Events and Outings

Marin Weekend Family Fun for December 9, 10 & 11

December 7, 2016

The Rombeiros' Christmas HouseVisit the Amazing Rombeiro Christmas House in Novato this Weekend!

Other Holiday Happenings:  holiday ice skating, visit with Santa Claus, North Bay Christmas Tree Farms and Lots, festive holiday teas, holidays in San Francisco, and visit one of Marin's Amazing Lighted Houses.

Friday, December 9

  • Victorian Holiday Tea
    Haas-Lilienthal House, San Francisco
    Friday, 3 pm & Saturday & Sunday, noon & 3 pm

    Celebrate the holidays by stepping back in time and enjoying perfectly-blended pots of tea, savory finger sandwiches, delicate scones, and holiday sweets in the formal dining room of the 1886 Haas-Lilienthal House. Cost: $48 adults, $24 children. RSVP here. Location: 2007 Franklin Street, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Great Dickens Christmas Fair
    Cow Palace, San Francisco
    Friday–Sunday, 10 am–7 pm

    The Dickens Fair runs on weekends through December 20. Experience Victorian London with hundreds of costumed players, shops offering one-of-a-kind gifts and Christmas treasures, dining, and pubs. Meet Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, Tiny Tim, Jules Verne, David Copperfield, Charles Darwin, and 700 costumed characters. Of course, Father Christmas himself will be on hand to join in the fun. Purchase tickets here. For more info, visit their website.
  • Holiday Ice Skating in Union Square
    San Francisco
    Friday–Sunday, 10 am–11:30 pm

    Union Square, San Francisco's main shopping district, gets into the ice skating spirit during the holiday season with an outdoor ice rink sponsored by Safeway. 90-minute sessions start on every even hour. Admission: $11 for adults, 7 children 8 and under. Skate rental $6. Information: (415) 781-2688 or visit their website.
  • The Velveteen Rabbit
    Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco
    Friday, 11 am, Saturday, 1 & 4 pm and Sunday, 2 pm

    Bring the family for this beloved Bay Area holiday tradition. ODC/Dance enlivens Margery Williams’ classic tale of a well-worn nursery rabbit that becomes real. Told though music, dance and a powerful narrative, The Velveteen Rabbit celebrates the unique relationship between a little boy and his stuffed rabbit, and the enduring power of love. Tickets range from $15 to $75. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin on Ice
    Northgate Mall, San Rafael
    Friday, 2
    –10 pm, Saturday, noon–10 pm, Sunday, noon–9 pm
    This Saturday, Marin on Ice opens for another season of outdoor ice skating at San Rafael's Northgate Mall, where it runs through January 11. Marin's only holiday ice skating rink features 6,300 square feet of real ice and will be open daily for outdoor skating. Skating is $15 per person, which includes skate rental. Private ice cabanas will also be available for rental and "Skate Buddies" are available for beginners. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marinwood's WinterFest Family Event
    Marinwood Community Center, San Rafael
    Friday, 5–7 pm
    Come celebrate the holiday season at Marinwood's annual WinterFest! Ticket prices include: photos with Santa, arts and crafts, face painting, bounce house, holiday treats, live music and more. Tickets: $10 in advance kids ages 2–12, $15 at the door. Adults are free! Location: 775 Miller Creek Road, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Rombeiro Christmas House
    Devonshire Drive, Novato

    Friday–Sunday, 6–10 pm
    Their home is something that truly has to be seen to be believed, and photos don't really do it justice. There are something like 140,000 lights as well as countless figurines, dioramas, and decorations adorning the front and side yards, walls, and roof of the Rombeiro house. If you think the outside is impressive, then you need to go on inside and get a healthy dose of Christmas spirit. You'll find model trains, more figurines, Christmas trees, and the biggest lighted holiday village you've ever seen. Location: 34 Devonshire Drive, off of Center Road, Novato. For more info, read about our visit here.
  • The Berkeley Playhouse: Disney's Beauty and the Beast
    The Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, Berkeley
    Friday, 7 pm, Saturday, 1 & 7 pm, Sunday, 2 pm

    The Disney (and Broadway!) favorite gets the Berkeley Playhouse makeover as founding Associate Artistic Director Kimberly Dooley helms this all new production featuring a diverse and multigenerational cast of dozens. Featuring some of Disney’s most popular songs and characters, you won’t want to miss this magical musical adventure guaranteed to delight audiences of all ages. Location: 2640 College Avenue, Berkeley. Tickets: $25–40. For more info, visit their website

Saturday, December 10

  • Polar Express Train Ride
    Santa Cruz
    Saturday, various times

    The Polar Express Train Ride departs from Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, complete with dancing chefs, singing elves, and a special gift from Santa Claus himself—a silver sleigh bell. Don't forget to wear your pajamas while you enjoy cookies, hot chocolate, and a reading of The Polar Express while on board. First-class tickets still available for rides this weekend. For more info and tickets, call (877) 726-7245 or visit their website.
  • Breakfast with Santa
    Ross Valley Fire Station
    Saturday, 8 & 10 am

