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Winter Events Around The Bay
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Winter Events Around The Bay

Picture of Anna Medina
Updated: 10 January 2017
Sometimes it seems that all of the Bay Area’s holiday festivities are concentrated in San Francisco, but that doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of things to do outside of SF. In fact, winter around the rest of the bay is full of fun events and activities for people of all ages. There’s so much going on between now and the end of the year that your calendar is bound to be jam-packed with holiday cheer. 


Alameda, CA

This is a New Year’s Eve party done the right way: swing dancing to a live band aboard the USS Hornet. Ring in the new year while wearing your two-toned dancing shoes and lindy hopping to music by 3 O’Clock Jump. Participate in a silent auction, take some free dancing lessons, and enjoy a stress-free arrival with free parking. Go ahead, dance your way into 2016!

When: Dec 31, 7:30pm to 1am

Cost: $50/General Admission, $75/Reserved Seating, $95/Cabaret Seating

Ages: 18+

USS Hornet Museum, 707 Hornet Ave, Alameda, CA, USA

Berkeley, CA

Bust out your design chops and start a new tradition (or continue an existing one) by making a gingerbread habitat at the Habitot Children’s Museum. You’ll want to bring the kiddos and watch as they blow you away with their whimsical creations. And then you’ll want to partake in — eventually — eating those delicious creations. Winter never tasted so good.

When: Dec 19, 9:30am to 4:30pm

Cost: $35/house (includes admission for one child and one adult); members, $25/house

Ages: 0-6

Habitot Children’s Museum, 2065 Kittredge St, Berkeley, CA, USA


Daly City, CA

Charles Dickens = an idyllic Victorian Christmas (minus the portrayals of the seedy underbelly of life in this era, but forgive the digression). If Christmas brings visions of carolers in Dickensian garb and gentlemen in top hats to you, you will most definitely want to stop by the Great Dickens Christmas Fair & Victoria Holiday Party. This is your chance to wear that historically accurate, mid-19th century dress. Your great expectations are sure to be met, or you’re just a humbug.

When: Nov 21 thru Dec 20

Cost: $25-30/Adult, $12/Children (5-12)

Cow Palace Exhibition Halls, 2600 Geneva Ave, Daly City, CA, USA

Half Moon Bay, CA

Half Moon Bay hosts an annual Night of Lights that brings an old-fashioned charm to the coastal city. It’s a thorough affair, complete with a parade, a petting zoo for the kids, Santa, food vendors, games, and a Winter Wonderland with snow. Take a stroll down Candy Cane Lane (the 300 block of Main Street), listen to carolers, and visit the shops that stay open later during this event. Literally roast chestnuts on an open fire and see the Peninsula Scottish Fiddlers and dancers perform. You’ll want to linger in this charming city.

When: Dec 4, 6pm to 9pm

Cost: Free

235 Main Street, Half Moon Bay, CA, USA


Marshall, CA

When Santa stops by Nick’s Cove, he appropriately arrives by boat. And you’ll want to be there to witness his arrival, preferably while sipping hot cocoa and eating sweet treats. Bring the kiddos to capture that classic Santa’s lap moment. Don’t forget to bring a donation of canned food for the Marin Food Bank, and you’ll receive 15% off any food or beverage from Nick’s Cove for the day. Plan to have lunch at Nick’s Cove before Santa’s arrival at 3pm or stay for dinner after his departure at 5pm.

When: Dec 6, 3pm to 5pm

Cost: Free

Nick’s Cove, 23240 Highway 1, Marshall, CA, USA

Oakland, CA

The holiday season becomes palpable in Oakland’s Jack London Square on December 4. Witness the lighting of the 55-foot tree, enjoy listening to music from the Oakland School for the Arts, catch a glimpse of dance numbers from Oakland Ballet’s The Nutcracker, and wander through Nneka’s Holiday Pop Up which comprises over 70 local vendors and artisans. Best part” Real reindeer.  

When: Dec 4, 5pm to 7pm

Cost: Free

Jack London Square, Broadway and Embarcadero, Oakland, CA, USA


San Jose, CA

San Jose has quite a few noteworthy winter events coming up and, since it was so hard to pick just one, The Culture Trip didn’t. After you’ve had your share of turkey and pie, walk it off at the Harvest Festival Art and Craft Show on November 27 and 28, where you can get a head start on your holiday shopping or simply enjoy the music and entertainment. If you’re looking for musical inspiration, check out Symphony Silicon Valley Chorale’s 11th Annual Carols in the California, which features Glenn McClure’s St. Francis in the Americas: A Caribbean Mass, accompanied by the College of San Mateo Panhandlers Steel Band. The Season of Hope Concert Series, held at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph, offers free nightly performances on the twelve days of Christmas. Christmas in the Park lights up downtown San Jose with family-oriented fun and is not to be missed.

San Rafael, CA

If Santa’s North Pole had remote offices, they would be based out of the Christmas House in San Rafael. This place pulls out all the stops and takes ‘deck the halls’ to a new level. In its 30th year, the house includes 60-plus themed and decorated trees. If the warm weather doesn’t quite make it feel like Christmas in the Bay Area yet, a visit to the Christmas House certainly will.

When: Mon thru Sat, 8am to 5pm; Sun, 9am to 4 pm; closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day

Cost: Free

West End Nursery, 1938 Fifth Ave, San Rafael, CA, USA

Woodside, CA

During other seasons, Filoli is a stunning place, but during the holiday season Filoli is enchanting. Its grounds are adorned with signs of the season in the most elegant and tasteful ways. Sample specialty treats made by local artisans at the Filoli Marketplace and then marvel at the intricate gingerbread houses (that were obviously made by professionals). You’ll probably want to check out the Women’s Clothing Boutique and The Men’s Club, as well as the Vintage Christmas Room, Wine and Cheese Bar, and Garden Room. Linger a little while to take it all in.

When: Nov 27 thru Dec 5, times vary

Cost: Varies

Filoli Gardens, 86 Cañada Rd, Woodside, CA, USA


Around the Bay:

What if everybody decided to dress like Santa for one day in December” It would be be brilliant, right” Well, apparently this is a thing. Cities across the nation set aside one day in December for people to don their Santa suits and generally have a jolly good time. It’s traditionally called SantaCon, though some cities adopt names like Santa Rampage and Santarchy. Many times there’s a pub crawl involved, because why not” Look for the Bay Area SantaCon celebrations near you.

  • Campbell, CA: Santa Rampage, Dec 6
  • Capitola, CA: SantaCon, Dec 5
  • Cupertino, CA: SantaCon, Dec 5
  • San Jose, CA: SantaCon. Dec 19
  • San Francisco, CA: SantaCon, Dec 12
  • Santa Cruz, CA: SantaCon, Dec 12