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If you’re looking for a fun, family friendly Christmas event in the Bay Area, look no further. Visit California’s Great America WinterFest! Each year, the Santa Clara theme park is transformed during the holiday season into a winter wonderland. There is live entertainment, delicious holiday treats, ice skating, millions of sparkling lights, and more.
In this guide, we’ll let you know all about the special Christmas shows and activities you and your family can enjoy. We’ll share where you can eat and shop as well as some of the attractions you can ride during WinterFest. And then we’ll you know how you can save money on admission with a promo code!
Cool Yule Christmas
You won’t want to miss this high energy show in front of the 70-foot-tall Christmas tree at Celebration Plaza! This show combines the singing and dancing of 12 performers with holiday pop music and choreographed lighting. Plus, there’s even falling snow!
Four Drummers Drumming
Enjoy live music at the Coca-Cola Polar Bear Plaza! Specifically, there’s (you guessed it) four drummers drumming. The entertaining drummers also march all around the midway.
Tinker’s Toy Factory: A Christmas Fever!
This fun Christmas show stars Santa Claus, Tinker, and the other elves. The musical has a colorful toy production line setting, and you’ll enjoy the cheery elf costumes. You can watch this family friendly show at the Theater Royale.
It’s Christmas, Snoopy!
If you’re ever wanted to watch an ice skating show starring Snoopy, now’s your chance! This family friendly show, inside the Great America Theater, combines world-class skating, singing, and favorite PEANUTS friends (like Charlie Brown and Linus). You’ll also be impressed by the fabulous costumes, like cupcake and candy cane dresses, as well as a Santa costume for Snoopy. And you’ll be thrilled by the falling snow during the grand finale!
Dickensian carolers sing classic holiday songs in the Hometown Gazebo at Hometown Square. The performers look as if they’re straight out of A Christmas Carol – costuming includes wardrobe items like wide-hoop dresses, top hats, and long-tailed coats. And the performance itself includes fun details like traditional handbells and even falling snow.
Holly Jolly Trolley
Vibrantly dressed performers ride (what else) a Holly Jolly Trolley through Gingerbread Village, stopping to delight guests with an upbeat performance. The trolley itself is reminiscent of the famous San Francisco cable cars from the early 1900s. And the song selection combines familiar favorites with a unique Holly Jolly spin.
The Mistletones capture the feel of 1920s radio show stars, with their a cappella singing and fun ’20s costumes. The trio of singers walk through Tinsel Town and sing a number of favorite holiday hits, like Frosty the Snowman and Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.
A PEANUTS Guide to Christmas
Head to the PEANUTS Showplace in Planet Snoopy to catch this interactive show and holiday sing-along. Charlie, Lucy, and Linus will discuss such topics as their favorite holiday food, what Christmas means to them, how to give the perfect present, and writing letters to Santa. If you have a younger child in your group, you’ll want to catch a performance of this fun show.
Tree Lighting Ceremony
The perfect start to a night of holiday fun, the Tree Lighting Ceremony is held at 5:30 PM each evening. Twenty dancers and singers are on hand to celebrate the occasion, which includes a countdown to lighting the giant Christmas tree at Celebration Plaza. At the end of the countdown, Snoopy and some special guests insert an oversize plug into a giant power outlet, and the tree is lit!
Throughout the park, keep your eyes out for over 30 holiday characters, including:
- Jack Frost and his nieces, Snowflake and Tinsel
- Mr. and Mrs. Tannenbaum
- Holly, Jolly, Lolly and Jingle
- General Napoleon, Captain Macaron and Cookie Caramel
- Candy Cane and the Sugar Plum Fairy with siblings Ginny & Ginger
- and more!
Sally’s Christmas Crafts
Kids 12 and under receive a personal bag of crafts upon entering this location at Charlie Brown’s Christmas Town. This will allow them to decorate their own special Christmas ornament, which they can take home as a keepsake or use to help decorate a Winterfest Christmas tree. Children will also have the chance to write holiday cards to send to family members worldwide. And of course they will be able to take a picture with Sally herself!
Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree Lot
This Christmas Tree lot, located in Charlie Brown’s Christmas Town, is more of a fun holiday maze. And at the end, you’ll reach a Christmas Tree that is perfect for Charlie Brown! Make sure to take a photo with Charlie Brown and Linus in front of this very special tree.
Go shopping for that perfect Christmas gift! You’ll have so many options with all of the Bay Area artisans and craft vendors who will be selling their handmade goods. With over 20 local artists selling their products each night, you’ll have lots of gift ideas! From unique Christmas ornaments to scented candles to holiday decor to handblown glass to jewelry to homemade toffee and so much more, you’ll be able to find all kinds of presents for your family and friends.
North Pole Postmaster
Has your child written a letter to Santa Claus yet this year? If not, then stop by the North Pole Postmaster at Orleans Place! Santa’s elves were nice enough to set up this store to make sure all kids can reach their boss by letter. Pens, paper, and crayons are available for children to use to write their requests to Santa.
Once written, elves will collect the letters and send them flying overhead using a zany pulley system. But don’t worry – they will be officially certified, so you’ll know they’ll make it to the North Pole. In fact, once Santa reads them, he’ll even send the letters back to the North Pole Postmaster station so that they can be displayed on the wall for all to see.
Let It Snow
You make think that it never snows in the Bay Area. Well, think again! You can experience snowfall every 15 minutes at WinterFest. Make sure you enjoy it at least once at Celebration Plaza during your visit to the park.
Before you even enter the park, you’ll be able to see such beautiful sights as the very Californian lighted palm trees, and the North Pole (Star Tower) covered with snowflakes. And don’t miss the photo opportunity of the giant toy soldiers guarding the main entrance!
Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen Cookie Decorating
Decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus! You can do so right in a recreation of her North Pole kitchen, located at Orleans Place. And you’ll certainly want to take some photos of this special activity. This does require an additional fee which includes four large sugar cookies plus frosting and toppings for decorations.
St. Nick’s Pics
Stop by Santa’s WinterFest home at Hometown Square to get a family photo with Santa Claus! An additional fee is required, and you’ll be able to choose from many photo package options.
Snow Flake Lake Ice Skating
Have a magical experience ice skating inside California’s Great America, right next to the tallest carousel in the world! Please note that this is not included with admission – you’ll need to pay an additional fee which includes skate rental and one open skate session.
Some of the holiday dining options at WinterFest include:
- Cheery Churros
- 11 Pipers Piping Pizza
- Festive Funnel Cakes
- Cocina de Navidad
- Maggie Brown’s Festive Feast
- Ice Hut
- Prancer’s Pizza
- Santa’s Snack Shack
- Yule Time
- WinterFest Food Festival
- And more!
If you weren’t able to get gifts for everyone on your list at Artisan Alley, you can always stop by one of these stores:
- Frosty Furnishings
- Holiday Trails
- Santa’s Little Helpers
- Snoopy’s Stocking Stuffers
- Candy Cane Café
- Festival of Color
- The Company Store
- North Pole Mercantile
What’s a theme park without rides? At WinterFest, you’ll still be able to ride some of your favorite attractions. 35 rides (for everyone from kids to adults) will be available, such as:
- Flight Deck
- Psycho Mouse
- Xtreme Skyflyer
- Carousel Columbia
- Snoopy’s Space Race
- Flying Ace
- Joe Cool’s Dodgem School
- Kite Eating Tree
- Lucy’s Crabbie Cabbies
- Snoopy’s Space Race
- Sally’s Swing Set
- Woodstock Express
- Barney Oldfield Speedway
- Delta Flyer/Eagle’s Flight
- Star Tower
- And more!
WinterFest Promo Code
So now that you know all of the fun things to do at Great America’s holiday celebration, I’m sure you’d like to know how you can save money on your ticket. Well, click here and you can save $20 per person on your WinterFest tickets! This is a huge savings for this popular San Francisco area event.