    Bring the family to the annual Breakfast with Santa event at Ross Valley Fire Station #19. Breakfast with Santa is a fun family event and a great way to celebrate the holiday season. $6 kids, $8 adultFor more info, call (415) 258-4640 or visit their website.
  • Pancakes at the North Pole
    Corte Madera Parks & Recreation
    Saturday, 8–10 am

    Santa and his friends are waiting for you! The elves at the Corte Madera Community Center have been hard at work preparing a very special pancake breakfast for you and your family. Santa Claus is very excited to see all his favorite families and take pictures! As many of us know, it can get a little chilly at the North Pole. Frosty the Snowman will be taking donations for the Kids Club Warm Coat and Toasty Toes Drive during the breakfast as well. Cost: $9 per person. For more info, call (415) 927-5072 or visit their website.
  • Breakfast With Santa
    Belvedere Community Center
    Saturday, 9–10:30 am

    Join Santa for breakfast, music, crafts, and a photo opportunity (bring your own camera). Make reservations by calling (415) 435-4355; space is limited. Cost: $20 per person, free for 2 and under. The Belvedere Community Center is located at 450 San Rafael Avenue in Belvedere. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin Country Mart Farmer's Market
    Marin County Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm
    The farmer's market features plenty of family fun, including pony rides, face painting, seasonal music, and more. In addition to a great selection of farmers' market organic produce, pastured meats, artisan cheeses, baked goods, nuts, jams, confections, wreaths and holiday flowers, you can also shop for unique farm inspired locally made arts and crafts. For more info, visit their website.
  • Iceless Skating Rink
    Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
    Saturday & Sunday, 9 am–5 pm

    Hit the “ice” this winter with family and friends at the Bay Area Discovery Museum's Iceless Skating Rink, which will be open from November 19, 2016 to January 8, 2016. Children can strap on skates and glide around on a synthetic ice rink in the museum's Discovery Hall. The synthetic ice rink provides all the fun of a real ice rink but without the cold and icy falls. Get in the holiday spirit with this classic winter activity. Free with museum admission or membership. Location: 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito. For more info, visit their website.
  • Winter Wonderland
    Tam Valley Community Center
    Saturday, 10–3 pm
    Bring the family to have breakfast with Santa at the Tam Valley Winter Magic Event. Then make crafts and play in some real snow! RSVP early because this event sells out. Don't forget to bring a camera for this wonderful photo opportunity. 10 am breakfast seating sold out; space available at 11:30 am. Cost: $15 per person, includes breakfast, crafts, jumpee, and snow; $8 without breakfast. Register by calling (415) 388-6393. For more info, visit their website.
  • Pixie Park Holiday Bake Sale and Photos with Santa
    Marin Art and Garden Center, Ross
    Saturday, 10 am–2 pm

    Pixie Park's annual holiday bake sale offers delicious homemade baked goods-perfect for holiday gift-giving. Come choose from cookies, cakes, candies, baking mixes and gingerbread houses. Come support Pixie Park, have a photo taken with Santa Claus (10:30 am–1:30 pm) and enjoy some children’s holiday cookie decorating (10:30 am–1:30 pm) and entertainment! Location: 30 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, Ross. For more info, visit their website.
  • Gingerbread Doghouse Workshops
    Charles Schulz Museum, Santa Rosa
    Saturday, 10 am, 1 pm and Sunday, 1 pm

    Assemble and decorate Snoopy’s doghouse out of gingerbread complete with a marshmallow Snoopy on top. Choose from one of the dates online here. Cost: $25/member, $32/non-member and $10 additional child. For more info, visit their website.
  • Indoor Antique Market 32nd Annual Christmas Show
    Marin Center Exhibit Hall, San Rafael
    Saturday, 10 am–6 pm & Sunday, 10 am–5 pm
    Enjoy an old fashioned shopping experience as you are taken back through times gone by. Over seventy booths of antiques and collectibles. Highlights include fine art, Asian and Native American art, watches, clocks, books, photographs, postcards, posters, prints, coins, vintage toys, kitchen collectibles, vintage clothing, and more. Admission: $6. Location: 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Sausalito Winterfest
    Sausalito Yacht Harbor Parking Lot
    Saturday, 10 am–2 pm

    Photo op with Mr. and Mrs. Claus and their elves. Make sure to bring your camera. Free but please RSVP For more info, visit their website.
  • Dream Circle Holiday Concert
    Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
    Saturday, 10:30 & 11:45 am

