Holiday highlights | News | Palo Alto Online |


Holiday highlights

Local organizations, artists host a bounty of seasonal entertainment

Before or after your stroll down the streets to gaze at Christmas lights, the Midpeninsula has more holiday events and traditions to offer. For locals who enjoy ballet, there are multiple renditions of "The Nutcracker" being performed by youth and professional dancers. If holiday arts and crafts feel like a better fit, the area offers hands-on activities and a number of local artisan sales. The holiday event genres don't stop there. Theater goers, Lego builders and comedy enthusiasts will also find an event for their taste this season. Happy holiday events!

A Pacific Ballet 'Nutcracker' tradition

The Pacific Ballet Academy celebrates its 25th year of the "Nutcracker" with performances through the Thanksgiving weekend. Guests will be greeted by the dancers as they take their seats to see the holiday classic come to life.

Where: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St.

When: Friday, Nov. 27, and Saturday, Nov. 28, at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 30, at 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Cost: $26-$30

Info: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts or 650-903-6000


Ernie's train keeps on chuggin'

From Thanksgiving to Christmas Day, Ernie's son John Bianco will continue the holiday tradition of running Ernie's model trains. Each year, around 100 visitors come every night, which more than 300 coming out on Christmas Eve, to view the train show.

Where: 2387 Adele Ave., Mountain View

When: Thanksgiving to Christmas Day, 6:30-9 p.m., except Mondays

Cost: Free

Info: Model trains mesmerize a neighborhood


Holiday Traditions at Filoli

Locals can start the season with Holiday Traditions at Filoli, which will offer shopping boutiques, lunch buffets and more throughout the season. But hurry, events are selling out.

Where: Filoli, 86 Cañada Road, Woodside

When: Friday, Nov. 27, through Saturday, Dec. 5

Cost: $35-$85

Info: Filoli Holiday Traditions or 650-364-8300, ext. 508


Romance takes the stage

TheatreWorks' brings back Jane Austen's "Emma" for the holidays. The musical hit features a cast of characters obsessed with romance and a score from Paul Gordon, the Tony Award-nominated composer of "Jane Eyre" and "Daddy Long Legs."

Where: Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto

When: Dec. 2 through Jan. 2, 2016

Cost: $25-$74

Info: TheatreWorks or 650-463-1960


Saint Francis High School celebration, fundraiser

To raise funds, the Saint Francis High School will have its 27th annual home tour fundraiser in December while also celebrating its 60th anniversary. This year's theme is "I'll be home for Christmas," and features homes in Portola Valley and Woodside. In addition to home tours, there will be a Christmas party and holiday boutique in Mountain View, a winter luncheon in Los Altos Hills, a happy hour in Los Altos Hills, and another Christmas boutique in Los Alto Hills.

Where: Home tours leave from 12889 Viscaino Place, Los Altos

When: Friday, Dec. 4, and Saturday, Dec. 5, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Cost: $50 per person, $45 person for groups of 10 or more

Info: Christmas at Our House 2015 or 650-954-7720


Tree lighting in Palo Alto

The City of Palo Alto kicks off the holiday season with its fifth annual Tree Lighting Ceremony. Besides a dazzling tree, the event includes live music, face painting, snacks, hot drinks and more.

Where: Lytton Plaza, 202 University Ave., Palo Alto

When: Friday, Dec. 4, 4-7 p.m. with tree lighting at 6 p.m.

Cost: Free

Info: City of Palo Alto or 650-329-2100


Western Ballet's 'The Nutcracker'

The Western Ballet presents "The Nutcracker" under the direction of Alexi Zubiria again this holiday season. Audience members will join Clara, Fritz and friends as they go on a magical trip to the Kingdom of Sweets.

Where: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St.

When: Friday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m.; and Saturday, Dec. 5, at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Cost: $25-$30

Info: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts or 650-903-6000


Dance Connection's 'Nutcracker'

The Dance Connection Palo Alto presents its 17th annual production of the "Nutcracker." The whole family is sure to enjoy this holiday classic.

