We guide you with Sacramento holiday travel, entertainment

Polish off the leftovers, take a nap and head out for shopping, entertainment and fun this weekend as the curtains part for a holiday season that is not necessarily virus and mask-free, but a lot more spirited than it has been in the past few years.

We’re here to help. Our service journalism team has been gathering news and information about what to do, where to go and how to have a good time safely. We have compiled some key holiday nuggets here for you to consider, Cheers.

Black Friday deals

The holiday of sales and shopping is almost here.

Local shops and chains throughout Sacramento are participating in Black Friday, offering discounts and deals on Nov. 25. See what’s in store:

Retail Row at Florin Square, 2251 Florin Road, Sacramento: Black Friday starts early at Florin Market Square on Nov. 25. From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., you can find deals at various businesses, as well as live music and food vendors.

Arden Fair Mall, 1689 Arden Way, Sacramento: If you’re planning on doing all your Black Friday shopping at Arden Fair, you can see what stores are offering sales online.

Customers shop on Black Friday in 2021 at Arden Fair mall in Sacramento. Paul Kitagaki Jr. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

Target, multiple locations: Target is offering deals for tech gadgets, kitchen appliances and game consoles. This includes up to 50% off laptops, tablets, TVs and headphones, and kitchen items. See its full Black Friday deals online.

Walmart, multiple locations: Walmart’s Black Friday sale includes discounts on children’s toys, laptops, tires, clothing, kitchen appliances and tech goods. If you’re a Walmart member, you can get early access to deals on Nov. 21.

Nordstrom Rack, Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville: Nordstrom Rack is cutting prices for clothing and shoes, from brands such as Uggs, Free People, Madewell and Ted Baker. Select accessories, purses, travel products and cosmetics will also go on sale for Black Friday.

Best Buy, multiple locations: You’ll find major appliances, such as washers, dryers and refrigerators on sale at Best Buy on Black Friday. Deals include 15% off Samsung appliance packages and microwaves for as low as $199.99.

Apple, Arden Fair and Roseville Galleria: Apple will kick off a shopping event on Nov. 25, giving out gift cards when you buy an eligible product.

If you purchase an iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 12 or iPhone SE, for example, you’ll get a $50 gift card. You can get a $75 gift card, if you get the second or third generation or max AirPods.

The retailer will also give out $50 gift cards if you buy an Apple Watch SE, iPad Air, iPad or iPad mini. See more Apple deals online.

– Hanh Truong

Light it up

Flip the switch and let us know. We want to provide your neighbors a guide to the best Christmas lights in the area. even with the price of gas, driving around the region to view decorated houses and illuminated Santas and yard candy canes and reindeer is still one of the best affordable and delightful forms of warm entertainment during the holiday season.

To fill us in, fill out the form.

More lights

Hanukkah begins the evening of Dec. 18. The Menorah Lighting at the state Capitol is currently scheduled for 5 p.m. that evening. In Roseville at the Galleria, a menorah lighting is scheduled for 5 p.m. that evening, too.

The lights go down

And the lights go up on stage as traditional holiday entertainment returns. Here are a few mainstays, go to their websites for details.

“Nutcracker”: The Sacramento Ballet’s performance of the Tchaikovsky classic starts 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, with performances through Dec. 24 at the SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center, 1301 L Street.

Sacramento Ballet performs the “Nutcracker” during a dress rehearsal in 2021 at the SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center in Sacramento. Xavier Mascareñas xmascarenas@sacbee.com

“A Christmas Carol”: The Sacramento Theatre Company presents its version of the Dickens’ story Dec. 1 through Dec. 24 at its Main Stage, 1419 H St.

“Alan Menken’s A Christmas Carol”: Scrooge is put to music by the Davis Musical Theatre, on now through Dec. 4 at the Jean Henderson Performing Arts Center, 607 Pena Drive, Davis.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra, “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve”: The progressive music groups brings its tour to the Golden 1 Center Dec. 2 with shows at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Get close, safely

The holidays bring family members together, and along for the ride are uninvited guests. We have an uptick in illnesses this season, so gathering together can be tricky.

In California, the number of positive RSV tests are higher than last year. The respiratory infection affects mostly children and older people.

This year’s flu season has also been of concern for health care professionals, particularly because flu cases dropped in the height of COVID-19 when people were social distancing.

