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Christmas Events in Sacramento and Other Things to do this Holiday Season 2023

Christmas Events in Sacramento


The most wonderful time of the year is here, and if you’re visiting Sacramento this holiday season, you’re in for a treat! The city is transforming into a winter wonderland. There will be plenty of Christmas-themed things to do in Sacramento this December for all ages. Think train rides to the North Pole, Christmas light shows, and other events that are sure to make your trip one for the books. 


Take your pick from these exciting Christmas Events in Sacramento this season:


Christmas Train Rides in Sacramento 


THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride in Sacramento

How to get here – 20 min from Lions Gate Hotel


Treat the kid in you to a magical train ride aboard the Polar Express. It is, without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Sacramento this holiday season. With a hot chocolate on hand and a sweet treat for your sweet tooth, head to the North Pole to meet Santa. The train ride consists of 7 vintage locomotives from the California State Railroad Museum’s collection, with lots of entertainment and Christmas activities available onboard. You can choose to sit in the open air, coach, or first class. 


The Polar Express will run from November 24 – December 20, 2023, on Wednesdays through Sundays. For tickets and more information, visit their website.



Magical Christmas Train by the River Fox Train

How to get here – 20  minutes from Lions Gate Hotel

Picture: https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/little-girl-red-santa-costume-going-157992785 


If you can’t get enough of train rides, hop on the Magic Christmas Train by the River Fox Train and enjoy a 1-hour ride to Winter Wonderland. Bring your family, or go on a solo adventure. Either way, it’s guaranteed to be magical. Sing along to your favorite holiday songs with Santa’s elves while keeping warm with hot cocoa. There’ll be fun activities and elvish games onboard, too! 


You can also get snacks and beverages like beer, cider, and other seasonal drinks at their concession stand. Get your tickets here



Christmas Light Shows in Sacramento


Theatre of Lights 

How to get here – 20  minutes from Lions Gate Hotel


The Theatre of Lights at the Old Sacramento Waterfront is a must-see if you’re looking for free Christmas events in Sacramento. Locals love it, and it downright puts you in a festive mood with Christmas lights all around, a huge Christmas tree all aglow, holiday tunes filling the air, children laughing, and people passing. There will also be a live dramatization of Moore’s 1823 poem “’ Twas the Night Before Christmas,” a retelling of the history of Sacramento, and special appearances of Jack Frost and jolly old St. Nick. 


Drop by from November 22nd through December 30th, Thursday through Sunday. The shows start at 6pm & 7:30pm. Bring your gift-list and do your Christmas shopping here. There’ll be plenty of local stores, dining options, and entertainment in the area too. 



Imaginarium Festival of Lights

How to get here – 15 minutes from Lions Gate Hotel


The best Christmas light show in Sacramento is arguably the Imaginarium Festival of Lights by the Global Winter Wonderland at Cal Expo, running from November 17th to January 7th. It never disappoints. Original called Light Up the Night, meander through 15 acres of dazzling light attractions and exhibits, including Fantasy Land, augmented reality, a rose garden alight with 30,000 LED lights, an ice skating rink, and more! You can also enjoy 25 carnival rides, nightly performances, a beer garden, food concessions, and holiday shopping. 


This beloved Christmas event in Sacramento is a creative masterpiece you should not miss. Every bit of it is simply spectacular and magical. If you’re out of time and looking for just one special Christmas activity in Sacramento this holiday season, this should be it. You can get your tickets here



Holiday Concerts and Shows in Sacramento


    • Trans-Siberian Orchestra 2023 Winter Tour | December 1, 2023, 7:30pm | Golden 1 Center | Experience the unique blend of opera, rock, and classical music in the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s winter tour. This holiday spectacle features dazzling lighting, lasers, and memorable music.


    • Wish Upon A Star Holiday Expo | December 2, 2023, 3pm | Hiram W. Johnson High School | Join a special musical where dreams of children with special needs become reality. The event combines a holiday expo with performances by celebrities and the children themselves.


    • Irish Christmas in America | December 6, 2023, 7pm | Sofia Tsakopoulos Center for the Arts | Celebrate the holidays with an Irish twist in this lively show featuring music, dance, and humor. This touring performance offers a unique glimpse into Irish Christmas traditions.


    • Holiday Hits with a Splash of Sass | December 8, 9, and 10, 2023, 7pm-9pm | Crest Theatre | Experience a festive mix of classic and modern Christmas songs with the Sacramento Gay Men’s Chorus. This hilarious and entertaining concert is a holiday staple in Sacramento.


    • The Nutcracker Presented by Sacramento Ballet | December 9-23, 2023 (Various times) | SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center | Witness the beloved holiday tradition of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” performed by Sacramento Ballet. Local choreography and young ballet students bring this magical story to life.