    A jovial Holiday Sing-along for young children at the Discovery Museum! The 7-member band Dream Circle features four of Marin's top children's singers  and piano, bass, and drums. It's a real treat for the little ones, and parents too. Come and join in on the fun! Tickets: $5 BADM members, $7 non-members. For more info, visit their website.
  • 7th Annual Teddy Bear Tea à la Française
    Saturday, 10:30 am–noon
    Red Hill Church of San Anselmo
    Come for tea and hot cocoa, finger sandwiches, holiday cookies, and fun with Le Petit Jardin! You and your little ones will enjoy tea service, traditional live holiday music, a fireside telling of the story of the first Christmas in English and French, and a professional photo seating! Each child should dress in dapper style and bring his or her own teddy bear pal from home to share tea time with! $10 per seat; space limited. Book your reservation online. Location: 921 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, San Anselmo. For more info, visit their website.
  • Gingerbread House Workshop
    Marin Humane Society, Novato
    Saturday, 10:30 am–noon

    Calling all kids! Get in the holiday spirit and join in the fun of an age-old holiday tradition - gingerbread house decorating. Gingerbread house masters John and Megan Lorenzen will be here to help you create a gingerbread dog house or a gingerbread kitty condo. Workshop is designed for 8–12-year-old children. For more info, visit their website.
  • Fairfax Craft Faire
    Pavilion, Fairfax
    Saturday, 11 am–5 pm
    The annual Fairfax Craft Faire is held at the Pavilion in the heart of Fairfax. A wonderful selection of crafts, music and food will fill the Pavilion for this event. Location: 142 Bolinas Road, Fairfax. For more info, visit their website.
  • Wreath Making Workshop
    McNears Beach Park, San Rafael
    Saturday, 11 am–1 pm

    Bring the beauty of nature to your front door with a festive, homemade wreath! Join rangers at McNears Beach for a day of sipping hot chocolate, listening to holiday tunes, and creating your own natural wreath to take home. Fresh greenery, pinecones, and other natural materials will be provided. You are encouraged to bring your own decorations to use. For all ages. Hot chocolate and snacks provided. Rain will cancel. Free. Location: 201 Cantera Way, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Mark Foehringer's Nutcracker Sweets
    Saturday & Sunday, 11 am & 1 pm
    Fort Mason Center, San Francisco

    Mark Foehringer's Nutcracker Sweets is a unique 50-minute version of the Nutcracker specifically designed for families with young children. The production features a live 9-piece chamber orchestra, Brian Fisher as Drosselmeyer, musical direction by Michael Morgan, set design by Peter Crompton, costume design by Richard Battle, and production direction by Frederic O. Boulay. Tickets: $21 and $31. For more info, visit their website.
  • A Holiday Magic Toy Box Tea at Falkirk
    Saturday & Sunday, noon & 3 pm
    1408 Mission Avenue at "E" Street, San Rafael
    The tea is an old-fashioned tour de force in the elegant Queen Anne Victorian Falkirk Mansion. Homemade tea sandwiches and sweets are served, along with tea, hot chocolate, and other beverages. Features include life-sized toys, a raffle, and plenty of photo opportunities. Make sure you bring your teddy bear or other favorite toy!  This extremely popular event is by reservation only and always sells our early! Cost: $28 adults, $24 for children, $50 adult-and-child combination ticket. For more info, visit www.falkirkculturalcenter.org.

Winter Break Camps in Marin and Beyond

December 6, 2016
studio 4 artLooking for something fun for the kids to do over the upcoming winter break? Check out some of the great winter day camps here in Marin and the Bay Area.
  • Andrew's Day Camp
    Location: 400 Tamal Plaza, Corte Madera
    Dates: December 23–January 6
    Cost: $75 per day; extended care $10 hr
    Ages: kindergarten and up
    Andrew's Camp offers games, crafts, sports and more. Camps take place from 9 am–5 pm with extended care from 8–9 am and 5–6 pm. ABring lunch and snack. For more info,call (415) 446-8946 or  visit their website.
  • Bay Area Discovery Museum Winter Discovery Camps
    Location: 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito
    Dates:
    December 19–23, 26–30 & January 2–6
    Cost:
    $425/session; general: $450/session
    Ages: 4–8
    Winter Discovery Camps provide child-directed, inquiry driven learning through project-based, hands-on activities designed to intentionally boost creativity, STEM skills, and critical thinking. Camps hours:  9 am–2 pm; extended care from 2–4 pm (extended care $50/per day). For more info, call (415) 339-3900 or visit www.baykidsmuseum.org.

Dream Circle Holiday Concert at the Bay Area Discovery Museum this Weekend

December 6, 2016

Dream CircleCome and celebrate the holiday season with four of Marin's best loved kids entertainers: Tim Cain, Miss Kitty, Christopher Smith, and Cindy Cohen, accompanied by Peter Penhallow and the Dream Circle Band, for this year's Dream Circle Holiday Concert at the Bay Area Discovery Museum. The concert takes place this Saturday, December 10, 2016 with two performances at 10:30 and 11:45 am.

