Christmas Shows & Performances

Parent Q&A

Suggestions for holiday events for 3 year old and young toddler? Nov 20, 2016 (8 responses below)
Seeking That Don't-Miss Annual Holiday Event... Nov 4, 2016 (8 responses below)
  • Hi there,

    Our kids are 18 months and 3.5 years old with pretty good attention spans. We are looking for holiday events, shows, or activities in the east bay and SF that are age-appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers. The childhood holiday show options that come readily to mind (Nutcracker, Christmas Carol, Vienna Boys Choir, etc.) seem years away, so I would love to find something else. Are there any young-kid-friendly holiday events or activities you would recommend? Thanks!

    Definitely Berkeley Snow Day! (or any other local event where they truck in snow) Dec. 4 this year.

    Go to Oakland ZooLights and SF ZooLights. Check out Xmas Tree Lane in Alameda. Look for snow day events in Berkeley, Orinda and Treasure Island. The Nutcracker Sweets is a 45-minute production in SF. Walking around Union Square to see the windows and tree is festive. The Great Dickens Faire in SF offers an amazing experience. Happy Holidays! 

  • Hi community - we have been trying out annual winter special events for some years now without finding one that "sticks" for all of us as our annual holiday marquee event. (We are non-religious people who celebrate Christmas.) Kids are now 6 & 8. We have been to a Nutcracker ballet, Dickens Fair, Albany High madrigal dinner... that kind of thing all appeals, but just doesn't land with one or more of the 4 of us. Price is less of a consideration than value - for 2016, I'm thinking about the Oakland Revels, the new Cirque du Soleil in SF (although DH would probably faint at the cost), the Gay Men's Chorus holiday concert... any reviews for these events with small(er) kids? Other events I'm overlooking? Happy to drive an hour from the E.Bay. Thank you!

    The Revels are great - we go every year.  It's in a beautiful space - the Scottish Rite temple in Oakland, and the performances are always different and always top-notch.  A lot of kids are involved so if your kids have an interest in performing this could be an inspiration for them.  The subject matter is usually a blend of Christmas traditions and something non-traditional - pagan festivals, historical practices from outside Europe, etc.

    There's an intimate circus show called "Cirque de Boheme" in Sonoma at Cornerstone, with a new holiday production called "Somewhere".

    I've been to their other small sweet shows. Great fun. Great setting. Kids and adults equally enjoyed it.
    Dates are November 25th, 26th, and 27th. 
    December 3rd and 4th, 10th and 11th, 17th and 18th.
    (Shows daily at 3,pm and 5pm  ** Except on Saturday December 3, the shows will be at 11am and 1pm** and Sunday November 27th, the shows will be at 1pm and 3pm**)

    Check it out at:

    If you haven't checked out the Revels you should give it a try. Might make a long evening for little squirmy kids but there's always some genuine magic in the program for just about everyone, with an audience participation "dance" in the middle that is wild and crazy and brings the crowd together nicely. For serious music lovers there is always a ton of great singing and some expert instrumental flourishes. 

    Hope you try it out-

    Jean in Albany 

Archived Q&A and Reviews



Non-religious holiday performances for an 8-y-o

Nov 2003

I'm looking for some non-religious local performances to interest an energetic but music-loving 8 yr old boy. Any feedback on: Mark Morris Hard Nut (appropriateness?), Harlem Boys Choir, Velveteen Rabbit (too young for him?), or other suggestions? Thank you!

I definitely don't think an 8 year old is too old for ODC's ''Velveteen Rabbit''. That's a great choice. I do think he may be too young for ''The Hard Nut'', not because there's anything particularly inappropriate in it, but because the humor in it is most appealing to people who grew up in the 70s and/or have seen ''Nutcracker'' one too many times. One really good choice for kids is the Revels. Their performances are non- religious and tend to focus on the winter solstice, not Christmas. There's audience participation (singing and dancing) that makes it fun for the kids. Patty

Peter and the Wolf is coming to town mid-December! Also, try the local symphonies. I'm assuming that Nutcracker's Christmas theme is too religious for you . . . but it really is only a backdrop of a tree, nothing further, if you are considering it. Kathleen

I absolutely love the Dance-Along Nutcracker, which is at the Yerba Buena Center in SF the first weekend in December -- silly show tunes, usually hillarious, sometimes performed in drag, interspersed with music from the Nutcracker that the entire audience dances to. Tu-tu's to rent if you don't have your own, and lots of silly costumes. It's entirely carefree, nonjudgmental, beautifully executed, not passive, and fun for both adults and kids. nelly

I don't know if this is local enough for you, but we just got tickets for the SF Symphony's performance of ''Peter and the Wolf'' on December 14. It should be a lot of fun! Lauren

Check the December issue of ''Parents' Press,'' which has special listings of ''Nutcrackers,'' menorah lightings, Kwanzaa events, etc., as well as its usual events calendar--lots of holiday performances noted there as well. Melanie

My kids were pretty young when we began taking them to the Christmas Revels to celebrate the winter solstice; I'd guess they were seven or eight. Now they're teenagers, and we take their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents, whoever is in town, each year. I absolutely treasure this beautifully crafted jewel of community musical theater. You can sing, dance, or just quietly hum along to a different presentation each year. It's held at the magnificent Scottish Rite Theater near Lake Merritt in Oakland. The large cast of great performers of all ages includes the wonderful Wendell Brooks, of Berkeley High fame; this year, Geoff Hoyle returns as a Shakespearean fool, and Deborah Doyle reigns as Queen Elizabeth I, a powerful woman calling for peace and justice (and yes, it's almost always timely). Order your tickets online at or call Frantix at 415-621-1216. There are matinee and evening performances on Dec 13, 14, 20, and 21 and evening performances only on Dec 12 and 19. Welcome Yule! Melissa

The Oakland Civic Orchestra is performing a free concert, ''Music for the Whole Family,'' on Sunday, Dec. 14. Although it is not all holiday music, we will be performing the Nutcracker Suite, as well as Strauss's Blue Danube Waltz and Thunder and Lightning Polka and Bach's Concerto for Two Violins (The Bach Double). This will be a family-oriented concert; we are planning special kid activities and opportunities for kids to participate. The music, while classical, is all very accessible. The concert starts at 3 pm and is at the Oakland Veteran's Memorial Building, 200 Grand (at the corner of Grand and Harrison, near Fairyland). Feel free to email me with any questions, or you can call (51) 834-4314 during business hours. Pam

A Christmas Carol

Nov 1999

I would be grateful for any comments on the ACT production of A Christmas Carol. In your opinion, is it appropriate for young children? I would imagine that it is not. My child is 4 yrs. old, and able to sit through and enjoy The Nutcracker ballet, so behavior in a theatre during a somewhat lengthy performance is not my concern. Content is my concern for the performance scary? Any comments?

I haven't seen the ACT's Christmas Carol, but I had a holiday tradition of taking my daughter to the production at Mills College. I love the play, but taking a young child, I realized how wordy it is, lots of long speeches with not too much action (long on plot, in other words), and she was bored most of the time when I took her as a pre-schooler. I don't think at that time that she even realized that the ghosts were supposed to be ghosts, and thus scary. Basically I would advise not taking a young child, but instead familiarizing her with the story by having her watch the old movie, or one of the cartoon versions. Then in a year or so, she will enjoy the play more by knowing what is going to happen ahead of time.

The Muppet Movie version of C.C. is available on video and it is EXCELLENT!