California Revels


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Archived Q&A and Reviews

Taking a Toddler to Christmas Revels

November 2001

The Revels sounds like such a fun Christmas show - is it fun and appropriate for a toddler? In other words, is it the sort of event where the audience needs to be quiet? It sounds so participatory and active I thought I could take my 16 mo. old but the box office sounded dubious. The recommendations on the web don't mention young kids. Thanks, Charis

Christmas Revels is my favorite winter celebration event, and I have seen children of all ages enjoying Revels! Audience participation is encouraged; you certainly could take your toddler, especially if your wee one likes song and dance and theatre. If your toddler gets fussy, there are logical breaks in the performance when you could go take a break in the lobby. Melissa

I'm sure this would depend upon your child, but just as a data point I took my two children to the Christmas Revels when they were 3 and 5 and the show was too long for them. They really started squirming! (At the same age, they made it halfway through The Nutcracker ballet.) I expect that you will hear of toddlers sitting mesmerized through the entire Christmas Revels, but I doubt that's typical. I remember the audience being mostly adults and school-aged children. Sharon

Attending the Revels is one of our favorite holiday traditions. It is not enjoyable for very young children, in my opinion, because it is too long and too sedentary, even with the audience participation. I first took my children when they were 2-1/2 and ended up with two sleepy kids in my lap who wanted to go home and who were afraid of the dark when the lights were lowered. A year later they were enchanted with the show Donna

I took my active son there with a friend and his parents starting at age 4 or 5 and got lots of angry looks from other audience members when they were not absolutely quiet and still. Even at 7, there were parts of the Revels that are a bit slow (medieval style dancing and music) that he and his friend can not sit still in. We've had to take them out to the main lobby for extended periods to let them burn off energy. There are portions that kids can enjoy- the clowning, puppetry, dramatic scenes, but about half is way over their heads. Both my husband and I and my friends decided to not take the kids this year so that we could better enjoy it. I will say that I say many well-behaved girls of similar age enjoying the show and sitting quietly.

For 4 year olds on up, the Velveteen Rabbit is a better choice and captures kids imagination longer. Christine

We attended the show when my daughter was two and a half. She stayed relatively interested through the first half, with prompting from us, but largely ignored the second half. Of course, I had brought along entertainment for her, plus the grandparents were along so they helped occupy her also. Generally speaking I don't think she got much out of it, and each adult was distracted from the show at least part of the time attending to her, and trying to keep her from making too much noise. If you got seats close to the stage it might help keep your child's interest more, but my vote would be to leave the 16 month old at home, or wait a few years. Suzanne

More Recommendations

December 2002

If it's not too late, I wanted to recommend the Christmas Revels, a yearly holiday celebration performance. We saw the performance last Sunday and liked it a lot.

Here's a bit from their website :

THE CHRISTMAS REVELS, an annual celebration of the Winter Solstice, returns to Oakland's Scottish Rite Theater for ten performances, December 13-22. This year, journey with Revels to the Galician region of Spain at the tail end of the Renaissance. ...Our winter Festival will draw on musical and dance traditions from throughout Spain, from popular Flamenco dancing to the little-known Celtic roots of Galician folk music. and here's their contact information: California Revels 510-452-9334 calrevels [at]


Tickets for the 1998 Christmas Revels (a very much beloved winter solstice event, not to be missed) are on sale beginning today (10/15/98). This year there will be two weekends of performances: Dec. 4-6 and Dec. 11-13. The box office phone number is 510-893-9853 (893-YULE for those of you who like letters better than numbers), and they have a fax number, too (510-452-9335). On Friday, Dec. 4, every seat is $12, a savings of up to $18 over the most expensive seats other nights/afternoons.

This year they are combining the Renaissance era with...contemporary interactive technology (I'm just quoting the brochure; don't know for sure what they have up their sleeves). I think this is one of the premiere cultural events that we are lucky to have nearby (it's at the Scottish Rite Theater near Lake Merritt). See earlier raves on the parents' web page. This is truly an event you can feel good taking your kids to. Melissa


RE: winter solstice celebrations Have you heard of the San Francisco Bay Revels? We've gone for the last four years and it's becoming something of a tradition in our family. It's hard to describe - they call it a Celebration of the Winter Solstice with Traditional and Ritual Dances, Processionals, and Carols. It's music, singing, dancing - audience participation is assumed. It's something like a holiday pageant or musical put on by local professional and amateur musicians, actors, and dancers. Every year there's a theme - last year was Victorian Christmas and this year it's Celtic Brittany with people playing bagpipes and stuff like that. I first heard about it because a friends' kids were singing in it. It's mostly families there - babies, kids, grandparents; a lot of people dress up like they're going to a party. My boys (12&15) say they think it's boring but they go with me anyway! It happens at the old Scottish Rite temple in Oakland - a really beautiful theater - for 2 weekends in December. This year it's December 6-14. It's expensive but it's one of those things that you don't do very often and really worth it in my opinion - It is so much fun singing Christmas carols in a big crowd, watching dancers and seeing little skits. Tickets are $12 for kids and $12-25 for adults. Ginger