The region gets its holiday engines running this weekend, a festive blitz of community celebrations – including a day-into-night extravaganza in downtown Modesto.
Bask in the holiday spirit on Saturday in Modesto, beginning with the city’s annual Breakfast with Santa, 8 to 11:30 a.m. at the Senior Citizens Center, 211 Bodem St. Pancakes will be served and kids can have their photos taken with Santa while Mrs. Claus reads everyone a story. Crafts for kids also are planned at the event, which is sponsored by the North Modesto Kiwanis Club and the city Parks and Recreation Department. Tickets are $5; call 209-577-5344.
After you get a bellyful at breakfast, head downtown to the area outside the McHenry Mansion for the annual Dickens Faire, replete with Victorian splendor. Inside and outside, the mansion will be decorated for an old-fashioned Christmas. The festival features costumed carolers, stories of Christmases past and a street fair with an array of crafts and vendors, as well as the Modesto farmers market. Horse-drawn wagon rides will be offered from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for $2-$3.
The festival itself is free and runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (the farmers market opens at 7 a.m.) at McHenry Mansion, 906 15th St., Modesto, and outside along 15th Street. For more, visit www.mchenrymuseum.org.
As the Dickens Faire closes, grab a bite at one of the many diverse downtown restaurants and rest up for the “Miracle on 10th Street”-themed Celebration of Lights parade. Find a place along the I, down to 10th and up J streets route to watch the glittering show. The parade begins at 5:30 p.m. at the corner of 14th and I streets. For more, call 209-577-5344.
When the parade ends, things really get rolling – rockin’ and rolling, in fact – at Tenth Street Plaza. The ongoing Rockin’ Holidays has its kickoff party Saturday night, featuring live music, a tree lighting, garland, retro decorations, snow (yes, snow!), free photos with Santa and more.
The Rockin’ Holidays kickoff begins at 7:45 p.m., and that’s just the rev-up to the ongoing celebration. The free parties continue Thursdays-Saturdays through Dec. 23 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Tenth Street Plaza.
Modesto isn’t the only community celebrating the yuletide season this weekend – there are other towns across the Valley to the Mother Lode also planning holiday fetes on Friday or Saturday. Here’s a look at some:
Turlock Downtown Christmas Parade – Friday: This 38th annual event begins at 6:30 p.m. with a lighted parade on historic Main Street beginning at Canal Drive. Holiday music and vendors will be set up on Main Street from Palm Street to Broadway to begin the event at 4 p.m. 209-668-5594.
Murphys Open House – Friday: Foothills community celebration and parade. Also planned are treats and local wines with musicians and carolers filling the streets with sounds of the seasons. Santa arrives in the parade to light the tree and take photos with children. Free. 5-8 p.m. www.visitmurphys.com.
Lighted Christmas Tree Forest – Dec. 2-25: City of Livingston hosts its third annual Court of Trees. Old Court Theater, downtown Livingston. 209-394-8830.
Christmas Tree Lane – Saturday: The grand opening of Ceres’ Christmas Tree Lane, kicks off with a festival at Smyrna Park on Moffett Road at 5:30 p.m. The event includes pictures with Santa, refreshments and performances by local talent; carriage and trolley rides through Christmas Tree Lane will be offered until 9:30 p.m. The ribbon-cutting for Christmas Tree Lane will be around 7:30 p.m., followed by a parade through the neighborhood. Free, donations accepted. 209-538-5682.
Waterford on Ice – Saturday: Waterford’s fourth annual lighted parade. New this year will be a synthetic ice rink set up for the day at 12717 Bentley St. from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Presale skating tickets are $10 per 45-minute session, available at City Hall. The parade begins at 5:30 p.m. and ends at Waterford Middle School, where cookies and photos with Santa will be available in the gym. 209-874-2328.
Hughson Christmas Festival – Saturday: The Hughson Chamber of Commerce fetes the season with entertainment and tree lighting in Centennial Park, vendors and parade. Noon-7 p.m., parade 5:30 p.m. Free. Downtown Hughson. 209-883-0811.
Denair Christmas Tree Lighting – Saturday: Denair Gaslight Conservatory Theater and Lions Club sponsor, with refreshments, carols, Santa. 6 p.m. 3908 N. Gratton Road.
Escalon Christmas on Main – Saturday: The annual Parade of Lights downtown begins at 5:30 p.m. Before and after, a vendor fair with music and dance performances will take place from 3 to 8 p.m. Visits with Santa and music by Lillana Cajias at 4:45 and 7 p.m. Free. Main Street, Escalon. 209-838-2793.