If 2020 proved anything, it’s that time marches on. Even as the Covid-19 pandemic shutters social gatherings in parts of the North Bay, the holidays approach, and with them comes a plethora of socially distant and virtual events that promise to brighten spirits. To help navigate the season, we present a guide to local holiday events, shopping, performances and other artsy offerings leading up to Christmas.
The Thanksgiving Play
Anyone who has experienced familial quarreling during the holidays will relate to Sonoma County–based Left Edge Theatre’s virtual production of The Thanksgiving Play. The satirical comedy about reconciling the holiday’s celebratory atmosphere with the dark legacy of colonial expansion in America is presented live over Zoom on Thursday through Sunday, Nov. 12–15, at varying times. The show will then be available to stream on demand from Nov. 16–29. $10–$30. Leftedgetheatre.com.
Warren Miller’s Future Retro
Each year, adventure-film producers Warren Miller Entertainment assemble a feature-length film based on winter sports spotlighting world-class skiers and other sports figures performing mind-bending stunts around the world. This year marks the first-ever digital release of the annual film, and Warren Miller’s Future Retro streams into homes this month. The jaw-dropping film features athletes taking big risks and finding big rewards on mountains in Iceland, Alaska and elsewhere. The film will be released in regional premieres; West Coast audiences can view Future Retro on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 7pm. The film will be available to stream for two days, and tickets include other digital content and other perks. $69. Warrenmiller.com.
Holidays Along the Farm Trail
Each winter, Sonoma County Farm Trails hosts a series of shopping and agricultural activities to celebrate the season. This year, Sonoma County Farm Trails is keeping gatherings small and close to home, though the organization will still host several virtual offerings, including farm-fresh gifts and local décor available on the group’s Facebook and Instagram pages and at Farmtrails.org.
Holidays in Yountville
Dubbed “the brightest town in Napa Valley,” Yountville annually offers an escape from big-box store shopping with down-home events and experiences throughout the season. This year’s calendar includes more than 50 virtual and safe in-person events, with craft and cooking classes, virtual tastings, an online gift guide and a virtual holiday light tour of Yountville on Friday, Nov. 27. Yountville.com.
San Rafael Parade of Lights & Holiday Festival
(Editor’s Note: This event has been canceled for 2020) San Rafael’s 41st annual event moves ahead in 2020 as a single-day celebration that opens with an afternoon holiday marketplace boasting local shopping and kids activities before the evening’s brightly-lit events which include the parade at 5:30pm followed by a tree-lighting ceremony with Mr. and Mrs. Claus in the city’s plaza. Fourth and B streets, San Rafael. Friday, Nov. 27, noon to 8pm. Free. Sresproductions.com.
Santa Rosa’s downtown Courthouse Square lights up each Christmas with a massive tree-lighting ceremony. This year, rather than a one-day event, Winter Lights will take place from Thanksgiving through New Years Day, with activities for the family, photo opportunities, holiday specials from local restaurants and shops, and other entertaining elements presented with social distancing and safety in mind. Nov. 27 to Jan. 1, at Third Street and Mendocino Avenue, Santa Rosa. Downtownsantarosa.org.
Sausalito Gingerbread House Competition & Tour
This 14th-annual citywide event features festive and delicious gingerbread houses displayed in the windows of local businesses that are mostly within walking distance of each other, meaning this is a family-friendly diversion from the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping. Dec. 1–31. Downtown Sausalito. Maps are available at participating merchants or at Sausalito.org.
Broadway Holiday Experiences
Sonoma County’s award-winning Transcendence Theatre Company has already proven it can provide theatrical entertainment to at-home audiences with this past summer’s “Best Night Ever Online” season of virtual showcases. Now, the company sets its sights on the holidays with festive song and dance performances playing at drive-in venues and online. Broadway Holiday Experiences play Fridays to Sundays, Dec. 4–6 at SOMO Village, 1100 Valley House, Rohnert Park; and Dec. 11–13 at Sonoma Raceway, 29355 Arnold Dr., Sonoma. 5pm. $59 and up. Online performances stream Dec. 18–23 on YouTube, times vary. Free, donations accepted. Transcendencetheatre.com.
