Marin Weekend Family Fun for December 16, 17 & 18

December 16, 2016

Mickey Mouse Christmas House MarinwoodVisit the Mickey Mouse House in Marinwood this weekend. It's open nightly from 6–10 pm.

There's also holiday ice skating at numerous locations throughout the Bay Area, opportunities to visit with Santa Claus at local shopping centers, and amazing decorated holiday houses. Also, check out our North Bay Christmas Tree Farms and Lots article.

Friday, December 16

  • Great Dickens Christmas Fair
    Cow Palace, San Francisco
    Friday–Sunday, 10 am–7 pm

    Experience Victorian London with hundreds of costumed players, shops offering one-of-a-kind gifts and Christmas treasures, dining, and pubs. Meet Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, Tiny Tim, Jules Verne, David Copperfield, Charles Darwin, and 700 costumed characters. Of course, Father Christmas himself will be on hand to join in the fun. Purchase tickets here. For more info, visit their website.
  • Top of the Mark Children’s Magical Holiday Tea
    999 California Street at Mason, San Francisco
    Friday & Saturday, noon–4 pm

    Magical Holiday Tea is open to kids and adults of all ages. Guests will enjoy a cookie decorating station, Santa's sleigh in the lobby, Raul the Master Baloonatic, and face painting by Fire Pixie, Bri the Magical Holiday Character, plus a tea-time buffet. Santa will visit on Saturdays, too! $70 per person; $66 with toy donation to the San Francisco Firefighters Toy Drive. Advance reservations required: (415) 616-6941. Location: 999 California Street. For more info, visit their website.
  • San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker
    War Memorial Opera House

    Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 2 & 7 pm
    San Francisco Ballet’s awe-inspiring production is like no other, with colorful, larger-than-life scenery, over 200 dazzling costumed characters, and of course Tchaikovsky’s beautiful score performed live by the world-class San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. Ticket prices start at $65. For more info, call (415) 865-2000 or visit their website.
  • Marin on Ice
    Northgate Mall, San Rafael
    Friday, 2
    –10 pm, Saturday, noon–10 pm, Sunday, noon–9 pm
    This Saturday, Marin on Ice opens for another season of outdoor ice skating at San Rafael's Northgate Mall, where it runs through January 11. Marin's only holiday ice skating rink features 6,300 square feet of real ice and will be open daily for outdoor skating. Skating is $15 per person, which includes skate rental. Private ice cabanas will also be available for rental and "Skate Buddies" are available for beginners. For more info, visit their website.
  • The Snowman: A Holiday Film with the San Francisco Symphony
    San Francisco Symphony, Davies Hall
    Friday, 4 pm, Saturday, 2 pm & Sunday, 11 am & 2 pm

    On a cold December night, a young boy builds a snowman that magically comes to life. The two go on an enchanted adventure, soaring through the sky, making new friends, and meeting Santa Claus himself. It all happens in the Academy Award-nominated short film, The Snowman. Take part in this extraordinary tale of friendship as the movie is projected on the big screen and the SF Symphony performs the score live. Also on the program, jazzy Christmas hits with vocalist Ruthie Ann Miles, the Pacific Boychoir, and the Symphony. Tickets $15 and up; 17 and under half-price. For more info, visit their website.
  • Napa Valley Wine Train Santa Trains
    Friday, Saturday & Sunday, 5 & 8 pm

    Napa Valley Wine Trains' Santa Express Trains are a magical experience for the whole family. Santa and some special friends will be on board, of course. Tickets do sell out very early, so check for availablity at (800) 427-4124. Tickets start at $55 per person. Refreshments available for purchase on board. More information
  • Zoo Lights
    Oakland Zoo
    Friday–Sunday, 5:30–9 pm,
    Hundreds of thousands of LED lights brighten Oakland's night sky. Highlights include a candy cane lane themed rides area, a night time adventure on the Outback Express train, rocking around the Christmas trees and a light show that's sure to blow out any bah-hum-bugs. ZooLights is a separate event and is not included in regular Zoo Admission. $8 adults, $7 children 2–14 and seniors 65+, free for children under 2 and adults over 80. For more info, visit their website.
  • Rombeiro Christmas House
    Devonshire Drive, Novato

