Christmas and Holiday Activities Guide for Reno and Sparks

Family Events for Christmas and the Holiday Season in Reno and Sparks, Nevada.

Sparks Hometowne Christmas Parade.
••• Sparks Hometowne Christmas Parade. Photo © Stan White

Christmas and holiday activities, events, and shows in Reno include philharmonic concerts, Christmas tree lights, Christmas celebrations, holiday festivals, special shopping, singing, and ballets. You don't need a lot of money to enjoy family fun during the holidays - there are many free holiday activities around the Reno / Tahoe area.

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.

Spirit of the Season - Reno Philharmonic Orchestra - December 6 and 7, 2014. A classic celebration. A timeless tradition. A treat for eyes and ears. The Reno Philharmonic welcomes special guests, the Reno Philharmonic Chorus, the Sierra Nevada Children's Choir, dancers, performers, Santa Tappers, and Santa Claus himself. Performances on December 6 are at 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 8 p.m., and 10 p.m. On December 7, performances are at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.. Spirit of the Season traditionally sells out quickly, so please purchase your tickets early.

Prices $14 to $69. Tickets are available online and at the Reno Philharmonic Box Office, 925 Riverside Drive Ste. 3 in Reno. Call (775) 323-6393.

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.

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).

A Christmas Carol: The Musical - December 2 - 7, 2014. This musical will be performed at the University of Nevada, Reno, in the Redfield Proscenium Theatre at the Church Fine Arts Building. Performances will be December 2 through 6, 2014 at 7:30 p.m., and December 7 at 1:30 p.m. The theatre is located on the UNR campus at 1664 N. Virginia Street in Reno. Tickets can be purchased online. For more information, call (775) 784-4ART.

Reno Pops Holiday Concert - December 12, 2014. Join the Reno Pops Orchestra for its "Joy to the World" free holiday concert. 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.

The Nutcracker at the Pioneer Center - December 12, 13, 14, 2014. The stage at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts will be alive with a sugar plum fairy and dancing mice as A.V.A. Ballet Theatre presents its 19th annual Nutcracker Ballet featuring the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra. Performances will be December 12 at 8 p.m., December 13 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday December 14 at 2 p.m. at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Reno.

Adult tickets are from $25 to $55, with discounts for children and seniors. For more information, call A.V.A. Ballet Theatre at (775) 762-5165 or the Pioneer Center at (775) 686-6600. Pioneer Center box office hours are Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are also available online.

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.

The Nutcracker by Bay Pointe Ballet - December 6 and 7, 2014. Bay Pointe Ballet is a Bay Area ballet company under the direction of Bruce Steivel, former Artistic Director of the Nevada Ballet Theatre of Las Vegas. This adaptation of The Nutcracker is pleasing to adults and children alike. Bay Pointe Ballet travels with more than 30 of the best San Francisco Bay Area dancers. Performances will be in the Grand Theatre at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno. There will be two shows - 7 p.m. on December 6 and 2 p.m. on December 7. Tickets range from $29 to $59 and can be purchased online or by calling (800) 648-3568.

Reno Santa Pub Crawl - December 13, 2014. A variety of Santas, Mrs. Santas, elves, and other holiday beings will take to the streets of downtown Reno for the 2014 edition of the Reno Santa Pub Crawl. This roving party starts at one of several bars and involves dozens of watering holes scattered around the neighborhood. Things get started at 7:30 p.m. - get a crawl map at one of seven official start bars and start drinking at any or all of the participating bars. Participation in the Reno Santa Pub Crawl is free, but you'll have to pay for your drinks. You must be 21 and wearing some variety of Santa suit to participate. This is an adult drinking event and there will be big bouncers checking IDs, so be sure to have yours handy. And don't even think about driving, or letting anyone else in your group get behind the wheel. The Reno Santa Crawl is actually a local charity fundraiser. This year, proceeds go to DonorsChoose.org, in support of local schools.

