Cool Cat 'Snowcat': Flugelhornist Dmitri Matheny performs 'The Snowcat,' an instrumental journey for kids, at the Discovery Museum.
The many things to do this holiday season
By Gretchen Giles
When figuring how to celebrate and cherish the darkest days of winter with loved ones, we like to focus less on the goodies left by that weight-challenged guy in the red suit than we do on activities--time spent together with those we love, doing things that matter. Herewith, we offer some highlights for the holiday season.
Move over Stomp!, as Break, an innovative new hip-hop ensemble, percuss and jump through 30 years of hip-hop history. Many of the artists honed their chops as Madonna's and Janet Jackson's backup dancers. A live DJ makes the mix happen. Sunday, Nov. 27, at 3pm. Marin Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. $20-$50. 415.499.6800.
The Nutcracker Stapleton Ballet includes some hundred dancers and guest artists, and 135 lavish costumes. Sunday, Dec. 4, at 1pm and 5pm. Marin Center's Veterans Memorial Auditorium, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. $14-$26. 415.472.3500.
The Nutcracker Marin Ballet presents a lavish, full-length production of this classic ballet, featuring more than 150 Marin dance students. Meet the cast and see a puppet show at the Candy Cane parties following the matinee. Saturday, Dec. 10, at 1pm and 5pm. Marin Center's Veterans Memorial Auditorium, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. $19-$31; Candy Cane party after 1pm performance, $8 extra. 415.499.6800.
The Nutcracker Ballet California presents this traditional ballet with 34-piece orchestra and special guest-star dancers. Friday-Sunday, Dec. 16-18. Friday at 7:30pm; Saturday at 2pm and 7pm; Sunday at 2pm. LBC, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. $16-$50. 707.546.3600.
The Nutcracker Ballet Califia presents Tchaikovsky's holiday classic as choreographed and envisioned by company director David McNaughton. Friday-Sunday, Dec. 16-18. Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 2:30pm and 8pm; Sunday at 2:30pm. Spreckels Performing Arts Center, 5409 Snyder Lane, Rohnert Park. $12-$16. 707.588.3430.
Sophie & the Enchanted Toy Shop Marin Dance Theatre presents a full-length, two-act children's ballet in which a magical toymaker whisks young Sophie away to a winter wonderland. A cast of 120 performers includes several special guest artists. Saturday, Dec. 17 at 1pm and 5pm; special Teddy Bear's tea reception after 1pm performance. Marin Center, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. $15-$28. 415.499.6800.
The Nutcracker Napa Regional Dance Company continues a family tradition with an emphasis on stunning sets and costumes, as well as, of course, dance. Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 17-18. Saturday at 12:30pm and 6pm; Sunday at 2pm. Lincoln Theater, 100 California Ave., Yountville. 707.944.1300.
Oh Yes, Shopping
Gifts 'n' Tyme Holiday Faire Now in its 33rd year, the fair features 82 booths and home-baked goodies by the greater Napa Valley Lion's Club. Friday-Sunday, Nov. 18-20. Friday, 11am to 7pm; Saturday, 10am to 6pm; Sunday, 11am to 4pm. Napa Valley Exposition, 575 Third St., Napa. Free. 925.372.8961.
Holiday Pottery Sale The Sonoma Community Center offers one-of-a-kind ceramic goods. Friday-Saturday, Nov. 18-19. Friday, 11am to 3pm; Saturday, 9am to 3pm. Sonoma Community Center, 276 E. Napa St., Sonoma. Free. 707.938.4626.
Christmas Crafts Fair Imported items from around the world and a plethora of homemade crafts and artisanal offerings mark this event, partially benefiting the Russian River Watershed Protection Committee. New location this year. Friday-Sunday, Nov. 25-27. Sebastopol Veteran's Building, 282 High St. $2-$3; under 12, free. 707.869.0054.
Spirit of Holidays Gift Faire Produced by the Health and Harmony folks, this event sprawls across the Sonoma County Fairgrounds and includes some 250 booths featuring right-livelihood products, green-living gifts, locally made crafts and more. Friday-Sunday, Nov. 25-27, and Friday-Saturday, Dec. 3-4 and 10-11, 10am to 6pm. 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. $2-$5; under five, free. 707.861.2035.
