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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 2016 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 3 and 4, 2016. This performance of "The Nutcracker" will be at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, danced in the newly renovated Grand Theatre.

Friday through Sunday, December 9 - 11, 2016. 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 through Friday, December 17 - 23, 2016. The Reno Dance Company presents its 15th annual performance of "The Nutcracker" in the Celebrity Showroom at The Nugget in Sparks.

WinterFest at Greater Nevada Field

December 1, 2016 to January 1, 2017. This winter holiday event includes the Holiday Express Train, pictures with Santa in Santa's Village, the Reno Ice Skating Rink, and a big Christmas tree lot. The train ride is a custom narrated journey around the inside of the stadium to Santa's Village. Train rides and Santa hours are Thursdays and Fridays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are available inside the Team Store. The tree lot is open 7 days from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Greater Nevada Field is at 250 Evans Avenue in Reno.

Sparks Annual Hometowne Christmas Celebration

Friday and Saturday, December 2 - 3, 2016. Come to Victorian Square on December 3 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 "A Season of Giving." Make sure to get a picture with Santa, and check out the Community Faire to learn how you can celebrate a Season of Giving through our local non-profit organizations. The tree lighting ceremony will be the night of December 2 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 3, 2016. 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. The event is from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Spirit of the Season

Saturday and Sunday, December 3 - 4, 2016. 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

Saturday and Sunday, December 3 - 4, 2016. Go up to Virginia City for Christmas celebrations that include Candy Cane Express trains, photos with Father Christmas, the Parade of Lights, Christmas in the Sierra concert, St. Mary's Art Center Christmas Art Faire, Grinch Made Me Do It Saloon Crawl, and more holiday fun during December.

Tintabulations Handbell Ensemble

December 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 2016. "Thanks for the Socks!" is the title of the Ensemble's Christmas concert series, to be performed at several venues in Reno, Sparks and other northern Nevada locations. Tintabluations Handbell Ensemble has grown into diverse group of ringers committed to the art of English Handbell ringing. Refer to the upcoming concerts calendar for details on tickets, times, and locations.

39 North Pole Village

Friday and Saturday, December 9 - 10, 2016. 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 visits from Santa Claus. Many booths will be brightly decorated with Christmas lights as part of the Griswold Family Challenge light display contest. Visitors will vote for their favorite for the People's Choice award. Prospective sponsors and volunteers can call (775) 690-2581 for information. Contest rules and entry form are available online.

SIAMSA - A Celtic Christmas

Friday and Saturday, December 9 - 10, 2016. SIAMSA is an enchanting, adventurous holiday musical theater production for the entire family. It will be performed in the Celebrity Showroom at the Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, 1100 Nugget Avenue. Performances will be Friday at 7 p.m. and on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. 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, Irish Dance Champion Laura Cass, world renowned harpist Marina Roznitovsky-Oster, with local pre-professionals Olivia Swearingen and Darby Edberg and the Celtic Chorus. Tickets are $25 to $35, with discounts for veterans, seniors, and children. Call the box office at (775) 356-3300 for details or visit the Nugget website to purchase tickets online.

9th Annual Gingerbread House Competition and Festival

Saturday, December 10, 2016. 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 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. Only the first 100 entries will be accepted due to limited space. The entry fee is $10. You can register online or mail the form and fee to the May Arboretum Society. Entry deadline is December 5, 2016.

Reno Santa Crawl

Saturday, December 10, 2016. 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 DonorsChoose.org. If you like this sort of thing, learn about more crawls from "Beer Crawls 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 10, 2016. Join in on adventures that are out of this world, with "Imaging Space Targets." 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.

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 19 to 23 with valid ID. Preferred seating is $40 and $15 for youth/students.

  • December 10, 2016, 3 p.m. - Cornerstone Church in Incline Village, 300 Country Club Dr.
  • December 11, 2016, 3:30 p.m. - Women of St. Rose in Reno, 100 Bishop Manogue Dr.
  • December 16, 2016, 7 p.m. - Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Carson City, 3597 N. Sunridge Dr.
  • December 18, 2016, 3 p.m. - St. Theresa Catholic Church in South Lake Tahoe, 1041 Lyons Ave.
  • December 23, 2016, 5:30 p.m. - Squaw Valley Conference Center, Olympic Valley, CA

Polar Express on the V&T Railroad

Trips to the North Pole continue on the V&T Railroad through December 22, 2015. 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

December 3, 4, 10, 11, 2016. 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 3 - 4, 10 - 11, 17 - 18, 2016. 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.

"Elf" at the Pioneer Center

Friday through Sunday, December 16 - 18, 2016. "Elf The Musical" is the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa's bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. This is great holiday entertainment for the whole family, presented as part of the Broadway Comes to Reno series at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts. Show times are December 16 at 8 p.m., December 17 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and December 18 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are available online or by calling the box office at (775) 686-6600.

Jazz for the Holidays - A Gospel Christmas

Saturday and Sunday, December 17 - 18, 2016. 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 Nightingale Concert Hall at the University of Nevada, Reno. The Saturday show is at 7:30 p.m. and the Sunday show is at 2 p.m. Tickets start at $25. (775) 372-6160.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016. A similar show will be held at the Olympic Village Lodge at the Squaw Valley ski resort. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. Food and bar service will be available. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased online.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Tuesday and Wednesday, December 20 - 21, 2016. 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. Tuesday will be at the Downtown Reno Library at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday will be at the Verdi Community Library at 1:30 p.m.

"Miracle on 34th Street" at The Eldorado

Through January 1, 2017. This holiday show is a heartwarming musical based on the classic 1947 holiday movie of the same name. The story revolves around single mother, Doris Walker, who doesn’t want her six-year old daughter’s head filled with romantic notions about Christmas. That is, until they both discover that the Macy's department store Santa Clause may actually be the real Kris Kringle. Restaurant discounts are included with tickets. 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

Saturday, December 31, 2016. 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, December 1 - 4, 2016. 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 2 - 3, 2016. 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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