We have so much stuff to help you get into the holiday spirit (and escape from holiday obligations and stress), Oakland! Sure, we have concerts galore, and amazing food, and the traditional stuff that makes the holidays feel like the holidays. You knew we would. But what about a bike tour of Christmas lights, a salsa dance party, a holiday pie contest, and Fairyland awesomeness that will make you want to borrow a friend’s kid if you don’t have one of your own? Oh, yeah. It’s here. Enjoy!
Holidays at the Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate
Saturday and Sundays, December 7 through December 22, noon to 4 p.m.
2960 Peralta Oaks Court
The City of Oakland invites you to step back in time to experience turn-of-the-century holiday tradition at Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate’s 37-room mansion, which has been transformed into a breathtaking masterpiece of an Edwardian holiday. Activities include: brunch with Santa; high teas, holiday crafts, games, face-painting, kids’ zone, house cafe, carriage rides and Mansion gift shop. For more information, visit http://dunsmuir-hellman.com.
Higher Circle’s First Annual Holiday Party Pie Contest
Thursday, December 12, 12:30 – 2 p.m.
The Port Offices, third floor, 101 Broadway
Higher Circle is a new crowdfunding platform that that facilitates both loans and donations for visionary entrepreneurs in emerging markets around the world. In the freewheeling spirit of crowdfunding, everyone who attends this pie contest will get to sample pies and vote for the best one. Three “People’s Choice” winners will be awarded prize ribbons and dazzling one-of-a-kind gifts from Fábrica Social (a Mexican fair-trade design company that’s launching a crowdfunding campaign on the Higher Circle platform). For more information, click here.
Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble: “Wintersongs by Candlelight”
Friday, December 13, 8 – 10 p.m.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 114 Montecito Avenue
Few things evoke the magic of the winter holidays as the transcendent splendor of the human voice raised in song. Kitka has researched and discovered a treasure trove of seasonal music from a wide variety of Eastern European ethnic and spiritual traditions. “Wintersongs” showcases material ranging from rousing Slavic folk carols to lush, meditative Eastern Orthodox sacred choral works, from mesmerizing pre-Christian incantations for the longest nights of the year to Hebrew chants for Chanukah, to original new pieces inspired by the beauty and mystery of wintertime. Tickets are available here.
Fairy Winterland Celebration
Saturday, December 14 through Monday, December 23
Children’s Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Avenue
For ten exciting days, Fairyland will be transformed into Fairy Winter Wonderland — featuring live performances celebrating holidays from many cultures, daily appearances by Santa Claus, special decorations and thousands of twinkling lights, rides, puppet shows, arts and crafts, free holiday treats, cider and hot cocoa, and more surprises! On December 14 and 15 at 12:30 and 3 p.m. is the Children’s Theater Holiday Program, and on December 14 at 6:30 is the Fairyland Tree Lighting Ceremony. There are also the following daily events:
3 – 4 p.m.: Dreidel Time!
5 – 6 p.m.: Santa Claus Visits Fairyland
5:30 p.m.: one of several special performances — varies by day
6:15 p.m.: Santa Claus leads the Festival of Lights Parade
Click here for a full listing of all the amazing holiday events at Fairyland.
Oakland Youth Chorus Holiday Concert: “One World, One Voice, Our Song!”
Saturday, December 14, 6 – 8 p.m.
First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, 2619 Broadway
Oakland Youth Chorus celebrates the Bay Area’s multiculturalism with a rousing concert unlike any other holiday show you’ll see this season! Over 150 talented young singers, ages 5 to 18, sing songs from around the globe in many different languages to honor the rich diversity of Oakland and the Bay Area. The evening includes stunning performances by OYC’s incredibly talented middle and high school Concert Chorus, as well as performances by the K-5th grade combined Miracle Chorus, featuring children from 14 schools and communities. Tickets are $10 – $25, and available here.
First Unitarian Church of Oakland Presents “Home, Holidays and Harmony”
Saturday, December 14, 7 – 9 p.m.
685 14th Street
Celebrate the turning of the year at this winter holiday concert, which features music from several holiday traditions. Performers include the Crescendo Choir, Joyful Noise, Half a Dozen of the Other, as well as other talented groups and soloists. Tickets are $5 – $25 (children under 5 are free), and available here.
Oakland East Bay Symphony Traditional Non-Traditional Holiday Concert
Sunday, December 15, 4 – 6 p.m.
The Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway
Celebrating holiday musical traditions in the most festive and non-traditional ways has been a year-end hallmark of the 25-year-old Oakland East Bay Symphony, and of Music Director Michael Morgan, since 1992, and this year’s edition of “Let Us Break Bread Together” promises seasonal sizzle. Joining Morgan and the Oakland East Bay Symphony will be Oakland Symphony Chorus, Mt. Eden High School Choir, Kugelplex, Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, Linda Tillery’s Cultural Heritage Choir and Crystal Children’s Choir in a program that celebrates and festively fuses multiple holiday traditions, including the world premiere of new gospel settings of Christmas favorites and, of course, plenty of opportunities for audience sing-alongs. “Let Us Break Bread Together” is often a sold-out performance that, for many concert-goers, marks a high point of the season. For more information, visit www.oebs.org.
Holiday Lights Ride in the Island City (Alameda)
Sunday, December 15, 5:45 p.m.
Beginning at Fruitvale BART Station, 3401 East 12th Street
This ride goes over the Fruitvale Bridge to enjoy the abundance of holiday lights Alameda has to offer. The route will meander through the Island City’s smooth, quiet streets. Dress warmly and bring a camera! This ride will also be a great opportunity to dress / illuminate / decorate yourself for the season. Complete details are here.
Poetry After Dark “Naughty and Nice” Holiday Show
Saturday, December 21, 9 – 11:30 p.m.
408 14th Street
Khoree the Poet hosts and offers up his own acclaimed spoken-word performance, which he’s showcased as an opening act for Chico DeBarge, John Witherspoon, Lalah Hathaway and many more. Khoree’s works are known for their sensual and erotic power, and though he’s a tough act to follow, he’ll welcome an array of other talented performers as well. Enjoy an elegant evening of entertainment. Click here for tickets.
Holiday Kwanzza Gift Show
Sunday, December 22, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
410 14th Street
The Holiday Kwanzaa Gift Show has returned! This great event celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2011 and is back this season to continue its tradition of showcasing and supporting Bay Area small businesses that offer a selected variety of products and services. This year’s shopping event will accompany the popular Sunday jazz session that happens each week at Geoffrey’s, so come and shop for those extra-special gift items and be a part of this unique shopping experience. Admission is free, and as always, your support is greatly appreciated. For more information, click here.
Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble: Wintersongs Community Sing
Sunday, December 22, 5 – 7 p.m.
Nile Hall in Historic Preservation Park, 668 13th Street
Join Kitka and ZELE: the Kitka Community Chorus in a celebratory circle of song! Experience the magic of raising your voice to create lush Eastern European seasonal harmonies as they were originally intended to be sung: by many voices in community! Kitka singers will lead the group in some fun “open voice” warm-ups, and will teach a varied selection of favorite tunes from their Wintersongs repertoire. Kitka’s Community Sings are designed to be very inclusive. Singers of all ages are welcome and no experience is necessary. Reservations are recommended, and may be made here.
Feast of the Seven Fishes at Bocanova
Tuesday, December 24, 5 p.m.
55 Webster Street
Chef/Owner Rick Hackett and Executive Chef John Jackson will host a Feast of the Seven Fishes Christmas Eve dinner, working with local fish purveyors and Bay Area artisans. Instead of seven different courses, Chef Hackett has combined the seven fishes into three courses and incorporated ingredients and spices indigenous to South America, especially Peru. Notable dishes on the evening’s menu include salt-cured Ahi tuna with soy vinaigrette, sea bass Yucatan soup with grapefruit and tomato, and swordfish with a Dungeness crab salad. The prix fixe menu is $68 per person (children under 6 are no charge and children up to age 12 will be charged $28). The restaurant will make accommodations for vegetarians and shellfish allergies. Reservations can be made by calling (510) 444-1233 or by visiting www.bocanova.com.
Feast of the Seven Fishes at A16 Rockridge
Tuesday, December 24, reservations 5 – 10 p.m.
5356 College Avenue
This Italian-American tradition is enjoyed with a seven-course seafood-focused dinner. Dishes from Executive Chef Rocky Maselli include: squid ink tonarelli with Dungeness crab, prosecco, crème fraiche and Meyer lemon; Mt. Lassen trout roasted whole with Oregon white truffles and braised escarole; and assorted roasted roots with honey. The special a la carte menu is priced at $75 per person, with optional $60 wine pairings. For more information, visit www.a16rockridge.com.
Sparkle Ball New Year’s Eve Celebration with Salsa with Juan
Tuesday, December 31, 8 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
Linden Street Dance Studio, 130 Linden Street
This is a black-and-white and shiny New Year’s Eve celebration with 3 rooms in which to dance the night fantastic: the Main Salsa Room, Bachata/Kizomba Room, and a House/Funk/Top40s Room. With a tantalizing sweet-and-savory dessert bar with a spectacular chocolate fountain, thrilling dance performances, and a balloon drop and champagne toast at midnight, there is something for everyone! Black-and-white and sparkle attire is encouraged. Tickets are $35 individually and $60 per couple in advance, or $45 individually and $80 per couple at the door. For more information or to buy tickets, go to www.salsawithjuan.com.