    Friday–Sunday, 6–10 pm
    Their home is something that truly has to be seen to be believed, and photos don't really do it justice. There are something like 140,000 lights as well as countless figurines, dioramas, and decorations adorning the front and side yards, walls, and roof of the Rombeiro house. If you think the outside is impressive, then you need to go on inside and get a healthy dose of Christmas spirit. You'll find model trains, more figurines, Christmas trees, and the biggest lighted holiday village you've ever seen. Location: 34 Devonshire Drive, off of Center Road, Novato. For more info, read about our visit here.
  • Mickey Mouse Christmas House
    417 Blackstone Drive, San Rafael
    Friday–Sunday, 6–10 pm

    One of my children's favorite decorated and lighted Christmas house is the Mize family's Mickey Mouse House (AKA "Mickey's Christmas House") in Marinwood. Get out of your car and walk up the short driveway, though and you'll see why it's worth a visit for kids of all ages. Every evening, the two-car garage is opened to reveal two galleries of what has to be every Walt Disney toy, stuffed animal, decoration, and gimgrack ever produced, all artfully arranged in two spectacular holiday displays. Read more about our visit here.
  • 2016 Holiday Lights and Sights Parade
    Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco
    Friday, 6–8 pm

    The Fisherman's Wharf Community Benefit District and the St. Francis Yacht Club will join once again to present the oldest and largest lighted holiday boat parade on San Francisco Bay. A holiday tradition since 1994, the parade includes members of the St. Francis Yacht Club, Fisherman's Wharf Fishing Fleet, Golden Gate Yacht Club, PIER 39 Marina, and the Sea Scouts. The parade route will begin just off of PIER 39, proceeding west past Fisherman's Wharf, Fort Mason and the St. Francis Yacht Club, and will turn around off of Crissy Field to return along the waterfront. Free. For more info, visit their website.
  • The Berkeley Playhouse: Disney's Beauty and the Beast
    The Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, Berkeley
    Friday, 7 pm, Saturday, 1 & 7 pm, Sunday, 2 pm

    The Disney (and Broadway!) favorite gets the Berkeley Playhouse makeover as founding Associate Artistic Director Kimberly Dooley helms this all new production featuring a diverse and multigenerational cast of dozens. Featuring some of Disney’s most popular songs and characters, you won’t want to miss this magical musical adventure guaranteed to delight audiences of all ages. Location: 2640 College Avenue, Berkeley. Tickets: $25–40. For more info, visit their website

 Saturday, December 17

  • Polar Express Train Ride
    Santa Cruz
    Saturday, various times

    The Polar Express Train Ride departs from Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, complete with dancing chefs, singing elves, and a special gift from Santa Claus himself—a silver sleigh bell. Don't forget to wear your pajamas while you enjoy cookies, hot chocolate, and a reading of The Polar Express while on board. First-class tickets still available for rides this weekend. For more info and tickets, call (877) 726-7245 or visit their website.
  • MCM Farmers Market Holiday Celebration
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    Bring the entire family to the Marin Country Mart Holiday Celebration and farmer's market. Activities include: fairy puppet show, holiday craft, cookie decorating, kids can write a letter to Santa, and complimentary pictures with Santa at Diesel Bookstore. For more info, visit their website.
  • Iceless Skating Rink
    Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito
    Saturday & Sunday, 9 am–5 pm

    Hit the “ice” this winter with family and friends at the Bay Area Discovery Museum's Iceless Skating Rink, which will be open from November 19, 2016 to January 8, 2016. Children can strap on skates and glide around on a synthetic ice rink in the museum's Discovery Hall. The synthetic ice rink provides all the fun of a real ice rink but without the cold and icy falls. Get in the holiday spirit with this classic winter activity. Free with museum admission or membership. Location: 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito. For more info, visit their website.
  • Mt. Tam Day of Thanks
    Mount Tamalpais
    Saturday, 9 am–noon

