Set your holiday spirit aglow at these 10 local tree lighting ceremonies

Photo by Elizabeth D. Photography

As Thanksgiving approaches, holiday spirit is in the air. Sacramento and its surrounding cities are opening their ice rinks and decorating their Christmas trees to the nines for St. Nick’s arrival. Read on for our list of 10 local tree lighting ceremonies.

Old Sacramento

Nov. 23 On Thanksgiving Eve, Santa Claus himself will light the historic district’s 60-foot-tall Christmas tree decorated with ornaments like oversized stockings and gingerbread men. The event will kick off the Macy’s Theatre of Lights festival, which will continue each weekend through Christmas Eve. After checking out the sparkly evergreen, take in a live-action performance of Clement Clarke Moore’s 1823 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” narrated by Bill Farmer (Disney’s Goofy), and accompanied by a sound and light show put on by Sacramento Theatrical Lighting, Associated Sound and Skywalker Sound. Free. Tree lighting at 6:15 p.m. 1014 2nd St. 970-5226.

Elk Grove

Nov. 26 If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like to ride in a parade, you’re free to bedeck your car, bicycle or pedestrian personage in as many LED lights as you can power and come join St. Nick, Mrs. Claus and California State Assembly member James “Jim” Cooper to wind your way through Elk Grove and Old Town for the Holiday Parade of Lights. Featuring floats, a Christmas sleigh and three bands, as well as homespun entries from community members of all stripes, the parade will start at the corner of Emerald Park Drive and Elk Grove Florin Road and end at the 29th annual Dickens Street Faire at Elk Grove Boulevard and Walnut Street, where Santa will light up a 60-foot-tall tree. Free. 5:30-8 p.m. Tree lighting at 7:30 p.m. Emerald Park Dr. and Elk Grove Florin Rd. Elk Grove. 691-2489.


Dec. 1 Sing along with the River City Concert Band at Carmichael’s annual tree lighting bash, where you can indulge in fare from food trucks like Cowtown Creamery, Frenchy’s Waffles and Squeeze Inn. A 50-foot-tall tree will be lit while everyone partakes in a day of arts and crafts, with booths for cookie decorating and face painting, along with visits with Santa. A holiday canned food drive benefiting Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services aims to keep the Grinch away. Free. 5-8 p.m. Tree lighting at 6:15 p.m. Carmichael Park. 5750 Grant Ave. Carmichael. 485-5322.


Dec. 1 A children’s candlelight parade will light the way to this 35th annual event, where Santa and Mrs. Claus will greet the nice and the naughty (with the traditional photo op). Local music groups set to perform include the Davis High School Jazz Choir, the UC Davis Aggie Marching Band, the “Jazzamatazz” Jazz Band, as well as others. A free showing of Chuck Jones’ classic animated version of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas will screen at the Varsity Theatre, and free carriage rides will depart from Armadillo Music every 10 minutes. Standing between 20-25 feet tall, the live Christmas tree is sourced locally in Davis and decorated by volunteers of the Davis community and the Twinkle Light Crew, a local lighting organization. Free. 6-8:30 p.m. Tree lighting at 6:30 p.m. E Street Plaza. 207 F St. Davis. (530) 757-5602. 


Dec. 1 Partake of free Christmas cookies and hot chocolate while holiday music by a local DJ sets the jolly tone for this tree lighting celebration at Roseville Town Square. Bounce houses, a climbing wall, face painting, cookie decorating, craft stations and train rides are aimed to charm both children and adults, and snow in the form of bubbles will create the illusion of being at the North Pole. Mayor Carol Garcia will fire up the 10,000 lights on the tree in Vernon Town Square shortly after 6 p.m. Free. 6-8 p.m. Tree lighting at 6:10 p.m. Vernon Street Town Square. 311 Vernon St. Roseville. 772-7529.

West Sacramento

Dec. 2 West Sacramento is bringing a little bit of snow to the Sacramento region with its Winter Wonderland, featuring entertainment by local youth choirs, festive eats including red and green popcorn by Art of Popcorn, free cookie decorating, hot chocolate, crafts like jewelry-making and laser wood cutting, free keepsake photos with Santa, and plenty more. St. Nick will arrive at City Hall by fire truck at 6:30 p.m., after which Mayor Christopher Cabaldon will light the 50-foot-tall Christmas tree. Free. 6-8:30 p.m. Tree lighting at 6:30 p.m. West Sacramento City Hall. 1110 Capitol Ave. West Sacramento. 371-7042.


Dec. 2 The Folsom Historic District is packed with fun activities any day of the week, from its ice-skating rink and Pioneer Village to its antique shops, galleries and boutiques. The 22nd annual tree lighting ceremony will feature live performances by the Bayside Dancers, actors from Sutter Street Theatre, the Woodsong String Quartet and many more local acts, as well as festive holiday fare, drinks and free train rides. Folsom’s dazzling Christmas tree, located next to a historic railroad turntable that's encircled by the ice rink, will be lit at 7:30 p.m. Free. 6-9 p.m. Tree lighting at 7:30 p.m. 915 Sutter St. Folsom. 985-7452.

Downtown Sacramento

Dec. 5 Continuing a tradition that began 85 years ago, Downtown Sacramento’s 60-foot-tall Christmas tree arrived in front of the Capitol on Nov. 8 and has since been strung with 10,000 lights and decorated with hundreds of handcrafted ornaments made by children and adults with developmental disabilities. Sourced from a forest in Shasta County, the tree weighs 6,600 pounds and will serve as a cheerful photo op at the State Capitol for the coming holiday season. Gov. Jerry Brown, first lady Anne Gust Brown and other local leaders will light the tree at 4:30 p.m. Free. 4:30-6 p.m. West Steps of the State Capitol. 10th St. and Capitol Mall.

El Dorado Hills

Dec. 5 For the 10th year in a row, El Dorado Hills will present a day filled with live bands and a merchant open house featuring cocktails, hot chocolate and cookies presented by the local chamber of commerce and Nugget Markets. Children can participate in the 4th annual “Stuff Your Stocking” game during which they run around to participating businesses in search of items on a holiday scavenger hunt list. Good ol’ Santa will light the 32-foot-tall tree to usher in the season’s cheer at 6:30 p.m. Free. 4-8 p.m. Tree lighting at 6:30 p.m. Upper Theatre Plaza in Town Center. 4364 Town Center Blvd. El Dorado Hills. 933-3013.


Dec. 10 Standing approximately 25 feet tall, the Rocklin Christmas tree will be adorned with plenty of traditional Christmas tree accents like angels and trumpeters, and of course, strands upon strands of lights. The city’s tree lighting ceremony will offer an abundance of holiday cheer, from cookies with hot chocolate and horse-drawn wagon rides to performances from local choirs, bands and children’s groups. Plus, little ones can take turns in bounce houses while you nab a selfie with Santa and join groups of carolers before the tree turns bright at 7 p.m. Free. 4:30-7:30 p.m. Tree lighting at 7 p.m. Old St. Mary’s. 5251 Front St. Rocklin.

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