Amtrak San Joaquins is Your Ticket to Holiday Festivities!

Holiday/Christmas Events Along the Corridor

As the sun sets earlier on the west and the trees begin to become bare, winter is near, and all the children begin to cheer. Holiday feelings percolate the air, activities are endless, we swear. Let your holiday adventure begin on the Amtrak San Joaquins train where you will always gain the luxury of comfort and relaxation. Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate or tea from our café car and let the holiday fun begin!

The Amtrak San Joaquins train travels throughout the heart of California and can take you and your family to all your holiday festivities. Be sure to use our everyday promotional discounts on your travels this year!  

The Amtrak San Joaquins team has compiled a list of our favorite holiday activities to share with you this season. All events and activities can be accessed by Amtrak San Joaquins Train! 

Old Sacramento (Sacramento Valley Station)
Visit the Theatre of Lights extravaganza at Old Sacramento Waterfront and sing along to memorable holiday songs. Performances begin Thanksgiving Eve and continue until Christmas Eve, Thursday -Sunday, 6:00 PM & 7:30 PM, feature live-action retelling of Moore’s 1823 poem – “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” The Theatre of Lights performances are presented on the balconies above K Street—it’s impossible to have a bad view. Visit the Old Sacramento holiday tree on 2nd and K Street and take selfies with special guest Jack Frost and Santa Claus.

Relive the magic on the California Railroad Museum’s annual POLAR EXPRESS™ Train ride where passengers enjoy a ride to the North Pole. Relish the train ride with complimentary hot chocolate and Santa’s favorite cookies. Meet the famous story characters and Santa Claus himself as he gifts passengers with a magical silver sleigh bell! Polar Express participants can also experience the new Sleigh Ride, an open-air car stimulating the feeling of a real sleigh ride! 

The Sacramento Ballet offers a new holiday spectacle this holiday season with Ron Cunningham’s The Nutcracker at the Memorial Auditorium in downtown Sacramento. Become part of the magical adventure and travel through the sparkling Snowflake Forest, the Kingdom of Sweets, and meet the Sugar Plum Fairy. The magic begins December 12th through December 22nd.

All aboard the Amtrak San Joaquins Santa Train on December 22! Join Santa as he catches a ride to Sacramento for an afternoon of ice skating fun at Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink. While onboard Santa will be available for photos and will be sharing hot cocoa and cookies! Once the train arrives in Sacramento, Santa will walk travelers to the ice rink at 701 K Street and show off his ice skating tricks. Book the Amtrak San Joaquins 701 northbound train or book at

Union Square (San Francisco)
We can’t imagine a more San Francisco way of enjoying the holiday season than skating the night away at the Union Square Ice Rink. This year the Ice Rink is open from November 6th through January 20th. This magical adventure welcomes novices and naturals alike to enjoy this winter wonderland by the Bay. The Ice Rink is surrounded by the best shopping San Francisco has to offer; get your holiday shopping done after you skate!

Source: Visit Union Square

Avoid the parking hassle by taking the Amtrak San Joaquins to San Francisco. Ride the train to Richmond station, walk to the BART platform at the same station, and hop on a San Francisco bound train. Get off BART at Montgomery station and you’ll be 3 blocks from the Ice Rink. 

San Francisco
Celebrate the first night of Hanukkah at Ghirardelli Square for the “Light the Menorah” Festival on December 22nd. Enjoy the LED Piano concert with Luminescent Grand, crafts, games, tasty treats and candle lighting will celebrate the coming together and beginning of Hanukkah. The event is free to the public and requires advance RSVP.

Head over to Fort Mason Festival Pavilion for the annual Winter Fair where shoppers can shop the curated marketplace featuring over 200 incredible Makers and Designed. Enjoy festive art installations and immersive experiences with seasonal drinks, workshops, music and lots of tasty food!

