Whether it's a choir singing carols, dancers pirouetting to Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" or bands bringing their spins to holiday favorites, it's one of the most musical times of the year.
After all, "the best way to spread Christmas — or holiday — cheer is singing loud for all to hear," to paraphrase Buddy the elf. The elf himself is coming to the stage at Los Altos Stage Company and Peninsula Youth Theatre with a musical inspired by the film "Elf," while TheatreWorks spells out the songs in middle-school misfits' hearts in "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee."
Meanwhile, a lot of artists are presenting holiday-themed shows, like vocalist Storm Large celebrating a "Holiday Ordeal" at Stanford Live or The Maccabeats bringing Hanukkah fun to the Oshman Family JCC. And heading home for the holidays is Palo Alto-born Grammy winner Molly Tuttle, who with band Golden Highway brings a holiday show for four nights to The Guild (fresh off a recent second Grammy nomination).
Some artists are presenting their 2023 updates on favorite annual shows, from Smuin Contemporary Ballet to Peninsula Lively Arts, and ensembles such as Kitka, Oakland Interfaith Choir and Chanticleer. To wrap it all up on Christmas Eve, one popular local tradition is returning after a long break, as the Stanford Theatre hosts its first showing of "It's a Wonderful Life" since 2019.
Read on for our roundup of holiday fun.
Majestic Masses The Bay Choral Guild performs Franz Schubert's Mass No. 2 in G and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Mass in C minor, K. 427.
Nov. 18, 7:30 p.m. at First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto, 625 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto. $10-$30. baychoralguild.org.
Mads Tolling & The Mads Men Danish jazz violinist Mads Tolling and his ensemble present "Cool Yule - A Nordic Christmas," featuring musical tributes to the tales of Hans Christian Andersen, Santa Claus and yuletide songs from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland.
Nov. 26, at The Guild Theatre, 949 El Camino Real, Menlo Park. $37-$52. guildtheatre.com.
Berlin Berlin, led by Terri Nunn, plays a holiday show at The Guild Theatre. The band is known for its new wave '80s hits, but has made forays into contemporary electronic dance music.
Dec. 2, 8 p.m. at The Guild Theatre, 949 El Camino Real, Menlo Park. $82-$112. guildtheatre.com.
Christmas Comes Again Soli Deo Gloria performs Baroque favorites by Bach, Vivaldi, and Buxtehude, plus a newer work by Anders Öhrwall.
Dec. 2, 3:30 p.m. $25-$30. Grace Lutheran Church, 3149 Waverley St., Palo Alto. sdgloria.org.
Ragazzi Boys Chorus The chorus performs "Light and Love," a program featuring several prominent contemporary composers including Susan LaBarr, Katerina Gimon, and Kim André Arnesen. The following week, the chorus performs its winter recital.
"Light and Love" takes place Dec. 2, 7 p.m.; winter recital is held Dec. 9, 1 p.m. Both performances are at First United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto. $25-$45. ragazzi.org.
The Christmas Story California Bach Society revisits a favorite program, "Weihnachtshistorie (The Christmas Story)," Artistic Director Paul Flight’s compilation of sacred works by Baroque composer Johann Rosenmüller and works by early Baroque master Heinrich Schütz, performed in arrangements for chamber choir and Baroque instrument ensemble.
Dec. 2, 8 p.m. at All Saints' Episcopal Church, 555 Waverley St., Palo Alto. $10-$35 in advance/$10-$40 at the door. calbach.org.
Winter Hymns iSing Silicon Valley, a choir for girls in grades 1 through 12, performs the world premiere of composer Shara Nova's "Winter Hymns" and Benjamin Britten's "Ceremony of Carols." Featuring harpist Jieyin Wu and violist Lesley Robertson.
Dec. 2, 7 p.m. at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 600 Colorado Ave, Palo Alto. $15-$50. isingsv.com.
Holiday Roulette: A Mezzo Mashup Music at Kohl Mansion presents San Francisco Opera mezzo-sopranos Nikola Printz and Gabrielle Beteag with pianist Ronny Michael Greenberg performing traditional seasonal holiday tunes, opera classics and favorite songs from Broadway, cabaret and jazz. The audience can spin a roulette wheel to select the songs.
