Ready to celebrate the season in style? There’s no need to leave town. Sacramento has an incredible array of festivities to get you into the holiday spirit.
Whether already an annual tradition or something you’ll be trying for the first time, there is no shortage of holiday events taking place in and near Sacramento this season.
Sacramento’s Best Holiday Events
You can stay in Sacramento and get all the holiday spirit that you need.
Capitol Tree Lighting
Governor Brown and First Lady Anne Gust Brown will host the 87th Annual Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the West Steps of the State Capitol.
This year’s tree is a 65-foot-tall white fir from the Latour Demonstration State Forest located near Redding in Shasta County. It will be illuminated by approximately 10,000 lights and decorated with more than 900 hand-crafted ornaments made by children and adults with developmental disabilities who receive services and support from the state’s developmental centers and 21 nonprofit regional centers.
When: Thursday, December 6th 5–6pm
Where: California State Capitol, West Steps
Theater of Lights
Returning for its 10th year, the Old Sacramento Waterfront is host to Macy’s Theater of Lights, transforming the Old Sacramento Waterfront district into a 19th-century winter wonderland as spectators watch the light show spectacular and unique retelling of the American classic, “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
Best viewed from the center of K Street, Old Sacramento Waterfront visitors can view the production as the story is performed from the balconies of the buildings around them.
Discover how early pioneers experienced the calamities — and revelry — that befell the new city in the 1850s, the sounds of the fires, floods, and parties will surround the audience as the 150-year-old building facades light up with color.
When: Thursday through Sunday, Nov 23 - Dec 24, at 6 and 7:30 PM (6 PM only on December 24th)
Where: Old Sacramento Waterfront
Ice Skating Downtown
Open from November through January, the Downtown Sacramento Ice Skating Rink is the perfect place to lace up and get in the holiday spirit.
Whether you’re making holiday memories with your littles or you’re out for a romantic first date, the Ice Skating in Downtown Sacramento is a must-do Sacramento tradition.
When: Open daily November 2, 2018 – January 21, 2019.
Where: At 7th Street and K Street, Downtown Sacramento
Greta Gerwig’s critically acclaimed film Lady Bird skyrocketed Sacramento’s Fabulous Forties neighborhood into the international spotlight. But those of us who live here know that it has always been the star of the show – especially during the holiday season.
Known for its grand old houses that were custom built in the early decades of the 20th century, the “Fabulous Forties” is renowned for its eclectic “Revival” style of architecture as well as the English cottages, Tudor-style homes, Dutch farmhouses, Mediterranean villas, and Craftsman bungalows.
With no two houses are the same, the neighborhood is a city treasure year-round. During the holidays, however, it really comes to life.
The majestically tree-lined streets sparkle with twinkling lights while the homes are decked out in timeless decorations. Taking in the trimmings and grandeur of the Fabulous Forties is a can’t-miss Sacramento holiday tradition.
Want even more? Get a closer look of 5 of these festive beauties during the Holiday Home Tour from Friday Nov. 30 thru Sunday Dec. 2.
When: November - December
Where: East Sacramento, “Fab 40’s”: 38th - 46th Streets between Folsom Boulevard and H Streets
A Day Along the Sacramento Riverfront
Rediscover the Old Sacramento Waterfront and the cultural, entertainment, shopping, and eating adventures waiting for you along the riverfront.
Magical Holiday Train Journeys
With trains at the heart of our city’s rich history, it comes as no surprise that Sacramento is home to holiday train adventures that awe and excite.
Magical Christmas Train
Make timeless memories on a 90 minute train ride through a storybook wonderland with Santa and his elves aboard the Magical Christmas Train.
Don your Christmas jammies – if you’re so inclined – and join caroling and reindeer games.
Tickets include cookies and hot chocolate in a souvenir mug, as well as a personal visit with Santa Claus himself.
When: Boarding November 30th – December 23rd (see calendar for details)
Where: Sacramento RiverTrain at 400 North Harbor Blvd, West Sacramento
Hot chocolate and cookies are served on six vintage train cars as you relive the magical journey of THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Ride on an hour-long trip to the North Pole.