Bring the entire family ages 1 and up to sing and dance at this delightful and uplifting seasonal celebration featuring songs for a wide range of winter holidays, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Chinese New Year. Dream Circle is indeed a dream lineup of the superstars of local children’s entertainertainment!

Marin Weekend Family Fun for December 2, 3 & 4

December 2, 2016

Sebastopol Christmas Tree FarmCheck out our guide to North Bay Christmas tree farms and lots here.

There's also holiday ice skating at numerous locations throughout the Bay Area, as well as opportunities to visit with Santa Claus at local shopping centers and to visit Marin's amazing lighted holiday houses! 

Friday, December 2

  • Great Dickens Christmas Fair
    Cow Palace, San Francisco
    Friday–Sunday, 10 am–7 pm

    The Dickens Fair runs on weekends through December 20. Experience Victorian London with hundreds of costumed players, shops offering one-of-a-kind gifts and Christmas treasures, dining, and pubs. Meet Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, Tiny Tim, Jules Verne, David Copperfield, Charles Darwin, and 700 costumed characters. Of course, Father Christmas himself will be on hand to join in the fun. Purchase tickets here. For more info, visit their website.
  • Holiday Ice Skating in Union Square
    San Francisco
    Friday–Sunday, 10 am–11:30 pm

    Union Square, San Francisco's main shopping district, gets into the ice skating spirit during the holiday season with an outdoor ice rink sponsored by Safeway. 90-minute sessions start on every even hour. Admission: $11 for adults, 7 children 8 and under. Skate rental $6. Information: (415) 781-2688 or visit their website.
  • Marin Center Holiday Craft and Boutique Sale
    Marin Center, San Rafael
    Friday–Sunday, 11 am–8 pm

    Join us for some holiday cheer and shop artfully at the Marin Center’s Holiday Craft and Art Fair. With original artworks, crafts, jewelry, woodworks, silk scarves and more by some 35 hand-selected local artists there’s something for everyone on your holiday list. With over 700 items priced from $5 to $250, you can take home something special for the art lovers in your family while supporting the true creative culture of Marin! Shop till you drop and support your local artists! Free admission. Location: Marin Center Exhibit Hall, 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • The Velveteen Rabbit
    Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco
    Friday, 11 am, Saturday, 1 & 4 pm and Sunday, 2 pm

    Bring the family for this beloved Bay Area holiday tradition. ODC/Dance enlivens Margery Williams’ classic tale of a well-worn nursery rabbit that becomes real. Told though music, dance and a powerful narrative, The Velveteen Rabbit celebrates the unique relationship between a little boy and his stuffed rabbit, and the enduring power of love. Tickets range from $15 to $75. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin on Ice
    Northgate Mall, San Rafael
    Friday, 2
    –10 pm, Saturday, noon–10 pm, Sunday, noon–9 pm
    This Saturday, Marin on Ice opens for another season of outdoor ice skating at San Rafael's Northgate Mall, where it runs through January 11. Marin's only holiday ice skating rink features 6,300 square feet of real ice and will be open daily for outdoor skating. Skating is $15 per person, which includes skate rental. Private ice cabanas will also be available for rental and "Skate Buddies" are available for beginners. For more info, visit their website.
  • Presidio Community Tree Lighting
    San Francisco Presidio Main Post
    Friday, 5:30–7 pm
    Light the tree and sing holiday classics along with the Golden Gate Carolers. Light refreshments and kids activities will follow in the Presidio Community YMCA gymnasium (63 Funston Avenue). After the tree lighting, don’t miss the lantern-lit evening forest walk, which will start at 6:15 pm. Meet in the Presidio Community YMCA gym. For more info, visit their website.
  • Holiday Crafts Faire
    Margaret Todd Senior Center, Novato
    Friday. 6–9 pm and Saturday, 10 am–4 pm
    Shop for handmade holiday crafts at Novato's Margaret Todd Senior Center. Free admission. Location: 1560 Hill Road, Novato. For more info, visit their website.
  • Dickens Family Victorian Holiday Party
    Falkirk Cultural Center, San Rafael
    Friday, 6:30 pm

    Partake in a holiday treat as you go back in time to Victorian England and meet Charles Dickens, listen to him read from his famous works, watch his characters come alive (look out for Scrooge), meet and greet the true Father Christmas, play Victorian parlor games, dance and sing with our Victorian family and make traditional holiday crafts. Light food and drink will be served. A true family event. Tickets: $12 adults, $9 children. Order tickets at (800) 838-3006 or online here. Location: 1408 Mission Avenue, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • The Berkeley Playhouse: Disney's Beauty and the Beast
    The Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, Berkeley
    Friday, 7 pm, Saturday, 1 & 7 pm, Sunday, 2 pm

