‘Tis the season for hot cocoa, festive gatherings . . . and theme parks? Believe it or not, taking the family to an amusement park is the perfect way to kick off the holidays. Theme parks around the Bay Area (and beyond) have hauled out the holly and filled up the stockings to bring families the coolest holiday celebrations around. Their special holiday decorations, attractions, and entertainment are sure to warm the coldest grinchy heart. Flip through to see all the holiday happenings at theme parks from Marin to SoCal.

Knott’s Berry Farm

Celebrate a traditional American Christmas at Knott's Berry Farm! America's First Theme Park becomes Knott's Merry Farm for the holidays, with activities and attractions guaranteed to make your family's memories merry and bright.

Festive decor

From the 65' holiday tree to the lights draped over attraction marquees, the park is festooned with decor designed to kindle the holiday spirit. As you stroll through the streets of Calico Town, the traditional holiday decor will take you back to Christmas seasons past. Calico townsfolk wander around dressed in their holiday best, making you feel like you're part of the action.

Seasonal attractions

What would Christmas be without Santa? At Santa's Christmas Cabin, little ones can share their sugarplum-filled visions with the jolly old elf while parents relax and munch on holiday snacks. Afterwards, hop aboard the Calico Railroad to experience one of the highlights of Knott's Merry Farm. Train lovers of all ages will enjoy a ride around the park as Ghost Town residents stroll through the railcars and share their Christmas plans. Another must-see attraction is the Knott's Christmas Craft Village. Featuring dozens of local artisans selling holiday goodies, this is one holiday tradition you won't find at any other theme park.

Holiday entertainment

When it comes to entertainment, Knott's Merry Farm shines bright. From carolers to cartoon characters, Knott's has a holiday show for everyone. The Peanuts Gang are the undisputed headliners of the Merry Farm entertainment lineup, starring in no less than three separate shows. Camp Snoopy Theatre hosts A Peanuts Guide to Christmas, an all-new show set to some lively holiday tunes. The celebration continues at the Calico Mine Stage with It's the Merriest Christmas Show Ever, Charlie Brown. This live musical features the Peanuts Gang along with singers and dancers performing holiday classics. However, if there's one show you simply must see, it's the Merry Christmas, Snoopy! ice show at the Charles M. Schultz Theatre. World-class skaters perform with the Peanuts Gang in a spectacular production that's worth the price of admission by itself.

For those who prefer more traditional holiday entertainment, catch performances of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol and O. Henry's A Gift of the Magi at the Birdcage Theatre. These holiday classics have been abridged to about 30 minutes, well within the attention span of your little elves. As the sun sets, head to Ghost Town for Snow and Glow. Thousands of twinkling lights set to music and gently falling snow make this light show the perfect way to end a perfect day.

Knott's Merry Farm runs Nov. 17-Jan. 7, 2018.

Knott’s Berry Farm
8039 Beach Blvd.
Buena Park CA
714-220-5200
Online: knotts.com

photo: Knott's Berry Farm

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Do you plan to visit an amusement park this holiday season? Which one? Tell us about your experience in a comment!

—Ana Picazo