Dec. 3, 7 p.m. at Kohl Mansion, 2750 Adeline Drive, Burlingame. $55-$75. musicatkohl.org.
Stanford Medicine Orchestra and Chorus A concert of holiday music performed by a chorus and orchestra made up of faculty, staff and students from Stanford Medicine, Stanford Hospital, and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.
Dec. 5, 7:30 p.m. at Bing Concert Hall, Stanford. $20. live.stanford.edu.
A Candlelit Homecoming The Peninsula Women's Chorus performs contemporary and classical works celebrating winter, including R. Murray Schafer’s “Snowforms," Veljo Tormis’ “Talvemustrid” (Winter Patterns) and Carol Barnett’s “Winter, Snow.”
Dec. 7, 8 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto. $10-$50. pwchorus.org.
Bel Canto Flutes The Mountain View Library hosts the Bel Canto Flutes performing a holiday concert with music that spans the ages across several cultures, including many favorites. The group is an all-flute ensemble with flutes of all sizes and shapes.
Dec. 7, 6:30 p.m. at the Mountain View Public Library, 585 Franklin St., Mountain View. Free; registration is required. mountainview.libcal.com.
Six Centuries of Christmas Music Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra performs a program highlighting a wide variety of music celebrating Christmas, from Baroque to Romantic to contemporary, including the debut of a new piece by Roderick Williams, written especially for the concert.
Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m. Bing Concert Hall, Stanford. Tickets start at $30. philharmonia.org.
Storm Large: Holiday Ordeal Singer-songwriter Storm Large presents a night of music and humor, with songs that include “2000 Miles,” “Hallelujah,” and “Sock it to Me Santa,”
Dec. 8, 7 and 9 p.m., Dec. 9, 7 p.m. at Bing Studio, Stanford. $50-$75. live.stanford.edu.
CSMA Merit Scholars Holiday Concert Community School of Music and Arts presents its annual concert highlighting the school's merit scholar musicians playing holiday favorites in ensembles and solos.
Dec. 9, 5 p.m. at Community School of Music and Arts, 230 San Antonio Circle, Mountain View. Admission is free. arts4all.org.
Rob Kapilow's What Makes It Great Rob Kapilow, joined by The Choral Project, presents "Dreaming of a Jewish Christmas," a performance that explores how many favorite holiday songs were written by Jewish composers.
Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m. at Bing Concert Hall, Stanford. Tickets start at $32. live.stanford.edu.
Palo Alto Philharmonic The orchestra presents "Paris to Prague," a program featuring works by Stravinsky, Mozart and Jean Françaix, with soloist Steve Sánchez on clarinet
Dec. 9, 8 p.m. at Cubberley Theatre, 4120 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. $10-$20. paphil.org.
Carpenters Legacy: A Christmas Portrait Sally Olson and Ned Mills, Las Vegas impersonators of The Carpenters, play a tribute to the 1970s soft-rock duo's TV Christmas specials.
Dec. 10, 8 p.m. at the Fox Theatre, 2215 Broadway St., Redwood City. $36-$49. foxrwc.com.
Dec. 10, 2 p.m. at the Palo Alto Art Center auditorium, 1313 Newell Road, Palo Alto. carolsforacause.com.
Grateful Holiday The Terrapin Family Band and special guest Nicki Bluhm play a holiday show.
Dec. 10, 8 p.m. at The Guild Theatre, 949 El Camino Real, Menlo Park. $52-$123. guildtheatre.com.
Kitka's Wintersongs Women's vocal ensemble Kitka performs their annual concert celebrating the holidays and winter solstice, with songs from Balkan, Baltic, Caucasian and Slavic lands.
Dec. 10, 4 p.m. at St. Bede's Church, 2650 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park. $25-$50. kitka.org.
A Vagabond Holiday Davina and the Vagabonds perform holiday songs infused with jazz and blues.
Dec. 10, 4 p.m. at Bing Concert Hall, Stanford. Tickets start at $32. live.stanford.edu.
