What do you wish for?

Do you base our choices on what you want, or what you think you're supposed to want? Let yourself feel what you feel and want what you want, THEN engage your mind in the process. The best wishes are born from your heart.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Molly Blue Dawn's List of Yule-y Events for 2014

There are so many wonderful Yule-related events happening from late November through early January, I've created this season-long guide.  If something you love is not included on the list, please let me know about it ( mollmac@gmail.com ) so that I can include it in future postings.  

These events can also be found on the Pantheon Foundation calendar:

There are two sections to this list - Yule-Related Events and Places Decorated for the Holidays.


Section One - Yule-Related Events

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair!
Saturdays-Sundays, November 22-December 21 and Friday, November 28,
Cow Palace Exhibition Halls, 2600 Geneva Avenue, Daly City
see website for ticket details
Parking fees are $10 per car charged by the Cow Palace
Free shuttle available from Glen Park BART Station

"The bustling streets of London, immortalized for all time by the mighty pen of Charles Dickens, form the living backdrop of your excursion into Christmas Past. You are a living part of a Victorian Christmas card come to life!

A Bay Area tradition since 1970, the Great Dickens Christmas Fair returns to the San Francisco Cow Palace Exhibition Halls for five weekends in 2013, including the Friday after Thanksgiving, from Saturday, November 22 through Sunday, December 21, from 10:00AM 'til 7:00PM.

Created by Ron and Phyllis Patterson, the fair is now produced by Kevin and Leslie Patterson and Red Barn Productions, who continue the family tradition of theatrical excellence through authenticity, participation, and playfulness.

Come wander the lanes of Victorian London, as the glow of twilight settles upon the city, with the scent of pine boughs and freshly baked scones floating in the air and the sound of carolers and holiday merrymakers accompanying your stroll.”

This is one of my favourite Yuletide traditions, and, really, one of my favourite things in the whole wide world.  And don't be fooled into thinking it's not extremely Pagan-friendly just because it's a "Christmas" event. Christmas not Pagan, you say?!  It is too! Especially in a simulated Victorian London reconstructed by Bay Area Faire Geeks.  It's lousy with Pagans, I'm tellin' ya!  Next time you're at PantheaCon, picture the people around you in corsets and/or top hats, and you'll realize they're the same people you saw at Dickens, just dressed more diaphonously...

There is soooo much to do and see (and eat and buy, if you want to spend money...), I heartily recommend going as many times as you possibly can!  With characters from the works of Charles Dickens roaming the streets, as well as historical figures of the Victorian Age (and a few non-Dickensian fictional ones), it's wall-to-wall entertainment.  You can dance and play parlour games at Fezziwig's Warehouse, you can watch various variety acts at the Victoria and Albert Music Hall, you can sing sea shanties with the sailors of Paddy West’s School of Seamanship, you can hobnob with authors, explorers, and inventors at the Adventurer's Club, you can be amazed at the wonders of the Legion Fantastique, you can take child-like glee in meeting Father Christmas, riding a hand-spun carousel, and seeing a Punch and Judy show, you can take adult-like glee in reveling in the naughtiness at Mad Sal's, the wondrous mechanical models of the Dark Garden display windows, and even the extra naughtiness of Saucy French Post Cards.  Delight in watching Scrooge turn from nasty to nice over the course of the day!  Hear Mr. Dickens himself read aloud from A Christmas Carol - spellbinding!

If you drive, plan to carpool, because the Cow Palace charges for parking.  But you don't have to drive, because you can take the free shuttle from BART.  The free shuttle will be operating between Glen Park BART station and the Cow Palace from 10:15AM-7:00PM each day of the Fair.  

If you love anything about the month of December, you will adore The Great Dickens Christmas Fair!  If you wish you could attend a Renaissance Faire in the dead of winter, this is the place for you!  If watching A Christmas Carol on the stage or screen is not participatory enough for you, come and live it in glorious 3D, with full colour, rich surround-sound, the ultimate Christmas-y smell that wafts from the yummy cinnamon crunch almonds, the warm, cozy flavour of hot buttered rum or chocolate egg nog*, possibly even the realistic feeling of one of Sal's gals in your lap...  It just doesn't get any better than this!

*Yes.  You read that right.  Chocolate.  Egg nog.  Chocolate egg nog.

The Christmas Ballet Uncorked!: Smuin Ballet’s Holiday Favorite
playing at various Bay Area venues November 22-December 27
see website for schedule, location, and ticket details

“Get ready to sit back and unwind with Michael Smuin’s San Francisco tradition, The Christmas Ballet. A smorgasbord of sight and sound, this year’s medley promises to enchant and envelop you in the holiday spirit. With a traditional first half, Smuin’s strict attention to custom quenches your thirst for ballet perfection, while the second half lets loose with a collection of fresh, fun, and fantastical pieces that truly uncork the senses.”

Holiday Open Studio at Slow Burn Glass
Friday-Sunday, November 28-30, 9:00AM-5:00PM,
and every Saturday-Sunday through December 21
Slow Burn Glass, 2690 Union Street, Oakland, 510-832-2007
Free admission, workshops $80

“Join us this holiday season at our Open Studio! We will be teaching a Make Your Own Ornament workshop where you blow your own sparkling glass orb ornament, and Build A Snowman workshop where you can sculpt a personable solid glass snowman. We hold our workshops during our studios Open House, where you can shop and support local glass artists and pick up beautiful, one-of-a-kind gifts for your loved ones this holiday season.”

Holiday Tree Walk
Friday-Sunday, November 28-30, 11:00AM-7:00PM
and Saturday-Sunday, December 6-7 and December 13-14
Roaring Camp Railroads, 5401 Graham Hill Road, Felton, 831-335-4484
see website for schedule admission details

“Get in the holiday spirit by bringing family and friends to ride Roaring Camp’s daytime steam train to Bear Mountain.  At the summit, guests may sip hot cider and delight in viewing a tree-lined walk of beautifully decorated holiday trees.  Trees are provided by Patchen California Christmas Tree Farm, Los Gatos.

To add to the festive spirit and bring hope to families in need, visitors may bring a new and unwrapped toy to Roaring Camp’s depot to benefit Santa Cruz County’s Toys for Tots campaign.

Toys collected will be distributed to children who otherwise would have less. For each donated toy, Roaring Camp will deduct $2 per train ticket, whether purchased online or in person. Guests are requested to avoid donating toys of aggression or unpacked stuffed animals.”

Santa’s Riverboat Arrival
Saturday, November 29, 11:00AM-1:00PM
River Plaza Shopping Center, East Washington Street, Petaluma, 707-769-0429

“Enjoy live entertainment while waiting for Santa and Mrs. Claus to arrive by tug about noon. Stay for photos and Christmas wishes.”

Berkeley Artisans Holiday Open Studios
Saturdays-Sundays, November 29-December 21, 11:00AM-6:00PM
locations throughout Berkeley -  see website for map

“The Artists Invite You In! Over 100 handpicked artists and craftspeople at studios, workshops and galleries in Berkeley will open their doors to the public during the 24th annual Berkeley Artisans Holiday Open Studios. This self-guided tour presents a unique opportunity to meet the artists, to buy original and creative gifts, and to see working craft studios, giving viewers a glimpse into the creative process. Many studios are in the same building, or are clustered within walking distance. This much anticipated, popular event is known for the high quality of the work shown.”

Christkindlmarkt in Petaluma
Sunday, November 30, 10:00AM-4:00PM
Hermann Sons Hall, 860 Western Avenue, Petaluma

“Enjoy traditional crafts, food, music, and entertainment from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland and have your child's photo taken with Santa.“

The Claremont’s Annual Holiday Artisan Faire
Sunday, November 30, 11:00-5:00PM
Claremont Hotel, 41 Tunnel Road, Berkeley, 510-843-3000

“Become part of this annual holiday tradition with artist vendors from the East Bay community showcasing handmade, unique artwork. A perfect venue to get your holiday shopping!”

Teddy Bear Tea Party
Sunday, November 30 and December 7,
Seatings at 10:30AM, 1:00PM, 3:30PM
The Camellia Tea Room, 828 First Street, Benicia, 707-746-5293
$47 per person, Reservations Required

“Camellia Tea Room and Benicia Main Street invite you to bring your teddy bear and join in the festivities at 828 First Street. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 707-746-5293.”

Tilden Park Christmas Fantasy In the Woods
December 1-23, see website for detailed schedule
CAYA Sprouts will be there on Sunday, December 21
Tilden Park Merry Go Round, Shasta Road, Berkeley
$2 per ride or $10 for 7 rides

“The Annual Christmas Fantasy experience at Tilden Park features an extensive array of outdoor holiday light displays and decorations covering the merry go round and surrounding grounds. Experience spectacular sparkling Christmas trees with an array of themes ranging from more traditional Santa Tree to the more eccentric Vampire or Mardi Gras decor.

Delicious holiday sweets and seasonal warm beverages are served nightly. The holiday spirit continues with carolers, holiday character appearances, and visits from Santa and his live reindeer! Visit any night until December 23. Santa comes nightly, except for Wednesdays.”

Holiday Treats
Puppet Shows with Nick Barone
various dates in December
various locations throughout the Bay Area

“Holiday Treats is an original thirty minute Christmas show from Nick Barone Puppets. Filled with lovable and friendly monsters and six or more holiday-like songs, this comical story is designed to delight families and children of all ages.”

The North Pole Review: Family Holiday Variety Show
presented by the Fratello Marionettes
various dates, times, and locations all over the Bay Area
see website for detailed schedule

“Looking for a unique way to celebrate the holiday season? Join the fun with our puppet extravaganza, The North Pole Review! This production showcases the high kicking antics of the Russian Trepak Dancers, our graceful ice skater Crystal Chandelier, and features the dazzling acrobatic penguins.”

Holiday Tea and Tours at the Ainsley House
various dates, December 3-13,
see website for detailed schedule
Ainsley House, 51 N Central Avenue, Campbell
Reservations required, please call 408-866-2757

“Join us for an elegant and relaxing afternoon and get in the holiday spirit! The Campbell Historical Museum and Ainsley House Foundation's traditional English-style Holiday Teas in the Carriage House feature delicate sandwiches, holiday sweets, and champagne as well as a guided tour of the Ainsley House, decorated in its holiday finest.

In the beautiful, historical Ainsley House, all of its 15 rooms will be transformed into an enchanting celebration of Christmas decorated by local interior designers, house decorators, florists, and volunteers.  The Ainsley House's Holiday Boutique, full of unique delights for holiday shoppers, will feature seasonal gifts, ornaments, tea accessories, and more.

Teas will be held at 1:00PM and 1:30PM on December 3-7 and December 10-13.  Admission is $40 per person. This is a wildly popular program and seating is limited - act now before tickets sell out!  For more information and to purchase tickets, please phone 408-866-2757.

All proceeds benefit the Campbell Historical Museum and Ainsley House Foundation, a non-profit organization that seeks, through the Museum and Ainsley House, to promote Campbell history and educate the public about the region's rich past.”

Belrose Holiday Tea Party
Wednesdays-Saturdays throughout December, 1:00-4:00PM
The Belrose Theatre, 1415 Fifth Avenue, San Rafael
$25 per person
reservations required, please call 415-902-5188 or e-mail 2TeaOrNot2Tea@att.net

“Tea Parties at The Belrose are Back!
Come enjoy four weeks of The Belrose Tea Party with family, friends, and co-workers.
Wednesdays through Saturdays, 1:00-4:00PM
$25 for this experience includes:
A Pot of Fine Tea
Tea Sandwiches
Petit Fours
Cookies and Scones”

The Belrose Theatre is a beautiful and truly magical place!

