The valley’s return to normalcy is in full force as 2023 wraps up, with an improved Christmas in the Park and the return of Downtown Ice, along with multiple Nutcrackers, lighting displays and craft fairs throughout the valley. Here’s a chronological roundup of this year’s Whole Holiday Catalog 2023 happening around the region, followed up by a list of each organization’s websites for where to go for the best holiday events.
ONE-TIME HOLIDAY EVENTS & SHOWS
The Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts hosts many holiday shows this season. Pacific Ballet Academy performs its annual Nutcracker ballet from Nov. 24 to Nov. 26 (times vary). Tickets range from $25 to $30 with student and senior discounts available.
A two-day event from Nov. 24 to Nov. 25, the SJMADE Holiday Fair is the South Bay Area’s largest holiday craft fair. It will be hosted at the Santa Clara Convention Center and features more than 425 makers, artists and creators. The family-friendly event runs from 11am to 7pm on both days and is admission free.
Center for the Performing Arts hosts Broadway San Jose’s version of How The Grinch Stole Christmas! from Nov. 28 until Dec. 3 (times vary). A different angle with Max the Dog narrating, the Dr. Suess classic follows the original story closely. Prices range between $39 and $104.
Western Ballet’s version of The Nutcracker will take place at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts on Dec. 1 until Dec. 3 (times vary). The company follows the classic tale of Clara, Fritz and friends on a dream-like winter journey. Ticket prices range from $38 to $43 with student and senior discounts available.
On Dec. 2 from 8:30 until 11:15am, the City of Cupertino will host a breakfast with Santa at the Quinlan Community Center. The elves will cook North Pole Pancakes and set up a craft workshop while Santa poses for pictures. The event charges $18 for residents and $22 for non-residents.
There will be a breakfast with Santa event at the Mountain View Community Center put on by the City of Mountain View on Dec. 2 from 9 until 10:30am. The catered event will also feature holiday-themed performances as well as crafts and photos with Santa. Advance reservations only. Tickets are available for $18.
The City of Mountain View will also host a Holiday Robotics Workshop on Dec. 2 from 9am until 12pm at the Mountain View Community Center. The workshop will feature builds to include Santa in the chimney, Rudolph, the Polar Express, Kwanzaa DrummerBots and more. Tickets start at $69.
Cityline Sunnyvale will be hosting a complimentary family portrait session on Dec. 2 from 10am until 3pm at their Sunnyvale location. A holiday elf and the Snow Fairy will sing carols and hand out treats to families. Fur babies are welcome.
On Dec. 2 from 10am until 3pm, Creative Communal will feature more than 30 local makers, live music, a holiday kids craft, jewelry and food at its holiday artisan market in Cityline Sunnyvale. The event is free to the public.
Triton Museum of Art hosts a holiday art fair on Dec. 2 from 10am until 4pm with an agenda that includes arts and crafts, music and dance sessions. It will feature 27 local art and artisan vendors as well as food and drinks. The event is free to the public.
Also on Dec. 2 from 11am until 1pm is Mt. Pleasant Branch library’s Winter Holiday Festival. Event attendees can expect to participate in games, a book giveaway, see a balloon artist and join a read-aloud. The event is free to the community.
Los Gatos’ Children’s Christmas and Holiday Parade will also take place on Dec. 2 at 11am. It’s the city’s 67th annual parade through Downtown Los Gatos and will start on North Santa Cruz Avenue marching towards Main Street. The event is free to the public.
The Holiday Maker’s Market by Maker Nexus Makerspace will happen from 12 until 5pm on Dec. 2 at their Sunnyvale location. This is an opportunity for the community to purchase gifts from local makers. The event is free to the public.
La Herbalista is hosting a holiday wreath-making event on Dec. 2 from 1 until 3:30pm at their San Jose location for people 12 years and older. Wreath materials will be provided, and include leaves, berries and natural seed pods, but more materials are encouraged. Reservations are $45 per person.
At the California Theatre on Dec. 2 at 2pm, Holidays with Cantabile takes audiences on a journey through holiday favorites as well as music from Māori, Argentinian, Indonesian and Australian origins sung by Cantabile’s Intermezzo, Avanti, Con Brio, Bravi, Vocalise and Aria Choirs. Tickets range from $30 to $75.
Downtown Gilroy’s Holiday Festival & Parade will happen on Dec. 2 at 3pm. There will be a Santa’s Village, Grinchville, float contest, tree lighting and a window display contest. The event takes place downtown and is free to the public.
On Dec. 2 at 4pm, Downtown Campbell will host its family-friendly Carol of Lights celebration to kick off the holiday season. This annual celebration hosts Santa visits, a petting zoo, donkey rides, bounce houses, entertainment and sometimes snow. It’s free to the public.
Valley Christian Schools will be presenting Christmas at the California from Dec. 4 until Dec. 7 (times vary) at the California Theatre. Each evening will feature a different show from a different group of performers. Tickets are available between $7 and $14.
From Dec. 7 to Dec. 10 (times vary), the Smuin Contemporary Ballet will present The Christmas Ballet at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. Ticket prices range from $59 to $109 with discounted student rates available.