Molly Tuttle and Golden Highway: Home for the Holidays Peninsula-born Grammy winning bluegrass artist Molly Tuttle and Golden HIghway play a holiday show.
Dec. 14-17, 8 p.m. The Guild Theatre, 949 El Camino Real, Menlo Park. $48-$83. guildtheatre.com.
A Chanticleer Christmas The San Francisco men's chorus performs their annual holiday show at Stanford Live, featuring a new program every year.
Dec. 14, 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Church, Stanford. $50-$90. live.stanford.edu.
Charlie Brown Christmas Stanford Jazz Workshop's annual holiday tradition features the Glen Pearson Trio with jazz pianist Glen Pearson, bassist Ruth Davies and drummer Lorca Hart playing Vince Guaraldi's contemporary jazz score for the 1965 TV special "A Charlie Brown Christmas."
Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m., Dec. 16, 2 and 7:30 p.m., Dec. 17, 2 p.m. at Campbell Recital Hall, Stanford. $22-$49. stanfordjazz.org.
Masterworks Chorale The choir presents a weekend of performances. First, the chorale's "Carols, Cookies and Christmas" is a family holiday concert with songs, sing-alongs and a holiday story. The chorale's "A Ceremony of Carols" concert the following day includes Britten's Ceremony of Carols, Biebl's Ave Maria, a new commission by local composer Nick Carlozzi and sing-along carols.
Family concert Dec. 16, 4 p.m. Admission is pay-what-you-will (free, but donations are welcome). "Ceremony of Carols" Dec. 17, 4 p.m. $15-$30. Both concerts take place at Congregational Church of San Mateo, 225 Tilton Ave., San Mateo. masterworksbayarea.org.
Sun, Moon and Stars: A Heavenly Christmas San Francisco Choral Artists perform a program celebrating the Christmas story in the lights of the winter sky, with selections by Poulenc, Nixon, Guerrero, Brahms, Lassus, Hogan and Composer-in-Residence Eric Tuan, and Composer-Not-in-Residence Balázs Kecskés D.
Dec. 16, 8 p.m. at All Saints Episcopal Church, 555 Waverley St., Palo Alto. Tickets are $15-$35. sfca.org.
Woodside Village Band Winter Concert The band performs a wide-ranging program, with selections that include "The Best of Beethoven," "An Irving Berlin Christmas," "Greensleeves" and "March of the Toys."
Dec. 16, 3 p.m. at Woodside Village Church, 3154 Woodside Road, Woodside. Admission is free; donations welcome. windband.org/woodside.
PACO Holiday Extravaganza The Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra presents a holiday fundraising concert featuring all five of its youth orchestras with special guest artist Chad McCullough and his jazz trio, performing his arrangement of Vince Guaraldi's "A Charlie Brown Christmas."
Dec. 17, 3 p.m. at Smithwick Theatre, Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills. $25-$50. pacomusic.org.
Peace on Earth! Schola Cantorum choir rings in the holidays with a family concert featuring music and sing-alongs from many faiths and traditions..
Dec. 17, 4 p.m. at Los Altos United Methodist Church, 655 Magdalena Ave., Los Altos. $30. scholacantorum.org.
Schola Cantorum Messiah Sing The choir holds its 57th annual Messiah Sing, inviting audiences to sing the Christmas section of Handel's "Messiah" and other favorite movements from the work, with orchestra.
Dec. 18, 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Palo Alto, 1985 Louis Road, Palo Alto. $30. scholacantorum.org.
Oakland Interfaith Choir Director Terrance Kelly leads the multicultural, interfaith choir in their annual South Bay concert featuring Kelly's gospel arrangements of traditional holiday favorites.
Dec. 22, 7:30 p.m. at Mountain View Center for Performing Arts, 500 Castro St., Mountain View. $35-$50. tickets.mvcpa.com.
Elf The Musical Peninsula Youth Theatre presents a musical based on the favorite 2003 film "Elf." Through Nov. 19 at the Mountain View Center for Performing Arts, 500 Castro St., Mountain View. $25. pytnet.org.
The Wizard of Oz Palo Alto Players presents the family favorite musical about Dorothy's journey to the magical land of Oz.