RiffTrax Live presents Santa Claus
Thursday, December 4, 8:00PM
various locations - see website for details
see website for local ticket details

“A LIVE never-before-seen riffing on the colorful holiday film, Santa Claus, from the historic Belcourt Theater in Nashville, Tennessee.

You better watch out!

Fathom Events and RiffTrax are thrilled to bring the magical wonderland known as K. Gordon Murray’s Santa Claus to select cinemas nationwide for the ultimate holiday riff LIVE on Thursday, December 4, at 8:00PM!

Get your magic eye ready as Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett (also known as the stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000) present a jolly ol’ riff that will keep you laughing all holiday season long! This one-night event, broadcast from the Belcourt Theater’s magical crystal laboratory, will be your only chance to watch the guys riff this merry flick on the big screen, so move quickly and get your tickets now!”

The Velveteen Rabbit
presented by ODC
Thursdays-Sundays, December 4-14,
Thursday-Friday 11:00AM, Saturday 11:00AM and 2:00PM, Sunday 2:00PM
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 700 Howard Street, San Francisco
see website for ticket details

“Join us for this beloved Bay Area holiday tradition. ODC/Dance enlivens Margery Williams’ classic tale of a well-worn nursery rabbit that becomes real. Told through 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.
Brimming with wit, festive costumes, madcap characters and the perfect amount of holiday cheer, ODC/Dance - one of America’s most exciting and acclaimed contemporary dance companies, returns to Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to present their 26th season of the beloved Bay Area production!”

Beloved Strangers
presented by Un-Scripted Theater
Thursday-Saturday, December 4-20, 8:00PM
Un-Scripted Theater, 533 Sutter Street, Second Floor, San Francisco
Adults $20, Students and Seniors $10

“Beloved Strangers - As the weather grows chillier and the holidays approach, families get ready to travel from places near and far to spend time together. A lot of time together!

For better or worse, families share histories, destinies, and above all - stories. This winter, Un-Scripted Theater Company celebrates family with Beloved Strangers, a completely improvised three-act play featuring a new family, created on the spot, every night. Feeling overwhelmed by your own family this holiday season? Come spend an evening with ours instead.”

The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes
9th Annual All Drag Xmas Exdrag-a-ganza
Thursdays-Sundays, December 4-21,
Thursdays-Saturdays 8:00PM, Sundays 7:00PM
Victoria Theater, 2961 16th Street, San Francisco, 415-863-7576

“Starring San Francisco’s four top drag luminaries, as we ring in the Holiday with, hilarity and heart. The formula is reasonably straightforward. Take 4 talented drag performers, cast them in two classic Xmas episodes of the ground-breaking and uproarious TV show: The Golden Girls, and joviality will ensue. The four drag stars are playing the characters the entire world has come to know and love are Heklina (Dorothy), Cookie Dough (Sophia), Matthew Martin (Blanche) and Pollo Del Mar (Rose). Directed by Matthew Martin.”

Crumbs: a Cinderella Story
December 4-21,
see website for detailed schedule
The Imaginists, 461 Sebastopol Avenue, Santa Rosa, 707-528-7554
sliding scale $15- $20

"Something’s gone wrong. Somethings not right. Comfort still finds them somehow in the night. Keep a close watch.

Upstairs, a landlady who controls everything. Downstairs, a household of creatures who work day and night. Far away, a Prince who has a radical idea - invite everyone to the Ball...

Timeless and timely, just in time for the darkness, the old stories and songs get to the roots. We invite you to be listeners and to dance at the Ball.”

Jolly Juliana - An Original Melodrama and Holiday Vaudeville
presented by 6th Street Playhouse
December 4-21, see website for schedule details
G.K. Hardt Theatre, 52 W. 6th Street, Santa Rosa, 707-523-4185
see website for ticket details

“A delightful, heart-warming, extravaganza commemorating the roots of American theatre; sing-a-long, hiss, boo and cheer for a villain, hero and heroine. A merry company of players will bring you a menagerie of entertainment sure to be a highlight of your holiday season.”

The MeshugaNutcracker
presented by Guggenheim Entertainment

Thursdays-Sundays, December 4-14,
Thursday-Fridays 7:30PM, Saturdays 2:00PM and 7:30PM, Sundays 2:00PM
Marines' Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter Street, San Francisco, 415-673-6672
see website for ticket information

Thursday-Sunday, December 25-28,
Thursday 2:00PM and 7:30PM, Friday 7:30PM, Saturday 2:00PM and 7:30PM, Sunday 2:00PM
Heritage Theatre, 1 W Campbell Avenue, Campbell, 408-866-2700
see website for ticket information

“The libretto tells the tale of eight Chelmniks (citizens of Chelm, the fictional town of fools) who gather once a year to perform their Chanukah festival. Through the course of the two-act musical, they tell eight stories which celebrate and honor the triumphs of Chanukah heroes from the time of the Maccabees through modern day - all in their delightfully foolish Chelm style. This new Chanukah production has all the right ingredients for a very happy holiday: take the beautiful and melodious music from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Ballet, mix in eight poignant and witty stories celebrating the miracle of Chanukah, and add a pinch of Chelm for flavor. Add twirling chanukiot and you'll have visions of sufganiot dancing in your head. Some might call it crazy, we call it... The MeshugaNutcracker!

The MeshugaNutcracker! is a full length musical performed in two acts. It runs approximately 2 hours including a 15 minute intermission. Latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiot (jelly doughnuts) will be available before the show and during intermission. The show is appropriate for all audiences but recommended for youth who are able to sit through a Pixar film.”

Holiday Open House In Downtown Benicia
Friday, December 5, 6:00-9:00PM
along Main Street, Benicia

“First Street merchants, along with Benicia Main Street, host this ever-popular open house at the beginning of the Christmas season. Merchants offer beverages and treats and show off their holiday goods while costumed carolers sing traditional Christmas tunes. Live entertainment, wagon rides, and wine tasting add a festive atmosphere to this family event.”

Dickens Family Victorian Holiday Party
Friday, December 5, 6:00-9:00PM
Falkirk Cultural Center, 1408 Mission Avenue, San Rafael, 415-485-3328
$10 Adults, $7 Children

“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.”

Charity Goodin Musical Holiday
presented by Electric Theatre
Friday-Saturday, December 5-6,
Friday 8:00PM, Saturday 2:00PM and 8:00PM
The Belrose Theatre, 1415 5th Avenue, San Rafael
Adults $25, Children $10

“Charity Goodin has been entertaining audiences for years with her work in R and B, jazz, rock, gospel, and ethnic music genres.
She headlined the Belize International Jazz Festival in 2008 and has recorded and performed with the original latin/funk/jazz group The Company She Keeps, as well as with Work in Progress, Fresh Cuts Cabaret, Brynie Baker Band and Springer.
In 2011, Charity produced Holiday Show at the Pacheco Playhouse in Novato with vibrant and alive music. Her productions have a magical energy that includes the audience in her very happy world of song. Her family ‘table’ becomes our musical feast.
Join Marin Onstage and Charity Goodin to kick off the holidays with heartwarming music and special treats in this very special production at the Belrose.”

Sing Along Sound of Music
Friday-Sunday, December 5-7, 1:00PM and 7:00PM
Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street, San Francisco
Adults $16, Children and Seniors $11  

“An annual Castro Theatre event, Sing-A-Long Sound of Music is a screening of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical in glorious widescreen, complete with subtitles so that the whole audience can sing along! In addition to belting out the tunes, goody bags will be handed out to everyone and audience members can add to the fun by dressing up as a favorite character for the costume contest!

The movie stars Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer and Eleanor Parker. Directed by Robert Wise. (1965, full program including intermission runs approx. 240 min, DCP 'Scope)”

Holiday Frolic and Snow Park in Downtown Martinez
Friday-Sunday, December 5-7,
Friday 1:00-9:00PM, Saturday-Sunday 10:00AM-5:00PM
along Main Street from Ferry Street to Alhambra Avenue, Martinez
see website for admission details

“A Winter Wonderland with Real Snow!
Snow Park and Ice Skating
Holiday Light Parade, Friday, December 5, 6:30PM, on Main Street
Visit with Santa!
Santa's little red house at the Main Street Plaza.
Also, city sponsored fun: Jumpers, Face Painting, Crafts and more!”

A Christmas Carol
December 5-28, see website for detailed schedule
American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary Street, San Francisco, 415-749-2228
see website ticket details

“The Bay Area's favorite holiday tradition returns to A.C.T. with a sparkling, music-infused A Christmas Carol. Bring your family, bring your friends, and check your humbugs at the door!”

Garden Shop Holiday Fete!
Saturday, December 6, 10:00AM-3:00PM
UC Berkeley Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive, Berkeley
Free admission

“Come spend a fabulous afternoon finding beautiful and unusual gifts for the holidays at our special holiday shopping party in the Garden’s gift shop. We’ll have tastings, music, and fun botanical wrapping for your gifts. Enjoy special offers with your holiday purchases which directly benefit the Botanical Garden.

This special holiday shopping event is free!”

San Jose Heritage Holiday Champagne Tea
Saturday, December 6, 11:00AM-4:00PM
Tea seatings at 11:00AM and 2:00PM
Pacific Hotel, History Park, 635 Phelan Avenue, San Jose
Holiday Tea tickets are $45 and include admission to Heritage Holiday
Reservations required, please contact Juanita Lara at 408-918-1045 or JLara@historysanjose.org

“Enjoy a traditional tea with scones, finger sandwiches and sweets, featuring exclusive blends by Satori Tea, champagne by Guglielmo Winery, and served by the players of Shady Shakespeare Theatre Company.  Tour historic houses decorated for the holidays.”

Petaluma Downtown Merchants Holiday Open House
Saturday, December 6, 11:00AM-5:00PM
Downtown Petaluma, 707-762-9348

“Join us on December 6 from 11:00AM-5:00PM for our annual Merchant's Holiday Open House, From Petaluma With Love.  All day long, we'll have fabulous shopping deals, festive holiday treats, horse and carriage rides from Putnam Plaza, balloon art, face painting, and so much more.  We hope to see you there!

2014 Activities Included:
Horse Drawn Carriage Rides from Putnam Plaza (29 Petaluma Blvd N.) from 12:00-4:00PM.  Take an old fashioned scenic ride through Historic Downtown Petaluma!  Sponsored by Lala's Creamery and the Petaluma Downtown Association, kids receive complimentary rides and adults are only $5.

Face painting in Putnam Plaza from 12:00-4:00PM.  Get in a festive holiday mood with complimentary face painting, courtesy of the Petaluma Downtown Association.

Balloon Art Creations by Paula Moors in Putnam Plaza from 12:00-4:00PM. Complimentary balloon art for the kids courtesy of the Petaluma Downtown Association.

The Petaluma High School Choir will be strolling Downtown from 2:00-4:00PM, singing your favorite holiday tunes.

The Silver Bells Quartet will be strolling Downtown from 12:00-2:00PM, singing your favorite holiday tunes.”

Campbell Carol of Lights Festival
Saturday, December 6, 2:00-6:00PM
Downtown Campbell, E. Campbell Avenue and Central, Campbell

“This year's Carol of Lights is scheduled for Saturday, December 6, 2:00-6:00PM with bounce houses, a petting zoo, pony rides, musical entertainment, Santa Claus and SNOW!