    The Disney (and Broadway!) favorite gets the Berkeley Playhouse makeover as founding Associate Artistic Director Kimberly Dooley helms this all new production featuring a diverse and multigenerational cast of dozens. Featuring some of Disney’s most popular songs and characters, you won’t want to miss this magical musical adventure guaranteed to delight audiences of all ages. Location: 2640 College Avenue, Berkeley. Tickets: $25–40. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, December 3

  • Polar Express Train Ride
    Santa Cruz
    Saturday & Sunday, various times

    The Polar Express Train Ride departs from Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, complete with dancing chefs, singing elves, and a special gift from Santa Claus himself—a silver sleigh bell. Don't forget to wear your pajamas while you enjoy cookies, hot chocolate, and a reading of The Polar Express while on board. First-class tickets still available for rides this weekend. For more info and tickets, call (877) 726-7245 or visit their website.

Marin Weekend Family Fun for November 25, 26 & 27

November 23, 2016

Winter Wonderland in San RafaelVisit downtown San Rafael this Friday and Saturday for free snow sledding and more!

There's also holiday ice skating at numerous locations throughout the Bay Area, as well as opportunities to visit with Santa Claus at local shopping centers. Also, check out our guide to North Bay Christmas tree farms and Lots.

Friday, November 25

  • Great Dickens Christmas Fair
    Cow Palace, San Francisco
    Friday–Sunday, 10 am–7 pm

    The Dickens Fair runs on weekends through December 20. Experience Victorian London with hundreds of costumed players, shops offering one-of-a-kind gifts and Christmas treasures, dining, and pubs. Meet Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, Tiny Tim, Jules Verne, David Copperfield, Charles Darwin, and 700 costumed characters. Of course, Father Christmas himself will be on hand to join in the fun. Purchase tickets here. For more info, visit their website.
  • Holiday Ice Skating in Union Square
    San Francisco
    Friday–Sunday, 10 am–11:30 pm

    Union Square, San Francisco's main shopping district, gets into the ice skating spirit during the holiday season with an outdoor ice rink sponsored by Safeway. 90-minute sessions start on every even hour. Admission: $11 for adults, 7 children 8 and under. Skate rental $6. Information: (415) 781-2688 or visit their website.
  • The 37th Annual Parade of Lights and Winter Wonderland
    Downtown San Rafael
    Friday, noon–8 pm & Saturday, 9 am–noon
    Downtown San Rafael will once again commence the holiday season with its Winter Wonderland, Parade of Lights, and Holiday Marketplace with arts and crafts that starts the Friday after Thanksgiving. On Friday: free snow sledding, kids activities (noon–4:30 pm & 6–8 pm), Holiday Marketplace (noon–8 pm) and the Parade of Lights (5:30 pm) with Santa and Mrs. Claus's arrival and a tree-lighting immediately after. On Saturday, kids activities and snow sledding continues (9 am–noon). Location: Fourth Street from B Street to Lootens Place in downtown San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin on Ice
    Northgate Mall, San Rafael
    Friday, 2
    –10 pm, Saturday, noon–10 pm, Sunday, noon–9 pm
    This Saturday, Marin on Ice opens for another season of outdoor ice skating at San Rafael's Northgate Mall, where it runs through January 11. Marin's only holiday ice skating rink features 6,300 square feet of real ice and will be open daily for outdoor skating. Skating is $15 per person, which includes skate rental. Private ice cabanas will also be available for rental and "Skate Buddies" are available for beginners. For more info, visit their website.
  • The Velveteen Rabbit
    Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco
    Friday & Saturday, 4 pm & Sunday, 2 pm

    Bring the family for this beloved Bay Area holiday tradition. ODC/Dance enlivens Margery Williams’ classic tale of a well-worn nursery rabbit that becomes real. Told though music, dance and a powerful narrative, The Velveteen Rabbit celebrates the unique relationship between a little boy and his stuffed rabbit, and the enduring power of love. Tickets range from $15 to $75. For more info, visit their website.
  • Peter and the Starcatcher
    Spreckels Center for the Performing Arts, Rohnert Park
    Friday & Saturday, 8 pm

    Tony-winning Peter and the Starcatcher up ends the century-old story of how a miserable orphan comes to be the Boy Who Would Not Grow Up (a.k.a. Peter Pan). From marauding pirates and jungle tyrants to unwilling comrades and unlikely heroes, Peter and the Starcatcher playfully explores the depths of greed and despair and the bonds of friendship, duty, and love. Tickets: $26 general admission. Location: 5409 Snyder Lane, Rohnert Park. For more info, visit their website.
  • A Winter Circus for the Holidays
    Cornerstone Sonoma
    Friday–Sunday, 3 & 5 pm
    An old style circus based on the French tradition of the 1920’s, Le Cirque de Bohème will transport you into a magical world filled with enchantment, adventure and wonder. This winter a Le Cirque de Bohème presents a new show: Stolen Moonlight. Delight in work of world class performers including a unicycle, contortionist, juggler, slack-rope, hand chair balancing, aerial fabrics, and a hooper aerialist. Tickets: $30 general, $1 kids under 15. More information
  • Ghirardelli Square Annual Tree Lighting
    San Francisco
    Friday, 4–8 pm