We asked Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious disease at UC Davis, how to prevent the spread of illnesses during holiday gatherings.

“A lot of the preventative measures are similar” for RSV, COVID and the flu, Blumberg said.

Here’s a Q&A with Blumberg:

The following has been edited for brevity:

What are your tips for those traveling to holiday gatherings?

“I think the most important thing that people can do to keep themselves healthy, is to make sure that they’re fully up-to-date for all the vaccines that are indicated for them. Including the yearly influenza vaccine as well as COVID vaccine — all the doses and boosters for which they’re eligible.”

Should you wear a mask on a plane?

“I’m astounded when I’ve flown recently that I’ve been one of the few people wearing a mask and you’re in very close proximity to people [who] you don’t know what their risk factors are. You’re around them for hours on the airplane. And so I do strongly recommend masking. That’s the second most important thing that you can do, and I do recommend for that prolonged close contact with people outside your household to up you mask game, instead of wearing a standard surgical mask or cloth face covering to wear a N95 or KN95.”

What are some tips to make meals safer for people?

“Well, let’s start before dinner. I think it’s really nice for somebody to take the lead in terms of making sure that everybody’s on the same page with expectations.

Usually that’s the hostess or the host to say they they’re looking forward to the gathering. But of course, if anybody’s sick, you know, you would hope that they would do the responsible thing and not show up. And then I’m aware that this year for many gatherings people are asking people to test either right before coming over, within 24 hours…and in case anybody is asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, that they would be excluded.

Is it safe to hug and kiss loved ones?

“You know, there’s a couple of different ways to approach it. One would be to just go back and say listen, if everybody’s healthy, if people are vaccinated, if people have tested negative — then go ahead and be close to people without masking you know.

People aren’t going to mask during the meal anyway, because they’re eating and [also] hug and kiss. So I think that’s what most people will feel most comfortable with. I think in this age where there’s so many preventative measures available, I think most people are not doing what we’ve done pre-vaccine. Which was having the outdoor meals, or distancing while socializing. People now are returning to normal. I think that’s reasonable, especially for those who aren’t at risk of severe disease, or they are at risk but they’ve taken the appropriate preventative measures.”

Is it safe to do potluck or buffet style dinner?

“In general, I don’t worry about buffet style or potluck dinner type of a situation. None of these respiratory infections are transmitted by food.

Out of COVID, influenza and RSV, the one that’s more likely to be transmitted by touch is likely RSV. So there is potential that serving utensil could get contaminated and somebody touches a serving spoon or fork and then they rub their eye or something without washing their hands, that they could transmit it that way. So if people want to be extra careful, after touching communal utensils, they can discreetly pull out their alcohol and hand gel, their small container in their pocket or their purse, and sanitize their hands. That an extra layer of protection.

Is there anything else that you would want to add?

“Although the primary preventative measures are vaccination and masking, hand washing is also good because that does help prevent RSV which can be transmitted on surfaces.”

– Jacqueline Pinedo


Does anyone really get to the airport two hours before their flight?

Turns out, some Sacramentans do and others, well, they prefer to live life close to the edge. This week, we asked readers to tell us how early they arrive to Sacramento International Airport for a domestic flight, if they add extra time during the holidays, plus travel hacks for a successful trip. We got a handful of responses from community members on Instagram and sacbee.com. Out of the 13 responses — the reviews were mixed. Here’s what they — and airport officials — suggest:

When to arrive at the airport: We don’t know if it’s because Sacramento airport is relativity small or if these Sacramentans like living close to the edge, but many frequent fliers told us they arrive between 50 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes before their domestic flight takes off. The general rule of thumb is to get to Sacramento airport an hour and half for for a domestic flight to allow time to get through security checks and get to the gate. Sacramento airport officials say 2.5 hours for the holidays, but it’s clear some readers believe that’s too much time.

The Bee received polarizing responses from frequent fliers. Half of them said they tack on up to an extra 30 minutes during the holidays and others just don’t bother.

Sacramento International Airport travel hacks: Some respondents told The Bee that Transportation Security Administration pre-check is an “absolute necessity” when traveling out of Sacramento International Airport. For a $78 membership, you can zoom past security for five years without removing shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets.

Parking stress: The airport has five different lots to park your vehicle — broken down by proximity to terminals, price and duration of stay.