This event is manned entirely by volunteers and is funded through recycling, sponsorships, and many community donations.”

The Muppets Christmas Carol
Saturday, December 6, 3:00PM and 6:00PM
Historic Bal Theater, 14808 East 14th Street, San Leandro, 510-614-1224

“We all Love the Muppets! A Muppets Christmas Carol is the retelling of the classic Dickens tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, miser extraordinaire. He is held accountable for his dastardly ways during night-time visitations by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and future.”

Fantasy of Lights
Saturday, December 6, 3:00-7:00PM
Cudworth Mansion, 2040 Union Street, San Francisco, 415-441-7055

“On December 6, Union Street kicks off its annual Fantasy of Lights Holiday celebration, where young and old alike can enjoy festivities to begin the holiday season. Thousands of holiday lights set off the Victorians, transforming Union Street into a magical backdrop for Santa and a team of elves to celebrate along with jugglers, live ponies dressed as reindeer, face painters, balloon artists, costumed characters, singers, and live entertainment.

See Union Street, holiday style, and hop on the FREE Union Street Holiday Horse Drawn Carriage Ride from 3:00-5:30PM, fun for the whole family!

Come decorate a cupcake from 3:00-5:30PM in front of the Cudworth Mansion, 2040 Union Street!

Santa will arrive at the Cudworth Mansion, 2040 Union Street, at 5:30PM, where he will sit available for pictures until 7:00PM.

Donate toys for needy children through the SF Firefighters Toy Program. Collection barrels will be available on Union Street at the event and throughout the holiday.

This is truly a holiday tradition that should not be missed.”

20 Harps for the Holidays
Saturday, December 6, 4:00PM
Los Altos United Methodist Church, 655 Magdalena Avenue, Los Altos
Adults $15, Children 4-12 and Seniors 60+ $12

“We invite you to an afternoon of festive holiday harp music at our annual concert!

The program will feature harp solos and our studio ensemble, which has in recent years provided the sight and sound of more than twenty harps on a single stage. This year’s program will include a variety of fun holiday music, including some well-known carols - the perfect start to your holiday preparations!

We are also pleased to present the very entertaining harpist Meko (formerly Mike Walls) making a much-requested return appearance as our guest artist. Meko is an accomplished jazz harpist who comes to us from Central Florida. He tours extensively throughout the world, performing in both the English and Spanish languages. Meko is a two-time prize winner in the International Jazz-Harp Competition, has been consistently in the top 20 on Japanese radio, and has received critical acclaim world-wide. He is founder and director of the International Harp Museum and works to promote the harp worldwide.

Meko was the guest artist at our very first concert in 1999, and this marks his fourth appearance as our guest artist. We are very happy to welcome him back - we know many of our audience will be looking forward to hearing him perform again!”

Fifth Annual Holiday Concert With Community Dance
with Maureen Atkins
featuring Margaret and Kristoph
Saturday, December 6, 7:30PM
All Saints Episcopal Church, 911 Dowling Boulevard, San Leandro, 510-569-7020

“Dance to music of the Season!  Participation heartily encouraged.  Dancing will be in the first half in the hall, followed by intermission and dessert.  The second half will be a caroling concert in the sanctuary; please sing along!

Local Celtic and Medieval duo Margaret Davis and Krisoph Klover will play a joyous blend of Celtic, Medieval, Renaissance and familiar carols.  Features harp, guitar, flutes and vocals.”

The Sacred Well Annual Magical Holiday Market
Saturday, December 6 and December 13, 12:00-6:00PM
The Sacred Well, 536 Grand Avenue, Oakland, 510-444-9355
Free admission

“It is a Sacred Well tradition that we all cherish to gather some of our favorite local artisans and their wares to provide a festive and unique holiday shopping experience for our community!

Come on down and look for that special something and one of a kind treasure, while sipping on complimentary hot chocolate.

Together we can deck the halls, and bring life to our local economy.  

Saturday, December 6:

Sharon Knight
Internationally touring songstress Sharon Knight offers CDs for $15 or special holiday rates of two for $25. She will have some specialty items: Music in a Bottle - download codes rolled up and presented in decorative bottles. Sonic Alchemy gift certificates will also be available. Get a one hour private session with Sharon using sound to help move through stuck places. You can get a feel for Sharon's Sonic Alchemy work by downloading this free exercise, the Sonic Soul Alignment.

Elaine Smith
Elaine D. Smith brings over 15 years of colorful and varied experience in metal fabrication, stone setting, custom design development and repairs. She believes that creativity is a energy field where anything is possible.

Ash Rúndaingne
A local artisan who makes a variety of handmade and witchy goods, including hand knit scarves. For those looking for a touch of magic in their holiday shopping.

Saturday, December 13:

You will discover soul stimulating original art, prints, greeting cards, vinyl stickers, keychains, Papa Rha's elixirs and smoker's blend, and a few pieces of jewelry. Illuminate your home or gift these gems to friends for they will provide loving and healing energies to all those who bear witness to them.
Sacred By Monica Parks
Sacred is a captivating jewelry line that will showcase every aspect of your personality. These beautiful hand made pieces are made from a  wide range of different types of chains, exotic stones, and unique beads. Make a personal statement without having to say a word.

Gwen makes beaded jewelry in a glowing array of colors and patterns.  She will also be bringing some of her steampunky bits and pieces, and hand-calligraphied and decorated copies of some Goddess prayers and hymns.”

A Scottish Christmas with Stewart Tartan Pipes and Drums

Saturday, December 6, 3:00-5:00PM
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 13601 Saratoga Avenue, Saratoga, 408-867-3493
donations graciously accepted

Sunday, December 14, 3:00-5:00PM
Transfiguration Episcopal Church, 3900 Alameda De Las Pulgas, San Mateo, 650-341-8206
donations graciously accepted

“You are cordially invited to a Free Concert to celebrate the season, presented by the Stewart Tartan Pipes and Drums of San Francisco.

Bagpipes and Drums, Scottish Fiddlers, Highland Dancing, Scottish Ballads.

This is a popular concert.   We recommend carpooling and allowing enough time to park.  

Bring a cushion to soften the church pew experience.”

Dickens Holiday Crafts Fair
Saturday-Sunday, December 6-7,
Saturday 9:00AM-5:00PM, Sunday 10:00AM-4:00PM
Finley Community Center, 2060 West College Avenue, Santa Rosa, 707-543-3737
Adults $2, Children 12 and Under Free, admission covers both days

“Celebrate the season with gifts for yourself or loved ones in this festive shopping experience featuring over 70 local artists. Shop for quality, hand-crafted holiday decor, home goods, jewelry, bath and body products, edibles and more all sold by the artists!

Plus enjoy:
Live entertainment both days!

A ride on Rosie the Trolley for FREE to and from the Crafts Fair to the Luther Burbank Home and Gardens Holiday Open House!

Prize Giveaway Fundraiser in the main lobby. Several vendors have contributed craft items to the this fundraiser and you could be a lucky winner! Proceeds from the drawing ticket sales benefit the Santa Rosa Recreation and Parks Scholarship Fund. Last year, over $1,500 was raised providing swim lessons and summer camp for many youth in need! Suggested ticket donation price is $1 per ticket or $5 for 6 tickets.

Kettle corn, cookies and hot beverages for purchase.

Breakfast and lunch items for purchase provided by a local restaurant.”

An Ardenwood Christmas
Saturday-Sunday, December 6-7, 10:00AM-4:00PM
Ardenwood Historic Farm, 34600 Ardenwood Boulevard, Fremont
Adults $8, Children $5

“Celebrate the holiday season in Victorian style! Visit the beautifully decorated Patterson House, sing Christmas carols, search for the Yule log, and visit Father Christmas. Listen to live musical performances, puppet shows and enter the baking contest (bring your cookies and recipe with you). The day also includes an abundance of Christmas crafts, music, and Country Kitchen treats.”

Luther Burbank Home and Gardens Holiday Open House
Saturday-Sunday, December 6-7, 10:00AM-4:00PM
Luther Burbank Home and Gardens, 204 Santa Rosa Avenue, Santa Rosa
Adults $2, Children 12 and under free

“The public is invited to this popular annual community event! Enjoy a 35-year community tradition and begin the season’s celebrations by visiting the historic Home and Gardens of Luther Burbank. Experience a charming reminder of bygone days when you tour the home decked out in Victorian holiday finery inside and out.

See the latest exhibit and shop for unique Burbank-related items in the Carriage House Museum and Gift Shop.

Free Parking is available at First and D Streets, and enjoy Free Rides on Rosie the Trolley to and from the Dickens Holiday Craft Fair held at the Finley Community Center.”

Guglielmo Winery's 26th Annual Holiday Faire
Saturday-Sunday, December 6-7 and December 13-14, 10:00AM-5:00PM
Guglielmo Winery, 1480 East Main Avenue, Morgan Hill, 408-779-2145
$10 Admission Fee includes Wine Tasting

“Join us for our 26th Annual Christmas at the Winery!

Are you one of those people who looks at Christmas shopping as something to be endured? We have got good news for you!  How about if you could sip delicious, award winning wine while selecting unique and beautiful gifts for everyone on your list?  How about if there was ample free parking and friendly, knowledgeable staff to help you?  Sounds like a painless way to shop during the holiday season or any time. So make the short drive to Morgan Hill and visit beautiful Guglielmo Winery.

Enjoy gourmet food, hot mulled wine, and holiday carolers!

Browse our huge selection of unique gifts!

From wine-themed gifts to custom gift baskets, you can please everyone on your list!”

I Dreamed of Rain: Occidental Community Choir’s Winter Concert

Saturday, December 6, 8:00PM
and Friday-Saturday December 12-13, 8:00PM
Occidental Center for the Arts, 3850 Doris Murphy Court, Occidental

Sunday, December 7, 3:00PM
Sebastopol Center for the Arts, 282 S High Street, Sebastopol

Sunday, December 14, 3:00PM
Glaser Center, 547 Mendocino Avenue, Santa Rosa

“The Winter Concert presents deep and timely music arising from local and more widespread environmental and social concerns. We’ll begin by doling out some hilarious audience etiquette instructions from our Maestro himself, Andy Del Monte.

In the Company of Stars asks for blessings from the stars on the cold winter's eve. We importune celestial beings as well in Blythe Klein's and Gordon Stubbe's Angels, Allaudin Mathieu's arrangement of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and Anton Bruckner's heavenly version of Ave Maria.

The concert honors our deep trust of salvation in the traditional spiritual Deep River and concludes with Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.”

It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play
December 6-20, see website for detailed schedule
Town Hall Theatre, 3535 School Street, Lafayette, 925-283-1557

“It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play
adapted by Joe Landry
from the screenplay by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Frank Capra, and Jo Swerling
Directed by Samantha Fryer

We've got to have faith in each other.

One of the greatest stories ever told gets a new twist as this beloved American holiday classic comes to captivating life as a live 1940s radio broadcast.  With the help of an ensemble that brings a few dozen characters to the stage, the story of idealistic George Bailey unfolds as he faces great challenges one fateful Christmas Eve.”

