Holiday Arts Guide—Get your Cheer on this Holiday Season

After the many canceled or online-only holiday festivities of 2020, this year’s mostly in-person parties, plays and other pleasures are a welcome return to normalcy.

Make sure to check your list twice and find North Bay holiday events with our annual guide.

Holiday Ice Rink & Winter Wonderland Village

The Meritage & Vista Collina Resorts are kicking into high gear as the holiday season approaches, and opening a new Holiday Ice Rink at 850 Bordeaux Way, Napa, for guests and locals, Nov. 11 through Jan. 2, 2022. The resorts also offer seasonal events such as the Thanksgiving Brunch buffet in the Meritage Ballroom on Nov. 25; the Olive & Hay Thanksgiving To-Go package, available to order before Nov. 22; and the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, complete with carolers and Santa Claus, on Nov. 26. Meritagecollection.com/vista-collina.

Holidays Along the Farm Trails

Sonoma County Farm Trails celebrates local agriculture with holiday-themed offerings from several local food producers. Find farm-fresh food and drink, wreaths and other goodies, while enjoying family-friendly activities like Christmas tree-cutting throughout the county. Nov. 12 through Jan. 1, 2022. Farmtrails.org.

Warren Miller: “Winter Starts Now”

Each year, adventure-film producers Warren Miller Entertainment assemble a feature-length film based on winter sports spotlighting world-class skiers and other sports figures performing mind-bending stunts around the world. This year’s film, Winter Starts Now, features the best snow-riding footage from Tahoe to Maine. Winter Starts Now screens at the Rafael Film Center, 1118 4th St., San Rafael, on Saturday, Nov. 13; and at Summerfield Cinemas, 551 Summerfield Rd., Santa Rosa, on Dec. 4. Warrenmiller.com.

The Mountain Play

You don’t have to sit on Mount Tamalpais to enjoy The Mountain Play’s holiday production of the classic musical Camelot. The long running company is moving the rousing, re-imagined take on the show—directed by Zoë Swenson-Graham, and music directed by Phillip Harris—to the indoor Barn Theatre at the Marin Art & Garden Center, 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross. The show opens Saturday. Nov. 13, and runs through Dec. 19. Mountainplay.org.

Marin Theatre Company

Concluding a holiday trilogy, Marin Theatre Company once again brings Jane Austen’s beloved characters to the stage for a yuletide sequel to Pride and Prejudice. Penned by MTC Mellon National Playwright in Residence, Lauren M. Gunderson, and former Director of New Play Development, Margot Melcon, Georgiana and Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley is the final installment of the “Christmas at Pemberley” series that began with Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley and The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley, and follows Mr. Darcy’s younger sister, Georgiana, and the youngest Bennet sister, Kitty. Georgiana and Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley will perform at Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Ave., Mill Valley, Nov. 18 through Dec. 19. Marintheatre.org.

Spreckels Theatre Company

For theater-goers who are not fully caught up on the “Christmas at Pemberley” trilogy, Spreckels Theatre Company treats audiences to the second play in the series, The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley, at Spreckels Performing Arts Center, 5409 Snyder Lane, Rohnert Park, from Nov. 19 through Dec. 12. Rpcity.org.

Charles M. Schulz Museum

Kid-friendly holiday celebrations take place this season at the Charles M. Schulz Museum, 2301 Hardies Ln., Santa Rosa. Bring food items to donate to the Redwood Empire Food Bank, and enjoy movies, popcorn and hands-on activities at the Thanksgiving Celebration with Snoopy on Nov. 20; assemble and decorate Snoopy’s house at the Gingerbread Doghouse Workshops, Dec. 11–12; make an array of fun gifts a the Holiday Gift-Making Workshop on Dec. 18; and say, “Happy New Year, Charlie Brown!” at the museum’s annual New Year’s Eve party on Dec. 31. Schulzmuseum.org.

Holidays in Yountville

Each winter, the Town of Yountville becomes the “Brightest Town in the Napa Valley” during the annual Holidays in Yountville, featuring six-plus weeks of holiday-related events, activities and shopping. Holidays in Yountville kicks off at the Town & Tree Lighting event, featuring tens of thousands of magical twinkling lights that light up the town. The town also hosts dozens of events and experiences, both in person and virtually, including wine tastings and pairings, holiday painting events, wreath making, chocolate seminars, turkey and snowman hunts, holiday Wine Train experiences, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner menus, letters to Santa for kids of all ages, photo opportunities at Santa’s Village at the Yountville Community Center, New Year’s Eve happenings and much more between Nov. 21 and Jan. 1, 2022. Yountville.com/events.

