Kid-Friendly Things To Do During The Holidays In Reno

20+ Kid-Friendly Things To Do During The Holidays In Reno Sparks Area (Updated 2023)

Please note that we are updating this post regularly as the holiday season progresses.

There are so many kid-friendly things to do during the holidays in Reno, Sparks, Carson City, and beyond!  We are sharing some of our favorite activities to enjoy this holiday season.

Kid-Friendly Things To Do in Reno, Sparks, Carson, City and Beyond

If you’re looking to spend some time with family, head out on a date night, or explore what our city has to offer, check out these fun activities.

Looking for even more fun? Head to our Instagram for daily fun that you can enjoy right NOW!

Don’t forget to drop a comment below with your favorite kid-friendly things to do during the holidays in Reno, Sparks, Carson City!

Note that dates/times are subject to change.

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Enjoy a Menorah or Tree Lighting Ceremony

Date: Various dates and times

Location: Enjoy the one closest to you

Cost: Free

There are several opportunities to enjoy a tree lighting or menorah ceremony!  One of our favorite ways to kick off the holiday season! Plus they are always free. Click here for the full list.

  • Light The Menorah At The Governor’s Mansion
  • Silver And Snowflakes Festival Of Light
  • Midtown Holiday Tree Lighting Extravaganza
  • Holidays At The Village Tree Lighting
  • Lights Up At The Summit
  • City Of Reno Annual Menorah Lighting
  • & more!

Check out Christmas Light Hotspots

Our ultimate list of Christmas light hotspots won’t let you down from entire neighborhoods to synchronized light shows everyone will have fun! Grab some hot cocoa, download our scavenger hunt and enjoy some amazing Christmas lights!

Ice Skating

Ice skating is a great way to enjoy the outdoors with the family. We are lucky to have over 5 ice rinks to choose from in our area!

  • Grand Sierra Ice Rink Nov. 24 – March 3
  • Reno Ice
  • Heavenly Village
  • Northstar Ski Resort
  • More+

Holiday Craft Fairs

Each year there are a bunch of holiday craft fairs that occur throughout Northern Nevada. Here are some that you can check out this year:

Carson City

The Polar Express™ Train Ride

Date: Nov. 17 – Dec. 23

Location: V&T Railway Eastgate Depot, 4650 Eastgate Siding Road, Carson City

Cost: Starting at $60 for 2 Seats (minimum)

Hop aboard the Polar Express and enjoy the train ride.  This is an interactive event the entire family is sure to love. Purchase tickets EARLY as this sells out quickly.

Whoville Holiday Market

Date: December 1 from 5:30pm – 7pm

Location: Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada, 813 N. Carson St, Carson City, NV 89701

Come for a FREE fun family event at the Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada! Whoville Holiday Market will be an evening of celebration and shopping let children feel special picking out gifts for their loved ones.

Santa Train at the Nevada State Railroad Museum

Date: December 1-2, 9-10, 16-17th from 10am – 3pm, train runs every 30 minutes

Location: Nevada State Railroad Museum; 2180 South Carson Street Carson City, NV 89701

Cost: $5/person, Free/Children (Ages 2 and under – lap sitting only)

Take a ride on the Santa Train featuring historic equipment from the Virginia & Truckee Railroad. Visit Santa Claus and receive a candy cane aboard the train.

Write a letter to Santa at the “Letters to Santa” table. Hot beverages will be available from Bon Fire Coffee Collective. Raffle prizes and more! “Boarding Time” is fifteen (15) minutes before “Departure Time”.

*Please note: A limited number of tickets will be available for purchase in advance at the admission desk for each weekend (when available). As always, walk-up tickets will be available for purchase for each train.

Holiday Treat – Carson City Symphony

Date: Dec. 10 from 4-6:00pm

Location: Carson City Community Center

Traditional festive holiday music, the December 11 concert program includes the world premiere of Dale Trumbore’s “Magnificat.” The commissioned work, which she wrote for the Carson Chamber Singers and the Symphony, will be conducted by Choral Director Richard Hutton.

Breakfast with Santa

Date: Saturday, December 16, 2023 9:30am or 11am

Location: Governor’s Mansion – Nevada Room 606 Mountain Street

Cost: $5

Must reserve by December 11, no walk-ins.

