There’s no excuse not to get into the holiday spirit as this weekend is full of tree lightings, Santa visits and the kick off of everyone’s favorite Dickens Fair. The weather is perfect to head to a nearby u-cut farm to pick your Christmas tree. Warm up the hot cocoa and hit the town!

photo: California Academy of Sciences

San Francisco

‘Tis the Season for Science
Enter the immersive digital dome of the Snowman Theater and watch a short, kid-friendly show exploring the science and beauty of aurora borealis. Step outside the theater to revel in delightful indoor snow flurries and then swing by the East Garden to meet Velvet and Tinsel, a pair of real-life reindeer. Make sure you save some time to twirl around the outdoor ice rink! Fri.-Sun. Event details

Embarcadero Center Building Lighting Ceremony & Carnival
This building lighting is one you’ll definitely want to attend as it kicks off the holiday season in SF. Four iconic buildings will be lit with 17,000 holiday lights and the sky will explode with fireworks. Fri. Event details

East Bay

Holiday Tree Lighting in Jack London Square
Oakland’s favorite annual holiday tradition promises to deliver holiday magic to the Oakland waterfront with the lighting of a spectacular 50+ foot Mount Shasta Fir Tree adorned with thousands of sparking white lights and hundreds of colorful ornaments. Fri. Event details

The Tale of Despereaux
Bring the kids to see this musical interpretation of the Newbery Medal-winning story of a mouse named Despereaux. The courageous Despereaux, shunned by his community for his love of stories and humans, shows a forlorn kingdom that even the smallest voice can change the world—and that it only takes a little light to reveal the truth. Fri.-Sun. Event details


The Great Dickens Fair
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair is an enchanting journey through a merrier era—the streets of Victorian London circa Christmas 1860. Visitors will explore twilight-lit streets with shops, pubs, stages and dance halls filled with more than 800 Victorian characters and the aromas of roasted chestnuts and hearty fare. Sat.-Sun. Event details

Kids’ Carnival at the Hiller
Join the excitement with special activities just for kids!  Aircraft checkouts, cockpit exploration, glider and helicopter construction and more are just some of the activities available. Sun. Event details

South Bay

Jurassic Quest
Jurassic Quest is America’s largest and most realistic dinosaur event. Gests will walk through the Cretaceous period, the Jurassic Period and The Triassic period and experience for themselves what it was like to be among the living, breathing dinosaurs. Fri.-Sun. Event details

Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro
Santa’s Wonderland returns to Bass Pro Shops and families are invited to enjoy this magical Christmas village offering free photos with Santa and free family holiday activities including fun crafts and games. Fri.-Sun. Event details

North Bay

Ride the Santa Train
They pull out all the stops each year as the Napa Valley Wine Train fills with the sounds of the season. Guests will be treated to sing-a-longs, games and stories, as they deliver Jolly the Bear to the North Pole. On the way back, fairies will collect letters to Santa and the big guy himself will hand out toy bears. It’s a fun-filled, action-packed journey, suitable for all ages. Fri.-Sun. Event details

Marine Science Sunday
Engage in this ocean-inspired classroom series from education experts that’s great for all ages. Sun. Event details

—Kate Loweth