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2017 Christmas Events and Activities around Reno and Sparks

'Tis the Season for Christmas and Winter Fun

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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 2017 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.

"The Nutcracker" Ballet

Saturday and Sunday, December 2 and 3, 2017. This performance of "The Nutcracker" will be at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, danced in the Grand Theatre by Bay Pointe Ballet.

Friday through Sunday, December 8 - 10, 2017. Local dance company A.V.A. Ballet Theatre will present "The Nutcracker" at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts in Reno, accompanied by the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra.

Saturday and Sunday, December 16 - 17 and Friday through Sunday, December 22 - 24, 2017. The Reno Dance Company presents its annual performance of "The Nutcracker" in the Celebrity Showroom at The Nugget in Sparks.

WinterFest at Greater Nevada Field

December 1 - 31, 2017. This winter holiday event includes the Holiday Express Train, pictures with Santa in Santa's Village, the Reno Ice Skating Rink, and fresh cut local Christmas trees. The train ride is a custom narrated journey around the inside of the stadium to Santa's Village. Train rides and Santa hours are Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Sundays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Greater Nevada Field is at 250 Evans Avenue in Reno.

Sparks Annual Hometowne Christmas Celebration

Friday and Saturday, December 1 - 2, 2017. Come to Victorian Square on December 2 for a traditional Christmas parade from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., along with entertainment, photos with Santa, and arts and crafts. This year's theme is "The Twelve Nevada Days of Christmas." 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 1 from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Gather 'round the tree as Mayor Martini turns on the lights. Event includes live music entertainment.

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

Tuba Christmas Concert at the May Museum

Saturday, December 2, 2017, 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 D. May Museum will have festive decorations and offer free admission all day. Hot cocoa, cider, and cookies will also be available for purchase.

Spirit of the Season

Saturday and Sunday, December 2 - 3, 2017. The Reno Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Dr. Jason Altieri welcome special guests with a variety-style combination of singers, dancers, performers, students, Santa Tappers, Santa Claus and more. Performances at the Pioneer Center will be at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $16 to $70 and available online. The Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts is in downtown Reno at 100 S. Virginia Street.

Christmas on the Comstock

During December, 2017. Go up to Virginia City for Christmas celebrations that include Candy Cane Express trains, photos with Father Christmas, the Parade of Lights, Nightmare Before Christmas at Piper's Opera House, St. Mary's Art Center Christmas Art Faire, Grinch Made Me Do It Saloon Crawl, and more holiday fun during December.

City of Reno Tree Lighting Ceremony

December 6, 2017, 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Come to City Plaza in downtown Reno to enjoy this festive, free event. The tree lighting is scheduled to take place around 6:35 p.m., with other activities as follows...

  • 5:30 p.m. - Performance by the cast of Eldorado's The Unbelievables Christmas Extravaganza
  • 5:45 p.m. - Performance by the Swope Middle School Choir, directed by Eric Gault
  • 6 p.m. - Councilmember Bobzien announces Reno People Project honorees
  • 6:35 p.m. - Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve and the Reno City Council conduct the countdown for the official City of Reno Tree Lighting
  • 6:40 p.m. - The Reno Police and Fire Departments lead a procession to Greater Nevada Field, along with Reno 1868 FC's mascot, Truckee
  • 6:45 to 8 p.m. - Free ice skating at Greater Nevada Field

39 North Pole Village

Thursday through Saturday, December 7 - 9, 2017. This free family-friendly, winter wonderland-themed event will be at Victorian Square in Sparks, next to The Nugget casino resort. Featured will be thousands of lights, holiday shopping booths, and food trucks. There will be a variety of activities, including free photos with Santa Claus and free rides on Engine 39. Many booths will be brightly decorated with Christmas lights as part of the Griswold Challenge light display contest. Hours are 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, noon to 9 p.m. on Saturday. (775) 690-2581.

SIAMSA - A Celtic Christmas

Thursday, December 7, 2017. SIAMSA is an enchanting, adventurous holiday musical theater production for the entire family. It will be performed in the Grand Theatre at the Grand Sierra Resort, 2500 E. 2nd Street in Reno. SIAMSA is the signature holiday production of The Reno Irish Dance Company. The show includes special guest professionals including World Irish Dance Champion Jason Hays and Irish Dance Champion Laura Cass.

The Unbelievables Christmas Extravaganza

The Unbelievables will perform in the round in the renovated Eldorado Theatre with VIP seating and is a family-friendly spectacle for all. This show has circus acts, spectacular ballroom dancers and angelic voices singing your favorite Christmas carols. From November 21 to December 31, 2017, shows are nightly Tuesday through Sunday with additional matinees on Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are available online and start at $29.95.

10th Annual Gingerbread House Competition and Festival

Saturday, December 9, 2017. 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 3:30 p.m. There are 9 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. Only the first 100 entries will be accepted due to limited space. 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 4, 2017.

Reno Santa Crawl

Saturday, December 9, 2017. The Reno Santa 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."