Town Hall Theatre is a nifty little local theatre company in Lafayette, in an historic building which used to be the town hall.  Or possibly a barn.

presented by African-American Shakespeare Company
December 6-21, see website for detailed schedule
Buriel Clay Theatre, African-American Art and Culture Complex,
762 Fulton Street, San Francisco
highlights from 2011 production: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4LrdJcaHZI

“This classic production of Cinderella is a timeless tale, brought to whimsical, magical life just in time for the holidays, is an uplifting re-telling of the classic fairytale, featuring all of the pageantry, hilarity, and charm of the original, but with a soulful twist.

This heartwarming story finds Cinderella, a young, beautiful dreamer, toiling away as a lowly scullery maid for her evil stepmother and stepsisters. With the help of a fabulous Fairy Godmother who makes the magic happen, Cinderella finds her Prince Charming and learns that anything is possible, even miracles.”

Holiday Brick Show
Saturdays-Sundays, December 6-January 4,
Saturday 10:00AM-5:00PM, Sunday 12:00-5:00PM
The Principled Academy, 2305 Washington Avenue, 2nd Floor, San Leandro, 510-351-6400
$2 per person, cash only at the door, Ages 2 and under Free

“An event for the whole family!

This year, we will be starting of with a winter edition of the Brickshow.
Come and see the Lego winter wonderland, pirates and maybe some friends will visit, too!

This is a special Exhibit to support the Principled Academy 7th and 8th graders. All proceeds will go to their Washington DC trip.

A miniland made out of LEGO.  From underwater to tall skyscrapers.  Prehistoric to Science Fiction.  There is something for everybody.

Get inspired by the LEGO exhibit, then put your own creativity to work with the available LEGO.  Take a picture of your creation to show your family and friends.  

Play LEGO games and compete with other visitors.  Challenge yourself to control LEGO NXT robots.”

Snow Day in the Gourmet Ghetto!
Sunday, December 7, 10:00AM-3:00PM
Gourmet Ghetto, 1450-1500 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley

“Bring your boots and mittens to play in the snow that is predicted to gently fall on the frontage road between Rose and Vine on Shattuck Avenue.

Visit with the Snow Queen
Pony Rides
Make Holiday Crafts
Arts and Crafts Vendors
Hot Cider and Cookies

Visit with the Snow Queen who will listen to all of your holiday wishes, ride the decorated live ponies, make holiday crafts like greeting cards and dreidels, and warm up with hot cider and chewy cookies courtesy of Andronico’s. Find one-of-a-kind holiday gifts from local craft vendors.

Find the 'Ice' in your Snowball - One has a real Diamond Ring inside!

Benefits Walden Schools.”

An Irish Christmas
Sunday, December 7, 2:00PM
Bankhead Theater, 2400 First Street, Livermore, 925-373-6800
$42-$60, 17 and under $16

“All the joy, hope, laughter, and spirit of the season come together in a night of storytelling, song and dance that sparkles with life and a wee bit of Irish magic. There is exhilarating step dancing and age-old dances over brooms, on half doors, and around butter churns. Pipes, fiddles, flutes, and drums bring to life music from Carol of the Bells to ancient Irish hymns and melodies. Special guests such as Kevin Horton of Riverdance help make this a unique and unforgettable celebration of Christmas from the heart of glorious Ireland.”

Kepler’s Books Literary Circle Annual Holiday Party
Sunday, December 7, 3:00-6:00PM
Kepler's Books, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, 650-324-4321

“It's our favorite time of year again!  Sunday, December 7 from 3:00-6:00PM is our annual Literary Circle Holiday Party.  The champagne is on ice, the cider is hot, and needless to say, there will be something chocolate!  

The Literary Circle is truly the community foundation of Kepler's and this is our chance to thank the loyal members of our Literary Circle and welcome new members.
Bring us your list! We will be out in force to help you select the perfect gifts for everyone on your list - our booksellers are up to the challenge!

As always, we'll have community volunteers on hand to wrap up your gifts while you enjoy a glass of champagne.

Stop by and chat with the team from Peninsula Arts & Letters who will be on hand to preview the upcoming 2015 premier events, and share some photos of our favorite 2014 moments.

And to get ready for our 60th Anniversary celebration this spring, we're going to have a videographer on hand to record your favorite memories of Kepler's. For those of you who prefer to write, we'll have a paper option, of course!
We look forward to this holiday party every year and hope you will make it one of your holiday traditions as well.”

Nurture, SisterHood, and Self Care Over the Holidays
with Asherah Eden
of the Sacred Feminine Meetup Group
Sunday, December 7, 3:30-5:30PM
Simple Family Health, 1 Rio Vista Avenue, Oakland
$20-$40 donation requested

“During this holiday season, we experience fun, connection and joy. It’s also easy to experience stress, anxiety, issues with our families, and lack of self care.  In this meetup, get calmer and more grounded, decrease holiday stress, create more ease with your family of origin, connect to the Divine Mother as an archetype, and learn how to take this sacred connection with you for more ease as a woman.

You will:
Feel more calm and grounded
Learn Goddess Tools for receiving Love and Nourishment
Learn about the Divine Mother archetype
Cultivate your Inner Divine Mother and ability to receive love and nurture
Have opportunities to heal issues with family of origin.
Create bonds of sisterhood, community, and FUN!
Take home tools to make the holidays easier!

We will be using tools to get you out of your head and into your body, create more ease with family this holiday season, cultivate your relationship with the divine mother, so you feel calmer, happier, more held and nourished.

Our tools will draw from mind-body awareness, yoga (no poses, just breathing), meditation, ceremony, visual arts, energy healing and clearing, and goddess archetypes.”

Winter Solstice Drum Circle
Sunday, December 7, 6:00-7:00PM
Sacred Stream Center, 2149 Byron Street, Berkeley, 415-333-1434
For more information, e-mail info@sacredstream.org

“Equinox and Solstice Drumming Circles

We hold drumming circles four times a year to come together to honor the season and to focus on healing for the community and the earth. We invite you to join us.
You do not have to be experienced in drumming or shamanism to attend. It is recommended that you know how to journey, though not required.

If you have a drum or rattle, please bring it. Some drums and rattles will be available to borrow.”

Celtic Christmas Concert
with Pog Mo Thoin
Sunday, December 7, 6:00PM
The Bothwell Arts Center, 2466 8th Street, Livermore
$15 in advance, $20 at the door, Youth 13-18 $5, Children 12 and under Free

“Enjoy an old fashioned seasonal gathering at the Bothwell Arts Center with live music by Pog Mo Thoin and special guest, Steve Kritzer. Bring your family, your friends, a potluck dish to share, and get in the Christmas Spirit! Complimentary non-alcoholic cider and tea provided, wine and beer available for purchase at our holiday bar.”

Tree Trimming Party and Meditation for Those of All Faiths
Tuesday, December 9, 7:00-9:00PM
Anubhuti Meditation and Retreat Center, 820 Bel Marin Keys Boulevard, Novato, 415-884-2314
donations accepted
Please RSVP to 415-884-231 or anubhuti@bkwsu.org

“People of all cultures and backgrounds are invited to join us in decorating the holiday tree with ornaments from all faith traditions, sharing of good wishes and good company. The tree is a symbol of life in many cultures, and as we go through the season of darkness, we bring the tree inside to enliven our spirits.

Talk - Meditation - Music and Singing - Refreshments

Holiday treats and warm mulled cider will be served. Children are welcome.”

Holiday Luncheon at Gamble Garden
Tuesday-Saturday, December 9-13, 12:00-1:30PM
Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden, 1431 Waverley Street, Palo Alto
$25, Please call 650-329-1356 for reservations

“Join us for our very special Holiday Luncheons December 9-13 (Tuesday-Saturday). The house is decorated, and a special menu is created especially for the holidays. The Holiday Luncheons are the perfect setting for your next birthday celebration, ladies lunch, lunch date, book group, or end of the year celebration.

The Holiday Luncheons are $30 for members and $38 for non-members. Please call the office at 650-329-1356 for reservations.

Reservations are required for all luncheons, no cancellations.

You may consider 60% of the cost as a donation. Sorry, we are not able to accommodate special dietary requests.

A non-profit horticultural foundation in Palo Alto, south of San Francisco, Gamble Garden’s two and a half acre property includes formal and demonstration gardens, as well as an historic house, carriage house, and tea house.

The garden is free and open to the public every day.”

A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote
a reading by Livermore Shakes
Wednesday, December 10 and December 17, 5:30PM and 7:30PM
Swirl on the Square, 21 S. Livermore Avenue, Livermore, 925-447-1400
$35 per person includes performance, tapas sampler and one glass of wine

“Celebrate the season with friends, family, or co-workers and Shakespeare’s Associates artists as they present a staged reading of Truman Capote’s holiday classic, A Christmas Memory. Guests will enjoy delicious wine and tapas from Swirl on the Square as the artists perform. The venue only seats 40 people so it will be an intimate holiday celebration!”

It's A Wonderful Life - a live radio play
presented by Tides Theatre
December 11-28, see website for detailed schedule
Tides Theatre, 533 Sutter Street, 2nd Floor, San Francisco, 415-336-3522

“This beloved American holiday classic comes to captivating life as a live 1940s radio broadcast. With the help of an ensemble that brings a few dozen characters to the stage, the story of idealistic George Bailey unfolds as he considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve.”

Center REP’s A Christmas Carol
December 11-21, see website for schedule details
Hofmann Theatre, Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek
see website for ticket details

“Brimming with music and dance, love and laughter, spectacular special effects and scary ghosts, it's no wonder the critics have called it ‘THE Christmas Carol to see in the Bay Area.’ Join the thousands who make this theatrical event a part of their annual holiday traditions.”

Sharon and Winter Knight - Rabbit Warren House Concert
Friday, December 12, 6:30-9:00PM
Rabbit Warren, a private home in Hayward, address given upon RSVP
$25 includes concert and a CD
Please RSVP to Dany Atkins at purplerabbit 13 at gmail dot com

“Sharon and Winter offer their lush Neofolk Romantic style music in Hayward for the first time! Come kick of the Yule season with an evening of enchanting music!

Hosted by the Rabbit Warren folks, this show will have all the relaxed intimacy of a house concert at a very friendly price of $25 for concert AND CD of your choice.

Additional CDs will be available at holiday rates of two for $25.

Please bring food and drink to share.

Exact address will be given upon ticket purchase.”

11th Annual Slavic Choral Christmas Concert
with Lowiczanie Polish Folk Ensemble
Friday, December 12, 7:30PM
Church of The Nativity, 240 Fell Street, San Francisco, 415-252-5799
$15 in advance, $18 at the door

“Lowiczanie Polish Folk Ensemble presents the 11th annual Slavic Choral Christmas Concert, a rich tapestry of seasonal carols and winter songs of East-Central Europe and the Balkans, featuring traditionally costumed Community artists from the Bulgarian, Croatian, Hungarian, Jewish, Moldovan, Polish, and Ukrainian Bay Area populations.

The Slavic Choral Christmas Concert presents powerful to the lighted-hearted performances based on the rich fabric of East and Central-European and Balkan folk and sacred holiday music. The repertoire encompasses a multitude of mesmerizing styles ranging from simple folk themes (pastorals) to close-harmonized sacred carols - all presented by Community Artists. The annual joyful Concert finale features over 60 artists onstage to lead a rousing audience sing-a-long of both European and American carols. The event's Central European holiday marketplace atmosphere is enhanced by seating under hand-hewn shingle ‘huts’, spicy aromas of mulled cider and wine - one complimentary glass per ticket holder - and the opportunity to purchase handcrafted artisan gifts.

