Five Family-Friendly New Year’s Eve Activities in Sacramento

1488267_10153642396675065_1666433344_nBy Alyssa Green

It’s hard to believe that another year has come and gone and it’s already time to celebrate the beginning of 2014.  If you are looking for some New Year’s Eve activities  in Sacramento that the whole family can enjoy together, you are in luck.  Check out our list below – you are sure to find at least one event or activity that you will want to participate in.  Happy New Year!

1. New Year’s Eve Sky Spectacular in Old Sacramento – The 2013 New Year’s Eve Sky Spectacular event will offer kid-friendly programming, lively street entertainment and live music provided by the popular Radio Disney Road Crew, the ever-energetic Natomas Drumline, Nashville Recording Artist McKenna Faith and the Northern California-based funk and soul phenomenon, Joy & Madness band. In addition, the magical and electrifying “Theatre of Lights” will wrap up the holiday season with two final – and free – performances at 7 p.m. and again at 8:30 p.m. on K Street (between Front & 2nd Streets).  Fireworks shows are at 9:00 pm and Midnight.

2. Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink – Presented by the Sacramento Downtown Partnership, the holiday ice rink is located at St. Rose of Lima Park and is open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm on New Year’s Eve day.  Bring in a receipt from the Downtown Plaza and you’ll receive free skate rental.

3. Noon Year’s Eve: A Free Family Festival at the Crocker Art Museum – Say a big hello to 2014 with a high energy New Year’s celebration that takes you around the world and back again. Families can count down to the New Year at noon at this fun and free celebration of global cultural experiences. With live music and dance performances and festive art activities happening throughout the Museum, this is one New Year’s celebration everyone can stay awake for.

4. Sacramento New Year’s Eve River Cruise – Spend your New Year’s Eve on the Sacramento River aboard the Hornblower.  Enjoy a unique view of  the New Year’s Eve Sky Spectacular Fireworks show* onboard a one hour River  Cruise! There are two Cruise times available so you can catch the earlier  Fireworks Show*, or the traditional show timing. You and your guests can relax  during an evening cruise under the Tower Bridge and I Street Bridge with  background music and a complimentary toast of champagne! A bar is available on  board to purchase additional wine, beer and cocktails. Mingle inside or step  onto the outer deck to view the fireworks show put on by the City of Sacramento  as you ring in 2014.

5. Who Year Celebrations at the Sacramento Children’s Museum – Come celebrate the arrival of the New Year at SCM on December 31st, with Who Year activities all day! Every hour, guests will learn what countries are celebrating New Year’s Day in real-time. Every hour you will be invited to participate in a Bubble Stomp, creating the sounds of celebration! Guests will also participate in Cultural Connections activities that relate to the celebration of New Year’s Day around the world!  All admissions are 50% off!


Weekend Family Fun

Weekend Family fun collage

12/27 – Sacramento Kings vs. Miami Heat at Sleep Train Arena- The Sacramento Kings take on the Miami Heat in this basketball game.

12/27 – New Year’s Eve Banner at the Discovery Museum – Make the end of 2013 memorable by visiting the Discovery Museum with family and friends. Explore exhibits, a nature walk and the craft room.  Kids 12 and under color and assemble a New Year Banner to take home.  Admission includes an animal presentation at noon & 2pm, the Space Quest! exhibit and planetarium shows at 1pm & 3pm (for ages 4 and older).

12/27-12/28 – Comedy Sportz Improv Comedy – ComedySportz isn’t comedy about sports—it’s comedy played as a sport! Two teams compete for your laughs and your points by making up scenes based on your suggestions. This is high energy, interactive fun for all ages, similar to the hit show Whose Line Is It Anyway? As the winner for KCRA Best Comedy Club 2009 & 2010, ComedySportz loves to make you laugh!

12/27-12/29 – The Christmas Train aboard the Sacramento River Train – Come celebrate the holiday season on a festive two-hour train ride! This trip features a show that brings the fun family book Morgan and the Magical Christmas Train to life. Characters will interact with the kids, a musician plays fun music throughout the trip, and tickets include hot cocoa and cookies. Santa might also make a surprise visit! Guests are encouraged to come in their most holiday themed pajamas.

12/28 – Tissssssss the Season at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center – Have you been missing the cold-blooded critters that have been hiding out this winter? Come in to see and learn all about the Nature Center’s reptiles that are awake and warm!

