays, 10 am–5 pm
Come and meet Snowflake and Blizzard, two live reindeer that will be visiting BADM! Watch them roam about in Lookout Cove and learn from their experienced handlers about their diet, migration patterns and unique characteristics that have allowed them to thrive in extreme environments. Free after museum admission. Event details.
- Great Dickens Christmas Fair
Cow Palace, San Francisco
Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–7 pm
Experience Victorian London with hundreds of costumed players, shops offering one-of-a-kind gifts and Christmas treasures, dining, and pubs. Meet Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, Tiny Tim, Jules Verne, David Copperfield, Charles Darwin, and 700 costumed characters. Of course, Father Christmas himself will be on hand to join in the fun. Event details
- Gingerbread Dog House Workshop
Charles Schultz Museum, Santa Rosa
Saturday, 10 am–noon & 1–4 pm, Sunday, 1–4 pm
Assemble and decorate Snoopy’s doghouse out of gingerbread complete with a marshmallow Snoopy on top. Advance reservations required. Register online or by calling (707) 284-1272. Event details.
- Visit Santa at the Mart!
Marin Country Mart, Larkspur
Saturday, 10:30 am–1:30 pm
Meet Santa Claus at the Mart each Saturday in December before Christmas! Be sure to bring your list to ask Santa for the present you want—and put your best smile on for the complimentary photo. Event details.
- River Rose and the Magical Christmas Storytime
Barnes & Noble, Corte Madera
Saturday, 11 am
It's Christmas Eve and River Rose wants to stay up all night to hand-deliver a note to Santa, but she and her dog fall asleep only to find they've been swept off on another magical adventure. Activities to follow. For all ages. Event details.
- Patchwork Series Children's Show: The Hipwaders
Freight & Salvage, Berkeley
Saturday, 11 am (doors open at 10:30 am)
Listed as one of “25 Best Bands for Kids” by TimeOut New York Kids, The Hipwaders perform danceable rock ‘n’ roll for kids & families. The band has had several top ten songs on XM/SIRIUS Radio including #1 songs, ”Hey Josie!” & "Educated Kid.” Since 2005 they’ve released 6 award-winning albums, performed across the US and continue to perform throughout the SF Bay Area. Admission: $10 advance, $12 at the door. Doors open at 10:45 am. Location: 2020 Addison Street, Berkeley. For more info, call (510) 644-2020 or visit their website.
- Mark Foehringer's Nutcracker Sweets
Saturday & Sunday, 11 am
Fort Mason Center, San Francisco
Mark Foehringer's Nutcracker Sweets is a unique 50-minute version of the Nutcracker specifically designed for families with young children. The production features a live 9-piece chamber orchestra, Brian Fisher as Drosselmeyer, musical direction by Michael Morgan, set design by Peter Crompton, costume design by Richard Battle, and production direction by Frederic O. Boulay. Tickets: $20.50–$42.50. Location: Fort Mason Center, Herbst Pavilion, San Francisco. Event details.
- Saturdays with Santa
Bon Air Center, Greenbrae
Saturday, noon–4 pm
Santa arrives by firetruck (courtesy of the Larkspur Fire Department) at Santa’s Workshop in front of Mollie Stone’s Market on the first three Saturdays of December. Free photos with Santa for families, friends and pets courtesy of CVS. Enjoy live music, sidewalk specials, Santa’s elves and children’s activities and treats. Event details.
- Marin City Library's 2nd Annual Snowman Social
Marin City Library
Saturday, 1–3 pm
Join us for an afternoon of food, crafts, fun, and maybe a little bit of magical snowman science. Location: 164 Donahue Street, Marin City. Event details.