Ranch Wagon Rides

Date: Saturday, December 16 & 17 from 2pm – 5pm

Location: Silver Saddle Ranch

Cost: $10/person

Carson Valley (Gardnerville, Minden, Genoa)

Gardnerville’s Christmas Kickoff

Date: Nov 30 5:30pm

Location: Heritage Park; 1447 Courthouse Street Gardnerville, NV 89410

Join us for an evening of live entertainment, carriage rides, visits with Santa, dancing lights and fireworks. Santa arrives at 5:00 p.m. Entertainment begins at 5:30 p.m. Fireworks go off between 6:00 and 6:30, depending on the length of the live entertainment.

This year Santa has another appointment so he will be leaving with the carriages when the fireworks begin. Please plan accordingly. If you don’t get to see Santa, he will be at Minden Park on Dec. 2 and in Genoa for the Breakfast with Santa on Dec. 3.

Breakfast with Santa

Date: Dec. 2 at 8:30am and 10:15am

Location: Genoa Town Hall; 2287 Main Street Genoa, NV 89411

Cost: $5/person 3 and under are free

Genoa is sponsoring a visit from Santa, along with a pancake breakfast for the whole family! Breakfast consists of pancakes with syrup, sausage, breakfast beverages and, best of all, a visit from Santa Claus himself! The breakfast has two seating options — 8:30am and 10:15am. Tickets must be purchased through the Town Office in advance by calling 775-782-8696. Seating is limited and tickets go fast!

Breakfast with Santa

Date: Dec. 2, 9, 16, 23, 8am-10am

Location: The Shops at Heavenly Village, 1001 Heavenly Village Way South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Cost: $20/kid $30/adult

Come and celebrate the holiday season with a delightful morning filled with festive cheer. This event will take place on Saturday, December 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd, 2023 with TWO seatings, one at 8:00 AM and the other at 9:00 AM. The highlight of the event is the chance to meet and greet Santa and Mrs Claus themselves.

Parade of Lights

Date: Dec. 2 from 5-8pm

Location: Heritage Park to Minden Town Park

Join your family and friends, grab your blankets and chairs to watch the Floats, Marching Bands, Color Guard and of course our special Guest from the North Pole, make their way along Highway 395 from Eddy Street to Minden Park.

Cirque Dreams Holidaze

Date: Dec 16, 7:30pm

Location: Tahoe Blue Event Center

Cost: $34

Imaginative and fun for children to seniors and everyone in between, CIRQUE DREAMS HOLIDAZE features a world-renowned cast of performers accompanied by an ensemble of aerial circus acts, sleight-of-hand jugglers, fun-loving skippers, breath-catching acrobatics, and much more.

Drive-Through Holiday Celebration

Date: Dec 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17 from 5pm – 8pm

Location: Washoe Lake State Park

Cost: $5 per vehicle of Nevada residents

ashoe Lake State Park is hosting its 4th annual drive-through holiday celebration! Campground Loop B will be decorated with lights, holiday scenes, our favorite holiday movie quotes, and more!

Gallery of Trees

Date: Through Dec. 22 from 11-3pm

Location:  1479 U.S. Hwy 395 N, Gardnerville, NV 89410

Put the Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center on your festive stops this holiday season! Through December 22, check out the Gallery of Trees.
The Main Hall has been transformed into a winter wonderland with 18 trees to represent the community’s non-profit groups competing to be YOUR favorite tree. There is still plenty of history to take in too!


Grand Holiday Express

Date: Now – New Year’s Day

Location: Front lobby of Grand Sierra Resort

Experience this year’s holiday display as our front lobby is transformed into a glittering winter wonderland. Visit and snap a picture!

Deck the Halls

Date: Nov. 25, 26 Dec. 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, & 17

Location: Reno Public Market

Photos with Santa: Guess who’s coming to town? Santa! Bring the little ones to spill their Christmas wishes and capture those heartwarming holiday moments. Santa will be spreading joy from 12-4 PM every Saturday and Sunday.⁠

⁠Local Shopping Extravaganza: Explore our retailers on the main level for delightful holiday surprises, then head upstairs to our Vendor Village, a treasure trove of locally crafted gifts—your go-to spot for checking off that holiday list!⁠

⁠Delicious Food and Drinks: Indulge in the flavors of the season with a tempting array of food and drinks from our vendors. Don’t miss the Hot Cocoa Bar from @honeybarreno – with options for kids + adults!⁠