Lowiczanie Polish Carolers and Kuzyni Band, both directed by Piotrek Filipowski

Lowiczanie Folk Band with soloist Natalia Ukrainska present trans-Carpathian winter songs

Ukrainian Bay Area Carolers, Halyna Lorczak, director

Bulgarian Koledari Group, Tanya Kostova, director

Hungarian Holiday Chorus, Jutka Mandoki, director

The winter holiday traditions of the Jewish peoples of Hungary are presented by Jutka Mandoki and Barbara Deutsch.

Soloists Anna Samborska-Young and Lilla Serlegi with Frenc Tobak on traditional folk instruments, present carols from Poland and the Croatian peoples of Hungary, respectively.

The two-hour program is visually beautiful - highlighted by traditional ethnic dress of the participating Slavic communities - and enriched by the virtuoso musical talents on display: Lowiczanie's folk orchestra (Kapela) features Susan Worland on violin, Nicolai Prisicar on accordion and Roman Titcu, formerly of the internationally-renowned band, Roma, (both are originally from Moldova) on cimbalom. Other musical surprises feature artists from of Bulgarian, Croatian, and Jewish backgrounds.”

The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming
adapted from the book by Lemony Snicket
presented by Peninsula Youth Theatre
Friday-Saturday, December 12-13,
Friday 7:30PM, Saturday 11:30AM and 1:30PM
SecondStage, Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro Street, Mountain View, 650-903-6000
Friday $12, Saturday $10

“This World Premiere adaptation of the book by Lemony Snicket is the perfect way to kick off the holidays!  In this clever spin on The Gingerbread Man, the minute the Latke hits the pan he starts screaming… and he can't stop!  As he dashes through the forest he meets many creatures who don't understand - what is a Latke anyway?  And why is he screaming?”

KMLZ: Holidaze
presented by Z Space and Killing My Lobster
Friday-Saturday, December 12-13,
Friday 8:00PM, Saturday 7:00PM and 10:00PM
Z Space, 450 Florida Street, San Francisco

“The Lobsters once again team up with the Bay Area’s best new works company, Z Space, for the third iteration of this wildly successful comedy variety show in what is turning into an annual holiday extravaganza. KMLZ is the NorCal answer to Saturday Night Live; one cup 30 Rock, two pinches of Your Show of Shows, and a whole mixing bowl of holiday madness.

What do you get when you lock ten comedic elves in Santa’s workshop for 50 hours between Thanksgiving and Christmas? KMLZ: Something weird, funny, and strung out on fruitcake.  A veritable advent calendar of hilarity, KMLZ Holidaze will deck the halls with sketches about Dreidels, family, traditions, Kwanzaa, misfit toys, yule logs, and more nuts than you can crack with Mikhail Baryshnikov.”

Christmas Revels - A Theatrical Celebration of the Winter Solstice
Friday-Sunday, December 12-14 and 19-21,
Fridays at 8:00PM, Saturdays and Sundays at 1:00PM and 5:00PM
Scottish Rite Theater, 1547 Lakeside Drive, Oakland, 510-451-1903
See website for detailed ticket prices and parking information.

“The 29th Annual Christmas Revels: An American Journey

This year’s Revels opens in the 1930s, where our protagonist meets a mystery man who sends him on a journey east to Appalachia, south through the bayous of Louisiana, north to the mid-Atlantic states, and finally westward ho to California! It’s a crazy quilt of many colors creating the fabric of the holiday traditions we still share. Filled with Cajun music, Appalachian clogging, old folk tales, and holiday rituals that some will remember being passed down from our parents or grandparents, the 2014 Christmas Revels will see a return to familiar American carols and folksongs, toe-tapping music, and of course, plenty of laughter.

Featured performers include Rene Collins last seen in the 2000 Christmas Revels, Kevin Carr (2010) and Tristan Cunningham (2012) along with Revels regulars Shira Kammen, James Galileo, and introducing a new musical guest, Euphonia, featuring Sylvia Herold.”

My experience with The Christmas Revels is that it is both ridiculously fun and sublimely moving.

San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker
December 12-29, see website for schedule details
The War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco
see website for ticket details

“On Christmas Eve, 1944, the audience at San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House experienced the American premiere of Nutcracker. An instant sensation, the ballet launched a national holiday tradition.

San Francisco Ballet’s sparkling production of Nutcracker, set here in our own City by the Bay, has introduced audiences of all ages to the magnificent world of ballet. This holiday season, experience the beauty and athleticism of SF Ballet’s international cast of world-class dancers in Nutcracker, a San Francisco tradition since 1944.”

Alameda Holiday Home Tour
Saturday, December 13, 9:30AM-4:00PM
around the city of Alameda - locations will be provided with ticket purchase
$35 in advance, $40 on the day

“Guests will follow their heart as the Alameda Family Services League presents its 44th Annual Alameda Holiday Home Tour: 44 Years of Holiday Magic. The tour, Alameda’s premier fundraising event, will be held Saturday, December 13, 2014, 9:30AM-4:00PM. Home is where the heart is, as all proceeds go to the organization that has as its sole goal: Serving Families, Strengthening Our Communities - Alameda Family Services.

The Holiday Home Tour will feature a variety of Alameda’s architectural style homes decorated for the holidays. Always in early December, the date is early enough for guests to include gifts and holiday decor shopping at the Gift Boutique. Also on sale are holiday packaged baked goods, candies, and specialty food items at the Gourmet Shop. A Holiday Dessert Tea is served to cheer the heart and palate. Booklets are presented once tickets are purchased to each guest, providing a map of the tour and description of each home.”

Handmade for the Holidays
Saturday, December 13, 10:00AM-2:00PM
UC Berkeley Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive, Berkeley
$20 includes materials

“Join the Garden for this family program as we create gifts and festive decorations inspired by the Garden’s diverse collection of plants. Make beautiful nature-inspired crafts, including: Nature-filled globes, Mini evergreen wreaths, Greeting cards from pressed botanicals, Garden animal ornaments, and Pine cone bird feeders, Plus refreshments and good cheer! All materials provided.

Children must be accompanied by an adult. Drop-ins welcome.”

Holiday Crafts Day
Saturday, December 13, 10:00AM-2:00PM
Randall Museum, 199 Museum Way, San Francisco, 415-554-9600

“Tired of nothing but buy, buy, buy for the winter holidays?  Come to the Randall Museum for relief from consumer mania with a day of creative, inexpensive gifts and decorations you can make yourself. Enjoy live, family-friendly entertainment and tasty sandwiches or piping hot chili in our Holiday Cafe.

Roll-your-own beeswax candles, Handmade candle holders, Scented soaps, Candy houses, and more!”

Holiday on the Farm
Saturday, December 13, 10:00AM-2:00PM
Forest Home Farms Historic Park, 19953 San Ramon Valley Boulevard, San Ramon, 925-973-3284

“Enjoy a traditional holiday family experience including visits with a Victorian Santa and his reindeer, old-fashioned ornament making, a puppet show, holiday entertainment and refreshments. The Victorian Glass House Museum will be decorated for the holidays and open for docent led tours for $5 per person. In partnership with the San Ramon Historic Foundation.”

Christmas Parade and Holiday Market
Saturday, December 13, 10:00AM-3:00PM
Downtown Benicia

“The parade starts at 10:00AM at First and D Street and ends at H Street.  The parade features local marching bands, dancers, and the much-anticipated Santa Claus.  The Holiday Market features handcrafted arts and crafts, gourmet items and delicious foods.”

Weihnachtsmarkt: German Holiday Market
hosted by German International School of Silicon Valley
Saturday, December 13, 11:00AM-9:00PM
Civic Center Plaza, 500 Castro Street, Mountain View

“Back by popular demand, we will again be holding our annual German Holiday Market in Downtown Mountain View! Mark your calendars and join us on December 13 between 11:00AM-9:00PM at the plaza of the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro Street.
Come indulge in German food and drinks and browse our eclectic selection of handcrafted gifts from Germany and local artists for purchase. The day will also include musical performances by GISSV students, and, new this year, an ice rink where you can have a stab at your ice skating skills!
Run by a volunteer committee of parents at the German International School of Silicon Valley, the event offers an opportunity to explore the famous tradition of German Holiday Markets right here in Silicon Valley. All proceeds will benefit GISSV’s high-quality bilingual programs.”

Children's Holiday Festival at History San Jose
Saturday, December 13, 12:00-4:00PM
History Park, 635 Phelan Avenue, San Jose

“Join us for the annual Children's Holiday Festival! Santa will arrive at History Park aboard a historic trolley to greet children - a wonderful photo opportunity for parents! Holiday music and caroling will set the scene, with the Snow Queen leading story time. Children can create their own hand-made gifts, decorations and ornaments at a variety of craft activity stations. And everyone will enjoy seeing the historic buildings decorated for the holidays and be able to pick up a souvenir specially created by the San Jose Printer's Guild in the Print Shop!”

Santa Beer Crawl in Downtown Martinez
Saturday, December 13, 2:30-5:30PM
along Main Street from Ferry Street to Alhambra Avenue, Martinez

“Dust off your Santa suits and ugly Christmas sweaters because it's time to head to Downtown Martinez for some holiday cheer!

Main Street Martinez hosts the annual Santa Beer Crawl on the streets of Martinez, Saturday, December 13, from 2:30-5:30PM. Come join the jolliest bunch of Santas this side of the bay as they walk around the downtown corridor of Martinez, sampling beers from over 20 great craft breweries stationed inside some of the small businesses along Main Street.”

Community Seed Yule Social
Saturday, December 13, 5:30-10:30PM
Clubhouse, Harvey West Park, 326 Evergreen Street, Santa Cruz, 831-420-5270
suggested donation of $5-$10, no one turned away for lack of funds
for more information, call 831-469-0336 or e-mail info@communityseed.org

“Come one, come all! Bring the family to A Yule Celebration!
In celebration. In joy. In merriment.

Gather at 5:30PM, Feasting at 6:00PM

Festivities to follow…..
Dancing with DJ Julian, spinning tunes from across the decades to get everyone wiggling.
Two raffles! Including one just for the youngsters.
The fabulous Photo Booth returns for your amusement.
General Fellowship and Fun as we welcome the return of the Sun….
Potluck to follow after the ritual. Please bring a dish to share and label the ingredients.
Earth signs - Greens, Air Signs - Main Dish Meat,
Fire Signs - Main Dish Vegetable, Water Signs - Dessert
Drinks will be provided

This is a child friendly event.  All CS events are Clean and Sober.”

Lighted Boat Parade
with the Petaluma Yacht Club
Saturday, December 13, 6:00PM
Turning Basin, 10 C Street, Petaluma, 707-769-0429

“In a dramatic evening spectacle, a flotilla of decorated, lighted vessels glide into historic downtown at the Turning Basin at about 6:30PM. The lighted boats remain docked in downtown throughout the night behind the Great Petaluma Mill.”

Old Time Maritime Christmas
with the Hyde Street Living History Players
Saturday, December 13, 6:00-9:00PM
Aboard the historic vessels at Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco
included with vessel admission, Adults $5, 15 and under free

“Join us for our costumed Living History players Old Time Maritime Christmas. Turn back the clock to Christmas in the year 1901, where you will meet captains, wives, crews and passengers aboard the floating historic vessels.

Refreshments will be served at this magical evening program, with sea music performed by Richard Adrianowicz and Peter Kasin. Lamplit tours by a costumed nightwatchmen leave from the Hyde Street Pier entrance every 20 minutes beginning 6:00PM. Last tour leaves 7:40PM. Each tour lasts approximately 55 minutes. Each tour limited to 14 people. Reserve for this living history program by calling the Visitor Center, 415-447-5000, between 9:30AM-4:30PM, open daily.”

