The festive season in Lamorinda begins in early November when the Stokes family lights the coast redwood in front of Lafayette’s Diablo Foods. Soon after Mt. Diablo Boulevard is lined with twinkling trees and the lampposts and streetlights of each town are bedecked for the holidays.
Running is for the Birds
For some, the season doesn’t start until they’ve trotted the turkey. Pleasant Hill Rec pulls no punches with their annual 8.4 mile trail run, sure to burn off your stuffing and maybe even the pie too. Race begins at 9:00 on Sunday, November 24th at the Briones’ Bear Creek Staging Area.
Runners 13 and up looking to earn their t-shirt can pre-register before November 7th, but on-site registration is also available on race day for an additional $10.00, no t-shirt included.
Looking to run right before the big meal? Walnut Creek’s 27th annual Turkey Trot will held on T-day beginning at 8:00 a.m. for the serious 5 and 10K runners and at 10:00 a.m. for kids 12 and under.
Participants begin at Civic Park and wind their way over flat terrain through the Creek’s downtown area and neighborhoods. A 5k Wheel and Walk option is also available and begins at 8:00 a.m. The RISE Paralysis Recovery Center will sponsor anyone with a physical impairment.
Kicking it off with a Cuppa
Early risers can kick off their Thanksgiving week off by joining the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce at their Thanksgiving Community Breakfast on Friday, November 22nd at 7:00 a.m.
Now in its 41st year, the event draws local luminaries as well as friends and neighbors. This year’s speaker is Sean Perlmutter of Pivotal Twist discussing how to make kindness an integral part of your everyday life. Visit the chamber’s website for tickets.
The Man in the Big Red Suit
A few minutes on Santa’s lap can be the highlight of Christmas for any child who celebrates the holiday. Fortunately, the man with the bag manages to be everywhere at once.
Pay him a visit in Walnut Creek’s Broadway Plaza from late November through December 24th most of the day into evening.
Even people with magic reindeer need a break though. To avoid waiting while the bearded guy grabs a Starbucks, check the Broadway Plaza website for his scheduled downtime each day. If you know you’re going to spring for the photo package anyway, pay online and receive a fastpass to avoid the wait.
Register early for breakfast with Santa at Moraga’s Hacienda de Las Flores on Saturday, December 16th at 8:00, 9:30 or for the late risers, 11:00 a.m. Groups of 8 or more can reserve a table, so invite a few of your besties and snap some free photos of the kids together with everyone’s favorite visitor from the North Pole.
If the family wants to spend some quality time with Father Christmas and you’re prepared to spend a little cash to do it, purchase tickets online for the Tilden Park Carousel’s breakfast with Santa held on select Saturdays in late November and December.
Tickets include a buffet, photos with the man and his Elf, unlimited rides and classic Christmas movies. Not up for the full experience? Santa and special friends Olaf (of Frozen fame) and Scooby Doo will make an appearance in the evenings from during the holiday season. Stop by the carousel’s website for the weekly schedule.
It’s no wonder the big guy has such a belly. He’ll also be having breakfast at the Pleasant Hill Senior Center on December 7th at 8:30 and 10:00 a.m. Register by December 6th at 12:00 p.m. for either seating and sit down for pancakes, sausage, live entertainment and more before scoring your photos.
That same day, Santa will be making an appearance at Nordstrom in Walnut Creek for yet another meal. The buffet breakfast at the Marketplace Cafe starts at 8:45 and runs through 11:00 a.m., giving everyone ample time to mingle and nosh. 100% of ticket sales up to $25,000 will be donated to local children’s hospitals. In case you miss it, he’ll be back on December 14th.
It’s in the Bag
Get your gift buying done early at Orinda’s 43rd annual Holiday Bazaar on November 23rd from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Community Center.
This free event showcases wares by over 50 vendors and craftspeople including potters, knitters, jewelers and much more. Don’t miss Scooter the Clown if you or someone you love is in the market for a custom-made balloon animal.
Traditionally held the first weekend of December, Lafayette’s beloved holiday shopping extravaganza, Santa’s Bag features homemade treats including jams, chocolate and baked goods as well as handmade gifts and other items by over 60 artists and vendors. Visit lovelafayette.org for times and details of this year’s event.
Moraga’s three day-long Hacienda Holiday Faire at the Hacienda de Las Flores on Donald Drive features one-of-a-kind items from over 45 food producers and artisans. Check out their Facebook event page for updates on the particulars.
Local shops can be a great source for something truly unique. Need a last-minute hostess gift for this weekend’s holiday party? Lafayette’s Lemon, Indigo and Poppy and Misto Lino can have you out the door with the perfect item in no time.
In Orinda, Parker Thatch will make it look like you planned ahead by monogramming a bag for that special someone.
Festivals and Festivities
Meet friends at the Plaza Park in downtown Lafayette for the town’s annual “It’s a Wonderful Life in Lafayette” celebration, but make sure to be there by 4:30 to catch a glimpse of Santa arriving in style in the city’s own vintage red fire truck.
Live entertainment, arts and crafts and free hot chocolate provided by Lamorinda Sunrise Rotary will keep everyone occupied and happy until the tree lighting ceremony and sing-a-long at 5:45. After the kids have their photo op with Santa, pop them in front of the snow globe backdrop and snap another Insta-worthy picture.
This year, help support families who are struggling by donating canned food for the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano.
Saturday, November 30th, stop by Orinda’s Theater Square their Holiday Magic and tree lighting ceremony and a chance to lay eyes on Old St. Nick. Then, on December 8th, guess who’s coming to town? No, not that guy. His reindeer!
Keep checking back on Orinda’s Theater Square website for details about these upcoming events.
Walnut Creek’s Parade of Lights and tree lighting on December 5th is all but guaranteed to get everyone in the holiday spirit. The party begins at 5:00 p.m. with live entertainment by community choral groups followed by The Rockin’ Mistletones and culminates with Santa’s arrival and the tree lighting at 7:00 p.m.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Claus will be available for pictures in Santa’s antique red sleigh on Berkeley’s 4th Street Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00-4:00 through December beginning on the 7th.
Stop by the enchanted forest, replete with snow, for a photo and stay for free activities including stocking decorating, caroling and a marionette show.
Bring a new or gently used coat or rain gear to donate to the homeless through B.O.S.S. Nothing embodies the holiday spirit more than helping someone in need.
Jolly Good Shows
SF Ballet’s Nutcracker is a holiday tradition for many, but for those who want to keep it local, The Lesher Center has a full complement of festive shows to entertain the whole family.
November ushers in Diablo Ballet’s Swinging Holiday and More, followed by concerts and pageantry including Contra Costa Ballet’s one-hour, no intermission Nutcracker and the Ballet School’s Once Upon a Christmas as well as musical performances by The Walnut Creek Concert Band and the Contra Costa Wind Symphony.
Lafayette’s Town Hall is serving up a Dickensian Christmas with an adaptation by Gale Child’s Daly of Great Expectations. Cozy up with your loved ones in the vintage theater and revel in the joys of the holidays here at home.
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