Here’s how Northern California theme parks are celebrating the holiday season

It’s the most festive time of the year, and what better way to celebrate the season than riding a rollercoaster amidst all the holiday cheer?

Here’s what our Northern California parks have on tap for this season.


Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Winter Wonderland opens Nov. 24 and runs through Jan. 1.

In addition to select rides, attractions, and arcades, the Boardwalk’s annual holiday tradition features decorations and lights throughout the seaside amusement park, a three-story tall Christmas tree, photos with Santa Claus, holiday shopping, warm fire pit rentals, pedal karts and more.

Holiday flicks will also be screened during Winter Wonderland, as well as a Nutcracker performance by Santa Cruz City Ballet at International Academy of Dance on Dec. 3 and 4.

More information can be found at


California’s Great America

WinterFest returns select dates from Nov. 25 to Jan. 1.

The entire park is decked out with decorations, live entertainment and millions of lights. Guests can also ice skate in front of Carousel Columbia, a staple of the Santa Clara park’s holiday tradition.

A Christmas tree in Celebration Plaza is billed as one of the Bay Area’s tallest, which is home to a lighting ceremony at the beginning of every night of operation. Guests young and old can also send letters to the North Pole, check out Santa’s workshop and bake cookies. Great America rides are also open.

For information, visit


Photo: Gilroy Gardens

Gilroy Gardens

The horticultural theme park’s Holiday event runs select days from Nov. 25 to Dec. 31.

Guests can begin the night with holiday tunes at the Winter Cabin before heading off into the decked-out trees and marvel at the light displays. Ice skating also returns.

Live entertainment includes “A Charlie Brown Christmas” as well as visits from Santa Claus.

For information, visit


Photo: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Holiday in the Park runs select days from Nov. 25 to Jan. 1.

A 65-foot-tall Christmas tree greets guests to the park that is fully immersed in lights and festive displays.

In addition to live animal shows and other entertainment, guests can experience a mirror maze. Discovery Kingdom is also teasing holiday twists on various rides.

For information, visit


Join us at California’s Great America for our 30th annual ACE NorCal Holiday Party on Saturday, Dec. 10! Register now!

About Erik Chalhoub

Erik Chalhoub is the Magazine Editor at New SV Media in Gilroy (and a roller coaster fanatic!). He is also the proud recipient of the 2016 ACE NorCal Richard Tuck Spirit Award.

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