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 10% with code 510Nut.
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: $24 – $99; Children & Seniors: $20.50 – $84.25
When: December 21 at 1pm and 5pm, and December 22 at 1pm and 5pm
Where: The Paramount Theatre with the Oakland Symphony
Buy your tickets today and save 10% with code 510Nut.
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 22, 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: Through December, 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 Claus.
When: Thursday Dec. 5, 5:30-8:00
Where: Montclair Village, Oakland
More details >
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 6-31 (except Christmas Eve and Day) | January 1-5, 2020 from 5:30 pm to 9pm
Where: Oakland Zoo More details about Oakland ZooLights >
Fairy Winterland at Fairyland (Oakland)
Fairyland gets a special holiday makeover with thousands of twinkling lights, free cocoa, candy canes, a special puppet show, and a visit from Santa Claus (Black Santa since 1993!). Best for toddlers through kindergartners.
Cost: $12 per person over the age of one; $6 for members (Dec. 13 is free for members)
When: December 13-15 and 20-23 from noon to 7 pm with special activities and Black Santa beginning at 4 pm. Santa Claus goes home to the North Pole but Fairy Winterland continues for Grandparents' Week ($6 per grand-grownup) December 26-30.
Where: Children's Fairyland
More details about Fairy Winterland >
Snow in North Shattuck
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 8, 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. 15 and Dec. 21, 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, Dec. 1-Dec. 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 Dec. 5 until Dec. 24.
Where: Lake Merritt Boating Center
More details about Caroling on Lake Merritt >
More gingerbread houses! Whitney loves this reusable, washable candy cottage for year-over-year fun.
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
- Three Lighted Yacht Parades!
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 10% with code 510Nut.
[Photos of The Oakland Ballet Company by John Hefti, used with permission]