    This Black Friday, Ghirardelli Square will be hosting its annual tree lighting ceremony with free kids activities, tenant promotions, live music, snow, Santa, and more Location: Ghirardelli Square, 900 North Point Street (at Beach and Larkin), San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Winter Lights
    Old Courthouse Square, Santa Rosa
    Friday, 4:30–8 pm

    Winter Lights is an annual event that brings together community to celebrate the holidays and remember our loved ones. This all-ages event is family-oriented and multi-cultural, and features a tree lighting celebration, remembrance candle lighting ceremony, Santa Claus arriving on a fire truck, Taste of Santa Rosa, live entertainment, children's activities, photos with Santa, ornament painting, and ugly sweater contest, and more. Location: 25 Old Courthouse Square, Santa Rosa. For more info, visit their Facebook page.
  • Macy's 27th Annual Union Square Tree Lighting
    Union Square Park, San Francisco
    Friday, 6 pm

    Macy's gift to the city and San Francisco's most recognized Christmas tree will be officially lit in Union Square at 6:40 pm. Macy's 27th Annual Tree Lighting will take place in Union Square Park between Sutter and Post and Geary and Stockton Streets, right across from the front of Macy's. For more info, visit their website.
  • The Berkeley Playhouse: Disney's Beauty and the Beast
    The Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, Berkeley
    Friday, 7 pm, Saturday, 1 & 7 pm, Sunday, 2 pm

    The Disney (and Broadway!) favorite gets the Berkeley Playhouse makeover as founding Associate Artistic Director Kimberly Dooley helms this all new production featuring a diverse and multigenerational cast of dozens. Featuring some of Disney’s most popular songs and characters, you won’t want to miss this magical musical adventure guaranteed to delight audiences of all ages. Location: 2640 College Avenue, Berkeley. Tickets: $25–40. For more info, visit their website.
  • Cinnabar Theater Young Repertory: The Music Man
    Cinnabar Theater, Petaluma
    Friday and Saturday, 7:30 pm
    There’s trouble in River City when fast-talking salesman Harold Hill gets his heart stolen by Marian, the town librarian. A delight for all ages and performed by two casts of talented young people, this lively show runs for three weekends only. Purchase tickets here. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, November 26

  • Polar Express Train Ride
    Santa Cruz
    Saturday & Sunday, various times

    The Polar Express Train Ride departs from Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, complete with dancing chefs, singing elves, and a special gift from Santa Claus himself—a silver sleigh bell. Don't forget to wear your pajamas while you enjoy cookies, hot chocolate, and a reading of The Polar Express while on board. First-class tickets still available for rides this weekend. For more info and tickets, call (877) 726-7245 or visit their website.
  • The 37th Annual Parade of Lights and Winter Wonderland
    Downtown San Rafael
    Saturday, 9 am–noon
    On Saturday, kids activities and snow sledding continues in downtown San Rafael. Location: Fourth Street from B Street to Lootens Place in downtown San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin Country Mart Farmers Market
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    Enjoy pony rides and a petting zoo for the kids from 10 am–2 pm adjacent to the farmer's market and live music. Bring the kids and get cozy under the tent to see a special performance by the one and only Emily Butterfly at 9:30 am! For more info, visit their website.
  • Iceless Skating Rink
    Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
    Saturday & Sunday, 9 am–5 pm

    Hit the “ice” this winter with family and friends at the Bay Area Discovery Museum's Iceless Skating Rink, which will be open from November 19, 2016 to January 8, 2016. Children can strap on skates and glide around on a synthetic ice rink in the museum's Discovery Hall. The synthetic ice rink provides all the fun of a real ice rink but without the cold and icy falls. Get in the holiday spirit with this classic winter activity. Best of all, it's free with museum admission or membership. Location: 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito. For more info, visit their website.
  • Reindeer Romp
    San Francisco Zoo
    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–4 pm

    Santa is sending his favorite reindeer, Belle, Holly, and Peppermint to spread holiday cheer at San Francisco Zoo & Gardens! Until January 1, majestic reindeer will be romping at SF Zoo's Playfield Lawn, near the spectacular Elinor Friend Playground. Zoo admission applies. Location: Sloat Blvd. at the Great Highway, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas
    Osher Studio, Berkeley
    Saturday & Sunday, 10:30 am, 1:30 pm & 4:30 pm

