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2019 Christmas Events and Activities around Reno and Sparks

'Tis the Season for Christmas and Winter Fun

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Reno & Sparks Recreation Guides

Reno Sparks parks and recreation guides, Nevada, NV Reno and Sparks each publish parks and recreation guides featuring information about recreational programs and activities available to the community.

Thanksgiving Holiday Activities

Thanksgiving activities events, Reno, Sparks, Nevada, NV Thanksgiving Day and weekend in Reno and Sparks have many options for participating in family friendly events.

Discovery Museum in Reno

Discovery Museum, Reno, Nevada, NV The Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum (or just The Discovery) offers one of the best places in Reno for family fun in an educational atmosphere.

Ride the Polar Express

Polar Express, Virginia Truckee Railroad, Nevada, NV Riding The Polar Express™ to the North Pole has become a popular family outing during the Christmas holiday season in the Reno / Tahoe area.

UNR Wolf Pack Football

Wolf Pack football, University Nevada, Reno Nevada Wolf Pack football home games are played in Mackay Stadium on the University of Nevada, Reno campus.

Enjoy lots of family-friendly events and activities during the Christmas holiday season around Reno and Sparks. Here are some of the top choices. For even more, go to "December 2019 Events and Activities in the Reno Region."

Christmas Day Dining in Reno and Sparks

Lots of people like to treat themselves to eating out on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Learn where to indulge yourself.

Christmas Tree Cutting Permits

Going out and cutting your own Christmas tree makes a fun and memorable family outing. Get an inexpensive permit from public lands agencies (BLM or USFS) and other vendors, then head to the nearby forests to find that perfect tree.

A Christmas Story The Musical

Friday through Sunday, November 29 to December 1, 2019. A CHRISTMAS STORY THE MUSICAL, brings the classic 1983 movie to hilarious life on stage. Set in 1940s Indiana, a young and bespectacled Ralphie Parker schemes his way toward the holiday gift of his dreams. At the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts, 100 S. Virginia Street in Reno. Visit the website to get tickets online or call (775) 434-1050. Use the code "RALPHIE" for online presale tickets.

Tuba Christmas Concert

Saturday, December 7, 2019, 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. This free, family-friendly event features holiday carols arranged in four-part harmony and performed by local tuba, baritone, and euphonium players. The Wilbur May Museum will have festive decorations on display and offer free admission all day long. Hot cocoa, cider, and cookies will also be available for purchase. The May Museum is inside Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, 1595 N. Sierra Street in Reno.

City of Reno Annual Tree Lighting

Saturday, December 7, 2019, 5:30 p.m. The event begins at noon in City Plaza (between City Hall and the Truckee River) with a makers/artisan fair, food trucks, and live music. Tree lighting festivities begin at 5 p.m. with several different entertaining groups such as the Kennelly Irish Dancers, Gospel Choir and "Santa's Christmas Wonderland" from the Eldorado. Santa will be on site from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. for free photos with the kids. At 6 p.m., Mayor Hillary Schieve and City of Reno Council members will start the official countdown to the tree lighting. Following this, enjoy free ice skating at Rink at The Row.

Reno Winter Light Festival

December 7 - 14, 2019. This event begins with the Reno tree lighting on Saturday. Three temporary public art pieces will be on display through the duration of the Winter Light Festival. They will be at the ReTRAC Plaza on Virginia Street and at Wingfield Park. On closing night (Dec. 14) from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., come to City Plaza for the Fire & Ice Show, featuring an ice carving competition and fire art and dancers. It's all free and open to the public.

Sparks Annual Hometowne Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting

Friday and Saturday, December 6 - 7, 2019. Come to Victorian Square on December 7 for the traditional Christmas parade festivities from 10:30 a.m. to about 2:30 p.m., along with entertainment, photos with Santa, and arts and crafts. The parade begins at 1 p.m. This year's theme is "Christmas Around the World." Get a picture with Santa and check out the Community Faire with information on how you can give back to your community this holiday season. The tree lighting ceremony will be the night of December 6 from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Event includes live music entertainment.

Sparks Hometowne Christmas Parade, Sparks, Nevada
Sparks Hometowne Christmas Parade. Photo © Stan White

Spirit of the Season

Friday through Sunday, December 6 - 8, 2019. The Reno Phil and conductor Jason Altieri invite you to a classic holiday celebration full of orchestral arrangements, jazzy numbers, traditional holiday tunes and carols. Performances at the Pioneer Center will be at 7 p.m. on December 6, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on December 7 and at 2 p.m. on December 8. Tickets start at $16 and are available online. The Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts is in downtown Reno at 100 S. Virginia Street.

Christmas on the Comstock

Starting on December 1, 2019. Go up to Virginia City for Christmas celebrations that include Candy Cane Express trains, photos with Father Christmas, the Parade of Lights, Christmas craft fair, St. Mary's Art Center Holiday Faire, children's art program, A Comstock Christmas Carol at Piper's Opera House, The Grinch Made Me Do It Saloon Crawl and Christmas in the Sierra Concert.