Miracle at Brewster’s Beer Garden

Find an oasis in the holidays at Miracle, the Holiday pop-up bar at Brewsters Beer Garden, 229 Water St., Petaluma. The bar offers over-the-top kitschy, festive décor and a themed cocktail menu with fan favorites such as Christmapolitan, Christmas Carol Barrel, Snowball Old-Fashioned, Jingle Balls Nog and freshly updated and renewed recipes for the Jolly Koala, On Dasher and SanTaRex. Nov. 22 through Jan. 3, 2022.

Napa Tree Lighting & Christmas Parade

These long-running, family-friendly events come back to downtown Napa. First, enjoy hot chocolate, cookies and entertainment at the Tree Lighting at Veterans’ Memorial Park, Third and Main Street, on Nov. 24. Then, see the popular evening Christmas Parade, featuring creative floats built by Napans themselves and traveling down Second, Brown and Third Streets in Napa, on Nov. 27. Donapa.com.

Santa’s Riverboat Arrival

Santa and Mrs. Claus give the season its start when they arrive by tugboat at the Petaluma River Turning Basin and disembark to hand out candy and take holiday photos with kids at River Plaza Shopping Center, 72 E. Washington St., Petaluma. Nov. 27. Visitpetaluma.com.

Napa Valley Wine Train

Harkening back to the glory days of train travel, the Napa Valley Wine Train offers holiday-themed rides leaving from 1275 Mckinstry St., Napa, this season for locals and visitors alike. Give thanks onboard the train during a special Thanksgiving Tour featuring a culinary feast on Nov. 25. The train also hosts a “Jingle & Mingle” experience with holiday cocktails and gourmet food throughout the season, and the train rings in 2022 with “A Journey to the New Year,” featuring sparkling wine and more on Dec. 31. Winetrain.com.

Sonoma Arts Live

Two alternating holiday shows take over the Rotary Stage at the Sonoma Community Center, 276 E. Napa St., Sonoma, during Sonoma Arts Live’s repertory productions of Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings and Winter Wonderettes. Director Michael Ross initially came up with the idea of producing two shows in repertory as a way to make it possible for theater couples with small children to be in a show simultaneously. By having an all-female cast (Winter Wonderettes) and an all-male cast (Forever Plaid), they would rehearse and perform on opposite schedules. “My goal was to lessen the burden of finding childcare for those couples. It seemed like a creative way to help keep theater moving forward,” Ross says. Forever Plaid opens the repertory run on Nov. 26, and the two shows play out on alternating dates through Dec. 19. Sonomaartslive.org.

Winter Lights

Downtown Santa Rosa’s annual holiday party expands for 2021. In addition to the Remembrance Candle and Tree Lighting ceremony on Nov. 26, the event features a synthetic ice rink open to all at Old Courthouse Square, Santa Rosa. Nov. 19 to Jan. 9, 2022. Downtownsantarosa.org/winterlights.

Holidays in Healdsburg

Charming small-town delights mix with festive fun in the annual “Holidays in Healdsburg: Sip, Savor, and Shop” guided tours led by Wine Country Walking Tours this winter. The day and evening tours show off Healdsburg’s colorful Christmas sights and feature carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides and more, Nov. 26 to Dec. 30 (winecountrywalkingtours.com). Healdsburg also gets into the holiday spirit at events like the Healdsburg Center for the Arts’ “Holiday Gift Gallery” Nov. 18 to Dec. 30 (healdsburgcenterforthearts.org); “Wintersongs,” vocal ensemble Kitka’s critically-acclaimed and wildly popular annual concert offering, happening at The 222 on Dec. 4 (The222.org). Holiday Tea at Hotel Healdsburg on Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 4–19; Breakfast with Santa program at Costeaux French Bakery, Dec. 4, 11 and 18; and the Holiday Tour and Tasting at Jordan Vineyard and Winery, Dec. 6–16.

6th Street Playhouse

Everyone knows that Ebenezer Scrooge discovers the holiday spirit at the conclusion of A Christmas Carol. But, what happens next? Find out in the musical Scrooge In Love, presented by 6th Street Playhouse, 52 W. 6th St., Santa Rosa. Jacob Marley and the spirits take Scrooge on more adventures, this time to find romance, in a show full of merry songs and a cast of 6th Street Playhouse favorites Brandy Noveh, Ezra Hernandez, Noah Sternhill and Alanna Weatherby. Scrooge in Love runs Nov. 26 through Dec. 19. Additionally, 6th Street playhouse also presents a special holiday show, ’Tis the Season to Be Barbara, featuring Leah Sprecher, starring as the fictional Barbara Dixon, satirizing the holiday cabaret shows for one night only on Dec. 3. 6thstreetplayhouse.com.

