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2018 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 2018 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, 2018. This winter holiday event includes the Holiday Express Train, pictures with Santa in Santa's Village and the Reno Ice Skating Rink. 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 Parade and Tree Lighting

Friday and Saturday, November 30 - December 1, 2018. Come to Victorian Square on December 1 for the traditional Christmas parade festivities from 11 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 "Elves Invade the 2018 Sparks Hometowne Christmas Parade." 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 November 30 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 1, 2018, 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 1 - 2, 2018. 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 7 p.m. on Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $16 to $89 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, 2018. 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, Christmas in the Sierra concert, Grinch Made Me Do It Saloon Crawl, and more holiday fun during December.

39 North Pole Village

Thursday through Saturday, December 6 - 8, 2018. 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 6, 2018. 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 Unbelievables Christmas Spectacular

November 16, 2018 through January 6, 2019. The Unbelievables will perform in the round in the Eldorado Showroom with Champagne seating available. This is a family-friendly spectacle for all. Experience the magic of Christmas with dazzling illusions and breathtaking cirque artists performing to all of your favorite holiday music. Shows are nightly Tuesday through Sunday with additional matinees on Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are available online and start at $39.95, plux taxes and fees.

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."

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.

"Noël the Musical" at the Pioneer Center

Friday through Sunday, December 14 - 16, 2018. This family musical at the Pioneer Center is the touching story of a young girl who is preparing for her starring role in a school Christmas performance, when her Mother disappears. Set in London, as the little girl tries to find her mother, she encounters a diverse group of homeless folk who have lost their way in life. One particular man, Nick has lost his faith in humanity and indeed, the joy of Christmas. Dec. 14 at 8:00 p.m., Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Dec. 16 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets start at $46.50.

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.

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.

The Unbelievables Christmas Extravaganza at The Eldorado

November 16, 2018 through January 6, 2019. Featuring "America's Got Talent" semi-finalist Evie Clair and many other great acts from around the globe, this family-friendly show has it all – jaw-dropping magic, breathtaking circus acts, including sand art, magical doves, duo trapeze straps, the Russian bar and local school choirs singing your favorite Christmas carols. 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.

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

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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