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Get ready! Holiday celebrations kick off across the Bay Area

Holiday Celebrations in the Bay Area

By Katy St. Clair. Bay City News.

While snow is never part of the equation, the Bay Area's holiday season is kicking off. Many cities and towns have free events for the whole family. Joyous and triumphant revelers can travel from county to county to partake in seasonal allegiance, shop for unique holiday crafts, enjoy the Hanukkah Festival of Lights, or celebrate Kwanzaa. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, although most of the events listed are free.  


The Ferry Building is hosting free craft events throughout the season, starting on Sunday with Beary Merry Holiday polar bear crafts starting at 10:00 a.m. and “Pretty Presents” crafts like hot chocolate ornaments, herb sachets, and personalized mugs. ?Dec. 18?.  

The San Francisco Public Library is hosting a Kwanzaa Game Day on December 26 from 2:00-4:00 p.m. This will be the first day of Kwanzaa, also known as Umoja, or "unity." Ancestors will be honored with the lighting of the first candle of the season, followed by games and refreshments for the whole family.  

SantaCon SF's annual pub crawl will take place on December 10 starting in Union Square. Participation is free, you just need to dress up as an incarnation of Santa Claus. Participants hop from bar to bar, so if you plan on drinking punch, you'll have to pay for that.  

Macy's holiday windows are in full effect now through January 1. The popular attraction features adoptable cats and dogs, puppies and kittens in conjunction with the SF SPCA. The furballs are on display from noon to 5:00 p.m., Thursday through Sunday, excluding Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Macy's is located in Union Square.  

On Monday, the Castro Holiday Tree lighting will take place at Castro and 18th Street. In attendance will be Mayor London Breed, the SF Gay Men's Chorus, the SF Gay/Lesbian Freedom Band, and possible appearances by Supervisor Rafael Mandelman and State Senator Scott Wiener.

The Fifth Annual Glowing Hanukkah Party will take place in Ghirardelli Square on December 8. Sponsored by the San Francisco Jewish Community Center, this event will feature dreidels and festive crafts, with lit candles and songs. It works from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.  

Finally, the city will host its 10th Annual Illuminate SF Festival of Light, featuring 62 light installations. For more information, including locations, go to https://www.illuminatesf.com.


Pleasanton– The Hometown Holiday Parade will begin at 5 pm on December 3, with marching bands, floats and community groups. A tree lighting ceremony will follow at 6:45 p.m. ?approximately? with music, the mayor and a special appearance by Santa Claus.  

Martinez– The Christmas tree and Santa Claus lighting begins at 4:00 p.m. at Main Street Plaza. The city's annual community Hanukkah celebration will take place beginning December 18. Co-sponsored by the B'nai Shalom Congregation, the traditional lighting of the menorah will take place every evening at dusk from December 18-26 at Main Street Plaza. There will be music, sufganiyot and fun for the whole family.  

Danville– Christmas at the Livery will feature free visits from Santa, train rides, a snow zone, tongue twisters, face painting, Christmas carols and merry goodie bags for the kids. It takes place on Sunday from noon to 3:00 p.m. The Livery is located at 567 Sycamore Rd., Danville.  

Walnut Creek: The Garden D'Lights will shine at Ruth Bancroft Garden for the fourth year in a row, featuring a drought-tolerant landscape filled with cacti, succulents and native California plants adorned with holiday lights, ornaments, music and lighting. raise sculptures. The Garden Light Installation runs through January 8 and is located at 1552 Bancroft Rd. Tickets must be purchased.  

Berkeley: Toddlers, kids five and under, and their parents are invited to a holiday carnival at the Live Oak Community Center on December 3 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The event will feature Snowflake Toss, Big Rain Drop Throw, Windy Parachute Games, and Pin the Nose on the Snowman. There will also be an arts and crafts station. Prizes and refreshments will be available. The center is located at 1301 Shattuck Ave.

Richmond– Downtown Holiday Festival featuring goodie bag giveaways and photos with Santa. The festival will take place from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on December 14 at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts.

Brentwood– The Grand Chanukah Community Festival begins December 18 at 4:30 pm There will be a menorah lighting with dignitaries, Hanukkah donuts and latkes, chocolate gelt, lots of crafts and even a fire and sword artist. It will take place in City Park across from Brentwood City Hall.


Petaluma: Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive in town on a riverboat Saturday across the Petaluma River, docking at the River Plaza shopping center. Petaluma Pete and the Pacific Empire Chorus will entertain the crowd at 11:30 a.m. until Santa shows up at noon. "Nutcracker" dancers from the Petaluma Ballet School will also twirl.  

Windsor– The town's annual Christmas celebration and tree lighting will take place on December 1 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Town Green. Local schools will present live music screenings at 5:00 p.m. and then at 7:00 p.m. the tree lighting will begin. There's plenty for kids too, like Santa's Mailbox, cookie decorating, and craft workshops.  

Healdsburg: Merry Healdsburg festivities will take place downtown at Healdsburg Plaza on December 2. A tree lighting ceremony begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by free photos with Santa. There will also be free Kiwanis-sponsored hayrides and free hot chocolate. Live music will include the Healdsburg Choir and Rocío La Dama de La Cumbia y Su Sonora.  