⁠Family Fun: From a free kid’s crafting station to holiday Make + Takes for the adults, delightful surprises on the stage, and festive delights, we’ve crafted fun for the whole family.⁠⁠

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical

Date: Nov. 21 – Nov. 26

Location: Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts 100 S. Virginia St. Reno, NV 89501

Discover the magic of Dr. Seuss’ classic holiday tale as it comes to life on stage. Featuring the hit songs “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and “Welcome Christmas,” The Grinch discovers there’s more to Christmas than he bargained for in this heart-warming holiday classic. Max the Dog narrates as the mean and scheming Grinch, whose heart is “two sizes too small,” decides to steal Christmas away from the Whos, an endlessly cheerful bunch bursting with holiday spirit.

Christmas on Ice

Date: Nov. 21 – Dec. 30, Tuesdays through Saturdays

Location: Eldorado Showroom at Eldorado Casino Reno

The family-friendly Christmas spectacular will be complete with world-class synchronized skating and freestyle figure skating performed on a real ice rink, accompanied by a stunning cast of talented singers and captivating dancers performing all your favorite holiday jiggles. Get into the holiday spirit as each glide, spin, and jump will transport the audience into a realm of pure wonder and excitement.

Holiday Sip + Shop

Date: Nov. 25th from 11am – 3pm

Location: The Village Rancharrah in Reno

Stop by to take photos with Anna and Elsa, and enjoy beverages, treats, and promotions.

Magical Holiday Lights at the Park

Date: Dec 1, 2, 3-8, 9, 10-15, 16 & 17, Friday and Saturday 5-9pm and Sunday’s 5-8pm

Location: Sierra Exotic Animal Park

Come see the animals in the dark! Standard Admission applies. Free craft tent, hot chocolate, coffee, and apple cider.

South Creek Christmas Festival & Tree Lighting

Date: Dec. 2 from 3-7pm

Location: Living Stones South Reno Church, 95 Foothill Rd, Reno, NV 89511

Join us for the 2nd annual South Creek Christmas Festival! Christmas movies, pictures with Santa, crafts for kids, and a tree lighting at 5:30pm.

Magic of Santa Craft Faire

Date: Dec. 2-3 Saturday, 9-5pm & Sunday 10-3pm

Location: Reno-Sparks Convention Center, 4590 South Virginia Street Reno, NV 89502

Cost: $5

Enjoy two fabulous days of shopping for only $5.00 admission, Children under 12 are Free. The parking is FREE (Tell the attendant you are going to Magic of Santa) We’ll take $1.00 off your admission if you bring a can of food or new socks for Charity


Date: Dec. 3

Location: Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts

Peanutcracker is a shorter, 45-minute narrated version of The Nutcracker that is designed for families with younger children to introduce them to the wonderful world of ballet and the traditional holiday ballet, The Nutcracker.

The shortened ballet with its glowing Christmas tree, the Rat King’s battle scene, Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy and animated narration has proven to be very popular with audiences of every age.

Siamsa – A Celtic Christmas

Date: December 6th at 7pm

Location: Grand Sierra Resort

A Celtic Christmas is an enchanting holiday musical that will captivate the entire family! Featuring International Irish dance champions and a cast of the finest dancers, singers, musicians and actors, this show takes you into the magical world of Irish traditions and customs as it searches for the true meaning of Christmas.

Tickets start at $35.00 (Discounted tickets; (Seniors 65 years + and Children under 12 years) are available for purchase at the Box- Office inside the GSR. Children 3 years & under may sit on a parent’s lap for free.

Spirit of the Season

Date: Dec. 8-10

Location: Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts

Gather the family for a true holiday tradition. The Reno Phil, Reno Phil Chorus and conductor Jason Altieri invite you to the Spirit of the Season, a classic holiday celebration full of orchestral arrangements, jazzy numbers, traditional holiday tunes and carols. Choose from four showtimes wrapped in fantasy and fun for the whole family!

A.V.A. Ballet Theatre presents the annual Nutcracker Ballet

Date: Dec. 9-11

Location:  Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts

The stage at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts will be alive with a sugar plum fairy and dancing mice as A.V.A. Ballet Theatre presents the annual Nutcracker Ballet

Artistic director Alexander Van Alstyne has choreographed an exciting rendition of the popular holiday ballet and the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra will perform Tchaikovsky’s moving score. Laura Jackson will be conducting the orchestra. Due to popular demand, A.V.A. Ballet Theatre will continue to have a fifth performance.