    Start a new family tradition by thanking our natural community through conservation. This is a large volunteer work day to celebrate and give thanks for this beloved mountain. Join us at the Rock Spring trail head on Mt. Tam for a morning of invasive grass removal and Doug-fir culling. Afterwards, we'll gather for fall refreshments and wreath making to kick off the holiday season. For more info, visit their website.
  • Gingerbread House Party
    Habitot Children's Museum, Berkeley
    Saturday, 9:30 am–4:30 pm

    Decorate a giant gingerbread house with oodles of goodies including candies, cookies and sprinkles. After the event, the completed house will be donated to a local family shelter for the holiday. Bring a bag of decorating candy to share and receive a free guest pass from Habitot. Free admission day. For more info, visit their website.
  • Reindeer Romp
    San Francisco Zoo
    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am–4 pm
    Santa is sending his favorite reindeer, Belle, Holly, and Peppermint to spread holiday cheer at San Francisco Zoo & Gardens! Until January 1, majestic reindeer will be romping at SF Zoo's Playfield Lawn, near the spectacular Elinor Friend Playground. Zoo admission applies. Location: Sloat Blvd. at the Great Highway, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Santa Fly-In
    Pacific Coast Air Museum, Santa Rosa
    Saturday, 10 am– 2pm
    The jolly old man in red will be visiting PCAM on Saturday, December 17. He will be flying to the air museum in a shiny turbo-powered "sleigh"—a helicopter from Helico Sonoma! There will be treats for the kids, a chance to sit on Santa's lap, and fun for the entire family. There will be jumpees for the kids, hot food and drinks, and other activities. Free. Location: One Air Museum Way, Santa Rosa. More information.
  • Hawaiian Holiday Craft and Bake Sale
    Unitarian Universalist Church of Marin, San Rafael
    Saturday, 10 am–4 pm

    Shop for unique Hawwaiian holiday gifts, homemade goodies, mini-plate lunches, and more—all made by lovely hula hands! Enjoy hula and Hawaiian music performances, too. Location: 240 Channing Way, San Rafael. More info:
  • Visit Santa!
    Diesel Bookstore, Marin Country Mart
    Saturday, 10:30 am–2 pm

    Come say hello to your favorite Jolly Old Elf at Diesel bookstore the first three Saturdays in December. Enjoy complimentary photos with Santa and browse the shelves for some of your favorite holiday classics to read by Diesel's crackling fire. More info:
  • Gingerbread House Decorating Classes
    Cake Art, San Rafael
    Saturday, 10:30 am–noon & 2–3:30 pm

    Decorate your holiday gingerbread house at Cake Art Supplies. The class includes a large preassembled, freshly baked gingerbread house, royal icing, assorted candies and decorations, and instruction. This class is a popular adult, child or parent/child class. Call now to sign up as space is limited. Cost: $50. Location: 1512 5th Avenue, San Rafael. For more info, call (415) 456-7773 or visit their website.
  • Sing You a Merry Christmas
    Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
    Saturday, 11 am

    Sing along with your favorite Christmas carols as the toys of St. Nicholas's workshop lead you on an extraordinary journey, filling children, young and old, with the joys of the season. Festive for families! Tickets: $10–$25. Location: 1100 California Street, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Mark Foehringer's Nutcracker Sweets
    Saturday & Sunday, 11 am & 1 pm
    Fort Mason Center, San Francisco

