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Holiday Lights, a Chanukah Train and the Dicken's Christmas Fair

A guide to 2013 holiday events around the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Filoli house has ice-themed decor to give its holiday decor a wintery feel.
The Filoli house has ice-themed decor to give its holiday decor a wintery feel.
This week kicks off a month-long whirlwind of fun holiday things to do around the Bay Area, so Patch put together a calendar of events planned through December 2013 and into the New Year.

We'll continue to update this calendar as the month progresses. You can always add your own events in the Boards section your hometown Patch. Have a happy holiday season!

South Bay/Santa Cruz

AINSLEY HOUSE,  Holiday Tea and Tours, Dec. 1 through Dec. 14, 1 and 1:30 p.m. (closed Mondays/Tuesdays) Tea and treats with champagne in the Carriage House followed by a docent led tour of the Ainsley House decorated for the holidays. $35 donation suggested. 300 Grant St., Campbell. (408) 866-2118.

GILROY GARDENS, Holiday Lights, Dec. 6 through Dec. 30, 3-8 p.m. Dec. 6-8,13-15, 20-23, 26-30. During the holiday season the Park is decorated with millions of lights and beautiful holiday decorations. Enjoy holiday food, special shows and more. Separate ticket required; see website for details, 3050 Hecker Pass, Gilroy. (408) 840-7100.

WINCHESTER MYSTERY HOUSE, Celebration of trees, a holiday attraction featuring 30 trees with ornaments from around the world. 525 S. Winchester Blvd., San Jose.

ROARING CAMP RAILROADSHoliday Tree Walk, Nov. 29 through Dec. 15, Call for times. Ride to the summit of Bear Mountain on the Roaring Camp steam train and enjoy a tree-lined walk of delightful holiday trees decorated by local charity and nonprofit organizations to raise funds. Call for price. $8 per car for parking. West of Scotts Valley on Graham Hill Road, Felton. (831) 335-4484.

SANTA CRUZ BEACH BOARDWALK, Santa Cruz Holiday Lights Train, Nov. 29 through Dec. 23. Call for times. Ride vintage excursion cars adorned with lights on this 60-minute round trip ride in Santa Cruz. Activities include singing carols, sipping hot-spiced cider, listening to musical entertainment and, of course, a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Trains depart and return in front of Neptune's Kingdom on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Call (831) 335-4484 for tickets and information. $22-$28. Also, Chanukah Train, Dec. 1, 5 p.m. Visit on the fifth night of Chanukah for the lighting of the menorah, then set off on train ride in Roaring Camp's excursion cars adorned with Chanukah decorations. Departs at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Call for price. 

Peninsula 

FILOLI HOUSE, Holiday Traditions, Nov. 29 through Dec. 7. The garden is turned into a holiday wonderland as part of a weeklong fundraiser. Many events are sold out, so visit the website  for details. Spots are still available Dec. 4 through Dec. 7 for the holiday shopping boutique. ($25 members; $30 non-members.). 86 Canada Road, Woodside. (650) 364-8300

RENGSTORFF HOUSEHoliday Toy and Pajama Drive, Dec. 1 through Dec. 18. The R-House is partnered with Community Services Agency for the holiday toy and pajama drive. Free. Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Shoreline Park, 3070 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View. (650) 903-6392, (650) 903-6392.


San Francisco

ALCATRAZ OCCUPATION, Nov. 28. An indigenous people's sunrise gathering commemorating the 1969-1971 occupation of the island by indians. 4:45-8:45 a.m. departures from Pier 33. Alcatraz cruises, 925-300-7252.

TREE LIGHTING, Macy's Great Tree Lighting, Nov. 29, 6 p.m. A lighting ceremony for Macy's 83-foot tall tree, adorned with 33,000 lights and 1,100 shining ornaments, featuring music and entertainment from Judith Hill, San Francisco Boy's Choir, Glide Ensemble and more. Free. Post Street between Powell and Stockton streets, San Francisco. 

SAN FRANCISCO ZOOZoo Lights, Dec. 6 through Dec. 30, 4-6 p.m. Dec. 6-7, 14-15; 4:30-8 p.m. Dec. 20-23, 26-30. Enjoy the San Francisco Zoo at night under magical holiday lights $7. Sloat Boulevard and 45th Avenue, San Francisco. (415) 753-7080

COW PALACEThe 35th Annual Great Dickens Christmas Fair, through Dec. 22, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. This annual event sends visitors back to Victorian London and into the living pages of some of Dickens' greatest books with costumed actors, music halls, shops and pubs designed to recreate the feel and look of 19th century England. Buy gifts and goodies from "street" vendors and shops, enjoy a traditional tea and British meal, or have a pint at "Fezziwig's" or "Mad Sal's Dockside Alehouse" and watch high-kicking girls dance on the stage. All this takes place inside the giant Cow Palace on weekends from Thanksgiving to Christmas. $8-$30; $90 season pass. (800) 510-1558 X114. Geneva Avenue and Santos Street, San Francisco. (415) 404-4111.

SAN FRANCISCO FIRE ENGINE TOURS AND ADVENTURES, Take a unique tour in the back of a bright-red 1955 Mack fire engine to see holiday lights. Dec. 1 through Dec. 23, 6 and 8 p.m. Visiting some of San Francisco's most festive and decorative holiday locations during this 90-minute tour. $30-$50. Meet at The Cannery, Columbus Avenue between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets, San Francisco. (415) 333-7077.

ICE RINK, The Safeway Holiday Ice Rink will operate through Jan. 20. The rink is open daily from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $11 for regular admission and $7 for children ages 8 and under. Figure- or hockey skate rentals are $5. www.unionsquareicerink.com

North Bay

NAPA VALLEY WINE TRAIN/Santa Express,1915-era Pullman cars pulled by 1950s-vintage diesel locomotives. Dec. 2 through Dec. 19, 3-5:30 p.m. Dec. 2-5, 9-12, 16-19; 9-11:30 a.m. Dec. 16-19. Meet Santa on this magical train trip. One adult must ride for every two children. $20-$35 To reserve, call 1-800-427-4124.

ANGEL LIGHTS. You might not know that the main holiday light you see atop Angel Island is a tradition that started more than 50 years ago. Now you can add to the seasonal shining and help the Angel Island Conservancy by adopting one light on a string of smaller lights atop Mt. Livermore, the highest point on Angel Island. Throughout the month of December, these “Angel Lights”, as they are known, shine and can be seen throughout much of the Bay Area as a symbolic, hopeful beacon. 

Consider adopting a light as a unique holiday gift to honor a friend or loved one by visiting the website or by calling 415-435-3972. $35.  Each adoption will bring joy to the honoree, as they receive a special card of recognition, and support Angel Island Conservancy and the work it does on behalf of Angel Island State Park.

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