Light Up a Life
Heartland Hospice honors lives lost with annual candle- and tree-lighting ceremonies in Sonoma County each winter. This year, Light Up a Life will be a virtual tree-lighting and remembrance ceremony on Friday, Dec. 6, at 6pm. Purchase a light to honor a loved one by calling 707.778.6242.
Calistoga Lighted Tractor Parade
This small town celebrates the holiday season and its agricultural heritage each winter with a parade featuring vintage tractors, antique trucks and other rustic autos adorned in dazzling lighting displays. This year, the event has been modified to display tractors decked in lights throughout town for a social-distanced celebration on Saturday, Dec. 5. Lincoln Avenue, downtown Calistoga. 5:30pm. Free. Visitcalistoga.com.
This 33rd annual event will comply with Covid-19 safety precautions when it presents its popular Lighted Boat Parade—featuring dozens of brightly decorated vessels along the Sausalito Waterfront—on Saturday, Dec. 12, at 6pm. Entry forms for participating vessels and other details can be found at Winterfestsausalito.com.
Luther Burbank Plant Sale & Gift Shop
While Luther Burbank’s historic home and gardens are not holding an annual open house this holiday season, there will be a two-day sale featuring socially distant shopping with holiday-themed cards and face-coverings available in the gift shop. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 12–13, Luther Burbank Home & Gardens, 204 Santa Rosa Ave., Santa Rosa. 1–4pm each day. Lutherburbank.org.
Songs of Light
San Rafael’s Osher Marin JCC is usually the scene of one of Marin’s biggest Hanukkah parties. This year, all are welcome to Osher Marin JCC’s virtual holiday presentation, “Songs of Light: A Multi-Genre Musical Celebration of Hanukkah” that takes place on Zoom for one night only. The event will be hosted by James Sokol, the director of the Kurland Center for Adult Learning & Living at the Osher Marin JCC, who leads a virtual program that explores the Festival of Lights through the music of Broadway, opera, pop and more. Register in advance for the free event, and take the musical trip on Sunday, Dec. 13, at 1pm. 415.444.8002.
Hanukkah with Shomrei Torah
This year this progressive Santa Rosa congregation hosts a virtual version of the Jewish holiday of lights, beginning with a three-part Zoom presentation on Hanukkah’s origins, spiritual meaning and more on three consecutive Wednesdays, Dec. 2–16, at 7pm. Free. Then, Congregation Shomrei Torah holds a virtual Hanukkah celebration—details to come—on Thursday, Dec. 17 at 6:15pm. Cstsr.org.
Holiday Gift Market
Healdsburg Center for the Arts’ annual gallery show offers an opportunity to find and purchase original, handmade creations, crafts and goods from local artists. Saturday, Nov. 21, though Wednesday, Dec. 30. Healdsburg Center for the Arts, 130 Plaza St., Healdsburg. Free. Healdsburgcenterforthearts.org.
Petaluma Merchant’s Holiday Open House
Each year, downtown Petaluma helps shoppers find deals and enjoy festive holiday treats, horse-and-carriage rides, balloon art, face painting and more during an open-house outing. This year’s event will look different due to Covid-19, with details still forthcoming. For now, the open house is happening Saturday, Dec. 5. Putnam Plaza, 129 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma. 11am to 5pm. Get further details by calling 707.762.9348.
A holiday tradition in Mexico, Posada Navideña features performances blending dance, music and song. Each year, Luther Burbank Center for the Arts hosts a showcase, and this year the venue welcomes Northern California company Calidanza for a virtual performance featuring lively entertainment online on Friday, Dec. 11, at 7pm. The online performance will be available for free for 48 hours after its premiere. Lutherburbankcenter.org.