Through Nov. 19 at the Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. $20-$60. paplayers.org.
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley stages a musical comedy about middle-school misfits vying to be top speller, and on a journey of self-discovery along the way.
Nov. 29-Dec. 24 at the Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. Tickets start at $27. theatreworks.org.
Elf The Musical
Los Altos Stage Company presents a musical adapted from the film "Elf," about a human raised as an elf in Santa's workshop and the holiday spirit he spreads when he visits New York to find his biological father.
Dec. 1- 23 at the Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave., Los Altos. $22-$45. losaltosstage.org.
The Christmas Ballet Smuin Contemporary Ballet presents its annual touring production bringing together classical ballet and contemporary pieces, set to a variety of holiday-themed music. The 2023 edition features world premieres by Smuin Associate Artistic Director Amy Seiwert and former Smuin artist Nicole Haskins.
Dec. 7-8, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 9, 2 and 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 10, 2 p.m. at Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St., Mountain View. $25-$109. smuinballet.org.
Peninsula Lively Arts The company formerly known as Peninsula Ballet Theatre presents four different "Nutcracker" productions: "Nutcracker Sweet," an abridged production for young audiences; "Hip-Hop Nutcracker," mixing the iconic story and Tchaikovsky's score with hip-hop dance; "Hip-Hop Nutcracker Sweet" abridged for young audiences, and a full-length production of "The Nutcracker."
Nutcracker Sweet Dec. 2-3, 12:30, 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. and Hip-Hop Nutcracker Sweet Dec. 9-10, 12:30, 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. at PLA's Studio One Theatre, 1880 S. Grant St. San Mateo. Nutcracker, Dec. 15, 7 p.m. and Dec. 16, 2 p.m. and Hip-Hop Nutcracker Dec. 16, 7 p.m. and Dec. 17, 2 p.m. at the Fox Theatre, 2215 Broadway, Redwood City. peninsulalivelyarts.org.
Pacific Ballet Academy Nutcracker Students of Pacific Ballet Academy perform in the company's 32nd annual production of the ballet. On Nov. 26, the company stages a shortened performance for young audiences, featuring just Act I, and a sensory- and autism-friendly performance of Act II.
Nov. 24, 6 p.m., Nov. 25, 1 and 6 p.m.; Nov. 26, Act I performance at noon; sensory- and autism-friendly performance at 2 p.m. at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St., Mountain View. Tickets are $25-$30 for full performances; $15 for either Nov. 26 performance. tickets.mvcpa.com.
The Velveteen Rabbit Palo Alto Children's Theatre presents a world premiere production of a play with music based on the classic story by Margery Williams, with book and lyrics by Adam Tobin and music composed by Deborah Wicks La Puma.
Nov. 30-Dec. 17 at Palo Alto Children's Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. $17. cityofpaloalto.org.
Western Ballet Nutcracker Western Ballet presents the traditional holiday ballet in a production that lasts 1 ½ hours.
Dec. 1, 7 p.m., Dec. 2, 1 and 7 p.m. and Dec. 3, 1 p.m. at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St., Mountain View. Tickets are $38-$43. westernballet.org.
Ballet America's Nutcracker Academy of American Ballet presents its annual production of the family-friendly ballet.
Dec. 2, 2 and 6:30 p.m. and Dec. 3, 1:30 and 4 p.m. at Cañada College Theater, 4200 Farm Hill Blvd., Redwood City. Tickets start at $20. americanballet.com.I
Dance Magic Nutcracker Dance Magic, a school for dancers ages 2 and up, presents its annual production.
Dec 9-10 at Cubberley Community Center Theatre, 4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. dancemagic.org.
Ramon Moreno Nutcracker Students of the Ramon Moreno School of Ballet perform a traditional production.
Dec. 9, 1:30 and 7 p.m., and Dec. 10, 1:30 p.m. at Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center, 555 Middlefield Road, Atherton. $35. ramonmorenoballet.com.
El Niño: Nativity Reconsidered Stanford Live presents the West Coast premiere of American Modern Opera Company’s (AMOC) production of contemporary composer John Adams’ El Niño: Nativity Reconsidered, a new look at the Christmas story that celebrates Latin American poets and the voices of women.