Pink Martini Holiday Show

Saturday, December 10, 2017, 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Featuring traditional holiday songs from their Joy To The World album, a festive, multi-denominational holiday album including White Christmas, Little Drummer Boy and Do You Hear What I Hear. Included will be Pink Martini classic songs such as Sympathique, Ich Dich Liebe, Je dis oui (French for I say yes) and Hey Eugene. The band's vocalist, China Forbes, will showcase her amazing vocals during this high energy concert in the Grand Theatre at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno. Tickets are available online or by calling (775) 789-1115. From $20 to $55.

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 9, 2017. Join in on adventures that are out of this world, with "Celebrating in Space." 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.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

In-Tune Tales presents "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" at the Washoe County Library. The free show is a musical dialogue of a modern storybook classic against a backdrop of characterizations, music, lyrics, and sound effects. Also enjoy holiday songs and a sing-a-long.

  • Sunday, December 3, 2017, 1 p.m. - Downtown Reno Library
  • Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 2 p.m. - Gerlach Community Library
  • Sunday, December 17, 2017, 2 p.m. - Spanish Springs Library

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...

  • Friday, December 8, 2017, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., South Valleys Library
  • Saturday, December 9, 2017, 11 a.m. to 12 noon, Northwest Reno Library
  • Monday, December 11, 2017, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Spanish Springs Library
  • Wednesday, December 13, 2017, 4 p.m. to 5:30 pm, Incline Village Library
  • Thursday, December 14, 2017, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Spanish Springs Library
  • Sunday, December 17, 2017, 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, $5 students aged 18 to 23 with valid ID. Preferred seating is $40 and $15 for youth/students. (775) 313-9697.

  • December 9, 2017, 3 p.m. - Cornerstone Church in Incline Village, 300 Country Club Dr.
  • December 10, 2017, 3 p.m. - St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Reno, 100 Bishop Manogue Dr.
  • December 16, 2017, 3 p.m. - Douglas Community Center in Gardnerville, 1329 Waterloo Lane.
  • December 17, 2017, 3:30 p.m. - St. Theresa Catholic Church in South Lake Tahoe, 1041 Lyons Ave.
  • December 23, 2017, 5 p.m. - Squaw Valley Olympic Village Lodge, Olympic Valley, CA

Polar Express on the V&T Railroad

Trips to the North Pole continue on the V&T Railroad through December 30, 2017. Plan ahead - getting advance tickets is a must for those wanting to ride the Polar Express to the North Pole this holiday season.

More Santa Holiday Train Rides

November 24, 25, 26 and December 2, 3, 9, 10, 2017. Two departures each day at 12 noon and 2 p.m. Candy Cane Express trains will run twice a day 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 2 - 3, 9 - 10, 16 - 17, 2017. 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 4 p.m.

Holiday Open House at Buckland Station

Saturday, December 16, 2017, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Buckland Station is located approximately 9 miles south of the Highway 95A/Highway 50 intersection on Highway 95A. The historic structure (once a Pony Express station) is a Nevada State Park unit. Join park staff for some holiday cheer and pioneer traditions, take a self-guided tour, help decorate the house for the holidays and enjoy sweet treats and period crafts. Admission is $1 per person for ages 13 and older, kids 12 and younger are free. Cash or check only. (775) 577-4880.

Jazz for the Holidays - A Gospel Christmas

Saturday and Sunday, December 16 - 17, 2017. This holiday events features the Reno Jazz Orchestra with special guests the Pat Esters Gospel Choir and the Reno Youth Jazz Orchestra. 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. Tickets start at $35. (775) 372-6160.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017. 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 $40. Tickets and more information are available online.

Borealis, A Holiday Spectacle

December 18 - 28, 2017. Featuring a delightful modern soundtrack and breath-taking performances, plus state-of-the-art audio visual techniques like holograms, lasers and projection mapping, Borealis sheds the tired format of traditional holiday shows for a fresh and bold new take. Show is in the Grand Theatre at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno. Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Get tickets online through the website or call the box office at (775) 789-1115.

Santa to deliver pets to new homes on Christmas Day

Wednesday, December 20, 2017. Starting this day, people are invited to visit the Nevada Humane Society shelter in Reno, meet with adoptable animals, and select the one they would like adopt. The normal adoption process will follow, but if the adopter chooses, instead of taking the pet home at the time of adoption, Santa and his elves will deliver the pet to the new home. Pet deliveries will occur between set times on Christmas Day. Santa is really busy this time of year. Deliveries are limited and available on a first come, first served basis. All animals adopted are spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and microchipped. Adoption fees vary, but Santa's delivery is at no extra charge, though donations are welcome and will go directly to the care of homeless pets. The Reno shelter is at 2825 Longley Lane. (775) 856-2000.

New Year's Eve

Sunday, December 31, 2017. Enjoy lots of parties and fireworks while bringing in 2017.

Christmas Events and Activities at Lake Tahoe and Nearby Areas

Festival of Trees and Lights

Thursday through Sunday, November 30 to December 3, 2017. View a dozen decorated Christmas trees and wreaths and décor, enjoy local entertainment, visit Santa Claus, a kids' craft area, and the Teddy Bear Hospital, and have the opportunity to bid on unique holiday items and décor in the silent auction. The annual event will benefit the Barton Health's Cancer Wellness Programs. It will be at the Montbleu Resort Convention Center in Stateline, NV. Visit the website for event details.

Christmas in Genoa

Friday and Saturday, December 1 - 2, 2017. 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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