Celebrating the New Year with your Family in Sacramento

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All the holiday presence have been unwrapped and put away, the last of the cookies are probably in the trash and the tree (if it was real) is probably dead and losing needles.  Yes – the holiday excitement is over – but it doesn’t mean the fun is over!

New Years Eve is always a party, no matter the age!  Sacramento has several options on how to celebrate and ring in the New Year with your family.  If you are like me, we celebrate the East Coast New Year with bells and whistles and then we are all sound asleep by the time midnight strikes.

If you are looking for some alternative ways to spend the celebration and not stay up until midnight, check out this list of fun things going on around the Sacramento area:
Crocker Art Museum celebrates a “Noon Year’s Eve” at 11, 12, 1 and 2pm.  Enjoy a celebration of live music, dance performances and festive art activities for the entire family.   This is a fun celebration that anyone can stay awake for!

Roller King in Roseville hosts a New Year’s party with a canned food drive to help local needy families.  From 7pm-1am, you can ring in 2017 on skates!  Admission is $10 with a can food.  If you can’t make it until 1am, then it’s only $5 from 7pm-10pm.

Sacramento Children’s Museum is hosting its annual “Who Year” daytime celebration.  The museum is open from 9am- 4pm with hourly New Year’s celebrations starting at 10am.  Enjoy games, arts and crafts, noise makers and a bubble stomp to ring in different countries New Years.

Old Sacramento hosts its annual New Year’s Eve fireworks extravaganza.  Beginning at 5pm, you can enjoy live music and family friendly activities until the fireworks begin at 9pm (early enough to get those kids home and in bed!).

So grab your family and get out ringing in the New Year around Sacramento.  My only resolution this year is spend more time making memories with my family- I hope you do the same!

By Heather Crivellone

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Sacramento’s Free New Year’s Eve Sky Spectacular is Bigger, Better and More Family-Friendly than Ever

1488267_10153642396675065_1666433344_nWhile celebrating New Year’s Eve in Old Sacramento with the family has always been a great idea, this year it gets even better with a change in programming that caters more to families. Traditionally, the New Year’s Eve Sky Spectacular has offered two fireworks shows – the first at 9:00 pm with a second, shorter fireworks show at midnight. However, in order to capitalize on peak draw times in Old Sacramento on New Year’s Eve, funds and resources for the two displays have been combined to create the largest fireworks program ever produced in Sacramento – at one time only, a more family friendly 9:00 pm.

While the highlight of the evening will definitely be fireworks, the FREE event will actually start at 5:00 pm with kid-friendly entertainment including music by The Hipwaders at Waterfront Park, balloon twisting and face painting and superheroes roaming the streets of Old Sacramento, available for photo ops with fans.

What: New Year’s Eve Sky Spectacular

When: Sunday, December 31, 2016

Time: 5:00 pm, family-friendly entertainment; 9:00 pm fireworks show

Where: Old Sacramento, Waterfront Park

Admission: FREE

Parking: Sadly, not free. The entire district of Old Sacramento will be closed to vehicle traffic beginning at 4:00 pm; the Tower Bridge will be closed to traffic beginning at 7:30 pm, closed to pedestrians from 8:30 pm – 9:30 pm; limited parking is available in the Old Sacramento Garage at 2nd and I streets and the Tower Bridge Garage at Capitol Mall and Front Street. You may want to venture out and park outside of Old Sacramento and walk in. For a map of city parking garages and lots near Old Sacramento, click here.

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The Best Christmas Lights Displays Around Sacramento

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It’s the most wonderful time of year – hot cocoa, cold winter evenings, hot-baked cookies and the most glorious light displays you can find!  One of our family traditions is to bundle up and go around the Sacramento valley searching for the best lights.  Luckily, we don’t have to travel far to find some neighborhoods that go “all out” and decorate their homes for the season.

Growing up, I can always remember Candy Cane Lane (or more accurately, Dovewood Court.) 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 the spectacular lights at Dovewood Court in Orangevale and 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. 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.

Now, this isn’t the only place to see a fantastic light show.  Many areas around Sacramento have become family favorites and people drive many miles to view the light spectaculars.  Here is my quick list of places not to miss this holiday season:

North of Sacramento in Rocklin, the community on Pebble Creek Drive has also put together a wonderful light show.  Kids will love this area as almost every house has characters of one of their favorite Disney movies.  My kids were especially excited when they spotted Olaf!Holiday Lights collage

The “Fab 40’s” in East Sacramento.  The homes in this area are worth the drive to just view their fantastic landscaping and architecture.  But every year, they come together to give the neighborhood a light display that really helps put everyone in the holiday spirit!  You can walk down any of these streets—but I would suggest beginning on 48th Street and Folsom Boulevard.

Bayside/Adventure Church in Rocklin has transformed their parking lot into a mile-long, drive-through light display.   This is worth the drive, but be prepared for quite a wait to get through.  This is the first year of the display, and it seems that everyone in Sacramento wants to take a peek and we don’t blame them. The display is quite the sight, with Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker battling it out, jolly elves and an incredible light tunnel all set to the tune of great Christmas music.  If you are willing to pack up some hot cocoa and wait in line, it’s well worth the wait.

