Escapes: Christmas comes early in Nevada

Sparks, Nev., hosts its 27th Hometowne Christmas Celebration starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Sparks, Nev., hosts its 27th Hometowne Christmas Celebration starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday. City of Sparks


Hometowne holiday in Sparks

Spend the weekend in Sparks, Nev., and expect to see Santa Claus on personal watercraft, a snowman eating ribs and elves driving a vintage Mustang convertible.

It’s the town’s 27th annual Hometowne Christmas Celebration. A traditional tree-lighting ceremony with carolers officially kicks things off at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Saint Mary’s Amphitheater in Victorian Square. But most of the festivities happen in conjunction with the parade on Saturday. Watch floats, animals, vintage cars and cute kids roll by starting at 1 p.m. along Victorian Avenue. Shop the craft faire, which will showcase the work of some of the area’s most talented artists, in the Sparks Museum and Cultural Center. Check out the North Pole – with live music and letter-writing to Santa Claus – at the Great Basin Brewery or go straight to the elves in Santa’s Village, tucked inside the historic Glendale Schoolhouse.

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Cold War history

What: The Marin Headlands hold the only restored missile site in the entire country. Walk through during its monthly open house, where Cold War veterans, park rangers and volunteers will share their real-life stories from missile sites.

When: 12:30-3:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Nike Missile Site, Field Road, Sausalito

Cost: Free



Gingerbread houses

What: Entries to the 11th annual Gingerbread House Competition – from children, hobbyists and chefs alike – will be on display all week at the Ritz-Carlton. To hear the winners, attend the holiday celebration next Sunday, when you can also cozy up with eggnog and watch the lighting of a 25-foot tree.

When: 4:30-6:30 p.m. celebration next Sunday; display Monday through next Sunday

Where: The Ritz-Carlton, One Miramontes Point Road, Half Moon Bay

Cost: Free



Family teatime

What: Sip fine tea and nibble on treats while the kids enjoy story time and favors to take home at the 19th annual Teddy Bear Tea. Reservations are required, but teddy bears get in free.

When: 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 7

Where: Gardens at Heather Farm, 1540 Marchbanks Drive, Walnut Creek

Cost: $20-$25



Christmas parade

What: Placerville’s Christmas Parade has long been a community highlight, with marching bands, stagecoach rides, Santa and festive cheer. Better yet, the 36th annual edition’s theme is “Rockin’ Christmas.”

When: 1 p.m. Dec. 7

Where: Main St., Placerville

Cost: Free



Holiday cheer

What: For the past nine years, Sonoma’s holiday kickoff event has been the Lighting of the Snowmen Festival. Along with said snowmen, there will also be live music, a clown, live dance, holiday movie screenings and a visit from Santa.

When: 4 p.m. Dec. 7

Where: Cornerstone Sonoma, 23570 Arnold Drive, Sonoma

Cost: Free, parking $10


Bee Staff