39 North Pole Village Holiday Lights Festival

Thursday through Saturday, December 12 - 14, 2019. Victorian Square in downtown Sparks becomes a sparkling winter wonderland with thousands of lights in celebration of the holidays. Stroll through the holiday lights, enjoy photos with Santa, kids activities, decorating contests and vendors. You can take part in The Griswold Challenge, where local families and businesses compete in a light display contest inspired by Clark Griswold from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. This is a People's Choice contest, so people attending the event will determine the winning team. Hours are 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday.

"The Nutcracker" Ballet

Friday through Sunday, December 13 - 15, 2019. A.V.A. Ballet Theatre presents its annual production at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts in Reno, with music by the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra. Friday's performance is at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Visit the website to get tickets for the performance you prefer.

"Holiday Dreams" at the Grand Sierra Resort

December 19, 2019 - January 1, 2020. Holiday Dreams is a unique holiday-themed show with a fresh approach, taking the time-honored elements of the holidays – like the music, decorations, and spirit of Christmas – and mixing them with computer animation and projection mapping, for a modern, up-to-date spin on the classic holiday show. For the whole family. Both matinee and evening shows. Visit the website for times and tickets.

Northern Lights Tahoe

November 29 through December 31, 2019. This festival of lights features the north Tahoe communities of Incline Village and Crystal Bay. There will be many special activities at various venues during the festival, including concerts, a Santa crawl, opening day at Diamond Peak ski resort, holiday craft fair, holiday sing-a-long, and lots more. Note that some activities are adults only. Check the website for a complete schedule of events.

"Santa's Christmas Wonderland" at The Eldorado

November 26 through December 29, 2019. Featuring glittering costumes, sensational sets, a dazzling cast and the highest kicking chorus dancers this side of the North Pole, bring the whole family to sing along to songs like "White Christmas," "Winter Wonderland," "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" and many more. Tickets are available online. For more information on show times and tickets call 800-879-8879. The Eldorado is at 345 North Virginia Street in Reno.

11th Annual Gingerbread House Competition and Festival

Saturday, December 14, 2019. The Gingerbread Festival is a fun family event and holiday tradition. Listen to holiday music performed by area choral groups and musicians, create your own mini-gingerbread house to take home, have your face painted and even enjoy a visit with Santa Claus. Admission is free and the event will be from 12 noon to 4 p.m. There are 8 different categories for the Gingerbread House Contest (you don't have to enter to come enjoy the festival). Judging will take place on Saturday morning. All entries will be on display at the Gingerbread Festival at Wilbur D. May Museum (1595 North Sierra Street, Reno) later that day. The entry fee is $10. You can register online or download and mail the form and fee to the May Arboretum Society. Entry deadline is December 9, 2019.

Reno Santa Pub Crawl

Saturday, December 15, 2018. The Reno Santa Pub Crawl draws thousands of Santas and Mrs. Santas to the largest event of its kind in the country. The main event is in downtown Reno, but you can also have fun before the event with Santa skiing at Mt. Rose. The list of participating bars and restaurants is extensive. Get your Santa on and join the fun. The Reno Santa Crawl supports local schools through If you like this sort of thing, learn about more crawls from "Beer Crawls in Reno."

NorthStar Chamber Players present: "Woodwind Quintet Concert"

The popular woodwind quintet will perform favorite holiday classics at branches of the Washoe County Library. Enjoy Christmas carols, selections from The Nutcracker, and other seasonal music.

  • Wednesday, December 19, 4 p.m., Sierra View Library
  • Wednesday, December 19, 6 p.m., North Valleys Library
  • Thursday, December 20, 4 p.m., South Valleys Library
  • Thursday, December 20, 6 p.m., Sparks Library

Art Angels Holiday Workshop

Saturday, December 15, 2018, 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. This workshop at the Wilbur D. May Museum is free and open to 50 children, ages 6 to 12. Students will be instructed in small groups on watercolor technique, and each child will complete 1 - 2 paintings, one of which will be matted, ready to frame. Plan to have fun, and make a great holiday gift. Reservations required. Call Nancy Podewils-Baba at (775) 343-8100 to register. Donation of can of food for the Food Bank appreciated.

Holiday Dreams - A Spectacular Holiday Cirque

December 20 - 21, 24 - 28 and 30, 2018, 8 p.m. Treat the family to a Christmas wonderland they will never forget. Holiday Dreams is a unique holiday-themed show with a fresh approach, taking the time-honored elements of the holidays - like the music, decorations, and spirit of Christmas - and mixing them with computer animation and projection mapping, for a modern, up-to-date spin on the classic holiday show. Visit the website to buy online tickets. At the Grand Theatre in the Grand Sierra Resort, 2500 E. 2nd Street in Reno.

Brian Wilson Presents The Christmas Album Live!

Sunday, December 23, 2018, 8 p.m. This holiday season, for the first time Wilson and his crack band of musicians and vocalists along with long time bandmates Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin will be performing the Christmas Album in its entirety along with cuts from his solo Christmas album and other holiday fan favorites. Tickets are available online. At the Grand Theatre in the Grand Sierra Resort, 2500 E. 2nd Street in Reno.