Dec. 13, 7:30 p.m. at Bing Concert Hall, Stanford. Tickets start at $55. live.stanford.edu.
Dance Connection Nutcracker and Hip-Hop Nutcracker The studio presents its 24th annual production, featuring young dancers ages 5-18. The studio will also stage "Hip-Hop Nutcracker," which puts a modern twist on the holiday ballet, with a cast of dancers ages 6 to adult.
Nutcracker Dec. 15, 7 p.m. and Dec. 16, 3 p.m.; Hip-Hop Nutcracker Dec. 16, 7 p.m. at Smithwick Theatre, Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills. $28-$45. danceconnectionpaloalto.com.
Snow Queen Bayer Ballet Company presents its annual production of a two-act ballet inspired by a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale about a girl who travels through magical lands to rescue her brother from the Snow Queen.
Dec. 16, 6:30 p.m., Dec. 17, 3 p.m. at Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St., Mountain View. Tickets are $38-$60. bayerballet.com.
Donuts for Hanukkah Michelle Greenebaum from Together In The Kitchen leads a hands-on cooking class for parents and kids to learn to bake Jewish holiday favorites.
Dec. 3, 4 p.m. at the Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. $40 per family. eventbrite.com.
The Maccabeats Celebrated a cappella group The Maccabeats perform a special concert for Hanukkah.
Dec. 3, 4 and 6:30 p.m. at Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. $20-$35. eventbrite.com.
Tot Chanukah Celebration The Jewish Baby Network and Congregation Beth Am host a community menorah candle lighting for young families, featuring snacks and crafts.
Dec. 3, 3:30 p.m. at Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills. Admission is free; $18 donation welcomed. betham.org.
Chanukah Festival Redwood City hosts a celebration and Menorah lighting with music and a kids' show, moon bounces, latkes and donuts and crafts. Local dignitaries will be on hand.
Dec. 10, 4:15-5:30 p.m. at Courthouse Square, 2200 Broadway St., Redwood City. redwoodcity.org.
A Hanukkah Miracle Musical Israeli children's entertainer Nati leads a musical journey through the Hanukkah story, with a colorful cast of characters from the narrative of the Maccabees. The musical combines holiday songs in both Hebrew and English.
Dec. 11, 5:30 p.m. at Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. $35. paloaltojcc.org.
Festivals, tree lightings and events
Après Village and Skate Rink The Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley at East Palo Alto hosts an alpine-themed synthetic skate rink, complete with chalets for groups. A new addition this year is a food truck serving up apres-ski-inspired treats.
Fridays-Sundays, 4-9 p.m. Nov. 17-Jan. 28 at Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley at East Palo Alto, 2050 University Ave., East Palo Alto. Skate sessions are $20-$30 for 45 minutes. fourseasons.com/siliconvalley.
Stanford Shopping Center "Merry and Bright" kicks off the season on Nov. 17, 5-7 p.m. with performances throughout the center by a ballerina, LED Hula Hoopers, Juggling Elves and carolers. Other holiday events include breakfast with Santa Dec. 2 and pet photos with Santa Dec. 10.The center also offers photos with Santa daily through Dec. 24.
Events offered through Dec. 24, times vary at Stanford Shopping Center, 660 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto. Santa photos are $19.99-$49.99. simon.com.
Winter Lodge The outdoor ice skating rink is open for public skating.
Open daily, times vary; through April 7 at Winter Lodge, 3009 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. Admission is $17 per person and skate rental is $5 per person. Public skating tickets must be purchased online in advance. winterlodge.com/public-skating.
Ernie's Trains John Bianco is continuing his late father's tradition of putting on a holiday model-train display. The engines and cars change daily.
Weather permitting, five tracks will run trains every evening (except Mondays) Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23, through Dec. 24, from 6:30-9 p.m. at 2387 Adele Ave., Mountain View.
BayLUG Holiday Show The Bay Area LEGO User Group and BayLTC, the Bay Area L-Gauge Train Club, feature their annual holiday display of miniature scenes and electric trains built from Lego bricks. This year's theme is inspired by the historic trains at Roaring Camp in Felton.