Sacramento International Airport urges travelers this week to “pack your patience” before heading for the plane — and the parking lot. The airport recently completed construction on more than 2,000 parking spots in its East Economy lot, which costs $10 a day. While more spaces are now available, the holidays will make for busier-than-usual travel days.

“We will have parking but it would be easier on them to find an alternative way to the airport,” said Scott Johnston, a SMF spokesman, last week. All five airport parking lots are open, Johnston said, and no additional delays are expected for travelers other than the usual higher volume of passengers.

Getting in a rideshare like Uber or Lyft or having a friend drop you off at the terminal “would be easier for them overall,” Johnston said.

– Savanna Smith and Brianna Taylor

Tree time

Old Sac: The tree was lit this week, at Front and K Streets.

State Capitol: Annual Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, 4:30 p.m. Dec. 2 at the West Steps.

Amber Riley, introduced for her role on “Glee” and as an accomplished performer, sings “What Christmas Means to Me” during the 90th annual California State Capitol Tree Lighting Ceremony in 2021. Xavier Mascareñas xmascarenas@sacbee.com

Roseville: The city’s Holiday Celebration kicks off at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Vernon Street Town Center. The event spans three evenings, culminating in the city’s Christmas Tree lighting ceremony and ending with a beer and wine tasting for adults.

On the first night, visitors can tour the city’s tree grove which features a number of trees decorated by local businesses, organizations and schools. There will also be performers and crafts for kids. On the second night, Dec. 1, the city’s Christmas Tree will be lit at 6:10 p.m. Attendees will also have a chance to participate in cooking decorating. The event will include a kids activity zone, music and food. And kids will have a chance to meet Santa Claus at the event.The event will wrap up on Dec. 2 with the North Pole Tavern, a beer and wine tasting with games, live music, and an ugly sweater contest. The cost of the tasting is $10, with proceeds going toward recreation programs for at-risk youth.

– Molly Jarone

Grab your ax

The time to fell your own Christmas tree in the Sierra Nevada is here.

If you and your family are planning to take a trek east this year, you’ll need to get your hands on a permit from the U.S. Forest Service, which will only be sold in person this season.

The Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit started selling Christmas tree permits Nov. 14. Permits will be sold in person at the South Lake Tahoe supervisors office at 35 College Drive on a first-come, first-served basis, the Forest Service announced.

Each permit will be sold for $10 and must be used by the person who purchased the ticket. Only one permit per family is allowed. Permits will be valid until Dec. 31 to accommodate military families and those who may need to celebrate a delayed Christmas.

The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

This year, the rangers will offer a free permit to any fourth-grader who presents a valid Every Kid Outdoors pass.

Where can you cut a tree?: When purchasing a permit you’ll be given a map with the designated tree-cutting areas. They are:

  • Fountain Place Road (1201) at the end of Oneidas Street off Pioneer Trail
  • Lower Barker Pass Road in Blackwood Canyon (15N38) off SR 89
  • Baldwin Beach Road (1305) off SR 89

Selecting a tree: You’ll have the option to take home a pine, fir or cedar tree from the designated cutting areas.

  • Families must keep vehicles on Forest Service roads — off-roading isn’t allowed.
  • When selecting a tree it must be less than 6 inches in diameter at the base and must be within 10 feet of another green tree.
  • The maximum tree height is 20 feet.
  • Be sure to leave a stump that is 6 inches or less above the ground.
  • Before you leave, attach the permit tag to your tree.

More information is available on the Forest Service’s website.

Shasta Trinity National Forest permits: Permits for trees in Shasta Trinity National Forest are available online at recreation.gov/tree-permits/stnf. They can also be picked up any Shasta-Trinity Forest Service Office, at the McCloud Outdoor Store and at three locations in Mount Shasta: Ramshaw’s Ace Hardware, Solano’s Do It Best Hardware or the Fifth Season.

As for buying a tree, well, the avenues to purchase are seemingly endless. Check out the Christmas tree farms in the region. Or, for example, Foothills Christmas Trees comes to Cal Expo through Dec. 23, 1600 Exposition Blvd., Blue Gate entrance.

– Jacqueline Pinedo

Imagine lights and a rink

Imaginarium has returned to Sacramento for the winter, bringing a colorful holiday twinkle to the city.

The theme for this year’s holiday lights festival, presented by Global Winter Wonderland, is “Light Up the Night” and features a wide array of family-friendly entertainment, displays and new activities.