12/28-12/29 – Beauty and the Beast at the Be Street Theater – “Beauty and The Beast” tells the story of a merchant’s daughter, Belle, who sacrifices herself to save her father.  Condemned to his ugly visage unless he can marry, the Beast repeatedly asks Belle for her hand in marriage. Belle rebuffs him, but slowly his violent and intimidating façade melts away as the Beast and Belle form a friendship. When the friendship is tested, by the appearance of Belle’s shallow sister, Magette, the Beast and Belle must learn to look beyond the surface and take the greatest leap of faith, the leap of love.

12/28-12/29 – A Winnie The Pooh Christmas Tail – A very special friend tells Christopher Robin a story of a Christmas Eve very long ago (about last year) when Eeyore, the old gray donkey who lives by himself in the thistle corner of Hundred-Acre Wood, was absolutely miserable. It seems that he lost his tail and Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet got all of their friends together and a search was organized. There is a great deal of fun and excitement, plus delightful songs, in the adventure that follows.

12/28 – 12/31 – Winter Scienceland at the Discovery Museum – It may not snow often in Sacramento but that does not mean that we can’t celebrate the science of snow.  Learn a bit about snowflakes.  As a take home, children 12 and under craft a Jack Frost wand.  Admission includes these activities, an animal presentation at noon & 2pm, the Space Quest! exhibit and planetarium shows at 1pm & 3pm (for ages 4 and older).

12/29 – Coyote Tales at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center – Join the Effie Yeaw Nature Center for a program all about an animal some people may call the “Trickster”. Learn about this animal, hear some coyote tales, and get a close-up look at a coyote pelt, skull and even a mounted specimen! Then hit the trails with a Naturalist to search for tracks and scat of these wild canines.

Weekend Family Fun


12/12 – 12/22 – Winter Wonderland at Fairytale Town -Celebrate the holiday season with Winter Wonderland Magic at Fairytale Town!  The
storybook park will be trimmed with festive décor and lit up with a dazzling display of lights, starting at dusk. Enjoy hands-on craft activities, holiday vendors, and more at this annual family holiday event.

12/14 – A Simple Emigrant Christmas at Sutter’s Fort – Join at Sutter’s Fort for this special seasonal event. In John Sutter’s day, people from around the world passed through the gates, each with their own customs and traditions for the holiday season. A Simple Emigrant Christmas presents several vignettes showing holiday scenes, including foods, music, decorations, and traditions from other cultures. During the day visitors will be able to dip candles, make cornhusk dolls, and create Christmas ornaments.

12/14 – Santa Parade – The traditional holiday parade features marching bands, clowns, youth groups, horses, antique vehicles, and much more! Santa, the star of the parade, will make his appearance at the end of the parade, ringing in the holidays.  Parade Route: Starts at 14th & N, continues west on N to 10th, then north to L, west on L and ending at 4th and L.

12/14 – A Charlie Brown Christmas – The theatre company presents its third annual production of A Charlie Brown Christmas, the beloved story of Charlie Brown and the whole gang as they try to find the true meaning of Christmas.  On Saturday (12/14) the company presents a “Special Kid’s Day” where children can join the cast after the show for snacks, craft stations, activities, and prizes! Each child will get an autographed picture of the cast, a cookie to decorate, a variety of snacks, and much more. Each station will be led by your child’s favorite characters from the show.

12/14 – Holiday Magic at the Sacramento Zoo – Bundle up the family and come enjoy the holiday season at the Zoo!  Food and Toy Drive: Bring a new, unwrapped toy or non-perishable food item and receive a $1 off your Zoo admission. The U.S. Marine Corps will be taking your toy donations for Toys for Tots and food donations go the the Sacramento Food Bank and families in need.  Animal Enrichments: Animals will get special treats delivered to them and staff will be on hand to share facts, secrets and answer your questions.

12/14 – Return of the Salmon at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center – Come join the Effie Yeaw Nature Center as returning guest speaker Chris Fitzer gives a talk about Chinook salmon and steelhead that make annual spawning runs in the American River. Learn the life history and ecology of these two amazing fish species as well as a brief overview on the changes to their historical habitat in the American River. Be sure not to miss this amazing and informative speaker!

12/15 – Sacramento Kings vs. Houston Rockets at Sleep Train Arena -The Sacramento Kings take on the Houston Rockets in this basketball game.

12/15 – The Elves and the Shoemaker -In this holiday favorite, two merry elves arrive at a small village in the Black Forest to discover a shoemaker who clearly needs their assistance.  A Folsom favorite for many years, California Theatre Center has repeatedly been recognized as the top professional theatre for young American audiences. Having twice opened the season at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, CTC creates quality experiences for youth (grades K-5) and families alike.