The Nutcracker

Date: Dec. 13th & Dec. 14th

Location: Grand Sierra Resort

With a cast of the finest talents and a lavish blend of costumes, scenery and outstanding choreography, The Reno Dance Company’s extraordinary production creates a magical winter wonderland that mesmerizes children and ballet enthusiasts of all ages.

Holiday Bowl

Date: Dec. 14 from 4pm – 8pm

Location: National Bowling Stadium, 300 North Center Street

Cost: $50 per lane, up to 5 people on a lane

Toy Drive: Bring a new, unwrapped toy to be donated to Ashlee’s Toy Closet, receive a raffle ticket to win prizes at the event.

Christmas Village at Grace

Date: December 15 &16 from 5pm – 8pm

Location: Grace Church Reno, 1220 Robb Dr, Reno

Everyone’s welcome and everything’s free at the Christmas Village! Come grab a photo with Santa to take home with you! Warm up with a hot cup of cocoa or Christmas soup, and have a sweet treat or two or three! Plus…there will be LIVE camels! Village doors are open from 5-8pm on December 8, 9, 15 & 16th.

Saturday Holiday Movie Matinee

Date: December 16 at 11am

Location: National Automobile Museum

Join us this Saturday, December 16th at 11 am in our private Theatre to watch the popular holiday movie, “Elf” starring Will Ferrell.

Movie included with Museum admission. Members get in FREE!

“A Christmas Rock Story” Cirque Spectacular

Date: Dec 19 – 31

Location: Grand Sierra Resort

This will be a family-friendly cirque-style show with a rockin’ holiday twist. The show also features Santa’s Motorcycle Globe Riders, a daredevil troupe who will have audiences on the edge of their seat as they perform gravity-defying feats inside a giant metal globe. Local guests with valid ID will receive two tickets for the price of one for any Sunday–Thursday show (purchase in person at box office).


7th Annual 39 North Pole Village Holiday Festival

Date: Nov 30-Dec 2 from 4-10pm and Dec. 3 from 11am – 9pm

Location: Victorian Square Plaza

Join us in the Victorian Square Plaza for the 7th Annual 39 North Pole Village Holiday Festival. Enjoy free Santa Photos, Live Music, Heated Vendor Tent, Lighting Displays, Free Train Rides, Food Trucks and more.

The 7th Annual 39 North Pole Village holiday light festival returns to Downtown Sparks December 1st-3rd. This FREE holiday light festival will feature thousands of twinkling lights, holiday shopping booths, great food, family fun, and holiday cheer.

  • Thursday & Friday – 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Saturday – 11am – 9:00 pm ( PARADE DAY)

This year’s event will have more vendors, unique entertainment, and the plaza will be saturated in holiday light displays. The heated vendor tent provides a great opportunity to shop local this holiday season. Santa will also be there for FREE photos, along with Mrs. Claus and their friends!

As always Engine 39 will be giving FREE train rides around the event!

Light Up the Night!

Date: Dec. 2 from 4pm – 7pm

Location: Horizon Church Campus, 2025 E Prater Way Sparks, NV 89434

This fun night will have Pictures with Santa, Petting Zoo, Pony Rides, Fire Pits & S’mores, Hot Cocoa, Character Meet & Greet, Bounce Houses, Kids’ Crafts, Carnival Games and more!

Hometowne Christmas Tree Lighting and Parade

Date: Dec. 1-2

Location: Victorian Square

Event Schedule:

  • Dec. 1: Tree Lighting from 6:30-7:30pm.
  • Dec. 2: Hometowne Christmas Parade from 1-3pm
    •  Santa is available to his fans for photos at the 39 North Pole event venue before and after the parade from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
    • Sparks Hometowne Christmas Parade, 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
    • 39 North Pole, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Virginia City

Electric Holiday Train O’ Lights

Date: Nov 24, 25 December 1,2 & 8,9 & 15,16 & Grand Finale Dec 22,23

Location: Virginia & Truckee Railroad Depot, 165 F Street, Virginia City, Nevada.

What better place to be than in Virginia City for the Holiday steam extravaganza of Lights! After a stroll down the boardwalk shopping and enjoying some merry carols, head on down to the 1870 Virginia & Truckee depot to catch the spectacular Holiday Train O’ Lights steam train. The V&T staff overlooks no details to bring you and your family the best in holiday cheer.