Brüka Theatre presents Ham for the Holidays - Ham is a hilarious Christmas farce set in the fictional town of Hamlin, Georgia, on Christmas Eve 1939. Local radio station WHAM (pronounced W-HAM) has a special performance planned for Christmas. WHAM has gathered it's radio actors together and, with the Orson Welles on his way to the station to join the cast for the performance, there is great excitement. Unfortunately, Georgia has been hit with a freak snowstorm and neither Orson Welles, nor the script for the performance, arrive. Performances start at 8 p.m. on December 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, and 20, 2014. The December 10 performance is Artist Night with $10 tickets for artists and teachers. There will be Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. on December 14 and 21.

Reservations are available through the Bruka Theatre box office at (775) 323-3221. Individual tickets are $20 for general $18 for students, seniors and military. All tickets are $25 at the door. Reservations are also available at the Melting Pot World Emporium at 1047 S. Virginia Street in Reno. Bruka validates parking at the Parking Gallery on First and Sierra Streets. Tickets available online from Brown Paper Tickets. Bruka Theatre is located at 99 N. Virginia Street in downtown Reno.

Keep going for more Christmas and Holiday Activities.

Holiday Events, Concerts, and Shows (cont.)

Sundance Winter Craft Show - December 13, 2014. The Winter Craft Show will feature a unique collection of creative and local works of art by potter Kristi Jamason, and woodworkers Rex Wells and Yacob Coleman, jewelry designer Lyndsey Langsdale, and blown glass art from Burnt Knuckle Glass studio. Shop local at Sundance Books and Music. This event is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundance Books Books and Music is at 121 California Avenue in Reno.

For more information, call (775) 786-1188.

Jazz for the Holidays - December 20, 2014. This holiday show will feature the Reno Jazz Orchestra, dance artists, vocalist Madeline Eastman, the Reno Youth Jazz Orchestra, and more. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and will be in the Nightingale Concert Hall, Church Fine Arts Building, on the UNR campus. Tickets are $25 general admission, $10 for students. Get advance tickets online. For more information, call (775) 233-9231.

Handel's Messiah performed by TOCCATA - Tahoe Symphony Orchestra & Chorus - December 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 2014. Tickets for all performances are $30 adults, $25 seniors, and $5 for students 19 to 23 with valid ID, free for youth under 19. Preferred/reserved seating is available for $40. For more information, call (775) 313-9697. Buy tickets online from the TOCCATA website.

  • Friday, December 12, 7 p.m. - First Methodist Church, Reno
  • Sunday, December 14, 3 p.m. - Cornerstone Church, Incline Village
  • Wednesday, December 17, 7 p.m. - St. Gall Church, Gardnerville
  • Friday, December 19, 7 p.m. - Grace Church, Reno
  • Sunday, December 21, 3 p.m. - St. Theresa Church, South Lake Tahoe

"Star Spangled" Holiday Music at The Resort at Squaw Creek - December 13 and 14, 2014.

The Truckee Tahoe Community Chorus concert at the Resort at Squaw Creek (Squaw Valley, USA) has become a tradition in the Truckee, North Tahoe region, ushering in the holiday season with a variety of holiday music, an audience sing along, and joyous classic literature. The December 13 show is at 7 p.m., December 14 is at 2 p.m. General admission tickets are $15. Tickets are available online through links on the Truckee Tahoe Community Chorus website.

Santa Trains at the Nevada State Railroad Museum & Virginia City - Refer to my "Santa Train Rides for Christmas and the Holidays" for information about these fun excursions.

Polar Express™ on the V&T Railroad - Some dates for The Polar Express™ are already sold out. If you want to take this ride to the North Pole, get your tickets soon. Service to visit Santa runs through December 22, 2014.

Lights of Tanea - The Biggest Little Christmas Light Show in Reno - November 28 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. On Christmas Eve and Christmas, the show goes until midnight. This is a very popular event - please read and follow the rules so everyone has a good time.

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.