12/15 – Birding For Families at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center – Bring the family out to join special guest guides from the Sacramento Audubon Society for a birding walk. Birdwatchers of all levels are welcome!

Sacramento’s Annual Santa Parade will take over the streets and put everyone in the “Holiday Spirit”

untitledIt’s the most wonderful time of the year”…and there are many things going on in our capital city to get us in the holiday spirit!
On Saturday, December 14, join other families at the annual Santa Parade in downtown Sacramento. With more than 25,000 spectators lining the streets- you can watch spectacular floats, listen to marching bands and await for jolly Old St. Nicholas’ arrival.
The parade will start off at 10 am, from 13th and N Streets.  It will travel west on N Street to 9th, North on 9th to L Street, west on L Street to 4th where the parade will then end.
“The Santa Parade was originally conceived by Weinstock’s Department Store and KCRA Television in 1983. The event was established to create a signature holiday tradition in the heart of the city for all of Sacramento and was an immediate success, drawing many thousands of visitors to downtown Sacramento each year.  Since then, it has changed ownership, yet still continues to be a success every year. The Santa Parade has a spirit of its own, embodied by the many wonderful parade entrants–from tuneful marching bands to high-stepping horses, colorful clowns to vintage vehicles, skillful twirlers to dazzling floats. The crowd of spectators greets the passing parade with enthusiastic approval. Their smiles and cheers are the perfect expression of the holidays–and a big part of the Santa Parade spirit.”
This is a wonderful tradition for many local families, and if you want to get into the holiday spirit then grab some hot cocoa, your family and head downtown for some “holly jolly” fun.

ReCreate in Roseville- where your children can make truly unique holiday gifts.

untitledBy Heather Crivellone

“Reuse, Recycle, Recreate”- that is the mantra of a local eco-friendly art studio in Roseville. We had the opportunity to visit ReCreate and we all had an absolute blast!

As the saying goes, “One persons trash is another persons treasure”, well this is definitely the truth when it comes to this studio!

Recreate collects all sorts of interesting (yet unwanted) usable materials from local businesses and provides them for environmental lessons, and uses them to create works of art.

ReCreate is located at 8417 Washington Blvd. in Roseville.  As you enter the studio, you will find bins after bins full of reusable “things”. Everything from wine corks, electrical wire, bubble wrap, toilet paper rolls, coffee cans, etc. etc. Things we would normally just “toss” into the recycling bin, they put it back to use!

You and your child’s imagination can go wild here. Creating anything you can imagine with the use of a hot glue gun (yes- they have hot glue… it’s up high for the adults, but beware- it is available for those “reaching hands”).

They do offer Art classes and parties (check their website), for those who would like a little more structure. However, for me and the kids we opted to try their “Drop in crafting”. For only $6/ crafter per hour, we had full run (basically) of the studio. You can also choose to purchase additional items for your creation (at a nominal price).

At first I was a bit intimidated, not knowing what to do and make. However, the staff was extremely helpful and they had so many examples throughout the studio that it really gave us some inspiration to start creating.

I was impressed as my daughter Siena (5) stayed so focused on her picture frame she decorated with buttons and “shiny” tape. Lucca (my little 3 year old) had fun coloring and was excited over the “choo choo” train that I helped him make out of wine corks and wooden blocks (he was actually still playing with that train this morning).

Luckily, they do have crayons and paper for the younger ones, but if your child enjoys art and using their imagination (who doesn’t?) then you will have a blast creating something unique with them.

The best thing about ReCreate is that not only is it a drop-in art studio, but they are helping local businesses to create less waste and teaching our children the concept of recycling and reusing. A teachable moment that goes far beyond the crafts they make in the studio.

And for a truly unique gift this Christmas,  drop in for one of their  Gift Making Workshops for kids.  These will be held on December 7 and 14.    Drop the kids off at the studio while you hit the malls and finish up (or start) your Christmas shopping. These sessions are $39/ child and they will create a unique, one-of a kind gift for someone special. Check out their website for more information.

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Holiday lights at Dovewood Court and the Folsom Zoo will make your nights “Merry and Bright”

imagesCAPUCGYPBy Heather Crivellone

Every family has their own traditions of some sort. And this time of year, moms all over the city are dragging their kids to events and doing activities to make their traditions “stick”.
Growing up, I can always remember “Candy Cane Lane”. It was the one night of the of year that my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all got together to drink hot cocoa, stay up late and walk down the cold (and sometimes rainy) court.

