Thank you to The Oakland Ballet Company for sponsoring our guide to Christmas and holiday activities and outings in the East Bay. Buy tickets right now to save 15% with code OBC.
There are so many community events, activities, and outings in celebration of the Christmas season, we thought we'd make a list to help you narrow in on a few that sound best for your family.
Bay Area Christmas Events for Kids
TICKET ALERT! Graham Lustig’s The Nutcracker
Delight in the beautiful dancing, colorful scenery, and fanciful costumes of Oakland Ballet Company's vibrant version of this holiday classic. Cheer on Marie and her soldiers as she rescues the Nutcracker Prince from the evil Rat King and then soar with the dancing snowflakes to the Land of Sweets. Tchaikovsky’s timeless score is performed by the Oakland Symphony and the Piedmont East Bay Children's Choir.
Cost: Adults: $22 – $97; Children & Seniors: $18.50 – $82.50
When: December 22 at 1pm and 5pm, and December 23 at 1pm
Where: The Paramount Theatre with the Oakland Symphony
Buy your tickets today and save 15% with code OBC.
Tilden Park Carousel
During special holiday hours, the area around the Merry-Go-Round will be decorated all in twinkle lights and silly inflatables with FREE Santa Claus pictures Thursday through Sunday. Olaf on select days. See details about our visit to the Tilden Christmas Carousel.
Cost: $3 per ride or $15 for a seven-pack of rides. Cocoa and gingerbread cookies for sale in the snack bar.
When: Last year, hours for the merriest merry-go-round were Friday, Nov. 24 through Dec. 23, from noon to 8:30pm on weekends and 4pm to 8:30pm on weekdays
Where: Tilden Regional Park at the intersection of Central Park Drive and Lake Anza road
View website >
Jack London Square Lights Up for the Holidays
Live reindeer, Christmas music, and the lighting of a 55-foot tree.
When: Friday, November 30, 5pm to 7pm
Where: Jack London Square, Oakland
More details about Jack London Square tree lighting>
Circle of Lights at Mountain View Cemetery
This kid-friendly light display goes on each night. Cruise by and view out the car window or get out and run around.
When:Dec 1, nightly from 5-9, until New Year's Day.
Where:Mountain View Cemetery, Piedmont
More details >
Holiday Stroll in Montclair
Businesses will be open late to offer extra shopping and special treats to the community. There will be trolley rides, tap-dancing trees, snacks, and Santa visits.
When: Thursday Dec. 6, 5:30-8:00
Where: Montclair Village, Oakland
More details >
Orinda Screening of “A Christmas Story”
Join in for a family-friendly holiday film.
When: Thursday, December 13th, 6:30pm
Where: Orinda Theatre Square
Colorfully lit animal-shaped structures are placed throughout the Zoo with musical accompaniment. Gondola is spectacular and included. The Zoo is closed on Christmas Eve and Day and New Year's Eve and Day. Santa on certain evenings.
Cost: $10 adults; $9 children; FREE under age two; members save $1
When: December 7-31 (except Christmas Eve and Day) | January 1-6, 2019 from 5:30 pm to 9pm
Where: Oakland Zoo More details about Oakland ZooLights>
Snow in the Gourmet Ghetto
This North Berkeley event offers pony rides, crafts, and more, including a “sandbox of snow” for young children to play in. Hot cider and cookies on tap. (Bring boots and mittens!)
When: Sunday December 2, from 10 am to 3 pm.
Where: Between Rose and Vine on Upper Shattuck. More details >
TICKET ALERT! U.S.S. Potomac Santa Kids Cruises
Enjoy a visit with Santa, cocoa, cookies and candy canes, plus a one hour cruise along the estuary. The ship will be decorated for Christmas and full of holiday cheer.
Cost: $35 adults/ $10 ages 2-12.
When: Dec. 9 and Dec. 16, 3 pm and 5 pm cruises
Where: Leaves from 540 Water Street, Oakland (Jack London Square)
More info about the Santa Cruise at Jack London Square >
Alameda's Christmas Tree Lane
A street on which every house is lit up to its fullest. Don't miss this wonderful walk with your children, available and free any night before New Year's Eve.
When: Last year, it was nightly from Sunday, December 3-December 31 from about 6:30pm to 8pm, dates TBD
Where: 3200 block of Thompson Ave in Alameda
More details about Alameda's Christmas Tree Lane>
Water Sleigh Ride on Lake Merritt
Tours depart from the Lake Merritt Boating Center and include hot cider and cookies in the Holiday Room before boarding a pontoon boat. A tour in the dark will allow you to enjoy the lights of Lake Merritt and be a part of it by riding on a lit-up water craft.
Cost: Rides are $8 per person. Groups can charter a sleigh for $120 and bring up to 19 people, leaving anytime between 3 pm and 8 pm.
When: At 6 pm on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings from December 1 until December 23.
Where: Lake Merritt Boating Center
More details about Caroling on Lake Merritt >
Habitot's Gingerbread House Event
Decorate your very own gingerbread house to take home. After your tot has placed every last gumdrop, candy cane, and sprinkle, head to the museum to continue the fun. Pre-registration required.
Cost: $40 per house includes one adult & one child pair and admission for both of you to Habitot
When: Friday Dec. 7 or Sunday Dec. 9
Where: More details >
More gingerbread houses! Whitney loves this reusable, washable candy cottage for year-over-year fun.
Fairy Winterland / Festival of Lights Parade
Admission on these days includes free treats, hot cider, and a parade, including Santa Claus, plus unlimited rides and attractions as usual. Fairyland is open noon until 7 pm during Fairy Winterland, and the Festival of Lights parade is at 6:15 pm each night. Weather permitting.
Cost: $10 per person ($5 for members)
When: December 14-23 Noon to 7pm
Where: Children's Fairyland Oakland
Even more holiday fun in the East Bay!
Related Holiday Fun:
- Hanukkah Guide for East Bay Families
- Where to have a Christmas tea party
- Most festive Christmas tree lots
East Bay Holiday Events Coming Up
Thank you to The Oakland Ballet Company for sponsoring our guide to Christmas and holiday activities and outings in the East Bay. Save 15% with code OBC.
[Photos of Oakland Ballet Company by John Hefti; used with permission]