    • The Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra: Home for the Holidays | December 9, 2023, 3pm | Memorial Auditorium | Enjoy an elegant evening with the Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra’s annual holiday concert. The performance features over 200 voices, a candle procession, and festive choral works.


    • For King and Country: A Drummer Boy Christmas Concert | December 10, 2023 | Golden 1 Center | Experience Grammy® award-winning duo for King and Country in their high-energy Christmas concert. Enjoy beloved classics and fan favorites in a festive atmosphere.


    • How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical | December 27-31, 2023 (Various times) | SAFE Credit Union Convention Center | Immerse yourself in the whimsical world of Whoville with Dr. Seuss’ classic Christmas tale. This enchanting musical adaptation features beloved songs and stunning visuals.



Other Holiday Events and Activities in Sacramento


Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink


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How to get here – 17  minutes from Lions Gate Hotel


Get your ice skates ready, or rent one on-site and head downtown to Downtown Sacramento’s Ice Rink from November 8, 2023 to January 15, 2024. It’s almost always sunny in Sacramento, but the downtown ice rink gives Sacramentans and visitors a taste of white Christmas. Located at Ali Youssefi Square on 7th & K Streets, the ice rink also holds theme days, so check out their Facebook Page for updates. 


Annual Santa Parade

How to get here – 15 minutes from Lions Gate Hotel


Santa Claus is coming to Sacramento on December 10th. So if you’re in town, catch a glimpse of Santa around Capitol Park starting at 10am. This free Christmas event is a Sacramento tradition running for 39 years now and will feature marching bands, youth groups, twirlers, equestrians, clowns, vintage cars, and more! The streets of Sacramento will be packed with over 25,000 spectators, often coming to see it. But don’t let the huge crowd dissuade you; the parade is going across the city, so there’s plenty of space for everyone. Most of all, it’s a whole lot of fun! 


Sacramento Santa Run

How to get here – 15  minutes from Lions Gate Hotel


Exercising might just be the last thing on your mind when on holiday, but get up early on December 16th anyway and join the Sacramento Santa Run. Because why not? It’s only 5k, and it’s fun. It’s also a great way to immerse in the community while walking off or running off all the extra carbs, calories, and sugar you’ve taken from your food trips in the city. You also get a Santa Suit, milk, and cookies for each ticket! So dress up as Santa and join in the fun. 


Jingle Bell Pup Crawl


The Sacramento SPCA’s Jingle Bell Pup Crawl is back this holiday season. Pup parents and their furry friends are invited to join this PAWS-itively delightful annual Christmas event in Sacramento featuring drink specials, shopping discounts, photos with Santa Paws, and more, all for a great cause. Your purchase of a $35 advance ticket supports animals at the Sacramento SPCA and gets you a Pup Crawl map, jingle bells for furry friends as well as access to discounts and giveaways across Truitt Bark Park and partnering Midtown businesses like Acheson Wine Company, Leash and Collar Boutique, and At Ease Brewing. What could be better than spreading jingle joy with your pup this holiday season?


The Night Market Series: Holiday Market 


Join The Night Market Series for an exciting in-person Holiday Market event! Get ready for an evening filled with festive fun at Esther’s Park on December 16th. Browse through over 50 vendors selling everything you need to check off your holiday shopping list. From unique gifts and handmade crafts to tasty holiday foods, you’ll find plenty of one-of-a-kind treasures. Take a break from shopping and indulge in cuisine from the local food trucks. Discover new artists and support local businesses all while getting into the holiday spirit. 


Miracle on Broadway


Get into the holiday spirit of the 1970s at The Butterscotch Den’s “Miracle on Broadway” Christmas pop-up this season. Transporting guests back to the tinsel-covered Christmases of yesteryear, the bar will be transformed into a winter wonderland sure to spread seasonal cheer. Visitors can enjoy festive cocktails served in collectible mugs and special holiday performances around the cozy grill. Reservations are recommended through their website to experience the magical retro vibes of this Sacramento holiday tradition from November 17th through December 31st.   




After a long day of meandering around the city, all pumped up in holiday spirit, get ready to wind down and rest in a cozy bed! Located in the middle of McClellan Business Park, Lions Gate Hotel is just a few minutes away from Sacramento International Airport, the McClellan Conference Center, and downtown Sac. You’ll be far away from downtown’s hustle and bustle while staying within a short drive from all the Christmas events in Sacramento this 2023.


Our pet-friendly hotel also offers free parking and WiFi, a restaurant, and a full-service bar for your extra convenience. Call us at 916.307.4631 to make a reservation, or book directly by clicking the button below.

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