    Mark Foehringer's Nutcracker Sweets is a unique 50-minute version of the Nutcracker specifically designed for families with young children. The production features a live 9-piece chamber orchestra, Brian Fisher as Drosselmeyer, musical direction by Michael Morgan, set design by Peter Crompton, costume design by Richard Battle, and production direction by Frederic O. Boulay. Tickets: $21 and $31. For more info, visit their website.
  • Saturdays with Santa
    Bon Air Center, Greenbrae
    Saturday, noon-4 pm
    Find Santa and his elves in front of Mollie Stone’s Market where photos are taken compliments of Bon Air and CVS/ Pharmacy. Sit for a portrait with Santa—family and friends, the furry ones too—and receive sweet treats of candy canes and dog biscuits.
  • Marin Dance Theatre: Sophie and The Enchanted Toyshop
    Marin Veterans' Memorial Auditorium
    Saturday, 1 & 5:30 pm

    Marin Dance Theatre, an internationally recognized dance training center, presents this delightful full-length two-act children's ballet, featuring over 125 dancers plus professional guest artists. A Dickens-style street scene comes alive with gypsies, magicians, and mysterious commedia del arte masked players. As a kindly toy maker enters with his mischievous harlequin monkeys, he sweeps Sophie away to her amazing adventure. Following the 1 pm performance, meet the cast, enjoy sweet treats, and have your photo taken with cast members at the Teddy Bear Tea Party in the Redwood Foyer. Tickets: $40 adults, $32 students and seniors; $7 Teddy Bear Tea Party. For more information, go to Purchase tickets here.
  • Alice in Wonderland
    Young Peformers Theatre, San Francisco
    Saturday &  Sunday 1 & 3:30 pm
    Alice has fallen down the rabbit hole and finds herself in a curious and strange wonderland!  She meets the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the Red Queen and many more strange folks! Come see this funny and clever production of a classic celebrating 150 years! Tickets: $12. Purchase tickets here. Location: Fort Mason Center, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Dance with Sherry Studio’s Tapcracker
    Showcase Theater
    Saturday, 2 & 5:30 pm

    Performed for the 16th sensational year, this is a funny, quirky, and hilarious original take on that old standard, The Nutcracker. Join Clara and the Tapcracker as they venture into the realm of dancing Christmas trees, snowballs, snow moms, flakey snow flakes, dancing presents, Sugar Plum Barbies, rapping mice, and the inhabitants of the Peppermint Palace. Discover a newer, jazzier version that highlights all of the students as they perform tap, jazz, hip-hop, breakdancing, and musical theater. Tickets: $25 adults ($28 at the door), $12 children 10 and under. For more info, visit their website.
  • A Winter Circus for the Holidays
    Cornerstone Sonoma
    Saturday & Sunday, 1, 3 & 5 pm
    An old style circus based on the French tradition of the 1920’s, Le Cirque de Bohème will transport you into a magical world filled with enchantment, adventure and wonder. This winter a Le Cirque de Bohème presents a new show: Somewhere. Delight in work of world class performers including a unicycle, contortionist, juggler, slack-rope, hand chair balancing, aerial fabrics, and a hooper aerialist. Tickets: $30 general, $22 kids 15 and under. More information.
  • Zoo Lights
    San Francisco Zoo
    Saturday & Sunday, 5–8 pm

    Come enjoy the San Francisco Zoo at night under magical holiday lights. Shop at the all-new Holiday Marketplace, see the reindeer romp, enjoy hot apple cider and cocoa at Cafe Playfield, and hum along to seasonal music as you play in the Elinor Friend Playground. Adults $7, kids 14 and under $5, kids 3 and under: free. Parking $8. For more information, visit their website.
  • San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker (see Friday for details).
  • Great Dickens Christmas Fair (see Friday for details).
  • The Berkeley Playhouse: Disney's Beauty and the Beast (see Friday for details).
  • Holiday Ice Skating in Union Square (see Friday for details).
  • Marin on Ice (see Friday for details).
  • Rombeiro Christmas House (see Friday for details).
  • Mickey Mouse Christmas House (see Friday for details).