Open Saturdays-Sundays, 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Dec. 2-Jan. 7 at the Museum of American Heritage, 351 Homer Ave., Palo Alto. $4 per person (cash only). baylug.org.
IlluminOdyssey CuriOdyssey hosts a winter light display inspired by the science of light, with interactive exhibits and kid-friendly glowing art.
Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (early closure at 1 p.m. on Dec. 10 for Sensory Sunday; closed Nov. 23, Dec. 24-25 and Jan. 1) through Jan. 24 at CuriOdyssey, 1651 Coyote Point Drive, San Mateo. Free with museum admission of $15.95-$19.95 (plus $6 park entrance fee). curiodyssey.org.
Holidays at Filoli The Filoli estate's gardens and historic mansion are decorated for the holidays, with more than 25 miles' worth of lights strung throughout the gardens. Activities include Santa Days (with early hours for families with sensory sensitivities); private fire pit rentals with warm drinks and wine on the terrace; holiday tea in the Garden House, behind-the-scenes house tours, wreath-making workshops and a New Year's Day "hair of the dog" hike.
Open daily, 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Nov. 18-Jan. 7 (closed Nov. 23 and Dec. 24-25) at Filoli, 86 Cañada Road, Woodside. Reservations are required; ticket prices vary. Fire pit rentals are $750 for up to eight guests, plus $75 for each additional guest up to a maximum of 16. filoli.org.
Stanford Theatre The vintage movie palace launches its holiday programming on Thanksgiving Day, bringing double features of holiday classics and other favorites to the screen throughout the season, with films such as "White Christmas," "The Bishop's Wife," "The Shop Around the Corner," "Miracle on 34th Street" and "The Wizard of Oz." The schedule wraps up with the return of a Peninsula holiday tradition: a Dec. 24 screening of "It's a Wonderful Life," back for the first time since the pandemic. The theater has added a 4 p.m. showing along with its usual 9 p.m. showtime for the film.
Double features showing Thursdays-Sundays, screening times vary, Nov. 23-Dec. 23; two screenings of "It's a Wonderful Life" on Dec. 24, 4 and 9 p.m. at the Stanford Theatre, 221 University Ave., Palo Alto. $5-$7. Advance ticket sales for "It's a Wonderful Life" start on Dec. 9. stanfordtheatre.org.
Gamble Garden Winter Festival The historic estate and garden will be decorated throughout the holiday season, starting on Nov. 30. The three-day festival includes a grand opening party Nov. 30, a tree-lighting ceremony, carolers, holiday teas, music and a festive marketplace with more than 20 vendors in the Gamble house and outdoors.
Nov. 30-Dec. 2 at 1431 Waverley St., Palo Alto. Ticket prices vary by event. gamblegarden.org.
Los Altos holiday events Downtown Los Altos' annual Festival of Lights Parade features floats, marching bands and more. Downtown Los Altos will also hold a tree-lighting celebration Dec. 1, 6-8 p.m. losaltosparade.org.
Parade takes place Nov. 26, 6 p.m. in downtown Los Altos. downtownlosaltos.org.
City of Menlo Park Light Up the Season Menlo Park holds its annual tree lighting event, with a winter wonderland theme, featuring family-friendly entertainment, performances by Menlo Park youth and free hot cocoa. Rain or shine.
Dec. 1, 5:30-7 p.m. at Fremont Park, University Drive at Santa Cruz Avenue, Menlo Park. Free admission. menlopark.gov.
City of Palo Alto Tree Lighting Enjoy live music and carols, bell ringers and winter treats at this holiday season kickoff.
Dec. 1, 5:30-7 p.m. at Lytton Plaza, University Avenue and Emerson Street, Palo Alto. Also offered virtually. cityofpaloalto.org.
Hometown Holidays Redwood City Downtown Business Group's 17th annual event includes photos with Santa, carnival rides, food and drink, entertainment, local vendors and community groups, with a parade as the big finale. Rain or shine.