Where: Spangenberg Theatre, Gunn High School, 780 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto

When: Friday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 5, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 6, at 3 p.m.

Cost: $15-$27

Info: Dance Connection Palo Alto or 650-322-7032


Deborah's Palm Holiday Bazaar

At the Holiday Bazaar by Deborah's Palm, visitors can enjoy refreshments, live music, wreath-making and a host of goods made by local artisans. Guests are asked to bring a canned-food item to support the Ecumenical Hunger Program in East Palo Alto.

Where: Deborah's Palm, 555 Lytton Ave., Palo Alto

When: Saturday, Dec. 5, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Cost: Free, but guests are asked to donate canned goods

Info: Deborah's Palm or 650-473-0664


Nativities from around the world

The 28th annual Christmas Crèche Exhibit features more than 350 nativities from around the world. The event also includes hands-on activities, speakers, live music and more.

Where: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3865 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto

When: Saturday, Dec. 5, through Wednesday, Dec. 9, from noon to 9 p.m.

Cost: Free

Info: 28th annual Christmas Crèche or 650-800-3865


Winter glass sale

The Palo Alto Fiery Arts Winter Glass Sale features glass decor, cookies and hot apple cider. The benefits from the event support the Fiery Arts program at Palo Alto High School.

Where: Palo Alto High School, Tower Building, 50 Embarcadero Road, Palo Alto

When: Friday, Dec. 5, 3-6:30 p.m.; and Saturday, Dec. 6, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Cost: Free

Info: 2015 Winter Fiery Arts Glass Sale or 650-303-1290


A French Christmas

The California Bach Society, under artistic director Paul Flight, presents "Joyeux Noël!" this holiday season. The program takes audience members to France to travel from medieval periods to the 20th century.

Where: All Saints Episcopal Church, 555 Waverley St., Palo Alto

When: Saturday, Dec. 5, at 8 p.m.

Cost: $10-$28

Info: California Bach Society or 650-485-1097


Family crafting

For ages 5 and up, the Palo Alto Art Center offers an opportunity to create holiday goodies and decor out of everyday objects during Holiday Family Day. The family-fun activities include design-your-own wrapping paper and cards, handmade brooches and pins, and personalized garland. The day ends with a performance by the Firebird Youth Chinese Orchestra.

Where: 1313 Newell Road, Palo Alto

When: Sunday, Dec. 6, 2-4:30 p.m.

Cost: Free

Info: Palo Alto Art Center or 650-329-2366


Kepler's Holiday Party

Literary Circle Members and those who would like to be members can celebrate at Kepler's Books at the annual Holiday Party. Booksellers will help find the perfect gift for everyone on your list, and volunteers will wrap up purchases while shoppers sip champagne and enjoy chocolate. Plus, at 2 p.m., local author Janet McGovern will present "Images in America: Menlo Park." Guests need to RSVP for the event.

Where: Kepler's Books, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park

When: Sunday, Dec. 6, 2-5 p.m.

Cost: Free for Literary Circle Members

Info: Kepler's or 650-324-4321


'Rejoice! Rejoice!'

During Schola Cantorum's annual holiday family concert, "Rejoice! Rejoice!" will feature familiar Christmas favorites from the Robert Shaw/Alice Parker collection.

Where: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St.

When: Sunday, Dec. 6, at 3 p.m.

Cost: $20-$30

Info: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts or 650-903-6000


'The Christmas Ballet'

During their two-act performance, Smuin Ballet dancers will perform holiday favorites, including Michael Smuin's "The Gloucestershire Wassail" and "Ave Maria," and modern mash-ups of "White Christmas," "Baby, It's Cold Outside," and "Santa Baby." This holiday celebration also includes tap, swing, ballet and other worldwide genres to celebrate the season. Plus, Smuin Ballet dancer Nicole Haskins will debut her new work set to "Joy to the World," and choreographer-in-residence Amy Seiwert will present a new piece set to the "Home for the Holidays."

Where: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St.