Global Winter Wonderland at Cal Expo has become a family favorite for many.  Gorgeous light displays, exciting carnival rides and even ice skating!  This is an event not to be missed. Runs through January 8. Admission $16-18, not including the cost of rides and concessions.

Folsom Zoo’s Wild Nights and Holiday Lights is an event for anyone who wants to combine the  beauty of holiday lights with the fantastic animals at the zoo.  This is an annual family holiday event with thousands of colorful lights and decorations, train rides, carolers and even a visit with Santa!  December 16-23 from 5 pm-8 pm.  Admission is $5

Old Sacramento’s Theater of Lights is one of my favorite traditions.  Bringing the classic “The night before Christmas” to life with music, lights and dramatization- it’s a wonderful way to experience Old Sacramento and celebrate the holiday season. There are two shows nightly, through December 23,  6:15 and 7:45pm.  On December 24 there will be onlyshow at 6:15pm.

For a detailed list of where some great houses are to see, check out this website for more information.

A few tips for viewing the light shows around town. Dress warmly and prepare to walk (weather permitting of course), as some of these streets are very popular and sitting in a traffic jam with antsy children is NOT my idea of a good time. Bring hot cocoa for sipping and some canned foods for donating.  Most of these areas are accepting donations this holiday season.  And most important, cherish these precious moments with your loved ones. Happy Holidays!

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By Heather Crivellone

Holiday Events Beginning this Week in Sacramento

Even though Thanksgiving is still a few days away, there are several Christmas-themed events and activities already in the works. here’s what’s beginning in Sacramento this week:

Global Winter Wonderland is back in Sacramento for its third year. This year’s event at Cal Expo features hundreds of giant Chinese lanterns. Enjoy strolling through Santa’s Village, Snow Land, Toy Land, Candy Land, Fantasy Land, be entertained by the Circus of Fire, ride the Ferris Wheel or simply have a cup of hot chocolate while doing some holiday shopping. Opens tonight, Nov 21 at 5 pm.

Head down to Old Sacramento on Wednesday, Nov. 23 for the Old Sacramento tree lighting and the Macy’s Theatre of Lights season kick-off. Click here to read more about the Theatre of Lights and the re-telling of Mark Twain’s famous poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas, ” click here.

Global Winter Wonderland

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Top 5 Fun Family Events in Sacramento over Labor Day Weekend

This weekend marks the unofficial end of summer. Where did the time go?  It seems like we were all just at the California State Fair and cooling off at Sunsplash or Raging Waters.
Well, if you aren’t quite ready to say goodbye to hot days and warm nights, then we have several events going on around town to keep you enjoying the last days of summer here in  Sacramento. Take a look at this list of my top 5 family fun events you won’t want to miss Labor Day weekend:

1.       53rd Annual Sacramento Greek Festival at the convention center.  Friday through Sunday, enjoy live music, dancing and lessons, cooking demonstrations, great food and entertainment.   There will also be a loukoumaes eating contest!  This is always a fun event for the entire family.

2.      Old Sacramento’s annual Gold Rush days.  Friday through Monday, visit Old Sacramento as they transform into a scene straight of the 1800s. Live entertainment, costumed performers and everyday folk will bring history to life during this three-day event.   Activities for the whole family include pony and carriage rides, live music and dancing, cannons, gun tales and more! And don’t forget to come in costume as you enjoy being transformed back to the gold rush days.

Gold Rush Days

3.      Catch one of the final River Cats  baseball games. The Cats play the Fresno Grizzlies all weekend long at Raley Field in West Sacramento (within walking distance of Gold Rush Days in Old Sacramento.) Games begin at 7:05 pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 5:05 pm on Sunday, and 1:05 pm on Monday, Labor Day. Don’t forget to stick around for the after-game fireworks shows on Friday and Saturday nights.

Raley Field

4.      The 5th annual Rhythm and Blues Festival on Saturday, September 3 from 11am-7pm at Miller Park in Sacramento.   Enjoy live music from talented R&B and gospel singers.  Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children.

5.      Chalk it up!  I absolutely love taking my kids to this fun family event.  Full of great artists, music, hands on demonstrations (for the kids) and just a great vibe.   Friday through Monday, Freeport Park in downtown Sacramento transforms into its own art studio.  Some of the most talented artists in the area come out and purchase a square to “chalk it up” on.   If you have kids who love art  or who just like to get messy with chalk, this is a great event to attend. 

Chalk It Up Festival

I hope this list gives you an idea of what’s happening around town.   Whether you choose to stay close to home and BBQ, or enjoy one of these family friendly events- we hope you have a fun and safe Labor Day weekend.

By Heather Crivellone

 

Kick off the Holiday Season with a Local Tree Lighting Event

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Tis the season for baking, shopping and decorating in Sacramento!  This Wednesday, take a break from the holiday preparations and start the festive season off with the annual tree lighting ceremony in Old Sacramento. On Wednesday, November 25 at 6pm, join others in Old Sacramento at Front and K Streets to watch as the 58-foot tall Old Sacramento Christmas tree will be lit for the season.