Dec. 2, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at Courthouse Square, Redwood City. redwoodcitydowntown.com.
Redwood City Tamalada Chef Steve Cortez of S&C Culinary leads a tamalada, a social gathering to make tamales ahead of the holidays. Cortez will also discuss different tamale traditions in Latin America and beyond and share techniques.
Dec 2, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Highlands Community Club at 1665 Fernside St., Redwood City. $69 per person. eventbrite.com.
Springline Holiday Extravaganza An event with live music from The School of Rock and The Freshmakers, food, festive cocktails and hot chocolate, a snow playground with real snow, outdoor screening of "Elf" and fresh wreaths and garlands for sale, to raise funds for at-risk youth.
Dec. 2, 4-9 p.m. at Springline Menlo Park,1300 El Camino Real, Menlo Park. Free; registration requested. springline.com.
Tree Treasures San Mateo County History Museum hosts a day of crafts activities exploring the decorations of a Victorian Christmas tree. Kids can make "gingerbread" ornaments, cornucopias and more.
Dec. 2, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at San Mateo County History Museum, 2200 Broadway, Redwood City. Free admission. historysmc.org.
West Bay Model Railroad Holiday Train Show Visitors can look at displays of model trains of various types. Club members will be on hand to answer questions.
Dec. 2, 1-4 p.m. and Dec. 3 from 1 until about 7:30 p.m. at south side of Menlo Park Caltrain station, 1090 Merrill St., Menlo Park. firstname.lastname@example.org.
City of Mountain View Tree Lighting The city of Mountain View celebrates the winter season with an event featuring performances by local groups, tributes to multicultural traditions, a train ride, games and crafts, the lighting of the community tree, an appearance from Santa and refreshments. Bring a new, unwrapped toy or canned food to donate to Cops that Care and CSA.
Dec. 4, 5:30-8 p.m. at Civic Center Plaza, 500 Castro St., Mountain View. mountainview.gov.
Atherton Holiday Fair The town of Atherton hosts an annual holiday celebration and tree lighting in partnership with the Atherton Library and Friends of the Library. The event includes a visit with Santa, children's activities and hot cocoa.
Dec. 7, 3-5 p.m. at Atherton Town Center, 80 Fair Oaks Lane, 80 Fair Oaks Lane, Atherton. ci.atherton.ca.us.
Wreath Workshop The Graduate hosts a holiday wreath workshop with Sève where participants can choose from a selection of fresh and dried botanical materials and festive decorations. Tools and instructions provided. Each participant can take home their own 18” wreath.'
Dec. 9. 10 a.m. at The Graduate Hotel, 488 University Ave., Palo Alto. $155 per person. graduatehotels.com.
Christmas Tree Lane For 82 years, Fulton Street (off Embarcadero Road) in Palo Alto has transformed into "Christmas Tree Lane," full of lights and decorations. Visitors can drive on the street and stroll along the sidewalk to view the displays.
Dec. 16-31, 5-11 p.m.. on the 1700 and 1800 blocks of Fulton Street, Palo Alto. christmastreelane.org.
Los Altos Family Fun Day Los Altos Parks & Recreation Department and the Los Altos Library host a day full of games, crafts and movies. The theme for the event is Winter Wonderland.
Dec. 16, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Los Altos Community Center, 97 Hillview Ave., Los Altos. Free. losaltosca.gov.
Photos with Santa The city of Menlo Park hosts a morning of holiday cheer with crafts, light breakfast snacks and photos with Santa. Bring your camera to get a photo with St. Nick.
Dec. 16, 8:30 a.m. at Arrillaga Family Recreation Center, 700 Alma St., Menlo Park. $5 per person; reservations required. menlopark.gov.
Holiday Markets and galleries
Art on the Square Holiday Show Visitors can shop for gifts and stocking stuffers made by nearly 30 local artists working in a variety of media, including jewelry, textile art, glass, handmade clothing, accessories, ceramics, paintings and prints.
Nov. 18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at San Mateo County History Museum, 2200 Broadway, Redwood City. Admission is free. artonthesquarerwc.com.
