The holidays are here, which means many of us will be doing a lot of spending. The costs of gifts, gatherings, and travel expenses add up quickly. Fortunately, there are many activities and events around the Bay Area that are inexpensive or free so you and your family can still have fun doing and seeing things without compromising your gift giving and partying budget.
Redwood City Hometown Holidays
December 1, 10:00 AM
Downtown Redwood City, and Courthouse Square
Downtown Redwood City is hosting its annual Hometown Holidays, culminating in a tree lighting ceremony and a fireworks show. There are plenty of activities throughout the day, including a children’s parade, movie on Courthouse Square (weather permitting), and a petting zoo with pony rides. Admission is free, but bring some cash for food and activities. Also, the San Mateo County History Museum will host Holiday Traditions from Around the World, which is a free crafting and educational program for the kids. Tree lighting is at 5:45 PM and the fireworks show starts at 5:50 PM.
Caltrain Holiday Train
December 1, 5:45 PM to 6:35 PM
Redwood City Caltrain Station
After a two-year hiatus, The Holiday Train is finally returning! This is a fun, free event, but please bring a toy to donate if you can. Enjoy the spectacular light and music show while helping out the people in your community. The toys go to local children in need. Afterwards, take the family downtown to see the lights, have dinner, or see a movie.
Bethlehem A.D. 2012
December 21 through 23, 6:00 PM – 9:30 PM
1305 Middlefield Road
This is an annual event produced by Tapestry Church of Redwood City. It’s a free event and attracts a large crowd. There is ample parking throughout downtown Redwood City (free after 6:00 PM). Before or after your visit you can stroll through downtown Redwood City to admire the Christmas lights, have dinner, or take the family to a movie.
Redwood Shores Farmers Market
Year Round, Fridays, 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Redwood Shores Library Parking Lot, 399 Marine Parkway
Although it’s not a holiday event, it’s one of the few farmer markets on the peninsula that operate year round. Being the holidays, many vendors will offer holiday-themed foods, arts, and crafts.
2nd Annual Night of Holiday Lights
December 2, 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM.
The tree lighting ceremony will be at 6:30 PM on the corner of Laurel and Cherry. Mayor Andy Klein will be on hand to light the tree and street. Laure Avenue is lined with many local shops and restaurants that will be open during the event. Christmas lights will illuminate most of Laurel Avenue, which is a sight to behold. There will also be a musical performance by Big City Review and, for the kids, a little bit of snow, train rides, and arts and crafts.
Christmas Lights on Eucalyptus Avenue
Eucalyptus Ave, between Orange Ave., and Tamarack Ave.
Now, through the holiday season.
This is not a city event, but residents on two blocks of Eucalyptus Avenue light up their homes for the holidays for an electrical spectacle. This is a residential area so there are no parking lots. You will have to find street parking and probably walk a few blocks, but it’s well worth the effort. The best time to view the lights is after the middle of December when all the houses have finished their decorations.
Rosewood Sand Hill Tree Lighting
November 28, 5:30 PM
2825 Sand Hill Rd.
Rosewood Sand Hill, just off interstate 280, will host a free tree lighting event for their 18-foot holiday tree. This free family friendly event will include carolers in Dickens-era costumes, hot cider, cookie decorating, and plenty of holiday goodies.
Menlo Park Chorus Holiday Concert
December 7, 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM
Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 330 Ravenswood Ave.
This annual event by the Menlo Park Chorus is its 12th year. It’s a great event for the entire family and refreshments are served afterwards. Tickets are $12 (children 12 and up) to $15 (adults) and children under 12 are free.