Free family holiday activitiesThe holidays are filled with wonderful family activities such as the Polar Express train ride along the Sacramento River or the traditional Nutcracker ballet. While these events have delighted children and adults year after year, not all families have the means to take part in costly holiday events this year. With these challenging economic times in mind, we have put together a list of 5 FREE Sacramento holiday events your family can enjoy.

1 - Sacramento Santa Parade

Beginning at 10am at 9th and I Streets, the 29th Annual Sacramento Santa Parade will delight thousands on Saturday, December 10. With marching bands, antique vehicles, clowns, floats and of course Santa and Mrs. Claus, this FREE event is sure to be the highlight of the season for your little ones.  Bundle up, take advantage of free parking downtown and arrive early for a fantastic view. 

2 - Old Sacramento Theater of Lights

The Theatre of Lights is a unique state-of-the-art live staging of the classic ’Twas The Night Before Christmas. The show blends a symphony of lights, sounds and visual effects which will take the audience back to a time when the beloved poem ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas was first introduced in Sacramento in 1857 in The Sacramento Bee. The beloved 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 18. Dec 19-23 the show will run every night at the same times. - By Heather Crivellone

3 - State Capitol Holiday Music Program

Visitors will enjoy live musical entertainment that includes a Salvation Army brass quintet, a Cal-Trans choir (made up of a spirited group of state workers), trombone jazz, world and baroque music, bell-ringers, a harp circle, a youth violinist, a number of talented school choirs and much more. Entrance into the museum is free, so this is a wonderful holiday experience for your family (that won’t break into your gift-giving budget!).


Along with the musical programs at the Capitol on Wednesday, December 7, at 4:45, join Governor Brown as he lights the 40 ft. tall Christmas tree at the 80th annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. The tree will be decorated with 900 hand-crafted ornaments created by children and adults with developmental disabilities who receive services and support from the state’s development centers and 21 nonprofit regional centers. - By Heather Crivellone

4 - A Gingerbread Holiday at the Old Sacramento Schoolhouse




On display at the Old Schoolhouse until December 18 will be dozens of gingerbread creations. Houses, mansions, shacks and more made by children, bakery academy students and others will be on display for your viewing pleasure. Study and marvel at the creativeness of our Sacramento area resident gingerbread bakers and vote for your favorite before you leave.



Prizes will be awarded and refreshments served at 2 pm on December 18. Selected entries will be presented to the Receiving Home of Sacramento, Shriner’s Hospital and the Sacramento Children’s Home.



5 - Fairytale Town Free Admission DayOn December 24, from 10am to 2pm get into Fairytale Town for free. With the park decorated for the holidays, what a wonderful way to spend Christmas Eve day with your kids. Let them run around and burn off all that energy they have built up in excitement for the big day!