Things to do in Sacramento this Holiday Season: Christmas events, light shows, and more

December 5, 2022

The most wonderful month 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. 

Here are our top picks for the best things to do in Sacramento during the holiday season.

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 25 to December 21, 2022, 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


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

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 early and do your Christmas shopping here. There’ll be plenty of local stores, dining options, and entertainment in the area too. 

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! 

Westfield Downtown Plaza Ice Rink

How to get here – 17  minutes from Lions Gate Hotel


Get your ice skates ready, or rent one on-site and head downtown to Westfield’s Downtown Ice Rink. 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. 

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. 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 to do while visiting Sacramento this holiday season, this should be it. You can get your tickets here

Enchant Christmas Sacramento

How to get here – 18 minutes from Lions Gate Hotel


Christmas light shows in Sacramento are a thing. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, really. So, get your holiday spirit on and explore Enchant, a shining, shimmering maze adventure guaranteed to be a hit for kids and kids at heart. It’s winter wonderland 2.0! 

Said to be the world’s largest illuminated winter wonderland, stroll through lighted tunnels with larger-than-life displays and special surprises popping here and there. Take a selfie with its epic 100-foot Christmas tree, and browse through the unique boutiques, cute artistic stalls, and specialized stores in the Village while enjoying a warm drink and a tasty holiday treat. With plenty of entertainment to boot, like an ice skating rink, live entertainment, interactive games, and a special visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, it will be a night to remember at Enchant. Open from November 25 to January 1s you have plenty of opportunities to catch this Christmas event near you this December. For more information, visit their website

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 17th 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. 

A Christmas Carol

How to get here – 16  minutes from Lions Gate Hotel


Bring your family and friends (although children under 4 are not allowed!) and catch this holiday classic at the Sacramento Theatre Company this December 1st up to the 24th. This production will be directed by Eric Wheeler with music by David de Berry. 

Written by Richard Hellesen as adapted from Charles Dicken’s novel, A Christmas Carol is a cautionary tale about Ebenezer Scrooge, a grumpy older man who is visited by 3 ghosts and is forced to face his past, present, and future. Get your tickets early before they run out; you can get them on their website

Holiday Hits with a Splash of Sass

How to get here – 16  minutes from Lions Gate Hotel


Get into the holiday spirit and witness the Sacramento Gay Men’s Chorus’ hilarious and fun performance of classic holiday songs and modern Christmas hits. This Christmas concert extravaganza is a must-see if you love Christmas carolers, plus it’s a staple Christmas activity in Sacramento. Watch their performances at the Pioneer Congregational United Church of Christ on ‍December 9, 10, 12 & 13, 2022, at 7pm and on December 11 at 3pm. General admission is $30. 




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 things to do in Sacramento this holiday.

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) 640-0835 to make a reservation, or book directly by clicking the button below.

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