December Events

It’s that time of the year for holiday cheer and to indulge in all your favorite traditions: the Nutcracker, Sausalito’s lighted boat parade, Christmas music shows, garden ice rinks and oodles of holiday craft fairs. Here’s the scoop on all that—and more:

Smuin Christmas Ballet 2019
Photo courtesy of the Smuin Ballet

Dec 7 Novato Tree Lighting

Christmas tree lighting Novato
Photo courtesy of Downtown Novato Business Association.

Every year, the city of Novato lights up a holiday tree to light the downtown. Celebrate the occasion with performances, artisan vendors, children’s activities and Santa Claus!

Dec 14 Not So Silent Night

Downtown Novato keeps up the holiday cheer with an evening of shopping and live music. Shops will stay open late for holiday shopping (shop local!), and downtown’s many restaurants, bars and taprooms will keep the good times rolling. The evening begins at 4 p.m. and runs through 9 p.m.

Dec 31 Bouncy Ball Drop

Bouncy ball noon ball drop New Year's event Novato in Marin
Photo courtesy of Downtown Novato Business Association.

Usher in the new year while wearing a hard hat! At noon in Downtown Novato, a crane will drop 25,000 bouncy balls for 2025 for this free event. Kids can keep as many bouncy balls as they can fit in their pockets, and they can walk away with souvenir hard hats, too.

Nov 1–Dec 30 The Lights at Northgate Mall

Video by Mimi Towle

Get transported to a holiday wonderland in the middle of San Rafael’s Northgate Mall. With seven themed rooms and an estimated 130,000 twinkling lights, The Lights is an indoor experience perfect for kids of all ages. You can also find a skating rink, arcade, bounce houses and a movie theater at Northgate, so make a day of it!

Through Dec 30 The Lion King

Photo by Deen van Meer for Disney’s The Lion King US North American Tour

There’s a reason more than 100 million people around the world have seen this beloved, multiple Tony Award-winning theater production — its stunning visual artistry, unforgettable music and heartwarming tale brings a little Hakuna Matata into everyone’s life.

Dates TBD Winter Wonderland

Photo courtesy of Marin Art and Garden Center

Go ice skating amongst the roses and dahlias at the Marin Art and Garden Center’s first ever holiday ice rink, then sip hot chocolate while taking a stroll through the lighted garden, where kids can take part in a scavenger hunt. The Center is also home to the Ross Valley Players, where they are performing It’s a Wonderful Life in the Barn Theater until December 17.

Date TBD Sister’s Christmas Catechism

It’s “CSI: Bethlehem” in this holiday mystery extravaganza at the Marin Center, as Sister takes on the mystery that has intrigued historians throughout the ages: Whatever happened to the Magi’s gold? It’s a hilarious retelling the story of the nativity, as only Sister can do.

Date TBD Mill Valley Holiday Craft Fair

The yearly artisan holiday craft fair at the Mill Valley Community Center draws in crowds eager to revisit their favorite vendors and search for uncommon goods. Free, ample parking makes it even more attractive.

Date TBD Muir Beach Holiday Arts Fair 

Muir Beach Arts Fair Tom Soltesz
Painting by Tom Soltesz

Locally hand-made jewelry, fashion accessories, wreaths, and ornaments crafted of glass and wood are just a few of the options at a fair famous for stand appearances by the Muir Beach Quilters and the Muir Beach Volunteer Fire Department.

Date TBD Holiday Choral by Candlelight

The Marin Symphony plays both traditional and contemporary holiday music set to candlelight in the beautiful setting of St. Raphael’s Church, with both instrumental and choral performances.

Date TBD Winter Open Studios

Painting by Mari Aaronsouth

The ICB building in Sausalito hosts 100+ artists — sculptors, painters, photographers, fiber artists, jewelers, sound installation and more — who open their studios to share the booming creative energy with guests. 

Date TBD Mark Foehringer’s Nutcracker Sweets

Photo by Matt Haber

This 50-minute version of the Nutcracker is specifically designed for families with young children. This year’s production includes new choreography, scenic elements, fun costumes and a scene where it snows on the audience.

Date TBD Santa Visits Nick’s Cove

Photo by Erin Wrightsman

Santa’s a true expert at driving a sleigh—but did you also know he can drive a boat too? The Big Guy will arrive at Nick’s Cove in Tomales Bay via his “water sleigh” to greet the kiddos, and will take (free) photos with them in the boat shack which has been decked out to look like his workshop. There are also cookies and hot cocoa to enjoy too.

Date TBD Welcome Winter Night at the California Academy of Sciences

Photo courtesy of the California Academy of Sciences

Get into the holiday spirit at this festive evening event at the California Academy of Sciences for all ages, with live reindeer viewing, cookie decorating, magic shows and full access to all of the Academy’s exhibits.

Dates TBD A Christmas Carol

Who says ghosts are only for Halloween? Charles Dickens’ classic tale of redemption is larded with specters of the otherworldly and nagging sort in an adaptation by Paul Walsh and Carey Perloff.

Date TBD Holiday Spectacular

Photo by Gooch

 The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus presents its annual holiday concert at San Francisco’s Sydney Goldstein Theater, offering an experience that blends the enchantment of the season with the transformative power of compassion and community.

Date TBD Lighted Boat Parade 

Sausalito Lighted Boat Parade
Photo by Kimber Communications

Among a month of events in Sausalito, including a gingerbread house tour (Dec 1–31) and a Jingle Bell 5K and Brunch (Dec 11), brightly decorated boats cruise the Sausalito harbor, followed by a fireworks show in keeping with the spirit of the season.

Date TBD Marin Ballet’s Nutcracker

Photo by Sandy Lee

Lavish Victorian sets and elaborate costumes for 125 dancers are just part of this classic ballet production, performed for the first time at the new Marin School of the Arts. A festive holiday boutique enlivens intermission.

Date TBD Menorah Lighting in Downtown San Rafael

Chabad of Marin and the City of San Rafael are lighting a giant menorah on the first Sunday evening of Chanukah at the Downtown San Rafael Plaza. There will also be music, dancing, and a chocolate gelt drop—plus anyone who brings a non-perishable food item for the SF/Marin Food Bank receives a free hot chocolate and a latke.

Dates TBD The Christmas Ballet

A signature mix of ballet, contemporary, character, Broadway jazz, and tap from Smuin keeps the energy flowing at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts this holiday.

Dates TBD Million Dollar Quartet Christmas

Photo courtesy of BroadwaySF

Journey back in time to the glorious age of rock‘n roll, when newcomers (and soon to be legends) Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley come together to celebrate the holidays. Inspired by a true story, this heartwarming rock n’ roll musical rings with sounds of the season and the chart toppers that made the Million Dollar Quartet famous.

Date TBD A Charlie Brown Christmas

The Adam Shulman Trio pays tribute to Bay Area jazz legend Vince Guaraldi and reprises the iconic soundtrack he created for Charles Schulz’s 1965 holiday classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Dates TBD Potted Potter

Photo by Dahlia Katz

Harry Potter aficionados will fly off their broomsticks with laughter at this parody of the story of the boy-who-lived at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts Theatre. Combining all seven books into 70 hilarious minutes, the show even includes a live Quidditch match.