Christmas and Holiday Activities Guide for Reno and Sparks

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

From performances of "The Nutcracker" ballet to a drunken Santa Pub Crawl in Reno, Northern Nevada is full of holiday adventures for you and your family to enjoy during the holiday season. 

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The Reno Santa Pub Crawl

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 wear some variety of Santa suit to participate.

The Crawl is an adult drinking event, and there will be big bouncers checking IDs, so be sure to have it handy. The Reno Santa Crawl is also a local charity fundraiser, and this year, proceeds go to DonorsChoose.org in support of local schools.

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Spirit of the Season by the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra

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 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.

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Various Performances of "The Nutcracker" in Reno

Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts
JERRYE AND ROY KLOTZ, JR/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0

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. The 2018 show marked the 24th annual performance.

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 "Mozart’s Requiem" concert.

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The Mousehole Family Christmas Extravaganza

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 12 Days of Christmas like you've never seen it before in the Brüka Theatre's production of "The Mousehole Family Christmas Extravaganza," a parody adventure where "family gifting is questioned on a whole new level through the ghosts of Christmas Presents and Consciousness."

There are many performances to choose from throughout the month of December via the official website

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Christmas Events at the May Museum in Washoe County

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. Guests can sip hot cocoa, nibble cookies, and enjoy the festive decorations on display at the May Museum. Admission is free. 

The May Museum also welcomes guests to bring in the season Steampunk style with the Yule Steam Expo. The weekend event hosts workshops and panels, plus live entertainment in the evening. 

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Reno Pops Holiday Concert

Join the Reno Pops Orchestra for its free concert, "A Charles Dickens Christmas" at the South Reno Baptist Church. Guests can expect to hear some music from the Leslie Bricusse musical “Scrooge,” mixed with a symphony of great classics like The March of the Toys, Winter Wonderland, A Christmas Festival, and Carol of the Bells. The event features soloists Jennifer Hildebrand, Aldo Perelli, and the South Reno Baptist Choir. 

Kids are welcome, there is a sing-a-long portion of the performance, and a visit from Santa. Admission is free. 

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Holiday Events at the Washoe County Library

South Valleys Library in Reno, Nevada, NV
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 2018, the library offered a screening of "The Polar Express," multiple chances to hear a retelling of the classic Dr. Seuss tale "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," and a special screening of "The Santa Clause."

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Sparks Hometowne Christmas Celebration

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. The parade, nominated for USA Today’s '10Best Travel" award, is known for its cheeky take on the season. 

In prior years, attendees have witnessed Santa on a jet ski, snowmen eating ribs, and elves driving a sweet ’65 Mustang. A highlight was 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.

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