Dance Palace Holiday Crafts Fair One of our personal favorites, some 40 high-level craftspeople gather under one roof for some groovy early-season shopping. Friday-Sunday, Dec. 2-4. Friday, 3pm to 9pm; Saturday-Sunday, 10am to 5pm. Dance Palace, Fifth and B streets, Pt. Reyes Station. Free. 415.663.1475.
Holiday Festival Marin Art and Garden Center hosts festive shopping weekend with annual greens sale of wreathes, boughs and other scented freshness, as well as baked goods, an open house, a toy drive and the Teddy Bear Tea. Saturday, Dec. 3, 10am to 4pm. 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross. 415.455.5260.
December in Calistoga Community Christmas bazaar now in its 36th year offers artisan-made treats. Santa will be there before he hops on a tractor to lead the evening's parade amid a merchant open house. Both events Saturday, Dec. 3. Crafts fair, Napa County Fairgrounds, 1435 Oak St., Calistoga. 9am to 4pm. Parade, down Lincoln Avenue, 6pm to 7pm. Both events free. 707.942.4232.
Goddess Crafts Faire Winter solstice Goddess Crafts Faire celebrates 11th year of handmade gifts by local and regional women, as well as live music, tarot readings and food, food, food! Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 3-4, 10am to 6pm. Sebastopol Community Center, 390 Morris St. $5-$13 donation. 707.829.3938.
Muir Beach Quilters Quilt artists and other artisans gather at 33rd event with handicrafts of all kinds and free activities for the kids. Free shuttle from Muir Beach parking lot. Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 3-4. Saturday, 11am to 5pm; Sunday, 10am to 4pm. Muir Beach Community Center, 19 Seascape Drive. Free. 415.383.6762.
Dickens of Holiday Crafts Fair Juried work by some 60 craftspeople, offering everything from glass to woodwork to ceramics to clothing and more. Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 3-4, 10am to 4pm. Finley Community Center, 2060 W. College Ave., Santa Rosa. $2; under 18, free. 707.543.3737.
Occidental Holiday Crafts Faire Traditional event now in its 20th year showcases diversity of West County with one-of-a-kind crafts and gifts. Santa and the missus are in attendance, and Faire Cafe is open. Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 10-11, 10am to 5pm. Occidental Community Center, corner of Graton Road and Bohemian Highway. Free. 707.874.9407.
Out and About
Miniatures at the Manor Small-works art show and sale marvelously coupled with culinary genius makes for fine start to the holidays. Evening begins with champagne reception, moves on to art sale and settles down for outstanding dinner. Saturday, Nov. 19, at the Madrona Manor. 1001 Westside Road, Healdsburg. 5pm. $95. 707.431.1970.
Holiday in Carneros South Napa comes alive at 18th annual Holiday in Carneros Open House to benefit college scholarships for those planning to study wine. Participating wineries include Ceja, MacRostie, Schug, Buena Vista and many others, with special tastings, live music and other treats. Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 19-20. $25. For details, go to www.carneroswineries.org.
Service of Remembrance Hospice of Marin Foundation holds 19th annual memorial gathering for family, friends and community in nondenominational setting. Ritual of Flowers, in which flowers representing loved ones are placed in a common vase, is among the healing events. Sunday, Nov. 20, from 4pm. San Rafael Presbyterian Church, 1510 Fifth Ave. Free. 415.526.5500.
Thanksgiving Banquet /i> Redwood Gospel Mission hosts full T-Day spread, including hot turkey dinner, food box to take home and information on health services and gospel. Children's activities, too. Wednesday, Nov. 23, 10am to 6pm. Free. At all Missions in North Bay. 707.542.4817.
Heart of Sonoma Open House Open house festivities with 22 wineries throughout Sonoma Valley, opening their doors to benefit the Redwood Empire Food Bank and make holiday shopping all the easier. Wineries include Arrowood, B.R. Cohn, Eric Ross, Landmark (Saturday only), Loxton and many others. Friday-Saturday, Nov. 25-26, 11am to 4:30pm. $20 per drinker; $10, designated driver. 866.794.9463.