South Bay Yule
with The San Jose Pagan and Magick Meetup Group
Saturday, December 13, 7:00PM
Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto, 505 E Charleston Road, Palo Alto
$10 per person, $30 per family, no one ever turned away for lack of funds

“Come celebrate the Yuletide season with South Bay Circles on Saturday December 13. We'll be at the Palo Alto Unitarian Universalist Church (Fireside Room), facing the darkness of Winter while welcoming the return of the light. Join us for a powerful ritual, your favorite Yuletide carols, and some holiday cheer!
Please Bring: A dish to pass for the potluck, a beverage for yourself. Come join us!”

Broceliande CD Release Concert: Wassail!
Saturday, December 13, 7:30PM
East West Bookstore, 324 Castro Street, Mountain View, 650-988-9800
$15 in advance, $20 at the door

“In keeping with their annual tradition, Celtic/Medieval ensemble Broceliande will welcome in the Winter Solstice and celebrate the release of their new CD, Here We Come A-Wassailing, with a joyous concert of traditional and Early music of the season. Between them they play Celtic harp, cello, guitars, recorders, nyckelharpa, octave mandolin, flute, hardanger cello d'amore, and oboe. Join us for dances, carols, ballads, and the traditional drink of wassail after the show!”

Holiday Classics Weekend
at Playland-Not-At-The-Beach
Saturday-Sunday, December 13-14, 10:00AM-5:00PM
Playland-Not-At-The-Beach, 10979 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito
see website for admission details

“Come help us celebrate every holiday of this special season with all the classic characters, including Rudolph, Frosty, Hanukah Charlie and more. Spot them all and win special prizes!

Scott Alcalay performing at 1:00PM and 3:00PM.  Scott Alcalay was the very first magician to perform at Playland-Not-at-the-Beach - way back at our Sneak Peek event in 2005. Ironically that day he created exquisite balloon animals for our many guests. We did not learn until later of his magical powers. He is also the president of the Oakland Magic Circle.”

Crucible Gifty Holiday Sale
Saturday-Sunday, December 13-14,
Saturday 11:00-6:00PM, Sunday 12:00-5:00PM
The Crucible, 1260 7th Street, Oakland, 510-444-0919
Free admission

“Handmade Art for Sale

Dozens of leading East Bay artists, craftspeople and Crucible faculty members will be selling their best hand-made pieces in a holiday celebration of local creative culture. From glass to metal, wood, ceramics, clothing and much more, you’ll find the perfect gifts for the toughest people on your list. Seasonal treats, beverages and holiday entertainers make this an event all ages can enjoy.

Live industrial art demonstrations like glass-blowing, foundry pouring and opportunities to get hands-on in ceramics.

Discounts of 10% plus another $25 off Crucible classes - and more savings available for
Crucible members.

Crucible gift certificates will be available allowing you to give Crucible classes as gifts also, as will tickets to January’s Hot Couture flaming fashion show.

Bicycles for sale in The Crucible’s Bike Shop.

Win free tuition for a Crucible class!

Help us celebrate the Gear Girls, our joint venture with Oakland Fund for the Arts teaching local high school students the art of welded sculpture.”

Magic Toy Box Tea
Saturday and Sunday, December 13-14, 12:00PM and 3:00PM seatings available
Falkirk Cultural Center, 1408 Mission Avenue, San Rafael, 415-485-3328
$25 Adults, $22 Children, $45 for one Adult and one Child together

“The second weekend in December is a magical holiday tour de force at our elegant Queen Anne Victorian. Music, magical toys which come to life and high tea- Victorian style. Homemade tea sandwiches, sweets, hot chocolate, tea and so much more. Bring your favorite bear or special toy and join the fun.

This event is hosted by the Cultural Affairs Service League and takes place inside the house with antique tea settings, live music and fun activities. Bring your camera and dress up for fun for an elegant child-friendly afternoon. Activities often include life-sized Toys, a fun raffle and opportunities for photos with your bears and friends (bring your camera!). Get your reservations early as space is limited. Two seatings on Saturday and two seatings on Sunday - 12:00PM and 3:00PM each day.”

with Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble

Saturday, December 13, 8:00PM
Holy Cross Church, 126 High Street, Santa Cruz

Sunday, December 14, 4:00PM
St. Bede's Church, 2650 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park

Friday, December 19, 8:00 PM
St. Paul's Church, 114 Montecito Avenue, Oakland

Saturday, December 20, 8:00 PM
Old First Church, 1751 Sacramento Street, San Francisco
$20 advance, $25 at the door

“Wintersongs is Kitka's critically-acclaimed and wildly popular winter holiday program showcasing seasonal music from a wide variety of Eastern European ethnic and spiritual traditions.

For countless centuries, people around the world have utilized the power or community singing to infuse warmth, cheer, spirituality, wishes for peace, health, and good fortune into the long, dark, cold, and difficult winter season. Eastern Europe's geographic position as a crossroads between Europe and the Orient has produced an astonishingly rich and varied array of seasonal musical rituals.
Kitka's 2014 Wintersongs program will feature songs ranging from rousing Slavic folk carols; to lush meditative Eastern Orthodox sacred choral works; to Baltic pagan incantations for the return of the Sun Goddess, to Caucasus Georgian Alilos (hallelujahs); to Yiddish, Sephardic, and Hebrew songs for Chanukah; to Bosnian-Muslim ilahijas (devotional hymns); to rhythmic Balkan Romany (‘Gypsy’) tunes for the winter festivals of Vasilica and Kurban Bajram.

Traditional pieces will be woven together with new folk song arrangements and original compositions by Kitka members and contemporary American and Eastern European composers, all inspired by the customs, beauty, and mystery of wintertime.”

Winter Wonderland Snow Globes
with Niki Baker of Foreignspell
part of the Sunday Crafternoon series
Sunday, December 14, 12:00-2:00PM
Modern Mouse, 2223 South Shore Center, Alameda, 510-814-8830
$10 includes materials and refreshments

“Here's a Crafternoon you won't want to miss - we're making handmade snow globes!

Niki Baker of Foreignspell will lead the way as you assemble a drought-friendly (aka no water needed), miniature snow globe in a jar.

Your $10 entry fee grants you full access to our Sunday Crafternoon workshop, including guided instruction, supplies, snacks and sips.

Niki Baker is a printmaker, SF native, music zealot, animal lover, Francophile, proud former Seattleite, expert whistler, food and libation enthusiast, and competent juggler. She loves hand-carving elaborate stamps and printing them on a myriad of surfaces!

Tools / supplies: jar with lid, miniature tree, faux snow, glue dots”

Holiday Puppet Show - The Nutcracker
Sunday, December 14, 12:00-4:00PM,
Performances are at 12:00PM, 1:30PM, and 3:00PM
Gamble Mansion at Elizabeth Gamble Garden, 1431 Waverley Street, Palo Alto
$15, reservations required

“Introduce your young loved ones to the holiday tradition of The Nutcracker, as performed by master puppeteer, Randal Metz of The Puppet Company. Join us in the Carriage House for the performance. Light refreshments will be served. Reservations are required.”

A Winter Wonderland
with The Academy of Classical Ballet
Sunday, December 14, 1:00PM and 5:00PM
Campbell Heritage Theatre, 1 W Campbell Avenue, Campbell, 408-866-2700
$15 show only, $20 show and Snowman Soiree

“A Winter Wonderland takes place deep in woods, on the cusp of Fall turning into a glorious Winter.  Watch as the Winter Fairy, along with the help of her Ice Sprites, turn the land into ice and snow, while bringing to life many of the characters that make every holiday story so great.  We don’t want to give too much away, but some of those characters include: Penguins, Wolves, Elves, Candy-Canes, (a few surprises!) and much, much more.  Be amazed as the season unfolds before your eyes and brings all of the smiles and fun that comes with it.  You’ve never seen a Winter quite like this!

Meet the cast in costume at our Snowman Soiree following the show.”

Holiday Open House at the Ainsley House
Sunday, December 14, 5:30-8:00PM
and Thursday, December 18, 5:30-8:00PM
Ainsley House, 51 N Central Avenue, Campbell

“This December, the historic Ainsley House will be transformed into a holiday wonderland! Join us for one of two evening open houses, December 14 and 18, 5:30-8:00PM, where the lights and the decorations can be fully enjoyed in all their splendor. Visitors will take a self-guided tour through the decorated Ainsley House and be treated to refreshments in the Carriage House.

In the beautiful, historic Ainsley House, all of its 15 rooms will be transformed into a warm, enchanting celebration of Christmas. The house will be decorated by local interior designers, house decorators, florists, and volunteers and feature a special holiday boutique, full of unique delights for holiday shoppers.”

Harry Shearer and Judith Owen Present: Christmas Without Tears
Tuesday, December 16, 8:00PM
The Addition, 1330 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, 415-655-5600

“A holiday show in two acts.

Judith Owen
Judith Owen's new album, Ebb and Flow, evokes the spirit of the halcyon days of the great 1970s troubadours is not accidental.

In a set of potent songs about love and loss, pain and joy, dreams and despair, the Welsh singer-songwriter fearlessly explores the duality of the human condition - and to do justice to the songs she turned to the legendary musicians who created the seventies troubadour sound.

Between them, her core band of drummer Russ Kunkel, bassist Leland Sklar and guitarist Waddy Wachtel played on many of the landmark albums from the era by the likes of Carole King, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Jackson Browne.

Harry Shearer
Join Harry Shearer for a rare personal appearance and interactive conversation regarding his wildly popular UK television series Nixon's the One. In the series, Shearer recreates actual audio taped conversations of Richard Nixon from the White House - interesting, funny and bizarre!

Actor… author... director... comedian… musician… philosopher… political satirist… record-company owner… and one of the best voices in the business, Harry Shearer is a comic personality and modern day renaissance man.

For the past two decades, he has enjoyed enormous success and planted the fruits of his talents in the heads of millions worldwide thanks to his voice work for The Simpsons, where he plays a stable of characters: most notably Mr. Burns, Smithers, and insufferable neighbour Ned Flanders.”

Impact Youth Hub Launch and Holiday Party
Impact Youth Hub Oakland, 2323 Broadway, Oakland, 510-834-0347
Wednesday, December 17, 6:30-11:00PM
$10 in advance $15 at the door

“Impact Hub Oakland is having a Big Holiday Party and introducing the launch of Impact Youth HUB!

With Special Guest:  Van Jones

Includes food, Youth Impact HUB presentation, drinks, music and dancing!”

Chanukah Train
Thursday, December 18, 6:00PM and 8:00PM
Roaring Camp Railroads, 5401 Graham Hill Road, Felton, 831-335-4484
see website for schedule admission details

“Gather at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on the third night of Chanukah for the lighting of the menorah and then set off on an incredible train ride in Roaring Camp’s comfortable excursion cars adorned with thousands of shining lights and Chanukah decorations.

We’ll share in Chanukah traditions and ride the train through the streets of Santa Cruz listening to Chanukah stories, playing dreidel and enjoying kosher refreshments provided by Chabad by the Sea. Evening also includes your choice of mini golf, laser tag, or arcade games.

Create a new holiday tradition with family and friends as we experience the lights, stories and traditions of Chanukah in a whole new way!

Produced in Association with Chabad by the Sea.”