Experience San Francisco’s extraordinary light art scene this holiday season! The Illuminate SF Festival of Lights is a two-month celebration featuring free light art tours, nighttime neighborhood walks, and artist’s talks. Over 40 different light sculptures in 17 neighborhoods are part of this temporary art tour. Visitors can download four self-guided tours and partake from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day! 

Jack London Square Events
Our Oakland Jack London Square station is a mere 100 yards from premier waterfront dining and shopping. Take ASJ to Jack London Square this holiday season to enjoy holiday events and activities. Some of our favorites are the Jack London Square Holiday Tree Lighting on Friday, November 22 and the Ugly Sweater Christmas Party on Saturday, December 7. For a list of all events, visit

Source: Visit Oakland

Downtown Napa
Gather your friends and family and take Amtrak San Joaquins’ Thruway Bus to Napa for a hearty selection of holiday festivities. Start off the festive season with a Tree Lighting Ceremony in Downtown Napa on Wednesday, November 27 and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate, cookies, and performances from local youth groups. On Saturday, November 30, join the whole Napa community for the “Twelve Days of Christmas” Parade where you can meet Santa and enjoy the beautifully decorated floats!

Downtown Napa is also a great place to find holiday gifts. Visit the Oxbow Public Market for some culinary goods and supplies, or walk along 1st Street and peruse through a variety of boutique shops. You can even take the Holiday trolley, which operates between 3:00pm 6:00pm, for a jolly ride around downtown during your holiday gifts hunt. 

Enjoy a stress-free ride to Napa by taking Amtrak San Joaquins’ Thruway Bus to Napa, which is included with your train ticket. Just transfer from the Martinez Amtrak station to Route 7 and disembark at Napa’s Soscol Gateway Transportation Center – just a 10-minute walk to 1st Street. For a list of upcoming events in Downtown Napa visit and for train tickets visit

Source: Visit Napa Valley

An Irish Christmas 2019

Sunday, December 22, 2019 at 2 PM – Saroyan Theatre

Just a quick nine-minute walk from downtown Fresno’s Santa Fe Station, the Saroyan Theatre distinguishes itself with unparalleled elegance. Having hosted some of the world’s most renowned performers during its rich history, this holiday season provides a special treat by taking you on a journey through Christmas in Ireland with superb dancing, singing and Irish traditional music. Celebrate the great tradition of butter making, chase the wren on St. Stephen’s Day; draw down the half door for spectacular dance, enjoy superb music making and singing of Christmas carols in an unforgettable Irish night!

Tickets can be purchased at:

(photo credit: Fresno Convention Center)

Curry Village Ice-Skating Rink

Throughout December

There’s nothing like a white Christmas in Yosemite and what better way to enjoy it than by skating around at the base of Half Dome at the outdoor skating rink in Curry Village. Since 1928, visitors have enjoyed ice-skating in Yosemite National Park. The Curry Village Ice Rink is a spectacular family-friendly outdoor skating rink and fire pit in the heart of Yosemite Valley. To get to Yosemite, take Amtrak San Joaquins to the Merced Station and take our thruway bus partner, YARTS, into Yosemite Valley.  Your train + bus ride, plus park entrance, is all included at one price point with the purchase of your Amtrak San Joaquins ticket to Yosemite National Park. 

Learn more:

(photo credit:

The Bracebridge Dinner at Yosemite
December 17, 19, 21 6PM – 9PM

Travel back through time when you take advantage of the age-old tradition of the Bracebridge Dinner. The renowned Bracebridge Dinner transforms The Ahwahnee Dining Room into a Old English-era hall boasting Christmas cheer, beautiful music and a gourmet seven-course meal. The grand Ahwahnee Dining Room, aglow with candlelight and filled with the warmth and spirit of this beautiful time of year, is transformed into the magical Manor Hall of author Washington Irving’s Squire Bracebridge. To get to Yosemite, take Amtrak San Joaquins to the Merced Station and take our thruway bus partner, YARTS, into Yosemite Valley.  Your train + bus ride, plus park entrance, is all included at one price point with the purchase of your Amtrak San Joaquins ticket to Yosemite National Park.