Festival producers expanded the experiential event this year, according to its website, adding more light exhibits, vendors, food and expanding the carnival. Here’s what to know about the 2022 Imaginarium festival in Sacramento:

Where and when is Imaginarium?: The festival will run to Jan. 2 at Cal Expo, 1600 Exposition Blvd.

How to get Imaginarium tickets: Tickets can be purchased online. General admission for weekdays starts at $25 for adults and $19 for seniors 62 and up, and kids 4 to 12 years old.

General admission for weekends starts at $27 for adults and $21 for seniors and kids 4 to 12 years old.

Children under 3 enter free every day.

Joshua Tejada, 8, of Redding, plays in bubbles floating in the air near the candy cane display at the Imaginarium at the Cal Expo in Sacramento on Monday. This year’s “Light Up The Night” holiday light festival has more than 5 million lights across 15 acres. Paul Kitagaki Jr. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

Pre-sale tickets for general admission are currently available, dropping prices by $2-3.

With general admission tickets, you can enjoy the light exhibits, live performances, entertainment, activities and shops. You can also purchase add-ons to your tickets for ice skating, laser tag, laser maze and carnival ride passes.

What’s at the Imaginarium?: Spanning 15 acres, the lights festival features colorful holiday lights, shows, themed characters and entertainment.

For the first time this year, the event will have an ice skating rink, more than 25 carnival rides, augmented reality displays, a fantasy land, laser tag and a wishing tree.

There will also be balloon drops throughout the day, live entertainment, Santa, a 30,000 led-light rose garden and beer garden.

– Hanh Truong

The other rink

Grab your jackets and strap on blades because the Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink at Ali Youssefi Square is open for its 30th season.

In the heart of the city at Seventh and K Streets, the icy winter wonderland’s schedule is packed with special events and discounts up until its last day on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 16.

Here’s what you need to know about ticket prices and discounts, special events and rules on the ice.

How much are Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink tickets? Tickets can be purchased at the entrance of the rink. Groups and private parties are encouraged to make a reservation online.

A ticket costs no more than $15 a person and it includes skate rentals. Those 6 and under skate for $8.

You can score a discounted ticket if you have one of the following:

  • Western Health Advantage card: $5 off.
  • Same-day receipt from one of Sacramento’s Downtown Commons’ businesses: $5.
  • Same-day Sacramento Regional Transit District ticket or pass: $2.
  • Veterans and active duty with military ID: Free.
  • Sacramento Kings Kids Club All-Star member: Free.

After fun on the ice is over, you can still rack in deals up to 20% off with an ice rink wristband at several shops, bars and restaurants nearby.

Families use skate aids to help the children circle the Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink at Ali Youssefi Square at 7th and K streets in 2021. Sara Nevis snevis@sacbee.com

When is the Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink open? The rink is open from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

The rink is closed on Mondays, except for holidays. Here’s a list of its holiday hours, which may be different from its traditional set hours:

  • Thanksgiving Day: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Christmas Eve (Saturday, Dec. 24): 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Christmas Day (Sunday, Dec. 25): Noon to 9 p.m.
  • Monday, Dec. 26 through Sunday, Jan. 8: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • New Year’s Eve (Saturday, Dec. 31): 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday, Jan. 16): 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

– Brianna Taylor

Santa is in the house

The parade: The Sacramento Santa Parade starts at 10 a.m. Dec. 10 and loops around Capitol Park. The route: heads west from 14th and N, and turns right on 10th past the west side of the Capitol, right onto L Street heading east.

The run: So you did the Run to Feed the Hungry? Next up, the annual Santa Hustle, a half-marathon, 5K and Kids Dash brings out the stocking-wearing runners in Roseville, with events starting at 7:30 a.m. Dec. 11 at the Vernon Street Town Square. And the Sacramento Santa Run is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 16.

Mark your after-Christmas calendars

“The 24th Annual California State Capitol Kwanzaa Workshop and Gala Celebration” takes place from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Dec. 26 at the State Capitol Park World Peace Rose Garden 1317 15th St. And the Greater Sacramento NAACP and the Sacramento Kings celebrate Kwanzaa from noon to 2 p.m. Dec. 26 at the Golden 1 Center.

What do you want to know about life in Sacramento? Ask our California Utility Team your top-of-mind questions in the module below or email utilityteam@sacbee.com.

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