When: Wednesday, Dec. 9, Thursday, Dec. 10, and Friday, Dec. 11, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 12, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 13, at 2 p.m.

Cost: $23-$71

Info: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts or 650-903-6000


Christmas story told by Grammy winners

The voices of Chanticleer will fill the halls of Memorial Church this year with its "A Chanticleer Christmas." The Grammy-winning, all male chorus will celebrate the Christmas season by telling a story through Gregorian chant, Renaissance polyphony, carols and African American spirituals.

Where: Memorial Church, 50 Serra Mall, Stanford

When: Thursday, Dec. 10, at 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $60 for general admission

Info: Stanford Live or 650-724-2464


Hershel tries to save Hanukkah

Based on a book by Eric A. Kimmel, the Peninsula Youth Theatre presents "Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins." In this tale, goblins come down and ruin Hanukkah each year, but Hershel has an idea that might change that.

Where: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St.

When: Friday, Dec. 11 at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Saturday, Dec. 12, at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Cost: $8-$12

Info: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts or 650-903-6000


Builders unite at "Living LEGO-CY" show

The Museum of American Heritage, the Bay Area LEGO User Group and the Bay Area LEGO Train Club bring builders together again for its annual holiday Lego extravaganza, "Living LEGO-CY." Visitors can enjoy creations made by club members, including Bay Area landmarks, castles and portraits.

Where: Museum of American History, 351 Homer Ave., Palo Alto

When: Dec. 11 to Jan. 16 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Cost: $2, free for Museum of American Heritage and Bay Area LEGO User Group members

Info: Museum of American History or 650-321-1004


Fresh holiday decor

Gamble Garden presents its Holiday Greens and Arrangements Sale. Locals can pick up fresh holiday greens for their home or have Gamble's flowering arranging experts create them a holiday arrangement. Arrangements can be customized in either a provided container or one purchased during the sale. If using your own, please drop off the container between Monday, Dec. 7, and Wednesday, Dec. 11. The custom arrangement will then be ready for pick up at the sale.

Where: Gamble Garden, 1431 Waverley St., Palo Alto

When: Saturday, Dec. 12, from 9 a.m. to noon

Cost: Event is free. Arrangements cost $30 (small), $40 (medium) and $50 (large).

Info: Gamble Garden


Holiday concert from Ragazzi Continuo

Ragazzi Continuo, alumni of the Ragazzi Boys Chorus, invites locals to its holiday concert, "Carols Ancient and New." This program features a blend of Christmas classics from around the world and throughout time.

Where: All Saints Episcopal Church, 555 Waverley St., Palo Alto; and St. Peter's Episcopal Church, 178 Clinton St., Redwood City

When: Saturday, Dec. 12, at 2 p.m. in Palo Alto; and Saturday, Dec. 19, at 7 p.m. in Redwood City

Cost: $15-$18

Info: Ragazzi Continuo


'A Winter Prelude'

In its 49th season, the Peninsula Women's Chorus offers a concert that reflects the ever-changing facets of winter. In "A Winter Prelude," audience members will experience joy, uncertainty and exaltation as the chorus moves through songs and stories of the season.

Where: Saint Mark's Episcopal Church, 600 Colorado Ave., Palo Alto

When: Saturday, Dec. 12, 2:30 p.m.

Cost: $10-$35

Info: Peninsula Women's Chorus or 650-327-3095


Singers, from small to tall, perform 'I Dream a World'

The Ragazzi Boys Chorus presents "I Dream a World," which features music inspired by the Langston Hughes poem with the same title. The performance celebrates the crosscultural power of love and music, traits that all humans have in common. The concert will conclude with a sing-along of holiday classics, such as "Deck the Halls," "Joy to the World" and "O Come All Ye Faithful."

Where: First United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto

When: Saturday, Dec. 12, at 5 p.m.

Cost: $16-$28

Info: Ragazzi Boys Chorus or 650-342-8785


The Gryphon Carolers holiday concert

The Gryphon Carolers have performed for audiences for more than 30 years, and this year, they bring the sounds of holiday favorites and original compositions by Ed Johnson and Carol McComb.

