Christmas and Holiday Activities Guide for Reno and Sparks

Experience a Reno Christmas With This Holiday Guide

Sparks Hometowne Christmas Celebration
••• Visit Reno Tahoe

Christmas and holiday activities, events, and shows in Reno include Philharmonic concerts, Christmas tree lights, celebrations, holiday festivals, special shopping, singing, and even a few ballets, and you don't need to spend lot of money to enjoy family fun during the season as there are many free holiday activities around the Reno and Tahoe areas.

From various performances of "The Nutcracker" ballet (including a parody all about Reno's history) to a drunken Santa Pub Crawl in Reno, Northern Nevada is full of holiday adventures for you and your family to enjoy on your Christmas vacation.

Explore the following list, book your tickets to shows and attractions, and head out on your Nevada adventure this holiday season—you're sure to find something everyone will love in this great Southwestern state.

  • 01 of 09
    The Reno Santa Pub Crawl
    ••• Geoff Rosenborough/Visit Reno Tahoe

    Each year in early December, a variety of Santas, Mrs. Clauses, elves, and other holiday beings will take to the streets of downtown Reno for the Reno Santa Pub Crawl. This roving party starts at one of several bars and involves dozens of watering holes scattered around the neighborhood.

    Guests can acquire a crawl map at one of seven official start bars and continue 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, and, of course, 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, and this year, proceeds go to DonorsChoose.org in support of local schools.

  • 02 of 09

    Also in early December, the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra invites guests to celebrate in a timeless tradition featuring special guests like Santa Tappers and Santa Claus himself.

    Spirit of the Season traditionally sells out quickly, so please purchase your tickets early, which are available online and at the Reno Philharmonic Box Office at 925 Riverside Drive Suite 3 in Reno, beginning in September.

  • 03 of 09
    Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts
    ••• Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts. JERRYE AND ROY KLOTZ, JR/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0

    In early December, the stage at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts is alive with a sugar plum fairy and dancing mice as A.V.A. Ballet Theatre presents its Nutcracker Ballet featuring the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra. 2017 marked the 23rd annual performance series.

    For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the official Pioneer Center website where you can also check out some other great performances coming to the stage like the "Spirit of the Season" concert.

    You can also check out the Bay Pointe Ballet's performance of "The Nutcracker" as this Bay Area dance troupe makes its way across the western United States each Christmas season to perform this holiday classic. It is worth catching if you happen to be in town.

  • 04 of 09

    The Brüka Theatre in Reno is known for its innovative theatrical performances as well as its run of contemporary, classic, and children's shows throughout the year, but the holiday season is all about laughter.

    Witness "The Nutcracker" like you've never seen it before in the Brüka Theatre's production of "Buttcracker 8: The BIGGEST little Buttcracker In The World," a hysterical parody adventure that takes the main character Clara on a journey through a twisted version of Reno's history.

    There are many performances to choose from throughout the month of December, so be sure to check the official website to book a reservation on your preferred date.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09
    Wilbur D. May Center
    ••• Washoe County

    Come to the Wilbur D. May Museum for the annual Tuba Christmas Concert. This free family-friendly event features holiday carols arranged in four-part harmony and performed by local tuba, baritone, and euphonium players. Here, guests can sip hot cocoa, nibble cookies, and enjoy the festive decorations on display at the May Museum all day long free of charge, free admission all day long.

    The May Museum also welcomes guests for the annual Holiday Gingerbread Festival. Join the family fun and enter the Holiday Gingerbread House Contest at the May Center in Rancho San Rafael Regional Park where ribbons and prizes are awarded in four categories. The event also features live holiday musical performances, arts and crafts, and free admission to the May Museum.

  • 06 of 09

    Join the Reno Pops Orchestra for its "Festive Holidays" free concert at the South Reno Baptist Church where guests can expect to hear some Christmas classics mixed with a symphony of great classics like Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" and the "Hanukkah Festival Overture."

    Listen to the sounds of the Tintabulations handbell choir, the Kindred Spirits Ladies Septet, and other soloists, and conclude the evening with a popular sing-along that's fun for the whole family. With multiple performances and no admission price charged for either, this makes for a great evening spent with family if you're visiting South Reno for the holiday season.

  • 07 of 09
    South Valleys Library in Reno, Nevada, NV
    ••• South Valleys Library in Reno, Nevada. Standley White

    On various dates throughout the month of December, the Washoe County Library hosts a series of Christmas (and non-holiday) events to get both children and adults alike in the holiday spirit. Featuring movie nights, potlucks, visits from Santa, Christmas storytimes, and gingerbread craft nights, the Washoe County Library is a one-stop destination for Christmas cheer this holiday season.

    In 2017, the library offered its special 20th anniversary Harry Potter celebration "A Harry Potter Christmas," three chances to hear a retelling of the classic Dr. Seuss tale "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," and a special screening of "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation."

  • 08 of 09

    In mid-December, the Nightingale Concert Hall welcomes the Reno Wind Symphony to the stage to perform "A Holiday Celebration," a collection of holiday classics performed by this ensemble of community-based professional-level of wind instrument players.

    The event is free of charge, but tickets must be picked up in advance from either MFG-MacLean Financial Group or Heritage Bank of Nevada. Check the official Reno Wind Symphony website for tickets and more information on other performances of this fantastic local ensemble.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09
    Sparks Hometowne Christmas Celebration
    ••• Visit Reno Tahoe

    The annual Sparks Hometowne Christmas Celebration begins on the first of December with the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and continues with the Sparks Hometowne Christmas Parade, which will travel east to west along Victorian Avenue.

    in 2017, parade-goers experienced Santa on a jet ski, snowmen eating ribs, and elves driving a sweet ’65 Mustang as well as a spirited retelling of the "12 Days of Arizona Christmas" featuring 12 battle born flags flying, 11 Fremont cannons blasting, 10 of snow a-falling, nine neon lights a-lighting, eight trains a-railing, seven lakes a-swimming, six zephyrs blowing, five golden nuggets, four calling bluebirds, three Picon punches, two tumbleweeds, and a Chukar in a Pinyon Pine tree.