The San Jose Nutcracker
The San Jose Nutcracker is a classical holiday ballet unique to its hometown. Presented in partnership with History San Jose, it tells the well-loved story of Clara and the Nutcracker, while featuring historical references to the heritage that has made Santa Clara Valley the center of innovation it is today. Dec. 15-17 and 22-24. Fri., 7pm. Sat.-Sun., 2pm. $19 and up. Also performing My First Nutcracker, a special one-hour classical ballet presentation of The San Jose Nutcracker suitable for the youngest audiences. Dec. 16-17 and 23-24. 11am. $12.50 and up. Hammer Theatre, 101 Paseo de San Antonio Walk, San Jose.
Santa Cruz Holiday Lights Train
Vintage excursion cars, adorned with thousands of colorful lights, roll through the streets of Santa Cruz as passengers lend their voices to holiday carols, sip hot spiced cider and listen to musical entertainment while Santa visits. Dec. 2-3, 9-10 and 16-23. 6:30pm. $33 ages 13 and up, $27 2-12, under 2 FREE. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, 400 Beach St.
WinterFest – Celebrate all things winter at Great America with this month-long festival. Ice skate in front of the iconic carousel, enjoy magnificent light displays, take a walk through Santa’s workshop and enjoy a nightly tree lighting ceremony. Dec. 1-3, 8-10, 15-17, 19-23 and 26-30. See website for times. $24.99. 4701 Great America Parkway, Santa Clara. .
Fantasy of Lights
Drive or walk through this 1.5-mile-long annual display in Vasona Lake County Park to see lit-up dinosaurs, penguins, Santa shooting hoops and more. Drive through: Dec. 5-30, closed Dec. 25. 6-10pm. $20 per vehicle (up to 12 guests), $50 per oversize vehicle (13 or more). Walk-though nights will take place Dec. 2-3 from 4-9pm. $10 adults, $5 child, 3 and under FREE. All tickets must be purchased in advance. No event parking at Vasona County Park; free shuttle available from Netflix, 121 Albright Way. 333 Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos. .
Downtown San Jose
Visit downtown for seasonal splendor from ice skating under the palm trees at Downtown Ice to the two-acre Christmas in the Park. With trees decorated by local community groups, animated musical displays, free visits with Santa, musical performances and more, this holiday tradition opens at 6pm on Nov. 24 and remains open daily 9am-12pm through Jan. 7. FREE. Plaza De Cesar Chavez Park. christmasinthepark.com. Downtown Ice takes place Nov. 17-Jan. 15. See website for hours. $15-17 including skate rental. Circle of Palms, 120 South Market St. .