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Christmas and Holiday Activities Guide for Reno and Sparks

Family Events for Christmas and the Holiday Season in Reno and Sparks, Nevada.


Nutcracker Ballet at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts, Reno, Nevada, NV

Nutcracker Ballet at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts, Reno, Nevada.

Photo courtesy A.V.A. Ballet Theatre

Christmas and holiday activities, events, and shows in Reno include philharmonic concerts, Christmas tree lights, Christmas celebrations, holiday festivals, special shopping, singing, and ballets. You don't need a lot of money to enjoy family fun during the holidays - there are many free holiday activities around the Reno / Tahoe area.

Holiday Events, Concerts, and Shows

Sparks Hometowne Christmas Celebration - December 6 and 7, 2013. Sparks Hometowne Christmas kicks off with the annual tree lighting ceremony on Friday evening from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Mayor Martini will light the tree at Saint Mary's Amphitheater in Victorian Square and there will be refreshments courtesy of John Ascuaga's Nugget. On Saturday, the 27th annual Sparks Hometowne Christmas Parade begins at 1 p.m. and will travel east to west along Victorian Avenue. The theme is "Celebrating 150 Years of Nevada Heritage," in celebration of the Sesquicentennial - 150th Anniversary of Nevada Statehood. Come early to enjoy free hot chocolate from Living Stones Church. Check out Santa's Village and visit Santa in the historic Glendale Schoolhouse. Other activities include Christmas shopping at the Hometowne Craft Faire in the Sparks Heritage Museum and Cultural Center. You can bring a new, unwrapped gift to donate for the City of Sparks Toy Drive. Join the Ugly Sweater Fun Run at 10 a.m. on December 7, a benefit for Toys For Tots. For more information, call (775) 353-2291.

Spirit of the Season - Reno Philharmonic Orchestra - December 7 and 8, 2013. A classic celebration. A timeless tradition. A treat for eyes and ears. The Reno Philharmonic welcomes special guest vocalist LaKisha Jones, the Reno Philharmonic Chorus, students from the Reno Philharmonic's Celebrate Strings program, dancers, performers, Santa Tappers, and Santa Claus himself. Performances on December 7 are at 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 8 p.m., and 10 p.m. On December 8, performances are at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.. Spirit of the Season traditionally sells out quickly, so please purchase your tickets early. Prices $12 to $67. Tickets are available online and at the Pioneer Center Box Office, (775) 686-6600.

Holiday Fun at the Washoe County Library - Various dates in December. Check my article and the Washoe County Library website for dates and locations of holiday events and activities like Christmas story times, visits from Santa, free holiday movies, and more. For more information, call (775) 327-8300.

Tuba Christmas Concert at the May Museum - December 7, 2013. Come to the Wilbur D. May Museum for the annual Tuba Christmas Concert at 3 p.m. This free family-friendly event features holiday carols arranged in four-part harmony and performed by local tuba, baritone, and euphonium players. Sip hot cocoa and cider and nibble cookies. Try a holiday scavenger hunt in the museum collection to win a prize. Come back the following weekend for the Holiday Gingerbread Festival at the Museum (see below).

Handel's Messiah at UNR - December 4, 2013. Choral and orchestral concert featuring Symphonic Chorus, Chamber Singers, Concert Chorus, University Symphony Orchestra and student soloists in a performance of Handel's Messiah. Tickets are $5, free for UNR students. The program starts at 7:30 p.m. and will be in the Nightingale Concert Hall, Church Fine Arts Building, on the UNR campus. Tickets can be purchased online or at the Nightingale Concert Hall Box Office beginning one hour before the performance, or by calling (775) 784-3555. For more information, call (775) 784-6145.

The Nutcracker at the Pioneer Center - December 13, 14, 15, 2013. The stage at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts will be alive with a sugar plum fairy and dancing mice as A.V.A. Ballet Theatre presents its 18th annual Nutcracker Ballet featuring the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra. Performances will be December 13 at 8 p.m., December 14 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday December 15 at 2 p.m. at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Reno. Adult tickets are from $25 to $55, with discounts for children and seniors. For more information, call A.V.A. Ballet Theatre at (775) 762-5165 or the Pioneer Center at (775) 686-6600. Pioneer Center box office hours are Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are also available online.

Holiday Gingerbread Festival at the Wilbur D. May Center - December 14, 2013. Join the family fun and enter the Holiday Gingerbread House Contest at the May Center in Rancho San Rafael Regional Park. Ribbons and prizes will be awarded in three categories. Proceeds from the contest go to benefit the Wilbur D. May Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Get entry forms online or at these locations: May Arboretum Office and Wilbur D. May Museum, both at 1595 N. Sierra Street in Rancho San Rafael Park. The entry fee is $10 and forms are due by December 11. Gingerbread houses must be delivered to the Wilbur D. May Museum between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Saturday, December 14. In addition to formal judging, those in attendance can vote for a "People's Choice" award. Winners will be announced at 2 p.m. This event also features holiday musical performances and holiday arts and crafts. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call (775) 823-6500.

The Nutcracker by Bay Pointe Ballet - December 7 and 8, 2013. Bay Pointe Ballet is a new Bay Area ballet company under the direction of Bruce Steivel, former Artistic Director of the Nevada Ballet Theatre of Las Vegas. This adaptation of The Nutcracker is pleasing to adults and children alike. Bay Pointe Ballet travels with more than 30 of the best San Francisco Bay Area dancers. Performances will be in the Grand Theatre at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno. There will be two shows - 7 p.m. on December 7 and 2 p.m. on December 8. Tickets range from $25 to $50 and can be purchased online or by calling (800) 648-3568.

Reno Santa Pub Crawl - December 14, 2013. A variety of Santas, Mrs. Santas, elves, and other holiday beings will take to the streets of downtown Reno for the 2013 edition of the Reno Santa Pub Crawl. This roving party starts at one of several bars and involves dozens of watering holes scattered around the neighborhood. Things get started at 7:30 p.m. - get a crawl map at one of seven official start bars and start drinking at any or all of the participating bars. Participation in the Reno Santa Pub Crawl is free, but you'll have to pay for your drinks. You must be 21 and wearing some variety of Santa suit to participate. This is an adult drinking event and there will be big bouncers checking IDs, so be sure to have yours handy. And don't even think about driving, or letting anyone else in your group get behind the wheel. The Reno Santa Crawl is actually a local charity fundraiser. This year, proceeds go to DonorsChoose.org, in support of local schools.

Brüka Theatre presents Buttcracker 5 – Pirate Booty - Buttcracker 5 – Pirate Booty brings to Reno a ridiculous holiday comedy playing from November 29 through December 21, 2013. Brüka dances its pants off in this ridiculous parody based on the holiday favorite The Nutcracker. An eclectic, hilarious and original performance experience laced with Brüka’s exciting performance style with a new adventure taking Clara and the gang on a high seas adventure. Shows start at 8 p.m. on November 29 and 30, and on December 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20, and 21. There will be a Sunday matinee performance on December 8 and 15 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $22 adults, $20 students, seniors, and military. All tickets at the door are $25. Call the Brüka Theatre box office at (775) 323-3221 or buy tickets in person at 99 N. Virginia Street in Reno. Box office hours are 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Friday, 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, and 12 noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Tickets are available online and at The Melting Pot, 1049 S. Virginia Street in Reno. Brüka validates parking at the nearby Parking Gallery at First and Sierra Streets.

Keep going for more Christmas and Holiday Activities.

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