Many of the story’s characters will be along for the ride, such as the Train Conductor, the Dancing Waiters, and a ghostly Hobo.
Upon reaching the North Pole, Santa will board the Polar Express to give each passenger a silver sleigh bell, the “first gift of Christmas”. This family-favorite event sells out early every year, soon after tickets become available in October. If you’re not booked for the magical journey this year, be sure to plan ahead for next Christmas!
When: Boarding November 28 – December 20 (see calendar for details)
Where: California State Railroad Museum Train, 930 Front Street, Old Sacramento Waterfront
Miracle Holiday Takeovers
A Christmas-themed pop-up cocktail bar that serves holiday cocktails in a festive setting, Miracle takes over bars worldwide with kitschy holiday décor and professionally-developed cocktails. And this year Miracle will be taking over two popular Sacramento bars for the holiday season.
Red Rabbit’s Miracle Takeover
Bringing back it’s nostalgic holiday vibe to midtown favorite bar and restaurant Red Rabbit, Miracle offers a fully immersive holiday experience.
From decor and ambiance to drinkware and dishes – the Miracle takeover of midtown’s Red Rabbit will not disappoint.
When: November 26th – December 24th
Where: Red Rabbit at 2718 J Street, Sacramento
Jungle Bird’s Sippin’ Santa
If you’re in the mood for more of a Christmas Island vibe, head over to Miracle’s Sippin’ Santa takeover of Midtown’s Jungle Bird.
In this first year of the tiki-themed takeover, Jungle Bird is among only twelve bars chosen – and the only on the west coast.
Sip your way through tiki-themed holiday drinks and soak up the island holiday vibes
When: November 23rd – January 1st
Where: The Jungle Bird at 2516 J Street, Sacramento
Throwback Holiday Movies
Question: What better way to get in the holiday spirit than cozying up with a classic holiday movie on the television?
Answer: Classic holiday movies on the big screen.
Both the Tower Theater and Downtown’s Crest Theater have screenings of classic holiday films from Miracle on 34th Street to Polar Express.
Be sure to purchase tickets early as screenings are limited and the movies timelessly popular.
Sacramento Area Holiday Events
Venture out of downtown Sacramento to enjoy holiday events in outlying historic areas. You can get to these fabulous holiday events in under an hour!
Old Town Auburn’s Classic Christmas
A longtime foothill tradition, the Classic Christmas in Old Town Auburn has it all. Enjoy a bowl of clam chowder served out of the historic Hook and Ladder fire station then take a hayride up to the Park Victorian. Quench your thirst – for cocoa, craft-beer or something with a little more spirit – and shop local vendors for unique gifts. Enjoy seasonal food offerings and plenty of entertainment.
With live music, Santa, a kids corner, and much more, it’s a can’t-miss holiday tradition for the whole family.
When: December 8th and 15th 5-9pm
Where: Streets of Old Town Auburn
Nevada City’s Victorian Christmas
The hilly streets – outlined with twinkling white lights and authentic gas lamps – welcome carolers dressed in Victorian attire as well as holiday vendors.
Strolling minstrels provide warm music throughout the downtown area, where you can also enjoy Victorian singers, bagpipers, brass bands and Nevada City’s famous Walking Christmas Tree. Hot roasted chestnuts and horse-drawn carriage rides complete the Nevada City Victorian Christmas experience.
When: Various dates and times throughout December
Where: Streets of Downtown Nevada City
Grass Valley’s Cornish Christmas
The Grass Valley Cornish Carol Choir, Tommyknocker Cloggers, carolers, jugglers, and musicians fill historic Grass Valley with holiday merriment. Restaurants are open and serving while street vendors will also have delicious food available.
Established in 1967, this will be Grass Valley’s 51st celebration of Cornish Christmas, with shops and street vendors selling a myriad of wares, holiday spirit abounds.
When: Fridays through December 21st 6-9pm
Where: Streets of Historic Grass Valley
With so many fun and exciting holiday events in and around Sacramento, there’s no reason to leave our region to make holiday memories that last a lifetime.