Peace & Social Justice Harvest Fair Peninsula Peace & Justice Center and First Presbyterian Church host an event featuring local activist groups offering unique gifts and providing information on their work.
Nov. 19, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 1140 Cowper St., Palo Alto. peaceandjustice.org.
Gallery House "Ambience," a show and sale of jewelry, paintings, ceramics, cards and other works in a variety of media by 30 local contemporary artists. The gallery holds a holiday reception Dec. 8, 5-7 p.m.
Through Jan. 7, Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., at 320 S. California Ave., Palo Alto. galleryhouse.art.
The Main Gallery "Wonderland," featuring works in a variety of media by the gallery's 15 member artists. The gallery is donating 20% of sales from this show to the American Cancer Society Discovery Shop in Menlo Park. A reception takes place Dec. 10, 4-6 p.m.
Through Dec. 23, Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. at 883 Santa Cruz Ave., Suite 1, Menlo Park. themaingallery.org.
Gallery 9 All member artists of Gallery 9 show work in a variety of media: painting, photography, drawing, ceramics, glass art and a wide selection of cards. During this month, Gallery 9 will donate a part of all proceeds from sales to the Los Altos Art Docents. An opening reception takes place Dec. 1, 5-8 p.m..
Tuesdays-Sundays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Nov. 28-Jan. 2 at Gallery 9, 143 Main St, Los Altos. gallery9losaltos.com.
Christmas at Our House St. Francis High School hosts a gift boutique with artisans selling gourmet foods, vintage and specialty gift items and holiday decor. Also featuring a student art showcase, live entertainment, holiday teas, a new advent experience and a special happy hour evening of shopping at the boutique. The event benefits the Saint Francis Fund.
Dec. 1, 1:30-5 p.m. (happy hour 5-8 p.m.) and Dec. 2, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. at Burns Pavilion, St. Francis High School, 1885 Miramonte Ave., Mountain View. sfhs.com.
Allied Arts Christmas Market Shops and vendors at the guild offer gifts and holiday decor. The event also includes an auction of mini Christmas trees.
Dec. 2, at Allied Arts Guild, 75 Arbor Road, Menlo Park. Admission is free. alliedartsguild.org.
Art Center Studio Holiday Sale The Palo Alto Art Center holds its annual sale featuring jewelry, functional and fine art ceramics, paintings, prints and other artwork created by artists working in the Art Center's studios. The sale raises funds to benefit the artists, studios, and the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation.
Dec. 2, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Palo Alto Art Center, 1313 Newell Road, Palo Alto. (Foundation members-only presale held Dec. 2, 9-11 a.m.). cityofpaloalto.org.
Artifactory Holiday Fair Shop for unique hand-crafted gifts, including the latest hat designs by Louise Garbarino, jewelry, ceramics, glass, art and more.
Dec. 8-10, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at Hoover House, 1120 Hopkins , Palo Alto. Artifactoryholidayfair.com.
Paly Winter Ceramics and Glass Sale Paly Fiery Arts holds a sale of bowls, plates, classic glass ornaments, snow people, pumpkins, candy canes and new student work in glass and ceramics. With demonstrations and hot chocolate.
Dec. 8, 4-9 p.m. and Dec. 9, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Palo Alto High School, 50 Embarcadero Road, Palo Alto. sites.google.com.
Ukrainian Christmas Festival and Market Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, Branch 107 hosts an event featuring Ukrainian Christmas foods, crafting workshops, goods from Ukrainian artisans and vendors, a wintry-themed photo booth and live music and dance performances.
Dec. 9, 11 a.m.- 5 p.m. at Woodside Village Hub, 3154 Woodside Road, Woodside. Admission is free; food and workshops are for purchase and can be pre-ordered. branch107.unwla.us/.
German Holiday Market The German International School of Silicon Valley hosts its annual holiday marketplace, with traditional seasonal German treats and chocolate, wooden ornaments, nutcrackers and other holiday items, plus food and music. This year, the market returns to its original location at Mountain View Civic Center. Proceeds benefit the school.
Dec. 9, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. at Mountain View Civic Center Plaza, 500 Castro St., Mountain View. Free admission. germanholidaymarket.org.