    What could be fancier than Christmas? Presents with elegant wrapping paper, festive decorations, Christmas cookies with sprinkles - and who could forget the tree? This year, Nancy bought a brand-new sparkly tree topper with her own money and can't wait to decorate the Christmas tree. But when things don't turn out the way Nancy planned, will Christmas still be splendiferous?Tickets: $25 for adults, $20 for children (14 and under) and $23 for senior. Location:2055 Center Street, Berkeley.
    For more info, visit their website.
  • Annual Gingerbread House Open House
    Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco
    Saturday, 11 am–3 pm

    Lovingly built with a completely edible exterior, this delectable abode will be unveiled during a ribbon cutting ceremony at the annual Gingerbread Open House. The event is open to the public and offers guests the opportunity to take pleasure in complimentary holiday refreshments and heartwarming music while Santa Claus, a Balloon Elf, and a Christmas Fairy pose for photos and kids can write letters to Saint Nick in the lobby’s “North Pole Nook." Location: 950 Mason Street, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • SF Etsy Holiday Emporium
    Pier 70, San Francisco
    Saturday & Sunday, 11 am–5 pm

    Start your holiday shopping at this weekend's Etsy event. The SFEtsy Indie Holiday Emporium is an annual market showcasing the SFEtsy team members and other artisan crafters and makers. See a list of sellers here. Location: Pier 70, 420 22nd Street, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • West Portal Snow Festival
    West Portal, San Francisco
    Saturday, 11 am–4 pm

    Build a snowman with real snow, visit with Ana and Elsa (noon to 2 pm), get your photo taken with Santa, and more! Face painting, refreshments, music, and swag bags, too. Location: 82 West Portal Avenue, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Santa's Riverboat Arrival
    Petaluma River Turning Basin
    Saturday, 11:30 am
    Santa and Mrs. Claus sail into the Petaluma River Turning Basin aboard a tugboat at noon and disembark in the Golden Eagle Shopping Center on East Washington Street to greet children and distribute candy. Performers will be on hand at the shopping center starting at 11:30 am. For more info, visit their website.

Photos and Breakfast with Santa Claus in Marin and Beyond

November 23, 2016

Santa Claus photos Marin

Photo Courtesy Town Center Corte Madera

It goes without saying that every Holiday season Santa Claus is an extremely popular guy. He and his small army of little helpers will be making the rounds for photos, breakfasts, and other holiday fun at various shopping centers and other locations in Marin County and beyond. (And of course you'll need to tell him what you want for Christmas, too!)

Here's our 2016 guide to photo ops with Santa and more. We make every effort to assure that all listings and hours are as accurate as possible, but occasionally Santa has to take a break to feed the reindeer or tidy up his beard, so make sure to stay on his "nice" list and call or check the venue's website before visiting. Santa's elves are still finalizing his holiday schedule, so check back here for updates throughout the season.

Photos with Santa

  • Santa Photos
    Town Center Corte Madera
    November 25–December 24

    Shopping during the holidays at Town Center Corte Madera is always a festive occasion for the entire family, with a chance to have a free photo for the kids with Santa Claus, have your gifts wrapped for free by volunteers from Hospice by the Bay, and enjoy some live music to provide the holiday spirit. Schedule: Friday, Saturday, Sunday November 25–November 27, 11 am–4 pm; Saturday and Sunday, December 3–4, 11 am–4 pm, and daily December 10–11, 11 am–4 pm and December 17–24, 11 am–4 pm. More info: www.shoptowncenter.com

Ice Skating Fun at Snoopy's Home Ice in Santa Rosa

November 21, 2016

Snoopy's Home Ice Redwood Empire Ice ArenaOne of our must-do family tradions during the holidays is to visit Snoopy's Home Ice, as well as the Charles M. Schulz Museum right next door. The arena was a gift to the North Bay community from the late Santa Rosa resident and Peanuts cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, and has been going strong since 1969.

I always consider an outing here a holiday tradition, especially since I grew up watching A Charlie Brown Christmas every year, and attended a few holiday ice shows here over the years, too. It was always a treat to see Charles Schulz himself sitting in the audience, enjoying the show and chatting with visitors. 

Marin Weekend Family Fun for November 18, 19 & 20

November 18, 2016

PIER 39 holiday Christmas tree lighting San Francisco
PIER 39 Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place on Saturday and Sunday. Photo: PIER 39

Here are our picks for great events and activities for children and families this weekend. Find more events for the whole week in Marin and beyond in our Family Events Calendar.

There's also holiday ice skating at numerous locations throughout the Bay Area, as well as opportunities to visit with Santa Claus at local shopping centers.

