Free Christmas and Holiday Activities Around Reno and Sparks

Free Reno Area Family Events for Christmas and the Holiday Season

Free Christmas activities around Reno, Nevada.
••• Free Christmas activities around Reno, Nevada. Photo © Stan White

Free Christmas and holiday activities, events, and shows in Reno include Christmas parades, concerts of holiday music, museums, holiday lights, Christmas fun at the library, and more.

Free Christmas & Holiday Events, Concerts, and Shows

Sparks Hometowne Christmas Celebration - December 5 and 6, 2014. The annual Sparks Hometowne Christmas Parade, beginning on Saturday at 1 p.m., will travel east to west along Victorian Avenue.

Parade goers can expect Santa on a jetksi, snowmen eating ribs, and elves driving a sweet ’65 Mustang. The Sparks Hometowne Christmas Tree Lighting will be on Friday, December 5 at 6:30 p.m. The location is the big plaza in Victorian Square. Enjoy caroling and other entertainment.

Holiday Fun at the Washoe County Library - Various dates in December. Check my article and the Washoe County Library website for dates and locations of holiday events and activities like Christmas story times, visits from Santa, free holiday movies, and more. For more information, call (775) 327-8300.

Arte ala Carte: A Holiday Exhibit - Sierra Watercolor Society Winter Art Show and Sale at the May Museum - through December 13, 2014. This free exhibit is a Nevada sesquicentennial signature event, with artists displaying original watercolors depicting Nevada's heritage. Show is open during normal museum hours (Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

The May Museum is located in Reno's Rancho San Rafael Regional Park.

Tuba Christmas Concert at the May Museum - December 6, 2014. Come to the Wilbur D. May Museum for the annual Tuba Christmas Concert at 3 p.m. This free family-friendly event features holiday carols arranged in four-part harmony and performed by local tuba, baritone, and euphonium players.

Sip hot cocoa and cider and nibble cookies. The May Museum will have festive decorations on display and offer free admission all day long. Come back the following weekend for the Holiday Gingerbread Festival at the Museum (see below).

hands/ON! on 2nd Saturdays - December 13, 2014. This free monthly event at the Nevada Museum of Art features art activities for families, plus free admission to all museum exhibits for everyone. The theme for December is "E.L. Cord Museum School Open House." For more information and to see what else is going on at our outstanding art museum, refer to "Events at the Nevada Museum of Art."

Holiday Gingerbread Festival at the Wilbur D. May Center - December 13, 2014. Join the family fun and enter the Holiday Gingerbread House Contest at the May Center in Rancho San Rafael Regional Park. Ribbons and prizes will be awarded in four categories. The event also features live holiday musical performances, arts and crafts, and free admission to the May Museum. Proceeds from the contest go to benefit the Wilbur D. May Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Get entry forms online or at these locations: May Arboretum Office and Wilbur D. May Museum, both at 1595 N. Sierra Street in Rancho San Rafael Park.

The entry fee is $10 and forms are due by December 10. Gingerbread houses must be delivered to the Wilbur D. May Museum between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Saturday, December 13. In addition to formal judging, those in attendance can vote for a "People's Choice" award. Winners will be announced at 2 p.m. The festival runs from 12 noon to 3 p.m. For more information, call (775) 785-5961.

"Home 4 the Holidays" Adoption Drive - through January 4, 2015. Nevada Humane Society is trying to find homes for 1,000 dogs and cats during the Home 4 the Holidays Pet Adoption Drive. The holidays are all about family and friends. If you love animals, this includes the four-legged family members. Now, through January 4, adult dogs may be adopted for only $25, adult cats under 3 years old for $15, and cats over 3 are free.

Together we can make sure that all homeless pets in our community are truly Home for the Holidays! Come meet your new family member at the Nevada Humane Society, 2825 Longley Lane, Reno. More information, call (775) 856-2000.

You can join the fun by attending these holiday events at the Nevada Humane Society…

  • December 20 – Cupcake Day and Santa Paws (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  • Through January 4 – Lights of Love (honor your pets with a $20 donation)

Lights of Tanea - The Biggest Little Christmas Light Show in Reno - November 29 through December 31, 2014. The south Reno neighborhood centered on 16180 Tanea Drive hosts a big holiday light show complete with synchronized music. Lights of Tanea collects non-perishable food items for Evelyn Mount's Outreach Program, and cash donations and reusable clothing for Friends of Multiple Sclerosis. The lights are on and the music plays Sundays through Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. This is a very popular event - please read and follow the rules so everyone has a good time.

Art Angels Workshop by Sierra Watercolor Society - December 13, 2014, 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Kids can make their own holiday gift of a watercolor painting. This free watercolor workshop has limited enrollment and includes all supplies and small-group instruction. Reservations are required - call (775) 785-5961 to register.

Galena Creek Visitor Center - Twisted Christmas Tree - Book Signing - December 4, 2014, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. This is an inspirational children's book for all ages, about a tree named Charlie whose appearance was changed after a huge windstorm. This book helps to teach that it's OK to be different. It was inspired by a couple who actually chooses the odd-looking trees to bless their home during Christmas. While attending the event, you can do some last minute shopping in the Galena Creek Store. Winter hours are Friday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call (775) 674-5499.

"Joy to the World" Reno Pops Community Christmas Concert - December 12, 2014. Welcome the season with holiday classics and family favorites such as "White Christmas," "Silent Night," Beethoven's "Ode to Joy," the "Hanukkah Festival Overture," familiar tunes by Carmen Dragon, and classics by Leroy Anderson. Listen to the sounds of the Tintabulations hand bell choir, the Kindred Spirits Ladies Septet, and other soloists. The evening concludes with a popular sing-along for the entire family. The Concert starts at 7:30 p.m. and will be at The Rock Church, 4950 Vista Boulevard in Sparks. Admission is free, donations welcome. For more information, call (775)673-1234.

Free Christmas Events in Virginia City, Carson City, Lake Tahoe

Silver and Snowflakes Festival of Lights in Carson City - December 5, 2014. The event is Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The night's festivities begin on the steps of the Capitol with the state tree, a bristlecone pine, being lit, as well as lights along Carson Street. Join the procession with Santa, Mrs. Claus, the voices of the Carson City 5th Grade Music Students Singing Ensemble, and the Carson High School Chamber Choir. Highlights include special priced ice skating at the Arlington Square Ice Rink (free for kids under 12), Santa's arrival on a 1927 Seagrave fire engine, and a procession to the lighting of the Carson City Christmas tree. Food and drink will be available from the Carson City Elks, Downtown Business Association, and Empty Bowls Project. For more information, call (775) 882-1565.

Christmas on the Comstock - December 6, 2014. Christmas on the Comstock is a series of events (mostly family friendly) held during the holiday season in Virginia City. The signature event is the Christmas Parade of Lights at 5 p.m. Other highlights include visits from Father Christmas, a craft fair, strolling carolers, and Christmas trains on the Virginia & Truckee Railroad. You can take your chances about getting aboard or buy advance tickets online. For more information, call (775) 847-4386.

Festival of Trees & Lights - December 3 - 7, 2014. This family-friendly festival offers something for everyone - designer decorated trees, school trees, wreaths, a full gift shop, a kids area, a Polar Express experience, and a community stage with local entertainers performing. You'll also enjoy a visit with Santa Claus. The festival will be at Harrah's Lake Tahoe Convention Center in South Lake Tahoe / Stateline. There are several ticket options, which can be purchased online. Proceeds benefit the Barton Community Clinic. For more information, call (530) 543-5614.