Cirque de Bohème

Inspired by his grandfather’s old-fashioned Parisian circus from over a century ago, Sonoma resident and French native Michel Michelis formed the popular Cirque de Bohème back in 2008. This year, Cirque de Bohème proudly returns to Cornerstone Sonoma, 23570 Arnold Dr., Sonoma, and presents a new show titled Behind the Mirror. This original spectacle features poetry, music and more from world-class performers including Japanese dancer, contortionist and performing artist Yuko Haka; longtime circus mime and clown Michelle Musser; veteran juggler Dan Holzman; slack rope artist Beth Clark and mentalist Ken Garr. Get a peek Behind the Mirror Nov. 26 through Dec. 26. Cirquedeboheme.com.

The Enjoy Mill Valley Winterfest

Presented by the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Enjoy Mill Valley Winterfest will be presented both virtually and dispersed in a variety of activities this season. Festivities kick off on Saturday, Nov. 27, with a three-week scavenger hunt-style contest at more than 30 of the town’s businesses. Kids accompanied by adults can take photos (selfies) wherever they find blue stars in the windows of at least eight participating businesses to be entered into a raffle. Then, on Sunday, Dec. 5, the Winterfest commences in an afternoon filled with live holiday music and dance performances, games and activities, holiday carols and a tree lighting at dusk. Join the fun on Dec. 5, at the Depot Plaza, 87 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley. 1pm–5pm. Free admission. enjoymillvalley.com/winterfest.

Chanukah Festival

Montgomery Village Shopping Center in Santa Rosa lights up the night with live music, latkes, prizes and a giant ice menorah-lighting ceremony on Nov. 28. Mvshops.com.

Chanukah Celebration

Chabad Jewish Center of Petaluma’s Seventh Annual Chanukah celebration goes all out with several offerings, including a big party at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds, 175 Fairgrounds Dr., Petaluma. The celebration includes a nine-foot menorah, the world’s biggest dreidel, live DJ spinning Chanukah music, life-sized decorations and hands-on fun on Nov. 28. Jewishpetaluma.com.

Nitzanim Hanukkah Party

Congregation Ner Shalom invites families to bring a picnic dinner along with their menorah and candles for a gathering at 85 La Plaza in Cotati. Nov. 29. Nershalom.org.

Sausalito Gingerbread House Competition

This 15th Annual citywide event features festive and delicious gingerbread houses displayed in the windows of local businesses that are mostly within walking distance of each other, meaning this is a family-friendly diversion from the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping. Dec. 1–31. Downtown Sausalito. Sausalito.org.

Hanukkah Party with SF Yiddish Combo

The rockin’ Bay Area klezmer band led by cellist Rebecca Roudman headlines a congregational party at Congregation Shomrei Torah, 2600 Bennett Valley Rd., Santa Rosa. There will also be a group Hanukkah lighting and latkes. Dec. 1 Cstsr.org.

Chanukah: Dancing Together with Darkness

Recognizing that the community is still experiencing pain and loss from the pandemic, Congregation Rodef Sholom at 170 North San Pedro Rd., San Rafael, hosts an evening of art and song to express that grief, before a candle lighting that signifies brighter days to come. Dec. 2. Rodefsholom.org.

An Irish Christmas

Most folks in the North Bay will not be able to travel to Ireland for the holidays this year, so Ireland will come to the North Bay for the popular dancing, singing and Irish traditional music celebration, “An Irish Christmas.” See award-winning dancers, led by World Champion dancers Tyler Schwartz (Magic of the Dance) and Emily MacConnell, hear traditional Christmas Carols from the Kerry Voice Squad and superb music from the Kerry Traditional Orchestra, and enjoy “An Irish Christmas” at Uptown Theatre, 1350 Third St., Napa. Dec. 3. Uptowntheatrenapa.com.

Calistoga Holiday Village & Lighted Tractor Parade

This small town celebration of the holiday season and Napa Valley’s agricultural heritage begins with a Holiday Village in Pioneer Park, 1308 Cedar St., Calistoga, featuring a tree lighting, visit from Santa, baked goods and other treats on Dec. 3. Then the annual Calistoga Lighted Tractor Parade travels down Lincoln Avenue in town, boasting dozens of tractors, floats and farm equipment decked out in brightly lit looks. Dec. 4. Visitcalistoga.com.

Transcendence Theatre Company

Transcendence Theatre Company takes the stage at the breathtaking Belos Cavalos equestrian estate at 687 Campagna Lane in Kenwood this season to perform The Broadway Holiday Spectacular, a new version of the company’s popular show for the whole family featuring holiday favorites, show-stopping dance numbers, Broadway show tunes and modern twists on some of the world’s most uplifting and cherished songs. All performances will take place under a big-top tent, and food and beverages will be available. The production runs Dec. 3–12. Bestnightever.org.

