Kick off the holiday season at one of these 11 festive tree-lighting ceremonies

Photo by Elizabeth D. Photography

Not feeling the holiday spirit just yet? There's nothing like a good old-fashioned tree lighting ceremony and copious amounts of marshmallow-topped liquid chocolate to warm the cold hearts of even the sourest Scrooges. Behold our list of 11 of the region's most spirited celebrations.

Old Sacramento

Nov. 22 On the eve of Thanksgiving, Old Saint Nick will arrive at the historic district to light its 60-foot-tall Christmas tree. Sourced from Shasta County, the towering giant will sparkle with about 100,000 lights from Sacramento Theatrical Lighting, four 9-foot-long stockings, three decorative sugarplums and one 4-foot-tall mouse. Stick around after the tree lighting to watch the opening performance of Macy’s Theatre of Lights festival, featuring a live-action retelling of the 1823 poem “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” narrated by Emmy-nominated voice actor Bill Farmer, known for voicing Disney’s Goofy. Free. 6 p.m. 1014 2nd St. 970-5226.

Elk Grove

Nov. 25 More than 2,000 LED lights will adorn a 70-foot-tall Christmas tree at Elk Grove’s Parade of Lights, which features a cavalcade of colorful cars, bicycles and floats, as well as Christmas sleighs and marching bands, beginning at the corner of Emerald Park Drive and Elk Grove Florin Road and ending at the 30th annual Dickens Street Faire along Elk Grove Boulevard. Kids can hit up “Oliver’s Alley” for bounce houses, face painting and balloon artists, then join Santa for the tree lighting festivities at 7:30 p.m. Free. Parade starts at 6 p.m. Emerald Park Dr. & Elk Grove Florin Rd. Elk Grove. 691-2489.


Nov. 26 & Dec. 1 The Palladio hosts its annual tree lighting gathering on Nov. 26, during which families can join the Nutcracker for some cocoa and a chance to take photos with Santa. On Dec. 1, the Folsom Historic District will host its 23rd tree lighting ceremony near the ice-skating rink, featuring live performances from the Sutter Street Theatre carolers and local dance teams. Ride the trackless train through the historic district, where "snow" will fall from shop balconies. The 20-foot-tall Christmas tree at the heart of the ice rink will be set aglow at 7:30 p.m. Free. Palladio: 5-6 p.m. 410 Palladio Pkwy. 542-7408. Historic District: 6-9 p.m. 200 Wool St. Folsom. 985-7452.

On Dec. 1, Historic Folsom will light up its 20-foot-tall tree surrounded by an ice skating rink (Photo courtesy of Folsom Historic District Association)


Nov. 30 A children’s candlelight parade will kick off the 36th annual downtown Davis holiday celebration where guests can meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. Watch performances by the UC Davis Aggie Marching Band and the “Jazzamatazz” jazz band, as well as a free showing of the animated version of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas at Varsity Theatre. Hop on a free carriage ride, which departs from Armadillo Music every 10 minutes and take selfies with Davis’ mascot Mr. Toad and other holiday characters like the Nutcracker and a gingerbread man before the city’s 25-foot-tall tree is lit up at 6:30 p.m. Free. 5:30-8:30 p.m. E Street Plaza. 207 F. St. Davis. 530-757-5602.


Nov. 30 Roseville will channel Disneyland as snow in the form of bubbles fills the air during its annual tree lighting event. Decorate Christmas cookies, grab some hot chocolate and take youngsters to a kids zone, where they can tackle a climbing wall, obstacle courses and other outdoor activities. Thousands of lights will illuminate the tree in the Vernon Street Town Square shortly after 6 p.m. Free. 6-8 p.m. Vernon Street Town Square. 311 Vernon St. Roseville. 772-7529.

West Sacramento

Dec. 1 To ring in the holiday season, West Sacramento will celebrate its annual Winter Wonderland tree lighting ceremony, replete with falling snow and performances from school bands, choirs and the BlyueRose Dance Project. Decorate sugar cookies and other holiday crafts, sip hot chocolate, and line up for a meet and greet with Santa, who will arrive on a fire truck. A West Sacramento councilmember will light the city’s 50-foot-tall Christmas tree at 7 p.m. Free. 6-9 p.m. West Sacramento Civic Center. 1110 Capitol Ave. 371-7042.

Visit with residents of the North Pole during Elk Grove's Dickens Street Faire and tree lighting event. (Photo courtesy of the City of Elk Grove)

El Dorado Hills

Dec. 2 El Dorado Hills Town Center will teem with activities and the sounds of carolers during the city’s 11th annual Christmas tree lighting. Drink hot chocolate and snack on cookies and kettle corn as you wander through nearby shops, which will be open for the evening. Little ones can participate in the fifth annual “Stuff Your Stocking” game and watch as a city fire truck carries Santa into the Theater Plaza to light the tree at about 6:30 p.m. Free. 4-8 p.m. El Dorado Hills Town Center. 2085 Vine St. El Dorado Hills. 933-3013.

Fair Oaks

Dec. 2 Plaza Park in Fair Oaks will transform into a festive Yuletide scene for the city’s 34th Christmas in the Village celebration, featuring a gingerbread house display, holiday ukulele jingles from the River City Ukes, arts and crafts at Santa’s workshop booth and a parade of lights along Fair Oaks Boulevard. Attendees can also sip hot cider, get crafty at wreath and Yule log decorating workshops and nab some selfies with the man in red before the park’s tree is lit around 6 p.m. Free. 3-7 p.m. Fair Oaks Village. 4238 Main St. Fair Oaks. 966-1036.


Dec. 2 Rocklin’s historic Quarry District will host its annual tree lighting festivities in front of the charming, whitewashed Old St. Mary’s Chapel, built in 1883. Go for a wagon or train ride, listen to carolers, visit with costumed characters in Victorian attire, and munch on hot dogs, chili, popcorn and cookies. Kids can tell Santa their favorite gift wishes and take a hop or two inside bounce houses. The tree lighting ceremony is at 7 p.m. Free. 4-7 p.m. Old St. Mary’s. 5251 Front St. Rocklin.

St. Nick and Mrs. Claus will light the tree at El Dorado Hills Town Center on Dec. 2. (Photo courtesy of El Dorado Hills Town Center)


Dec. 7 Bring a canned good to benefit the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services and receive a pass to take photos with Father Christmas at this tree lighting event in Carmichael Park. Kids can also browse booths with cookie decorating and face painting while parents nosh on dinner from local food trucks like Cecil’s Taste, Chando’s Tacos and Bacon Mania. Everyone will gather at 6:15 p.m. around a grand 60-foot-tall redwood tree for the night’s main event. Free. 5-8 p.m. Carmichael Park. 5750 Grant Ave. Carmichael. 485-5322.

Downtown Sacramento

Dec. 7 A 65-foot-tall white fir tree, sourced from a state forest near Redding, arrived on the lawn in front of the State Capitol’s west steps on Nov. 6 and will soon be decorated with about 10,000 LED bulbs, as well as hundreds of handcrafted ornaments that were donated from the California Department of Developmental Services. Gov. Jerry Brown and first lady Ann Gust Brown will set the tree aglow during this 86th annual lighting ceremony, which is hosted by Kitty O’Neal of KFBK and will feature a performance by St. Paul’s Baptist Church choir. Free. 4-10 p.m. West Steps of the State Capitol. 10th St. and Capitol Mall.

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