Festivus for the Rest of Us at Playland's After Dark
Thursday, December 18, 6:00-10:00PM
Playland-Not-At-The-Beach, 10979 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito

“Take a moment to reflect, find joy with friends old and new and maybe witness some Festivus miracles at this holiday After Dark event. Get in the spirit and celebrate whatever you'd like on a night during Hanukkah, before Christmas and Kwanzaa. (For the rest of us, it's Festivus!) Grown-ups only, no children or babies please.”

The Biggest Gift
presented by Fantasy Forum
Thursday-Saturday, December 18-20,
Thursday 11:30AM, Friday 9:30AM, 11:00AM, and 6:30PM,
Saturday 10:00AM, 11:30AM, 1:00PM, and 4:00PM
Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, 925-943-7469
see website for ticket information

“Did you send your letter to Santa? Then why has he not received it? No letters - No Christmas. Join the fun and laughter as Tucker the elf and the toys set out to save Christmas.

The Fantasy Forum Actors Ensemble is a non-profit organization of men and women who strive to entertain, educate and enrich families, and endeavor to present the highest form of entertainment to the young and young at heart.

At Fantasy Forum Actors Ensemble many of our audience members are able to sit right on the stage and interact directly with the performers. We produce four musicals at the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts each year drawing up to 2,700 patrons to each production. Our performances are scheduled throughout the day and early evenings on weekends to accommodate patrons bringing families for their first live theatre experience. Many of our shows are also scheduled on Fridays to accommodate school groups.”

North Bay Reclaiming’s Yule Ritual
Friday, December 19, 7:30PM
Sebastopol Grange Hall, 6000 Sebastopol Avenue, Sebastopol
Suggested donations of $10-$50, no one turned away for lack of funds
for more information, please call 707-484-7786 or e-mail northbayreclaiming@yahoo.com

“Join Starhawk and friends in the North Bay this Winter Solstice as we experience the darkest hour, sing back the sun, and dance the spiral dance.”

Lunasa: Christmas from Ireland
Friday, December 19, 8:00PM
Sebastopol Community Cultural Center, 390 Morris Street, Sebastopol, 707-823-1511
$25 in advance, $28 at the door

“Lunasa is widely acknowledged as being the finest traditional Irish instrumental band of recent times, renowned for stunning shows honed by superb musicianship. Lunasa’s inventive arrangements and bass-driven grooves have steered Irish acoustic music into surprising new territory. Their recordings have sold over a quarter of a million, have been hailed as some of the best and most important world music albums anywhere, while their blend of intelligence, innovation, virtuosity, and passion has brought them to the forefront of Celtic music. Lunasa are: Sean Smyth (Fiddles and Whistles) Kevin Crawford (Flutes and Whistles), Trevor Hutchinson (Stand-up Bass), Cillian Vallely (Uilleann Pipes and Whistles) and Ed Boyd (Guitar).
Christmas from Ireland with Lunasa will feature traditional Irish music and Karan Casey, one of the genre's most innovative and provocative voices in Irish traditional and folk music. Her career has spanned twenty five years, from the early days as a jazz performer in George’s Bistro in Dublin.”

Mittens and Mistletoe, A Winter Circus Cabaret
presented by Sweet Can Circus
December 19-28,
see website for detailed schedule of performances
Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th Street, San Francisco, 415-826-4441
see website for ticket details

“Back by popular demand - it's the third annual Mittens and Mistletoe: A Winter Circus Cabaret. Come in from the cold, and join our circus family for an hour of glad tidings and cheer! Celebrate winter and the return of light with a light-hearted, charming, and funny variety program suitable for all ages. Produced and directed by San Francisco's beloved Sweet Can Productions, and starring bay area's finest circus artists, you're sure to be enchanted.”

Bay Area Reclaiming Winter Solstice Ritual
Saturday, December 20, 3:30PM
Ocean Beach, Taraval Street and Great Highway, San Francisco
Donations accepted
For more information, please contact sfrpc@yahoogroups.com

“Join us on the eve of Winter Solstice as we gather to celebrate the longest night of the year. We honor the time of darkness as well as the turning of the Wheel of the Year back toward the light.

Wear warm clothes, and bring food or non-alcoholic drink to share, and a towel if you want to plunge.

Flashlights and dry socks are handy. Drums and other instruments are welcome for post-ritual music. Trash bags are a great way to show special love for the beach!

Transit: Take the scenic L-Taraval Muni train from downtown BART stations. Ride to 46th Avenue, walk two blocks to the beach, and look for group of beach-loving pagans.

Maps: search for Taraval and Great Highway, San Francisco 94116. Walk onto beach, and look for group of beach-loving pagans.

For more information, email sfrpc@yahoogroups.com.”

A Service of Lessons and Carols
a Free Family Concert with San Francisco Renaissance Voices
Saturday, December 20, 7:30PM
Seventh Avenue Presbyterian Church, 1329 Seventh Avenue, San Francisco

“Don't miss this traditional Festival of Lessons and Carols including a festive holiday reception afterwards!  This event is modeled after the Festival of Lessons and Carols first performed in 1918 at King's College, Cambridge (England) where it has been performed every year since.  There will be plenty of opportunity for you to sing carols along with us to get you into the holiday spirit.”

Mr. Music Holiday Sing-Along
Saturday, December 20, 8:00PM
Sebastopol Community Cultural Center, 390 Morris Street, Sebastopol, 707-823-1511

“Join us for a Festive Holiday event featuring our own Mr. Music!
This event is free to the community, donations are welcome.

The Mr. Music Foundation has been bringing quality music programs to schools throughout Sonoma County for over 25 years. The Foundation provides classroom music, after school music instruction, and high quality music assemblies. It is the mission of the Foundation to bring more music education to more children in the local area. We also present and promote live music programs in the communities, and help and encourage local musicians and music teachers.”

A Winter Gift: Legends of the Celtic Harp
with Patrick Ball, Lisa Lynn and Aryeh Frankfurter
Saturday, December 20, 8:00PM
Occidental Center for the Arts, 3850 Doris Murphy Court, Occidental

“Occidental Center for the Arts is proud to present a magical holiday concert featuring three of the premier Celtic harpists in the world: Patrick Ball, Lisa Lynne, and Aryeh Frankfurter.

A marvelous blend of music and oratory, falling somewhere in between concert and theater, A Winter Gift presents joyous pieces of beloved holiday music woven into seasonal Celtic legends, Irish and English stories of winter, and traditional folk beliefs. Master of the spoken word Patrick Ball draws out tales such as A Child's Christmas in Wales, a chapter from The Wind in the Willows, and passages from Shakespeare, William Butler Yeats, and Thomas Hardy, seamlessly mingled with the gorgeous Celtic harp, Irish bouzouki, and mandolin playing of Lisa Lynne, and the artistry of Aryeh Frankfurter on Celtic harp, Swedish nyckelharpe, and cittern.

Enter into this dramatic musical journey presented by these extraordinary musicians into the heart of the central message of  the Christmas/Winter season: HOPE. Hope for something wondrous. Hope for a light in the darkness.”

Alameda Civic Ballet's The Nutcracker
Saturday-Sunday December 20-21, 2:00PM
Kofman Theater, 2200 Central Avenue, Alameda, 510-522-7101
see website for tickets details

“This holiday season prepare to be transported on a magical journey with Clara and the Nutcracker Prince. From the heroic battle against the Mouse King, travel through the Land of the Snowflakes and on to the Kingdom of the Sweets. There you will meet the Sugar Plum Fairy and be entertained by the wonders of the Land of Enchantment. Choreographed by Artistic Director Abra Rudisill with gorgeous costumes and beautiful sets - all to the classic Tchaikovsky score - this is a production sure to bring out the child in all of us. Whether this is your first time seeing a Nutcracker production or it is a time honored holiday tradition, make Alameda Civic Ballet's 10th Annual Nutcracker part of your holiday festivities.”

East Bay Sing Up the Sun 2014
Sunday, December 21, 6:40AM (yes, AM!)
Inspiration Point, Tilden Park, Berkeley
Donations accepted
For more information, please contact vibraw@aol.com

“Sunday, December 21 (Solstice Morn). Join us again in the East Bay hills to greet the sun on Solstice morning! Wear layers and bring drums, shakers, tambourines, flutes, tubas, etc. and maybe a thermos of hot beverage. If you have a favorite sun-song, bring lyrics to share, and we usually do a spiral dance just after dawn.

Gather at the parking lot at Inspiration Point in Tilden Park about 6:40AM, to allow about 10 minutes to walk or roll to site. At West end of parking area, go around gate and up paved road beyond it, marked as Nimitz Way, which is a paved, mild uphill grade, wheelchair/stroller accessible. You'll see folks on a grassy clearing on your right (could be muddy and wet!), with beautiful view of horizon to the East (if it's clear, which could happen).

Steady rain cancels. Fog or misty rain, we'll be there.”

Kitka's Annual Wintersongs Community Sing
Sunday, December 21, 5:00-7:00PM
Nile Hall in Historic Preservation Park, 668 13th Street, Oakland, 510-874-7580
Donations accepted

“Join Kitka and the Kitka Community Chorus in a celebratory circle of song! Experience the magic of raising your voice to create lush Eastern European seasonal harmonies as they were originally intended to be sung by many voices in community! Kitka singers will lead the group in some fun ‘open voice’ warm-ups, and will teach a varied selection of favorite tunes from our Wintersongs repertoire. The songs presented promise to be accessible, beautiful, and interesting. This Community Sing is designed to be very inclusive. Singers of all ages are welcome and no experience is necessary.”

Victorian Tweflth Night Ball
presented by PEERS
Saturday, January 3, Doors Open 6:45PM, Dance Lesson: 7:00PM, Dancing
Begins: 8:00PM
Alameda Elks Lodge, 2255 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda
$20 in advance (by December 27), $25 at the door

“Dance, sing, and play at the season's loveliest old-fashioned holiday party hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Bangers and Mash, the Bay Area's most irresistible country dance band, will play a variety of Viennese and rotary waltzes, polkas, mazurka waltzes, schottisches, the Lancers, reels, and other set dances popular in the early and mid-19th century. As usual, all set dances will be taught or called and partners are not required. Indeed, introductions to partners will be cheerfully provided!

Suggested costume is evening or day dress from 1837 through 1870 (the heyday of Dickens' literary career), any class. Modern evening dress is, as always, a completely acceptable substitute for period costume, and there is no dress code for the evening. Ladies, if you're wearing a ball gown or evening gown, please be sure to bring a wrap since the ballroom will be cold before the dancing starts. Once we start dancing, the ballroom warms up beautifully!

Intermission entertainment includes an interactive performance by the Peerless Music Hall and a special performance by our guest of honour, Mr. Charles Dickens. As usual, there will be other special guests at the ball, including a number of Mr. Dickens' most popular characters.

There will be an excellent no host bar and a light Olde English snack buffet (As usual, your potluck contributions to Mrs. Fezziwig's kitchen are very welcome).”

Boar's Head Festival and Mid-Winter Gala
presented by San Francisco Renaissance Voices

Saturday, January 3, 8:00PM
Seventh Avenue Performances, 1329 Seventh Avenue, San Francisco
$50, Children under 12 $25

Sunday, January 4, 4:00PM
St. Bede's Episcopal Church, 2650 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park
$50, Children under 12 $25

“Join us for this 650 year old tradition celebrating Twelfth Night... Our annual Boar’s Head Festival and Mid-Winter Gala, first performed by us in January of 2011, delights audiences young and old alike, and is our most popular event of each and every season!  