Following the tree lighting, Old Sacramento’s Theatre of Lights will kick off the annual season with the classic “Twas the Night before Christmas.  If you haven’t seen this show, it’s one not to miss.  The Theatre of Lights is a unique state-of-the-art live staging of this classic tale.  Incorporating a symphony of lights, sounds and visual effects that takes the audience back to a time when the beloved poem was first introduced in Sacramento in 1857.  This poem comes to life on the balconies and rooftops of Old Sacramento’s historic buildings on K Street between Front and 2nd Street.

The Theatre of Lights will take place through the holiday season with two 20-minute light shows at 6:15 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. every Thursday through Sunday until December 17. Dec 17-23 the show will run every night at the same times.  December 24 there will be a 6:15 showing and again on December 26 and 27 back to the two times. December 31 there will be a 7:00 and 8:30 showing.

This is a FREE family fun event… so wrap up the kids in their cozy sweaters, grab some hot cocoa and enjoy an evening in Old Sacramento. This is a great way to get into the holiday spirit (and escape the kitchen from all the pre-Thanksgiving baking and prep work!).

Other tree lighting ceremonies in the area to get you in the festive spirit include (but not limited) to the following:
Rancho Cordova: November 29 from 4-7:30pm at the Village Green Park.  Enjoy this family fun free event.  Includes hay and train rides, food trucks, music, live entertainment and even a visit from Santa!

Elk Grove: Old Town Elk Grove will go back into time with their annual Dickens street fair on November 28.  The street fair will take place from 10am-4pm and their annual “Parade of Lights” will go from 6pm- 9pm.

Roseville: On December 3 from 6pm-8pm on Vernon Street in Old Roseville, enjoy a “Winter Wonderland” with activities for the entire family.  Kid’s activity zone, crafts, vendors and even snow!  It will be an event not to be missed.

There will be activities and festivals going on all month-long around the Sacramento valley.  I hope this quick list helps you plan some festive outings with your family.

Enjoy the beginning of the holiday season!

By Heather Crivellone

Labor Day Weekend Family Fun: Gold Rush Days, Chalk Art and Space Elevators

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Labor Day Weekend in Sacramento is always a busy one! So much to see and do. Gold Rush Days is going on all weekend in Old Sacramento. When you are done panning for gold, head over to the air-conditioned Crocker Art Museum for the free Little Buckaroos Day, don’t forget to head to Freemont Park for a look at the glorious chalk art. Enjoy your weekend!

Gold Rush Days – bring the family out to Old Sacramento this Labor Day weekend for a fun and FREE festival that will take you back in time. Experience Sacramento during the Gold Rush, complete with dirt streets, horses and carriages and period costumes and entertainment. Activities include country-western dancing, western movie: Paint Your Wagon, medicine shows, artisan alley, story-telling, watermelon and pie-eating contest, food, music and more! 9/4 – 9/7, 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.

Just For Kids Native American Book Sale – Stop by the State Indian Museum to stock up on Native American books for children and youths. There will be special discounts and lots of titles. 9/5, 10:00 to 5:00 pm.

Happy Hearts Healthy Eating Day at the Sacramento Children’s Museum – Happy Hearts Healthy Eating Day is an all-day event that promotes healthy eating and good exercise habits for Museum attendees. Visit the museum for lots of nutrition and fitness activities. 9/5, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Walk in the Wild at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center – Learn some tips for spotting wildlife on this guided walk in the Nature Area. 9/5, 10:30 am to 12:00 pm.

Chalk It Up Festival at Freemont Park – Chalk It Up invites art lovers to come out and enjoy Sacramento’s chalk art festival, now in its 25th year. The festivities are nothing short of magical, not to mention great support for local youth arts. Each year the festival raises money at the event and gives it back to local youth art by way of grants. Come out and create art, come see the creations, enjoy the music, the food, the crafts, and the beer garden! 9/5 – 9/7.

Space Elevator Spectacular at the Discovery Museum – Let your future astronaut dream about the future of space travel this weekend. With advancements in nano technology, the idea of a space elevator is becoming more realistic than ever before. Learn about nanotubes and how they play a part in this futuristic feat. Kids can design a concept drawing of what their space elevator would look like. Families can complete the challenge of building a “space elevator” out of spaghetti and tape that can support a marshmallow station at the top. 9/5 – 9/7, 12:30 pm to 4:00 pm.

Museums on Us! – If you have a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch debit or credit card, admission to the California Museum and Crocker Art Museum are FREE for you today! 9/6

Critter Close-Up at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center – Get eye to eye with one of our furry, scaly, or feathered residents. 9/6, 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm.

Little Buckaroos Day at the Crocker Art Museum – Families with young children will have a yee-haw time at this 5th annual celebration of Gold Rush Days. Giddy up and head over to the Crocker for live performances, craft-making demos, and art activities for the whole family. 9/7, 11:00 am to 3:00 pm.

All-Aboard Storytime at the Railroad Museum – join the California State Railroad Museum for railroad -inspired stories for kids. 9/7, 11:00 am and 11:30 am, East Theater.