Skip to Navigation Skip to Content

Top Five San Jose Holiday Happenings

Star Wars Day at Christmas in the Park, Photos by Dana Rebmann

The calendar’s turned to December and the countdown to the holidays is on. If you need a little help getting into that jolly state of mind, take a break from shopping, grab the kids and find your way to San Jose. There’s some holiday happenings going on even Scrooge would be impressed with.

Christmas in the Park

This annual holiday tradition takes place at Plaza de Cesar Chavez in downtown San Jose and even in the rain folks come out in droves to this free event. The two-acre park is all about the holidays, decked out with lights, animated exhibits, snow-making machines and of course Santa. The park doesn’t only look like Christmas, it smells like it thanks to the more than 400 Christmas trees decorated by San Jose schools, community groups and businesses.

Since it’s just across the street, The Tech Museum of Innovation is also in on the holiday action, performing Christmas myth testing shows in the park to compliment the MythBusters exhibit at the museum. Based on the popular television show, the hands on exhibits are entertaining no matter your age and a dry reprieve on a rainy day.

Christmas tree & Ferris Wheel

Christmas in the Park runs daily 9 am to midnight. For a complete schedule of all the events going on at the park, click here. Downtown is particularly impressive aglow in holiday lights. Just past the 60-foot Community Giving Tree you can’t miss the glowing Ferris Wheel and other amusements.

Winter Wonderland

The carnival is actually another holiday event called Winter Wonderland. Located on Park Avenue, between Market Street and Almaden Boulevard and stretching down Paseo de San Antonio between Market and First Street. Rides run daily 11 am to 11 pm.

Downtown Ice

Just when you thought you couldn’t squeeze anymore holiday into downtown San Jose, you’ll catch sight of Downtown Ice in between the San Jose Museum of Art and the Fairmont. You can twirl and spin now through January 13th.

Holiday Nutcracker & Gingerbread

Or you can watch other folks twirl and spin from The Fairmont’s Fountain Restaurant. Sunday brunch selections range from sushi and blintzes to eggs benedict and chocolate covered strawberries. Parents of picky eaters need not worry. You can’t miss the holiday train exhibits as your enter the restaurant, but be sure to walk through The Fairmont’s lobby. There are two life-size chocolate nutcrackers standing guard over a gingerbread work of art.

Winchester Mystery House

A short drive away the Winchester Mystery House is decked out for the holidays with a dozen plus elaborately decorated trees throughout the house, each decorated to tie in with the architecture of its room. In the North Conservatory, where Sarah Winchester attended to her plants, the tree is adorned with colorful cut and potted orchids. In the front area of the mansion that suffered a great amount of damage in the 1906 earthquake, the Christmas tree has a San Francisco theme.

Okay, so that’s more than five things. You might have to make hard choices, or better yet spend the night in a mansion and do it all. With plenty of open space and a park next door, the Dolce Hayes Mansion is great for a traveling family. Request a room off the pool and there won’t be any question about what to do when everyone wakes up.

Find Dana on twitter @drebmann

Dana and her family were hosted by Team San Jose, but as always Dana’s thoughts and opinions are her own.