The 40-minute narrated steam train ride to Gold Hill is decorated with thousands of lights and sure to make memories for your friends and family.

V&T Candy Cane Express

Date: Nov 24, 25 & Dec 2,3 & 9,10 & 16,17 & Our Grand Finale Dec 23, 24

Location: Virginia & Truckee Railroad Depot, 165 F Street, Virginia City, Nevada.

Purchase tickets in advance, this sells out every year!  Enjoy a 45-minute journey over the original 150-year old V&T railroad route, you will enjoy hot cocoa or cider, candy canes & cookies, on the festively decorated train. Watch little faces light up while riding through the enchanting Candy Cane tunnel.

Downtown Holiday Festival

Date: Nov. 17 from 4:15pm – 6pm

Location: Downtown Historic Truckee

Celebrate the Holidays in Historic Downtown Truckee! For more than 40 years the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association and Truckee Rotary have collaborated to share in honoring Truckee’s community.
Small trees decorated by more than 600 local elementary students welcome you into businesses, the Truckee Rotary brings Santa and hot cocoa. TDMA and the Town provide festive holiday lighting and cheer throughout downtown Truckee. The highlight is the lighting of the traditional Bud Fish Tree at 5:20, in remembrance of this beloved Truckee community member.

Christmas On The Comstock

Date: Dec. 1 -31

Location: Virginia City

Christmas on the Comstock is all about tradition. And you won’t find a better place that brings history and that warm, Christmas vibe together for one magical experience than in Virginia City.

Christmas on the Comstock goes all out in December. This Victorian-style holiday celebration features an official tree lighting, a saloon crawl, our Believe Again Christmas Giveaway, the V&T Candy Cane Express, the Train O’Lights and much more. Prepare for this to be your new favorite holiday tradition.

9th Annual Holiday Faire at St. Mary’s Art Center 

Date: Dec. 2 from 10am – 4pm & Dec. 3 from 10am-3pm

Location: St. Mary’s Art Center

St. Mary’s Art Center offers a truly festive holiday shopping experience with over 20 local and regional artists and makers sharing and selling their creations in a decorated, music-filled space. This is the perfect shopping opportunity to give truly one-of-a-kind gifts while also supporting artists and artisans. Free admission. Learn more here.

Parade Of Lights

Date: Dec. 2, & 9 at 5pm

Location: C Street

See the spirit of Christmas travel through our historic town as Christmas cheer lights up the streets with our annual Parade of Lights held on two weekends – Saturday, Dec. 3 and Saturday, Dec. 10 at 5 p.m. Everyone is welcome to participate! Bring the entire family and join in the fun.

Sip some hot cocoa and enjoy sweet treats from our local shops as you take in the warmth of the Christmas spirit.

Magical Christmas Fireworks Show

Date: Dec. 2, & 9 at 6pm

Location: C Street

Nothing says holiday magic like fireworks during the holidays. It’s just that extra sparkle needed to make your family truly believe in the spirit of Christmas once again. Join us for a special holiday firework show taking place Saturday, Dec. 3 and Saturday, Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. The fireworks take place following the Parade of Lights. Thanks to the Silverland Inn & Suites and Forever Christmas for generously supporting this event.


A Small Town Christmas

Date: Dec. 1-9

Location: Main Street USA

Hosts of the A Small Town Christmas include the Yerington Chamber of Commerce (and it’s many members); the City of Yerington; Studio 42; and Boys & Girls Clubs of Mason Valley.

Schedule: 8 days of magical fun!  Full schedule here

Holiday Fun

The holidays are truly magical and we love seeing the kids light up with each activity. What holiday activity are you most excited about this year?  Did we miss your favorite activity?  Leave us a comment below!

Kacey Queen Headshot

Kacey Queen is a co-founder of Nevada Moms

Kacey received her bachelor's in Psychology while cheering for the University of Oregon. They moved to Reno in 2014 and have loved it ever since. She is a dedicated homeschooling mother to her three children.

She serves on the board for Northern Nevada Health Systems, and Northern Nevada Sports and Recreation, and she is passionate about her community.

Kacey loves exploring with her family and finding family-friendly events and activities! A few of her favorite things include family adventures, exploring the outdoors, working out, local coffee shops, and dessert!