With Christmas just around the corner and Hanukkah already underway, it seems like the list of December holiday events would be endless. In fact, there are still of plenty of things for families to do in the Reno/Sparks area, with many of them having young-child appeal since they are related to Santa. Older children, however, may enjoy the opportunity to see a play or catch holiday music. Whatever a family's fancy -- be it train rides or tree decorating -- a comprehensive list of holiday events is provided below.
1. Be sure to catch the Santa Train at the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City. Kids will have a chance to visit Santa aboard the train and also to receive a candy cane (Hey, that rhymes!) The Santa train has the added bonus of featuring historic equipment from the Virginia & Truckee Railroad. The train runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 12 -13, and 19-20. Tickets are $5 per person and those younger than 3 are free, as long as they sit in an adult's lap. Click here for details.
2. Of course, another way to catch a holiday train ride is via the Polar Express that travels from Carson City to Virginia City and back in a 24-mile round-trip event. A more affordable option may be to head up to Virginia City and take the four-mile route that goes to Gold Hill and back. From the Carson City site, however, the Polar Express departs Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in December, with special runs on the evenings of Monday, Dec. 21 and Tuesday, Dec. 22. Santa is, of course, on the train, and each child receives a silver sleigh bell as a memento of their trip. Coach prices for the 24-mile round-trip are $46 for adults and $36 for children ages 2-12. VIP pricing also is available; click here for details.
3. Really need to go and see Santa? Try and catch him at one of the upcoming Santa Claus is Coming to Your Washoe County Library events. He mightbe hard to catch because he'll be bouncing around from site to site, but upcoming times and dates include 10:30 a.m. Dec. 14 at the Spanish Springs library, 10:45 a.m. Dec. 17 at South Valleys, 10:15 a.m. Dec. 18 at the Sparks library, and 11 a.m. Dec. 19 at both the North Valleys and Northwest sites. Santa is magical like that! Check out the Washoe County library website for more details and for more events including a wrap party scheduled from 2 to 5 p.m. Dec. 19 at the Incline Village library.
4. Want the chance to help decorate a visitor's center? Then head up to the Galena Creek Visitor Center on Dec. 13, to participate in Hands on Holiday at Galena. Make snowman picture frames, tiny paper Christmas trees and reindeer puppets. Help to decorate the center's tree and also to decorate cookies. Cost is $5 per person or $15 for up to a family of six. Added bonus – take a hike afterward to burn off those cookie calories. Click here for details.
5. Looking for outdoors exercise? Check out the Downtown Reno Ice Rink at Aces Ballpark, open every day during the entire month of December, including Christmas, and far into the New Year. Cost is $6 for children ages 3-12 and $8 for teens and adults. Better yet – a webcam provides a view of the rink for anyone who wants to check it out ahead of time and there are sometimes vendors selling hot goodies nearby. For details, click here.
6. Need a refresher on the Christmas story and a break from Santa? Try the annual Live Nativity at Bishop Manogue in south Reno, scheduled from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17. A live enactment of the Christmas story, taking about 10 minutes, is put on by Bishop Manogue high school students and followed up by cocoa and cookies as well as live music by the Bishop Manogue choir. The best aspect? It's free. Details are here.
7. If your kids still haven't had a chance to get their Santa on, check out the opportunity to dine with the bearded man, along with Mrs. Claus, at Miguel's Mexican Food Restaurant at the Summit Mall from 8 to 10 a.m. Dec. 19. Themed Breakfast with Santa & Mrs. Claus, the event features a breakfast buffet, crafts, music, photos and more. Advanced registration is required and tickets are priced at $14 for adults and $9 for children 12 and younger. Click here for more details.
8. Need to get out of town for the day? Try the Holiday in History event scheduled at the Lake Tahoe History Museum in South Lake Tahoe from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19. Kids have the opportunity to call the North Pole from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on a special phone and everyone can join a tree lighting and Menorah lighting scheduled for 5 p.m. that evening, followed by carols sung by the South Lake Tahoe Children's Choral Society. Doesn’t sound like enough fun? There also will be an illuminated fire truck! Click here for more details.
9. Although perhaps better-suited for families with older children, "Jazz for the Holidays" is always an exciting way to get in the groove with a performance by the Reno Jazz Orchestra. This year's special guest is seven-time Grammy nominee and vocalist Tierney Sutton. Kids attending the show can be inspired by the Reno Youth Jazz Orchestra that performs half-hour before show starts. "Jazz for the Holidays" is scheduled to start 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19 and again at 2 p.m. Dec. 20 at Nightingale Hall at UNR. Ticket prices range from $10 (for students) to $45. To buy in advance, click here.
10. Want to give back? St. Vincent's is featuring its Feeding Families Food Drive during the holidays and families can drop off food on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 500 E. Fourth St. Families can go through their pantries beforehand and pull out items, including canned and boxed goods, but they are also welcome to drop off hams or turkeys. Cash donations are accepted, too. For more details, click here.
11. What are the holidays without the opportunity to view lights? Check out the 13-minute "Light Bro Show" appearing at 5555 Junction Peak Drive, in Sparks. Thousands of lights are synchronized to music, which can be heard on 89.3 FM. The shows start every half hour, starting at 5 p.m., and continue through to 9:30 p.m. daily. Catch the lights through Dec. 31 with no charge at all! More details can be found here.
12. Nearly everyone loves the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and his four ghostly visits. Now, families can take in "Ebenezer A Musical Christmas Carol," showing through Dec. 27 in the the Eldorado Theatre. Featuring the classic story as well as music and songs, the show can be seen for ticket prices starting at $26.95 for adults and $19.95 for children. Click here for more information.