San Jose Dance Theatre will be showcasing their rendition of the Nutcracker from Dec. 8 to Dec. 10 (times vary) at the Center for Performing Arts. It’s the longest running Nutcracker performance in San Jose, celebrating its 58th year. Tickets are available between $33 and $99.
The Peninsula Youth Theatre will be showing their version of A Christmas Carol at Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts on Dec. 9 at 11:30am and 1:30pm with student matinees on Dec. 8 at 9:30 and 11am. General admission is $15 with a 50% discount for the student matinees.
On Dec. 9 from 11am until 9pm the Mountain View City Hall Plaza will host the German Holiday Market, an atmosphere of a traditional open-air, European winter market. Attendees can find wood ornaments and nutcrackers, Lebkuchen (gingerbread), chocolate, toys, ceramics and knitwear. The event is free to the public.
Los Altos Village Association will feature a Santa photo opportunity at the Enchante Boutique Hotel on Dec. 9 from 2 until 4pm. This family-friendly event is free to the public.
Symphony San Jose & Symphony San Jose Chorale are bringing back their Christmas in California on Dec. 9 at 7:30pm and Dec. 10 at 2:30pm also at the California Theatre. Audiences can expect holiday classics and carols, sing-alongs and Silicon Valley’s version of the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” Tickets range from $45 to $95 depending on the seat.
On Dec. 9 and Dec. 16 from 11am until 3pm, History Park will host Children’s Heritage Holiday that includes festive activities, crafts, seasonal treats and cultural performances. The event price ranges between $5 and $10, depending on age and membership status.
There will be a holiday market on Dec. 10 from 11am until 3pm hosted by 6th Street Studios & Art Center. The event will include holiday music, kids arts and crafts, a sip n’shop, gifts and small bites. The event is free to the public.
On Dec. 10 Morgan Hill will celebrate its 4th Annual Holiday Posada by Nueva Esperanza at 3:30pm at the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center. Attendees can expect bilingual caroling, dinner, gifts for kids and teens, cultural entertainment and dancing. The event is free for the community.
California Theatre will host Golden State Youth Orchestra’s holiday concert on Dec. 10 at 7:30 pm. It will be a lineup of festive dances, overtures and suites put on by the Symphony Orchestra, Camilla Kolchinsky Orchestra, El Camino Wind Orchestra and Honors Wind Ensemble. Tickets range from $15 to $25.
You-Sing-It Messiah will be at the California Theatre on Dec. 11 at 7:30pm and feature Maestro Leroy Kromm, San Jose Symphonic Choir, San Jose Baroque Orchestra and others in performing Handel’s Messiah. Audiences are encouraged to bring scores and dress in their holiday favorites. Tickets range from $20 to $25 with free admission to children 12 years and under.
On Dec. 16 from 9am until 12pm, the Mountain View Community Center will host Santa’s Workshop put on by the City of Mountain View. Children ages six to 11 are welcome and will have the opportunity to design ornaments, customize their own stocking and make a snowy wonderland globe. Tickets are available at $47.
The Montgomery Theater will host Italian tenor Pasquale Esposito as he performs An Italian Christmas on Dec. 16 at 8:30pm. The ensemble includes SJSU Orchestra conducted by Maestro Fred Cohen and will feature seasonal favorites from his PBS Special: In the Spirit of Christmas. Tickets are between $65 and $95.
On Dec. 16 and Dec. 17 at 11am at Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts is Nutcracker: Not a Ballet, a production by TheaterGames Productions. This show is a multilayered twist about a play based on a story by a German writer. General admission tickets are $30 with student, senior and group discounts available.
The Bayer Ballet Company will present their version of the Snow Queen at Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts on Dec. 16 at 6:30pm and Dec. 17 at 3pm. The show is full of whimsy and intrigue, robbers and crows, dancing icicles and a magical flower garden. Tickets range from $38 to $60.
There will be a holiday family storytime at the Woodland Branch Library on Dec. 17 from 11:30am until 12:30pm. It will feature stories, songs and fingerplays on the backyard patio of the library, and the event is free to the public.
Join DeLa and Jinkx on Dec. 17 at 8pm at the San Jose Civic for this year’s The Jinkx & DeLa Holiday Show! Audiences can expect a spectacle that includes whip-smart comedy, brand new songs and classic favorites. Ticket prices range from $50 to $100 and include a VIP option.
The San Jose Civic will also host Dave Koz for his 26th anniversary of the longest-running jazz-based Christmas tour. Koz and Friends will feature timeless Christmas classics as well as a Chanukah medley. Tickets are available between $60 and $100.
On Dec. 22 at 7:30pm, the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Center will celebrate 15 years with their holiday gospel concert at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. Audiences can expect OIGC’s signature gospel arrangements of traditional Holiday favorites. General admission for this concert is $50 with discounted pricing for students, seniors and groups.
3Below Theaters will feature San Jose Playhouse’s Santastic! on Dec. 23 at 11am. Audiences can expect classic holiday songs and dance medleys from seasonal favorites like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Tickets available at $25.