Guerneville– The Parade of Lights begins after dark on December 3 at 7:00 p.m. on Main Street, with this year's theme “A Very Fairy Christmas.” This parade is known for its offbeat, campy fun.  

Calistoga – Known as the “ultimate small town holiday celebration,” the Calistoga Lighted Tractor Parade is definitely one of a kind. Modern, vintage and vintage tractors will be adorned with lights along with other construction equipment. The parade takes place from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on December 3.  

Benicia – If you're looking for a charming small-town Christmas parade, look no further than Benicia's annual event. This year it takes place on December 10 and runs down First Street. The show starts at 10:00 a.m. and residents generally save their places overnight, though there is always room for more. The parade is followed by a holiday market.  

Vallejo: The town's annual Mad Hatter Christmas festival and parade is not to be missed. It's weird and wonderful, with motorized Obtainium Works contraptions, steam punk revelers, traditional holiday nods and more. It all starts at 2:00 p.m. in Unity Plaza near the library on Santa Clara Street with dancing horses, children's crafts, children's games and food. The parade begins on Georgia Street at 4:30 p.m. with a tree lighting ceremony at 6:00 p.m. at the Santa Clara Street Library. A parade of illuminated boats begins at 6:30 p.m. in the marina.  

Sausalito- The Lighted Boat Parade and Fireworks Celebration will begin on December 10 at 6:00 PM, rain or shine, along the Sausalito waterfront.  

Mill Valley– Winterfest is back. With live entertainment, a giant slide, tons of kids' activities, and great food, the event culminates with the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. It takes place on December 4 from noon to 5:00 p.m. at the Mill Valley Downtown Plaza.  

St. Helena– Santa himself will make an appearance downtown on December 9 from 3:00-6:00 p.m. There will be photo opportunities, music, and food vendors.  

Napa – The city's Christmas Parade will take place on December 10 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. in downtown Napa. This year's theme celebrates 175 years of Christmas in Napa.  

Yountville… How about a Latke Throw Down? Bardessono is hosting its second annual event at the Yountville Community Center, with a latke-making competition. Tickets are $10, but guests will be able to watch the competition and even sample the tickets. The event will take place on December 15 from 5:00-6:00 p.m. at 6516 Washington St. Interested parties are encouraged to email their RSVP to events@bardessono.com.

American Canyon - It's time for the Magic of the Illuminated Parade Season and Tree Lighting. In addition to the parade, there will be food vendors and a holiday gift market. The event will take place from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on December 3 at Shenandoah Park, 100 Sonoma Creek Way.  


San Jose– Christmas in the Park takes place in the heart of downtown San Jose at Plaza de Cesar Chavez. This free event has been running for 40 years and features lively and musical displays, sparkling lights, and a 50-foot-tall Christmas tree. School and community groups along with businesses decorate an "enchanted grove of trees" and vendors are on hand if you get hungry. This event runs until January 1st.  

Mountain View: Bring a folding chair, your singing voice and an open mind to the Holiday Sing-Along with TACO ?Terrible Adult Chamber Orchestra? on Sunday. The event begins at 3:00 p.m. at the Civic Center Plaza, 500 Castro St.

Foster City: Holiday music, light snacks and Santa Claus are part of this year's Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 14 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Recreation Center at 650 Shell Blvd.  

Los Altos – The Festival of Lights Parade has been held in Los Altos since 1977, with floats, marching bands, and costumed characters all illuminated with lights. The revelry begins at 6:00 p.m. at First and State streets in downtown.  

Burlingame: A Christmas tree lighting will be held at City Hall on December 2 and a festive Hanukkah event will kick off on December 18 with a huge Lego menorah. There will also be latkes and donuts, crafts, and selfies with a dreidel mascot. It's free but you need to RSVP for the address at chabadnp.com/chanukah.  

Colma– Get ready for the Christmas tree lighting on December 1 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Tall Hall Plaza on El Camino Real. Santa will be there with hot chocolate and treats.  

Half Moon Bay – There are three festive events at Half Moon Bay in December, starting with an illuminated parade on December 2 at 6:15 p.m. There is also a kids' zone and Santa will be there to sign autographs in Dutra Park after the parade. . An ugly sweater party rears its head on December 9 and there will be a contest for the most egregious. Finally, the movie Elf will be shown on December 16 in the parking lot of the Cunha Country Store. All events take place on and around Main Street.  

Pacifica – The Rockaway Tree Lighting Festival 2022 returns this year on December 4 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Kids activities, food vendors and food trucks, flurries of “snow,” pony rides, live music, and Santa Claus, of course. The party takes place on Rockaway Beach, Dondee Way.  

Redwood City: There is a Christmas parade, but it's all really one big show, with photos with Santa, live entertainment; food, beer and wine vendors, and the parade at 4:30 p.m. on December 10 in Courthouse Square. The 13th Annual Hanukkah Festival will also take place on December 18 from 4:15 pm to 5:30 pm at Courthouse Square. There will be music, menorah lighting, latkes and donuts, moon jumping, and holiday crafts. Organizers also tout the "first menorah" painted in Northern California.  

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