This evening of feasting, libations, music and dramatic surprises takes place at the court of Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth I, and we are especially delighted to be joined by guest artist internally-renowned countertenor Brian Asawa.

During this year's Festival, the ambassador and members from the Imperial Court of the Emperor Kangxi appear in Her Majesty's court, bringing with them the music and dance of Ancient China for an eclectic concert when joined by our choristers performing the music of Medieval and Renaissance England.  

We'll be joined by our dance troupe San Francisco Renaissance Dancers, lutenist Adam Cockerham on theorbo, and Margaret Davis on celtic harp and recorders.  

The evening begins with a reception and silent auction, followed by the concert at court; the evening ends with a grand Renaissance feast featuring traditional foods of the season - all washed down with generous amounts of wine and mead!  

Any attire you choose for Her Majesty's court is fine... however those of you who choose to come in period costume or masque will be especially welcomed!”

Section Two - Places Decorated for the Holidays

Santa Cruz Holiday Lights Train
Friday-Saturday, November 28-29, 11:00AM-7:00PM,
and Saturday-Sunday, December 6-7, Saturday-Sunday, 13-14,
and Friday-Tuesday, December 19-23
Departs from Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, 400 Beach Street, Santa Cruz
see website for schedule admission details

“Choo, Choo, Santa Claus is coming to town, not by sleigh, not by snow but by Train!

Vintage excursion cars, adorned with thousands of colorful lights, roll through the streets of Santa Cruz as passengers lend their voices to holiday carols, sip hot spiced cider and listen to musical entertainment while Santa visits the little ones, or the young at heart! Continue the merriment with your choice of arcade games, mini-golf, or laser tag at Santa's Kingdom at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Bring the whole family for festive fun. Happy Holidays!

Dear Santa Letter:
Print out your letter to Santa Claus and have Roaring Camp Deliver it by train to the North Pole. Write your letter and bring it with you to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, there will be a North Pole mailbox just outside of the entrance to Neptune's Kingdom by the first car of the train. Roaring Camp will be making a special trip each evening after the Holiday Lights Train to drop off your letters to Santa's Home in the North Pole.”

Holiday Traditions at Filoli
Let There Be Magic!
Friday, November 28-Saturday, December 6
See website for schedule and admission details
Filoli Center, 86 Canada Road, Woodside

“La saison d’ élégance

Bonjour! There is elegance in the glamour of a French soirée. There is grace and beauty in the glitter of the evening Eiffel Tower as turquoise, green, gold, and blue light reflects off the Champ-de-Mars and the River Seine. This year, Holiday Traditions will transport you into a grand world of international splendor and magnificence as we present La saison d’ élégance -  Season of Elegance.

Passing first through the exquisite Foyer of the Filoli Mansion, you will enter a grand French Dining Room, une salle à manger. Here you will find a sitting area and our magnificent holiday tree reaching seventeen feet to the ceiling decorated with sparkling gold, silver, and platinum ornaments, gilded bird cages, plush birds, and luxurious ribbons adorning the branches. The elegant grand Ballroom becomes Le Grand Salon, beautifully furnished and richly decorated in silver, salmon, champagne, and green. In the formal Dining Room, an Open French Market with carts, street lights, park benches, and lit trees will charm everyone as they stroll through. Whether it be a French Pâtisserie, a Men’s Club Salon, a French Garden or Children’s Room interpretation of The Polar Express, every room will delight your senses as you explore every corner of this home. Holiday music and entertaining groups enhance the mood and spirit as guests feel the spirit and joy of ‘La saison.’

Thirty one years ago, the Roth Family opened their home to family and friends for the holiday season. The House filled with evergreens, candles, fir trees, and leis from Hawaii welcomed visitors. Wreaths placed in every window were made from holly and evergreens grown at Filoli. A cherished tradition continues today as we welcome you to this glorious House.”

Shadelands Holiday Faire and Victorian Tea
Saturdays and Sundays, November 29-December 14, 10:00AM-4:00PM
Shadelands Ranch Historical Museum, 2660 Ygnacio Valley Road, Walnut Creek
Free admission, luncheon $30

"Since 1983, the Holiday Faire has been a seasonal tradition at Shadelands. During this two-week event, over 35 vendors will offer a wide variety of hand-crafted items and gifts for sale inside the Museum. Open every day from 10:00AM-4:00PM. Admission and parking are free.

Coinciding with the Holiday Faire, Shadelands also hosts three-course tea luncheons with seatings at 11:30AM and 1:30PM. Tickets are $30 per person. Groups are welcome. Many families and friends maintain an annual tradition of attending the teas. Call the Shadelands office at 925-935-7871 for reservations from October 1.”

Holiday Train of Lights
Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, November 29-December 29
see website for detailed schedule
boarding at Niles Station, 37001 Mission Boulevard, Fremont
or at Sunol Depot, 6 Kilkare Road, Sunol
$25 (see website for discount offers)

“Bring your entire family on an enchanting holiday excursion!

The Pacific Locomotive Association, Inc., operators of the Niles Canyon Railway, present the 2014 Niles Canyon Railway Train of Lights.

The Niles trains will depart at 4:30PM, you can see the canyon and sunset.
The Sunol trains will depart at 7:30PM, and this ride is all about the lights.

Experience the magic of our brightly decorated holiday train, covered with thousands of lights, as it winds through Niles Canyon on a round-trip ride of approximately one hour from Sunol to the Niles district of Fremont.

Trains also leave Niles at 4:30PM. See our website for details.

This annual fundraising event is presented to benefit the non-profit Niles Canyon Railway. We are sincerely grateful for all of our supporters who help our living history museum continue to operate and grow.”

‘Tis the Season for Science
December 1-January 4
California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, 415-379-8000
Included with museum admission - see website for details

“Join us as the Academy transforms into a floor-to-ceiling winter wonderland, complete with snow flurries, caroling, festive programs, and Willow and Yukon - a pair of live, 6-year-old reindeer.

From now through January 4, revel in the wonder of 'Tis the Season for Science, the Academy's annual holiday exhibit, showcasing the science behind the festive season.

This interactive exhibit invites you to explore some of the most awe-inspiring details of reindeer adaptation, from how they stay warm - and afloat - when crossing icy rivers to what they eat and how they find food in the harsh Arctic winter. Step inside our the Snowman Theater to learn more about these ‘Nomads of the North’ and then settle in and enjoy a variety of holiday-themed programs, including quiz shows and live musical performances.

Make 'Tis the Season your new holiday tradition - it's a perfect way to celebrate with family and friends.”

Fairy Winterland
Fridays-Sundays, December 5-21 and Monday and Tuesday December 22-23, 12:00PM-7:00PM
Children's Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Avenue, Oakland, 510-452-2259

“In December, Fairy Winterland celebrates the winter holidays of many cultures: Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas, Diwali, and Chinese New Year. Join us for stories, crafts, a festival of lights, and a visit from Santa.

For one modest admission fee - $8 for each adult and child over the age of 1 - you’ll enjoy:
Performances by our renowned Storybook Puppet Theater
A Festival of Lights Parade each day at 6:15PM
Special holiday storytelling, magic, and entertainment
A daily visit from Santa Claus
Holiday-themed arts and crafts
Unlimited rides
And many more special surprises!

The park is open from noon to 7:00PM during Fairy Winterland (weather permitting).”

Casa del Pomba
352 Hillcrest Avenue, Livermore
Friday, December 5-Thursday, January 1, see website for detailed schedule
Free, donations accepted

“For the past 27 years Deacon Dave Rezendes has sponsored a celebration of Christmas at his home located at 352 Hillcrest Avenue. There is no entrance fee, it is Rev. Deacon Dave’s gift to the community. We invite you to walk through the display so that you may enjoy the greater detail and design.  Just driving by does not even begin to view what in built inside the gates of the House of the Dove.  Dress according to the weather.  Wheel Chair access.  Parents are asked to control their children.  We do reserve the right to refuse entry to anyone. Note:  The display is often closed in inclement weather.  When conditions become unsafe, such as a slippery bridge, we must for safety reasons, keep the gates locked.  If we can, we will leave the lights on for you to view from the street.”

Holiday Open House at Rengstorff House
Thursday, December 11, 7;00-9:00PM
Rengstorff House, 3070 North Shoreline Boulevard, Mountain View

“Join the Friends of R House once again as we celebrate the holidays with our annual open house. This lovely event combines the sounds of holiday carolers, the tastes of warm cider and sweet treats, and a visit from Father Christmas. There is no fee for this event, though Donations are gratefully accepted.

Holiday Toy and Pajama Drive
Help the Friends of R House fill the donation box at the Rengstorff House. Once again the Friends of R House is teaming up with Community Services Agency of Mountain View to help bring some holiday cheer to our community. We are looking for donations of all kinds, but most especially gifts of new and unwrapped toys or pajamas for kids and teens, or gift cards. Gifts for teens especially sought after so if you can, held us fill the box and give something back this holiday season.”

The Spirit of Christmas at Winchester Mystery House
various dates, December 12-28, tours leave every 10 minutes from 5:20-9:00PM
Winchester Mystery House, 525 South Winchester Boulevard, San Jose
see website for schedule and ticket details

“Come celebrate the Spirit of Christmas at Sarah Winchester’s glorious Victorian Mansion, beautifully decorated with dozens of trees and wreaths. Over a thousand feet of garland grace the fireplaces and hallways. The festive glow of 100,000 sparkling lights and the sounds of Christmas Music and Carolers warmly welcome you and filling the air and hearts. Join our special 50-minute holiday tour through the 160-room Mansion and learn about the history of Sarah Winchester, while the festive sights and sounds set you in the mood for the season. This is the perfect place to start a wonderful holiday tradition for the whole family!

Our Spirit of Christmas Tours are given on the following dates, starting at 5:20PM: December 12-13, 18-21, 26-28.”

A Holiday Tradition at Dunsmuir House
Saturday-Sunday, December 13-14, 11:00AM-4:00PM
Dunsmuir-Hellman Historic Estate, 2960 Peralta Oaks Court, Oakland, 510-615-5555
Free admission

“City of Oakland Parks and Recreation invites you to step back in time and experience a turn-of-the-century Holiday Tradition at the Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate. The magnificent 16,224 square foot, 37-room mansion that volunteers would have put in more than 2,000 hours to transform into a breathtaking masterpiece of an Edwardian holiday will be open for only one weekend this year December 13th and 14th (Saturday and Sunday).

Each room is decorated with elegant holiday trees, garlands, antique furnishings and festive decorations to provide you with ideas for your own home decorations. Visitors can also enjoy a light lunch or snack at the Winter Cafe, while filling their holiday shopping list by purchasing from the Mansion Gift Shop Kids and families can begin the morning with Brunch with Santa, and afterwards enjoy games, face-painting and other activities. A Holiday Tradition is a wonderful way for families and friends to begin their own tradition and celebrate the holiday season.

This year's Special Attraction: is The Oakland Ballet's Holiday Performance on Saturday. Come enjoy the season with us!”

I loved visiting Dunsmuir House at Christmas when I was a child!  It is a beautiful, magical place, at its best when full of festive holiday cheer.

Have a ridiculously fun and sublimely moving December!

As they say at The Revels, Welcome Yule!

Molly Blue Dawn, White Christmas, with Evergreen Leaves and a Holly Berry as Red as any Blood...

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