Bottle and Bottega is hosting a Holiday String Lights instructor-led painting session on Dec. 23 from 2 until 4pm at its Campbell location (21 years and up). No experience is needed to learn how to paint vibrant images of Christmas lights on canvas. Tickets are available at $39 per person.
There will be a family-friendly Christmas brunch on Dec. 25 from 11am until 4pm at Signia by Hilton San Jose. Held annually, this event also allows patrons to take a family photo in front of the Enchant Christmas display as well as indulge in the Veuve Clicquot Champagne experience. Tickets are available at $77 for children and $146 for adults.
ONGOING HOLIDAY EVENTS
Downtown Ice returned to San Jose! The rink opened Nov. 17 and will stay through Jan. 15. Many residents were thrilled to see this well-loved event return to the heart of the city after a year-long hiatus. It’s $21 per person for a round of ice skating that lasts 90 minutes.
Another downtown San Jose classic is Christmas in the Park. This event opens on Nov. 24 and will run until Jan. 1 in the Plaza de Cesar Chavez. This non-profit hosts a variety of events and activities throughout its duration downtown. It costs $30 to $35 per car for the drive-thru lights display and $5 to ride any of the four amusement rides.
Drive-thru light shows have grown in popularity over the years, and it may be worth a little stint over the hill to check out the Holiday Lights drive-thru at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds. The event runs from Nov. 24 until Dec. 24 and will feature decorated tractors, trees, lawns and buildings. The excursion costs $20 for a regular vehicle and $40 for RVs, buses or limos.
WinterFest at California’s Great America is an immersive family-friendly event that will run from Nov. 24 through Dec. 31 and feature ice skating, letter-writing to Santa and one of the Bay Area’s tallest Christmas trees. Park admission during this time is a minimum of $33, which will go up depending on the chosen activity or add-on. Parking a regular vehicle costs $30, RVs cost $40.
PayPal Park will host San Jose’s version of the immersive Enchant: Santa’s Magic Timepiece that takes place from Nov. 24 through Dec. 31. It follows a storyline about eight missing star fragments that make up Santa’s magic timepiece. There will also be a Santa meet-and-greet, ice skating and storefronts at the event. Tickets start at $25 for children and $33 for adults.
From Nov. 25 until Dec. 30, Yuletide ODDventure Residency returns to the Winchester Mystery House and features a marketplace whose credo is “This Ain’t Yer Grannies Craft Fair.” The immersive event will include art, live music and entertainment, including a rowdy burlesque show and circus performers. The event is billed as all ages and admission is $5.
Santa Clara County Parks will once again hold their Fantasy of Lights drive-thru from Dec. 5 until Dec. 30 at Vasona Lake County Park in Los Gatos. The event celebrates 25 years and will feature over 50 themed displays, a 90-foot lighted tree, erupting volcano, Santa shooting hoops and a blazing pirate cannon, to name a few sights. Tickets range between $30 and $100 and are sold online in advance only.
From Dec. 7 until Dec. 21 Willow Glen will offer 30-minute trolley rides throughout the city. Riders will board old fashioned cable cars that will take them around the festive neighborhoods to view the city’s holiday lights. Children are $20 and adults $40 per ride.
The Los Gatos Chamber of Commerce will once again bring back its Holiday Carriage Rides for people seeking an authentic horse-drawn carriage ride between Dec. 7 and 23. Tickets are $130 for a regular group of six (mix of adults and children) and $160 for a group of six adults. Prices include holiday cookies and hot chocolate. Online reservations only.
New Ballet’s version of the San Jose Nutcracker will take place from Dec. 16 until Dec. 23 (shows at 2 and 7pm) at the California Theatre. This show is a local flair on a holiday classic, and audiences can expect a meet-and-greet prior to each show. Ticket prices range from $25 to $95.
6th Street Studios & Art Center’s Holiday Market
Bottle and Bottega Holiday Lights Painting
California’s Great America WinterFest
Carol of Lights Celebration
Children’s Christmas and Holiday Parade
Christmas Brunch by Signia
Christmas in the Park
City of Cupertino’s Breakfast with Santa
City of Gilroy’s Holiday Festival & Parade
City of Mountain View’s Breakfast with Santa
City of Mountain View’s Holiday Robotics Workshop
City of Mountain View’s Santa’s Workshop
Cityline Sunnyvale’s Family Portraits
Creative Communal Artisan Market
Downtown Ice Skating
Enchant: Santa’s Magic Timepiece Event
Fantasy of Lights Drive-thru
German Holiday Market
History Park’s Children’s Heritage Holiday
Holiday Carriage Rides
Holiday Lights Drive-thru
Los Altos Village Association’s Pictures with Santa
Maker Nexus Makerspace’s Market
Morgan Hill’s Holiday Posada
Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts Shows
San Jose Playhouse’s Santastic!
San Jose Theaters Shows
SJMADE Holiday Fair
Symphony San Jose & Symphony San Jose Chorale’s Show
Triton Museum of Art’s Holiday Art Fair
Willow Glen’s Trolley Rides
Winter Holiday Festival
Woodland Branch Library’s Holiday Storytime
Yuletide ODDventure Residency at the Winchester Mystery House