Friday, November 18

  • Bel Marin Keys Holiday Warehouse Sale
    Bel Marin Keys, Novato
    Friday & Saturday, 10 am–5 pm

    On Friday and Saturday, many of the warehouses in the Bel Marin Keys will open their doors for direct-to-seller deals waiting for you. This semi-annual sale is one of the hidden shopping gems in Marin County and has been in existence for over 20 years! Shop for a wide variety of goods from food and wine to decor and fine art. For more info, visit their website.
  • Holiday Ice Skating in Union Square
    San Francisco
    Friday–Sunday, 10 am–11:30 pm

    Union Square, San Francisco's main shopping district, gets into the ice skating spirit during the holiday season with an outdoor ice rink sponsored by Safeway. 90-minute sessions start on every even hour. Admission: $11 for adults, 7 children 8 and under. Skate rental $6. Information: (415) 781-2688 or visit their website.
  • Embarcadero Center Holiday Ice Rink
    Justin Herman Plaza, San Francisco
    Friday & Saturday, 10 am–11:30 pm and Sunday, 10 am–9:30 pm
    The Bay Area's largest outdoor ice rink offers 90-minute skating sessions Sunday through Thursday from 10 am to 9:30 pm, and Fridays and Saturdays from 10 am to 11:30 pm. Admission is $11 for adults and $7 for children ages 7 and under; skate rental is $5. They also offer group rates, as well as birthday parties and private rentals. For more info, call 415) 837-1931 or visit their website.
  • Santa Photos
    Northgate Mall in San Rafael
    Friday & Saturday, 10 am–9 pm and Sunday, 11 am–7 pm

    Northgate in San Rafael invites children to visit Santa and have their picture taken with Santa Claus at his winter wonderland house in the Macy's wing. Breaks on Friday and Saturday (breaks 1-1:45pm & 3:45-4:30pm), and Sunday (break 2-3pm). For more info, visit their website.
  • French Storytime (L'Heure du Conte)
    San Anselmo Library
    Friday, 11–11:30 am

    For children of all ages and their parent or caregiver. Talk, sing, read, and play together. Share books, stories, rhymes, music in French. No registration required. Parents/caregivers are expected to stay with children during all storytime sessions. Free. Location: 110 Tunstead Avenue, Council Chambers, San Anselmo. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin on Ice
    Northgate Mall, San Rafael
    Friday, 2
    –10 pm, Saturday, noon–10 pm, Sunday, noon–9 pm
    This Saturday, Marin on Ice opens for another season of outdoor ice skating at San Rafael's Northgate Mall, where it runs through January 11. Marin's only holiday ice skating rink features 6,300 square feet of real ice and will be open daily for outdoor skating. Skating is $15 per person, which includes skate rental. Private ice cabanas will also be available for rental and "Skate Buddies" are available for beginners. For more info, visit their website.
  • Friday Fun Days
    South Novato Library
    Friday, 3–4 pm

    Enjoy an afternoon of fun with the family at the South Novato Library. Whether it’s story, art, music or science, this drop-in program promises to be packed with fun! Location: 931 C St., Novato. For more info, visit their website.
  • Building Lighting Ceremony & Carnival
    Embarcadero Center, San Francisco
    Friday, 4–7 pm
    Four iconic buildings lit with 15,000 holiday lights, fireworks bursting in the sky and a magical show presented by Disney on Ice. The Building Lighting Ceremony begins at 5:30 pm and live performances from Disney On Ice presents Frozen! The Building Lighting Ceremony at Embarcadero Center is a San Francisco tradition and the official start of the holiday season in the City. For more info, visit their website.
  • Friday Nights at the de Young
    de Young Museum, San Francisco
    Friday, 5–8:45 pm

    Friday Nights at the de Young are after-hours art happenings that include a mix of live music, dance and theater performances, film screenings, panel discussions, lectures, artist demonstrations, hands-on art activities, and exhibition tours. The café offers a delicious prix-fixe menu and specialty cocktails, and the Hamon Tower observation level is open until 8 pm. For more info, visit their website.
  • Tam Valley Craft Fair
    Tam Valley Community Center, Mill Valley
    Friday, 5–9 pm & Saturday, 10 am–3 pm
    Shop for unique holiday gifts at this year's Tam Valley Craft Fair. Location: 203 Marin Avenue, Mill Valley. For more info, visit their website.

Does It Really Snow in Downtown San Rafael?

November 14, 2016

Snow sledding in San Rafael

Does it really snow in Downtown San Rafael? Well, no... not very often. But that doesn't mean that they can't truck a bunch of the frozen white stuff for sledding on the Friday after Thanksgiving!

Snow will arrive in Marin as part of the 37th annual Downtown San Rafael Parade of Lights and Winter Wonderland, which takes place Friday, November 25. The event happens on Fourth Street from B Street to Lootens Place. Enjoy the Parade of Lights, Winter Wonderland, holiday market, tree lighting ceremony, live entertainment, and more! Free snow sledding and kids' activities take place from noon to 4:30 pm and 6 to 8 pm, and the Holiday Marketplace runs from noon to 8 pm.

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