Festival of Lights See Yountville magnificently illuminated as Washington Street is closed to traffic--with the exception of horse-drawn buggies--for open-air festival. Caroling, costumed characters, dancers and food booths provided by area restaurants complete evening's glitter. Friday, Nov. 25, from 1pm. Downtown Yountville, Washington Street. Free. 707.944.0904.
Watery Santa Santa arrives via river in Petaluma followed by a horse-drawn procession through the downtown. Saturday, Nov. 26 at noon. Turning basin, Golden Eagle Shopping Center, on Washington Boulevard. Free. 707.762.9348.
Bay Area Discovery Museum Blizzard of events for the young ones with special activities run almost daily and include Gingerbread Architectural Extravaganza (Nov. 26-27, Dec. 10-12, 17-23), The Snowcat with flugelhornist Dmitri Matheny (Dec. 17-18, 28-30) and a special Kwanzaa hip-hop dance performance (Dec. 26). Discovery Museum, Fort Baker, 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito. $7.50-$8.50. 415.927.0960.
Windsor Open House Old downtown Windsor (actually the brand-spanking new section of town), hosts merchant open house with horse-drawn carriages, trolley rides and the Claus family. Santa and the missus arrive at 6:15pm to light the tree on the Windsor town green. Dec. 1, 5pm to 8pm. Free. 707.838.1260.
Parade of Lights All of northern Healdsburg lights up when Trentadue Winery, Chateau Souverain and Simi host family-oriented event for local charities. Santa will be in merry evidence and a trolley shuttles holiday-goers from place to place. Friday, Dec. 2, from 5pm to 8:30pm. Free; $5 tasting fee may apply. www.trentadue.com.
Light Up a Life Hospice helps to honor lives lost in annual candle- and tree-lighting ceremony. Friday-Sunday, Dec. 2-4, in different locations. Friday, at 7pm, Center Park, the strip of trees outside of the Mystic Theatre on Petaluma Boulevard South, Petaluma. Saturday at 6pm, Railroad Square, Third Street, downtown Santa Rosa. Sunday at 6pm, Star of the Valley, Oakmont. Free. 707.778.6242 or 707.568.1094.
St. Helena Holiday Homes Six homes, decorated for the holidays by area designers, open their doors wide in a benefit for St. Helena schools. Refreshments, bien sur. Saturday, Dec. 3, from 10am to 4pm. Self-guided tour. $30-$35. 707.967.2712, ext. 155.
Petaluma Boat Parade Local watercraft wait for sundown to show their true colors in splendid nighttime display. Saturday, Dec. 3. Parade begins at the Petaluma Marina at 5:30pm and arrives at the Turning Basin downtown around 6:30pm. Free. 707.769.0429.
Holiday B&B Play resident tourist and plan the next weekend getaway when Napa B&Bs open their doors for an open-house holiday tour, replete with winery owners, winemakers, chefs, food pairings, live music and other surprises at each individual inn. Saturday, Dec. 3, from 3pm to 8pm. $25-$35; proceeds benefit pancreatic cancer research. For list of participating hostelries and treats, go to www.historicinns.com.
Zen Fest Fundraiser for the Stone Creek Zen Center focuses on Japanese food and handcrafts, as well as meditation supplies, altar materials and other handicrafts for spirituality. Attendees are encouraged to create a prayer flag for peace. Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Masonic Center. 373 N. Main St., Sebastopol. Free. 707.829.9808.
Victorian Tea Petaluma Historical Society and Museum holds its annual high English cream tea, replete with dainty sandwiches, scones, fine china and costumed maids. Sunday, Dec. 4, noon to 3pm. 20 Fourth St., Petaluma. $40. 707.778.4398.
Luther Burbank Open House Luther Burbank Home and Gardens are open for 26th annual festive community celebration, themed for the Victorian era and hosted by costumed docents. Tour the decorated Luther Burbank home, enjoy crafts with kids and eat fresh cookies. Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 3-4, 10am to 4pm. Luther Burbank Home and Gardens, Santa Rosa and Sonoma avenues, Santa Rosa. Free. 707.524.5445.
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