ICB Artists Winter Open Studios
FIND ART Sausalito-based textile artist Paula Valenzuela is one of many local creators who will share their visions in the studios where they create at the ICB Artists 2021 Winter Open Studios, Dec. 4–5. Photo courtesy ICB Building

An art destination for over five decades, the ICB Building opens its doors once again for the annual Winter Open Studios. The weekend event boasts internationally recognized, award-winning abstract and figurative painters, photographers, sculptors, textile artists and others showing their work where it’s created, at 480 Gate Five Rd., Sausalito. Dec. 4–5. Icbbuilding.com.

Winterfest Sausalito

Get ready to return to Sausalito’s waterfront for this annual two-day party for the whole family. The festivities begin with the 34th Annual Lighted Boat Parade and Fireworks that can be seen from Gabrielson Park, Humboldt Avenue and Anchor Street, followed by the Captain’s After Party at Spinnaker Restaurant, 100 Spinnaker Drive. The next morning, run in the Jingle Bell 5K before brunch at Spinnaker Restaurant. Dec. 11–12. Winterfestsausalito.com.

Jack London Piano Club

Enjoy a variety of uplifting musical selections, including holiday music, jazz, classical and popular music of times past, at the Jack London Piano Club’s winter concert. The club performs on Charmian London’s 1901 Steinway piano, located on the second floor the House of Happy Walls at Jack London State Park, 2400 London Ranch Rd., Glen Ellen. Dec. 12. Jacklondonstatepark.com.

A Chanticleer Christmas

The holiday favorite from the vocal orchestra tells the Christmas story in beautifully sung music ranging from classical to carols at St. Vincent’s Church, 35 Liberty St., Petaluma. Dec. 17. Chanticleer.org.

Sebastopol Ballet Nutcracker

The popular production will be different from the show that the North Bay expects from Sebastopol Ballet, yet it promises holiday fun for all at West County High School, 6950 Analy Ave., Sebastopol. Dec. 18–19. Sebastopolballet.com.

San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus “Holigays Are Here … Again!”

After missing last year’s concert, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus returns to the stage at the Green Music Center, 1801 E Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park, to presents it’s annual “Holigays Are Here … Again!” Featuring the chorus’s favorite musical selections from the past 10 years, the performance will raise funds to benefit Face 2 Face, which works to ending HIV in Sonoma County, on Dec. 18. Other holiday shows happening at Green Music Center include “Joy To The World: A Christmas Musical Journey,” featuring Damien Sneed’s original arrangements of gospel, jazz and classical favorites on Dec. 9; the 35th Anniversary of the Windham Hill Winter Solstice concert series on Dec. 16 and Sonoma Bach’s Early Music Christmas concert in Schroeder Hall on Dec. 18–19. Gmc.sonoma.edu.

Dave Koz & Friends Christmas Tour
SANTA KOZ The holidays get a smooth-jazz makeover in the annual Dave Koz & Friends Christmas Tour, performing at Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa on Dec. 22. Photo courtesy Dave Koz

For fans of smooth jazz, the holidays don’t start until chart-topping saxophonist Dave Koz comes to town for his annual holiday concert. This year, Koz assembles a group of musicians such as South African guitarist/singer Jonathan Butler, trumpeter Rick Braun, saxophonist Richard Elliot and vocalist Rebecca Jade to perform fresh renditions of timeless Christmas classics. “After the challenges of 2020, there’s never been a time when ‘we need a little Christmas’ more than this year,” Koz says. “So much of the magic of this tour comes from those of us onstage being able to actually see the faces and smiles of concert-goers who’ve made our show their annual holiday tradition.” Dave Koz & Friends appear at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, 50 Mark West Springs Rd., Santa Rosa, on Dec. 22. Other holiday shows happening at the LBC this year include Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular on Nov. 16; the virtual Posada Navideña streaming Dec. 10–12; Holly Jolly Pops featuring the Santa Rosa Symphony on Dec. 12; Mat & Savanna Shaw’s “The Joy of Christmas Tour” on Dec. 14; A Christmas Carol, the Musical by the Apprentice Program of Roustabout Theater Dec. 17–19  and “Comedy, Country, Christmas” with Oliver Graves and Pete Stringfellow on Dec. 18. Lutherburbankcenter.org.

Find more holiday arts at Bohemian.com and Pacificsun.com.
Charlie Swanson
Charlie Swanson is a North Bay native and an arts and music writer and editor who has covered the local scene since 2014.
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