Looking for a holiday celebration that's nostalgic, delightful for kids, and more about the spirit of the holidays than raking in cash?
Consider these two: the 'Fairy Winterland Celebration' at Children's Fairyland, on the banks of Lake Merritt in Oakland, and 'Christmas in the Park' in San Jose.
Fairyland, usually closed at night, stays open to 7 p.m. December 14 thru 23, its ten acres of blue whales, smiling dragons, and the old-woman-who-lives-in-a-shoe house strung with thousands of twinkling lights.
"It's sweet and in the tradition of Fairyland," says C.J. Hirschfield, executive director of the nonprofit park, founded in 1950 and said to be America's first storybook-themed park.
Children from infancy to seven will enjoy storytelling, arts and crafts-making with folks from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, hot chocolate, and performances geared to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, and other seasonal holidays. Fairyland has a beloved 'Santa of color,' the popular costumed Critters by the Bay, miniature goats and an alpaca, and a nightly parade.
Performances include Hirschfield's "personal favorite, a puppet show version of the 'Nutcracker' that is unbelievable," she says. Fairyland is nationally known for its puppetry.
San Jose's 'Christmas in the Park,' which began in the 1950s, fills two-acre Cesar Chavez Park with lights, caroling mice, a kiddie train, and a Community Tree throughout the holiday season.