Year after year we have been going to view this spectacular light show that this court has to offer. Now, I call it “Candy Cane Lane”….however, it wasn’t until just recently that I realized that it’s actually just Dovewood Court in Orangevale. But once you take a walk down this memorable street and see all the lights and holiday trimmings, you will also be transformed into another world… hence the name “Candy Cane Lane” that I have somehow nicknamed and it’s just stuck with my family.
This street really has everything… Snoopy, the Grinch, and even a tribute to summertime with some Buffet and Margaritas!
As a kid, I remember walking down this street in amazement to see all the lights and displays. And as an adult, I’m even more amazed that the entire street can all pull together to make something so magical and amazing for everyone to see.


They have taken the simple “string of lights” to another level and have seriously transformed their homes into a winter wonderland. And, to make everything even more wonderful, they continue to collect cans of food to donate to Food for Families. These neighbors truly show everyone the real meaning of the holiday season!

If you are in the area, and even if your not…it’s well worth the drive to check out the light show at Dovewood court. My family will be there, as we are every year…and I’m just as excited this year as I was 20 some years ago when I first set foot on this magical (yet sometimes cold) walk down “Candy Cane Lane“!
One simple tip… try not to drive through the court if you can. Depending on the age of your children, you may find that bundling everyone up and parking a few blocks away is a better way to view the light shows. Some of the houses have displays that are better seen on foot…and with the traffic that can occur, you may rather want to be in the fresh air than stuck inside the car with some screaming kids that want to get a better look at Santa or what not.

Holiday Lights collage

Also, if you are looking to make a night of some “holiday cheer”- think about hitting up the Folsom Zoo before going to Dovewood Court. The Folsom Zoo is hosting their “Wild Nights and Holiday Lights” from 5-8pm on December 7-8 and December 13-23.  Admission into the zoo is $5.

The zoo will be lit up and the animals exhibits are all festive and glowing for the holiday season. The miniature steam train (which is a favorite among kids of all ages) will be running and offering family rides on the “Starlight Express”.
There will be thousands of lights, an enchanted forest of lighted trees, Christmas carolers, refreshments and even a visit from Santa Claus!

So whether you decide to make the drive out to Folsom and Orangevale (it’s only about 20 minutes out of downtown Sacramento) or you decide to stay close to the city and view the lights in town… we wish you a very merry holiday season!



Sacramento Community Theaters have several shows to get you in the Holiday Spirit!

imagesBy Heather Crivellone

One of things I love the most about our wonderful city, is that we have so many opportunities to expose our children to the performing arts.  Between community theaters, art galleries, 2nd Saturday art walks and such, there is no excuse to not have our children exposed to the wonderful world of art.

This month, with the holidays upon us we have a wide selection of festive plays and musicals to put us in the holiday spirit.  I have compiled a list of some local shows that you can enjoy with (or without) your kids.  These are sure to put a smile on your face, a “jingle in your step” and definitely put you in the mood for some holiday cheer!

The Elves and the Schumachers (Perfect for children of all ages).  Showing December 7, 14 and 21 at Roseville Theatre Arts Academy.  This is a retelling of the famous shoemaker and his wife who are down on their luck, but with the help of some little elves, they are able to have a merry Christmas! $8 general admission

A Charlie Brown Christmas– a classic for all ages to help us remember the true meaning of Christmas.  Showing December 6-21 at Victory Life Church in Folsom. Admission is $8.

Holiday Moods! Featuring the Sacramento Symphonic Winds.  December 8 at Crowne Plaza Hotel in Sacramento.  General admission is $10, Students/Seniors $5

The Music Man will be at Rocklin Community Theatre.  December 6-22 Tickets  for this show are $10-$15.

A Merry Little Christmas  on December 13 at Westminister Presbyterian Church in Sacramento.  This concert will feature classical and popular music by the Sacramento Children’s Chorus.  Admission is $17 and students are $12.

It’s a Wonderful Life the Musical (an all time classic) is playing through December 22 at the Sacramento Theatre Company.  Tickets are $27 general, $22 seniors and $12 students.

Chautauqua Playhouse in Carmichael has a storybook theater production of “Reindeer in Space” December 7-21.  Admission is $7.

Sutter Street Theatre in Folsom also has a couple of holiday shows for the month.  A Holiday in the Hills is December 7-23 and A Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tail is showing December 14-29.

And of course, the holiday season wouldn’t be complete without a showing of the Nutcracker.

There are several theaters around town that is showing this classic tale and here are some of them: Capitol Ballet Company at Sheldon High School in Sacramento, Placer Theatre Ballet in Auburn, The Community Center Theatre in Sacramento and Pamela Hays Classical Ballet Theatre in Folsom.

This is just a small sample of some of the great family shows out there in our community.

Have fun and Happy Holidays!