Learn more:

(photo credit:

A Charlie Brown Christmas Live On Stage

Thursday, December 19, 2019 at 7:30 PM – The Historic Bakersfield Fox Theatre

What could be better than the timeless nostalgia of Charlie Brown mixed with the historic nature of one of the Valley’s oldest and most endearing theaters, which is only about a mile away from the Bakersfield Amtrak Station? Join Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, and the whole Peanuts gang as they produce their own Christmas play and ultimately learn the true meaning of the season. A Charlie Brown Christmas Live On Stage is a present the whole family can enjoy! Adapted from Charles M. Schulz’s timeless story of the spirit of Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas Live On Stage features the unforgettable music of Vince Guaraldi, as well as a concert of beloved holiday carols performed by the Peanuts characters. There’s no better way to discover the magic of the season!

Learn more:

(photo credit: Shubert Theatre)

Cirque Musica presents Holiday Wishes
Sunday, December 29, 2019 at 6 PM – 9 PM – Rabobank Arena

A short seven-minute walk from the Bakersfield Amtrak Station, Rabobank Arena is where you’ll find Cirque Musica Presents Holiday Wishes, a show that brings a holiday story to life in a full theatrical cirque event for the entire family. Featuring the world-renowned cast of Cirque Musica, with favorite holiday hits all performed live by the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, you’ll be amazed by the acrobats, aerialists, hilarious hijinks and holiday cheer. The show blends the spellbinding grace and daredevil athleticism of today’s greatest circus performers with the sensory majesty of a symphony orchestra.

Learn more:

(photo credit: Cirque Musica)

Los Angeles
New Year’s Eve 2020 Los Angeles Bar Crawl
Tuesday, December 31, 2019 at 8:00 PM to Wednesday, January 1, 2020 at 2:00 AM

Why party at one venue when you can have access to ten? Arrive at Union Station and make the short walk – or take the DASH Downtown – over to Biergarten LA. There, you’ll start your journey moving from bar to bar in celebration of New Year’s Eve at multiple venues, with each location offering exclusive drink specials to ring in the New Year. 

Tickets can be purchased for $19 at:

(photo credit: Eventbrite)

Los Angeles (Union Station)
Walk the Enchanted Forest of Lights at Descanso Gardens from November 17th through January 5th. Each night, visitors can stroll through and marvel at the interactive, large-scale light displays. The Enchanted Forest of Lights is accessible for strollers, wheelchairs, and mobility assistance devices and is open rain or shine.

Experience snow in Los Angeles at in Montecillo De Leo Politi Park. Families can experience multiple winter themed synthetic tubing lanes and gaze at over 30 giant flowing crystals that stand over ten feet tall. Enjoy an interactive light show, animated penguin holiday light path, music, and food trucks. The Snow Day LA is available on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from November 8th – December 29th.

Sign up for a Downtown LA holiday lights walking tour! Tours begin at Union Station and conclude at Pershing Square. Stroll the iconic streets of LA and celebrate the lights, decorations, and festivities during the holiday season.

Tournament of Roses Parade
January 1, 2020 8AM – Pasadena, California 

This event has made it onto a lot of bucket lists. Since 1890, the Tournament of Roses has produced America’s New Year Celebration. The Rose Parade begins at 8AM on January 1, 2020, in Pasadena, and for millions of people around the world, the Rose Parade is the ultimate New Year’s Day tradition. The Rose Parade travels 5 ½ miles down Colorado Blvd. and features four types of entries: floral-decorated floats entered by a participating corporation, non-profit organization or municipality, equestrian units, bands, and Tournament Entries.

On Rose Parade day, LA Metro Gold Line trains run to Pasadena from Union Station downtown about every 7 to 8 minutes, starting about 5:00 a.m. To plan your entire trip, use Allen Station in the Metro trip planner.
(Photo Credit: Pasadena Star News)

Happy Holidays from all of us at Amtrak San Joaquins! 


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