Christmas Lights Displays

Take an evening drive during Christmas season to view some of the Christmas lights displays around the Truckee Meadows. Some people go all-out and create truly spectacular and amazing displays, complete with synchronized lights and music.

Science Saturdays at the National Automobile Museum

Saturday, December 8, 2018. Join in on adventures that are out of this world, with "Seeing through Hubble." Admission is $12 per person for children and adults, which also includes admission to the Museum. For participants age 8 and up. Children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult. Pre-registration is required approximately two days before the event. Call the Museum at (775) 333-9300 for more information.

Free Christmas Movies at the Washoe County Library

Saturday, December 22, 2018, 1 p.m. "The Santa Clause" at the Sparks Library meeting room.

Saturday, December 22, 2018, 3 p.m. "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" at the Sparks Library meeting room.

Visit Santa Claus at the Washoe County Library

Santa Claus will be making the rounds at several branches of the Washoe County Library until shortly before Christmas. Here's where you can take the kids to visit St. Nick...

  • Thursday, December 6, 2018, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Spanish Springs Library
  • Wednesday, December 12, 2018, 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Incline Village Library
  • Friday, December 14, 2018, 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., Sparks Library
  • Friday, December 14, 2018, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., South Valleys Library
  • Saturday, December 15, 2018, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Sierra View Library
  • Saturday, December 15, 2018, 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., Northwest Reno Library
  • Sunday, December 16, 2018, 12 noon to 1 p.m., Downtown Reno Library

TOCCATA presents "Messiah"

Tahoe Symphony Orchestra and Chorus brings its annual production of Handel's "Messiah" to five Reno-area locations. Tickets are available at the door 30 minutes prior to the concert, or can be purchased online. General admission is $30 adults, $25 seniors, free for students aged 19 to 23 with donations requested. Preferred seating is $40 and $15 for youth/students. (775) 298-6989.

  • Saturday, December 8, 2018, 3 p.m. - Cornerstone Church in Incline Village
  • Sunday, December 9, 2018, 3 p.m. - Montbleu Theater in South Lake Tahoe
  • Saturday, December 15, 2018, 3 p.m. - St. Gall Church in Gardnerville
  • Sunday, December 16, 2018, 3 p.m. - St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Reno
  • Saturday, December 22, 2018, 5 p.m. - Squaw Valley Olympic Village Lodge (special presentation)
  • Thursday, December 27, 2018, 7 p.m. - Heavenly "Holidays Village" in South Lake Tahoe (free 1-hour performance)

Polar Express on the V&T Railroad

Trips to the North Pole continue on the V&T Railroad through December 24, 2018. Plan ahead - getting advance tickets is a must for those wanting to ride the Polar Express to the North Pole this holiday season.

Santa Holiday Train Rides

November 23 - 24 and December 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 2018. Two departures each day at 12 noon and 2 p.m. Candy Cane Express trains will run on the V&T Railroad up in Virginia City. Get tickets in advance to ensure you get on board - this is a popular activity.

Saturday and Sunday, December 8 - 9, 15 - 16, 22 - 23, 2018. Come ride the festive steam train during the Christmas holiday season at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City. Santa Trains will run every half hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. $5 per person. Kids under 3 free if sitting on a lap.

Reno Jazz Orchestra presents "A World of Joy"

Saturday and Sunday, December 15 - 16, 2018. This holiday show features the Reno Jazz Orchestra and great music with grand Christmas tradition in the spirit of the jazz big band stage performance. Performances will be in the Whitney Peak Hotel Cargo Concert Hall. The Saturday show is at 7:30 p.m. and the Sunday show is at 2 p.m. (775) 372-6160.

Thursday, December 20, 2018. A similar show will be held at the Olympic Village Lodge at the Squaw Valley ski resort. The show starts at 7 p.m. Food and bar service will be available. General admission is $45. Tickets and more information are available online.

New Year's Eve

Monday, December 31, 2018. Enjoy lots of parties and fireworks while bringing in 2019.

Christmas Events and Activities at Lake Tahoe and Nearby Areas

Festival of Trees and Lights

Friday and Sunday, December 7 and 9, 2018. The Festival is a multi-day holiday extravaganza, featuring lavishly decorated holiday trees, wreaths, and decor, local entertainment, a kids' craft area, photos with Santa, and a Teddy Bear Hospital. The annual event will benefit the Community Health Endowment. It will be at the Montbleu Resort Convention Center in Stateline, NV. Visit the website for event details.

Christmas in Genoa

Friday, November 30 and Saturday, December 1, 2018. Nevada's oldest town celebrates Christmas with a tree lighting, caroling and visit from Santa on Friday starting at 5:30 p.m. On Saturday, Breakfast with Santa will have seatings at 8:30 a.m., 9:40 a.m. and 10:50 a.m. Tickets are $5, kids 4 and under are free. Check the website for more events during December. Genoa is in the Carson Valley, about 42 miles from Reno. It is home to Mormon Station Memorial State Park.

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