Where: Canada College Theater, Building 3, 4200 Farm Hill Blvd., Redwood City

When: Saturday, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m.

Cost: $15-$25

Info: Gryphon Carolers or 408-692-4484


Instrumental 'Winter Solstice'

Three instrumentalists come together to perform original music and seasonal classes for "A Windham Hill Winter Solstice." The performance features Grammy Award-nominated singer, fiddler, pianist and songwriter Barbara Higbie; Windham Hill founder and Grammy-winning guitarist Will Ackerman, and Grammy-nominated guitarist and compost Alex de Grassi.

Where: Bing Concert Hall, 327 Lasuen St., Stanford

When: Saturday, Dec. 12, at 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $15-$78

Info: Stanford Live or 650-724-2464


'It's a Wonderful Nutcracker'

Menlowe Ballet presents "It's a Wonderful Nutcracker" under artistic director Michael Lowe. This performance was inspired by Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life," and is set in the 1940s. Lowe collaborated with Julie Lowe and Sarah-Jame Measor to make the ballet's narrative. The story, with its twists and turns, offers a heartfelt message to the audience about what makes the holidays wonderful.

Where: Menlo Atherton Performing Arts Center, 555 Middlefield Road, Atherton

When: Saturday, Dec. 12, through Sunday, Dec. 20

Cost: $28-$55

Info: Menlowe Ballet or 650-231-2025


Orchestra holiday extravaganza

Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra's third annual holiday extravaganza delivers again, with excerpts from excerpts from Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Ballet," the iSing Girlchoir, an appearance by soloist Michel Taddei and the SuperStrings Orchestra ensemble.

Where: Cubberley Theatre at the Cubberley Community Center, 4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto

When: Sunday, Dec. 13, at 3 p.m.

Cost: Free

Info: Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra or 650-856-3848


Wintersongs with Kitka

This winter holiday program by Kitka showcases seasonal music from a variety of Eastern European ethnic and spiritual traditions.

Where: St. Bede's Episcopal Church, 2650 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park

When: Sunday, Dec. 13, at 4 p.m.

Cost: $10-$35

Info: Kitka or 510-444-0323


Audience sing-along

Under the baton of Maestro Gregory Wait, Schola Cantorum presents Handel's Messiah, which includes an audience sing-along.

Where: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St.

When: Monday, Dec. 14, at 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $18-$22

Info: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts or 650-903-6000


Youth ballet's 'Snow Queen'

The Bayer Ballet Co.'s "Snow Queen" will take the audience through the story of a love and friendship that overcomes evil. The youth ballet performance will include beautiful scenery, costumes, music and special effects.

Where: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St.

When: Saturday, Dec. 19, and Sunday, Dec. 20, at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Cost: $40-$50

Info: Bayer Ballet Co. or 650-903-6000


Choral, orchestra celebration

"Winter's Gifts: Celebration" features The Choral Project and the San Jos Chamber Orchestra during an evening of live holiday music. Conductors Barbara Day Turner and Daniel Hughes come together to make this combination concert happen.

Where: First Presbyterian Church, 1140 Cowper St. Palo Alto

When: Saturday, Dec. 19, at 8 p.m.

Cost: $10-$32, children under 10 are free

Info: The Choral Project or 408-279-0161



Comedian Wayne Federman will bring the laughs while guests enjoy Chinese food at the annual holiday laughfest. Federman was the head monologue writer for NBC's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" in its first season, and has had roles in "Legally Blonde," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," and more.

Where: Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto

When: Thursday, Dec. 24, at 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $55-$60

Info: Oshman Family JCC or 650-223-8791


Read more holiday stories in the Holiday Guide to Everything.

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Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund

For the last 26 years, the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund has given away more than $7 million to local nonprofits serving children and families. When you make a donation, every dollar is automatically doubled, and 100% of the funds go directly to local programs. It’s a great way to ensure your charitable donations are working at home.