Sunday, December 18

  • Civic Center Farmers' Market
    Marin Civic Center, San Rafael

    Sunday, 8 am–1 pm
    There's lots of organically grown produce, breads, eggs, and fresh cut flowers, as well as live music, bounce houses, and more. This farmers' market is a great one to take the kids to. It’s located in the main Civic Center parking lot. For more info, visit their website.
  • Beginning Birding
    Rodeo Lagoon, Marin Headlands
    Sunday, 9:30–11:30 am

    Autumn is a wonderful time to enjoy the influx of birds to the Marin Headlands. Join volunteer Jane Haley for an easy walk to discover our spring visitors. Meet at the Marin Headlands Visitor Center. Bring field guides and binoculars; dress in layers. For ages 8 and up; no pets allowed. Reservations required; call (415) 331-1540. For more info, visit their website.
  • Home Depot Menorah Workshop
    San Rafael
    Sunday, 10–11:30 am

    Build your own menorah at Home Depot and enjoy Hanukka treats! Participants receive a free worker's apron. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Location: Home Depot, 111 Shoreline Parkway, San Rafael. Learn more and RSVP.
  • SFMade Holiday Gift Fair
    California College of the Arts, San Francisco
    Sunday, 10 am–5 pm

    SFMade presents its 6th Annual Holiday Gift Fair, held at California College of the Arts’ San Francisco campus. The shopping extravaganza features locally made gift items from over 60 different SFMade vendors. The Fair’s unique products include jewelry, bags, chocolate, wine, other gourmet gifts, home items, apparel, body products, children’s toys, holiday cards and decorations, and stationery – all from local manufacturers and artisans who make their products in San Francisco. Location: 1111 Eighth Street, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Parent's Day Out: Blizzard Ball
    Rolling Hills Club, Novato
    Sunday, 1–4:30 pm

    It's a Snow Day at Rolling Hills Club! Join us as we watch snow grow in our hands and build ice palaces. Enjoy hot chocolate as we build a tasty snowman and get moving with some "snowball" games. We will watch "The Magic Snow Flake." Popcorn and fruit will be provided. Ages: 2.5-10. Cost: $22 per child ( Members ) and $32 per child ( Guests ). Register here. Location: 351 San Andreas Drive, Novato. For more info, visit their website.
  • Tim Cain's Family Christmas Sing-Along with Santa and Mrs. Claus
    Rancho Nicasio
    Sunday, 2–5 pm

    Tim Cain, Marin's favorite children's entertainer, will be singing a variety of holiday songs for the whole family from 4–5 pm. Come dance and sing and celebrate the holiday season. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there from 2–4 pm. Free. Location: On the Town Square, Nicasio. For more info, call (415) 662-2219 or visit their website.
  • Sing Along Messiah
    Dance Palace, Point Reyes Station
    Sunday, 3 pm

    Join us for one of our community’s most fulfilling holiday events at this sing-along of the most glorious and exciting choral masterpiece ever written. Fun for music lovers and listeners of all ages; no experience necessary. Tickets: $22 general, $20 seniors, $10 youth. Purchase tickets online here.
  • SingersMarin Presents ’Tis the Season … Traditions Near and Far
    Marin Veterans' Memorial Auditorium
    Sunday,  4 pm
    A joyful holiday tradition for Bay Area audiences, this concert is an uplifting way to celebrate with family and friends. Join Jan Pedersen Schiff and the seven youth and adult choral ensembles of SingersMarin as they perform familiar Christmas carols, Hanukkah songs, and songs of peace, accompanied by Irene Jacobson on piano and a bass and drum combo. Tickets: $40, $35, or $25; students and children are half price. More info at Buy tickets here.
  • San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker (see Friday for details).
  • San Francisco Zoo Lights (see Saturday for details).
  • Great Dickens Christmas Fair (see Friday for details).
  • The Berkeley Playhouse: Disney's Beauty and the Beast (see Friday for details).
  • Holiday Ice Skating in Union Square (see Friday for details).
  • Marin on Ice (see Friday for details).
  • Rombeiro Christmas House (see Friday for details).
  • Mickey Mouse Christmas House (see Friday for details).