San Jose Guide to the Holidays!


When looking for things to do with the kids this holiday season, consider the many Chanukah and Christmas events in San Jose. Located in California’s Silicon Valley, much of San Jose’s holiday scene centers around Plaza de César Chávez, which means you can simply park your car and have many interesting attractions within walking distance. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, the plaza is transformed into a forest of holiday delights with acres of Christmas trees decorated by San Jose schools, community groups, and businesses. Over 60 musical and animated exhibits, glittering lights and the 60-foot Community Giving Tree also adds a lot of joy and laughter to visitors of all ages. Get your picture taken with Santa, enjoy carnival rides, and share one of the most amazing giant cups of hot chocolate you’ve ever seen sold by one the park vendors! Christmas in the Park has been a San Jose holiday tradition for more than 30 years. Check out this holiday guide in San Jose!

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For some revelers, this event is a stop on the way to or from the San Jose Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker, just minutes from the edge of the park. Others may be headed to the Fairmont Hotel, an elegant hub in the center of all of the city’s holiday magic where they’ll partake in seasonal tea or simply enjoy the sweet sights of gingerbread structures and electric holiday train displays. A lucky group may even be getting to set up camp in one of the hotel’s luxurious rooms and enjoy an extended stay in the midst of twinkling lights, childlike wonder, and all the trappings that come with the most wonderful time of the year.

But there are other attractions to take in around Plaza de César Chávez during the holidays, here’s a brief guide to the holidays in San Jose:

  • Downtown Ice: Open to skaters in late November and operating through mid-January, Downtown Ice is the South Bay’s largest seasonal outdoor skating rink. Located in the Circle of Palms between the Fairmont Hotel and the San Jose Museum of Art, many first time skaters have wobbled onto the ice here. This is a terrific place for families to make lasting holiday memories by introducing their youngsters to ice skating.
  • Winter Wonderland: San Jose unpacks a carnival of family fun along with its holiday decorations. Enjoy glimpses of Christmas in the Park from atop the giant Ferris wheel, play classic carnival games, dodge in and out of fun houses, and enjoy treats like cotton candy, churros, and kettle corn. Just avoid a meltdown when it’s time to go home, Santa is granting visits in the area and he has his eye on you!
  • Santa Run: The Santa Run Silicon Valley is a family-friendly 5K Run/Walk benefiting Christmas in the Park and Downtown Ice. Entrants are encouraged to dress up as their favorite holiday character or tradition; Santa, Mrs. Claus, the Grinch, reindeer, elves, dreidel, menorah, ornaments, tree, a candlestick — the ideas are endless! The race starts at 3PM on Sunday, December 17.

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Holiday guide in San Jose Christmas at the Park

Photo by: Flickr/donjd2

There is festive fun to be had outside of the downtown area as well. Here are some San Jose area events you won’t want to miss:

  • Children’s Holiday Festival: Step in to the Santa Clara Valley’s past at History Park, a living tribute to the area’s early years. Enjoy hot chocolate, live music, and caroling, board the trolley for a ride along with Santa, and take part in some crafts inspired by the valley’s diverse cultures. Saturday, December 2, 11AM-4PM.
  • Winchester Mystery House: Sarah Winchester’s fabulous 160-room mansion is elegantly decked out for the holidays with garlands, wreaths, candles, and handcrafted ornaments. Tour during the day or during a candlelit evening set to soft Christmas carols. There’s also half-acre straw labyrinth for the kids with wine tasting for their parents!

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Pin this to bookmark all the holiday fun; we update it yearly:


Christmas & Holiday ActivitiesFind holiday activities and events in your neck of the woods.  We’ve got the inside scoop on cities across North America.

Featured photo by: Shutterstock

About the author

Kristine Dworkin is one of Trekaroo’s Travel Experts located in Northern California. She's also a mom to a gifted girl athlete and a special needs charmer. Like almost everything in her house, traveling is a competitive sport (I'm getting on the plane, I'm getting on the plane first!). With a triathlete, a soccer star, and a baseball player in the house what else could one expect? Since her active family obviously doesn't do sitting still very well, they're always out exploring the world.
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