Tag Archives: oakland zoolights

One week to go…

holiday lights oakland, mormon temple holiday lights

So the Oakland Temple is kind of a spectacle all year round, but with the holiday light display, it’s definitely worth a visit in December. Each night this month through December 31st also features free live musical performances in the visitor center at 7pm and 8pm. Concerts include gospel choirs, concert pianists, string ensembles and more. See the nightly schedule here.

Some other fun holiday spectacles to check out (I covered some of these last year):

  • Holiday Caroling on Lake Merritt (12/17 – 12/19) – join a group tour or grab your friends and charter your own boat… I mean, sleigh.  Water sleigh that is.
    * Friday (4pm thru 8pm every hour on the hour).
    * Saturday & Sunday (2pm thru 8pm every hour on the hour)
    The 6pm rides are the ones open to individuals.
    Call 510-238-2196 for reservations.
  • The Oakland Ballet’s 2010 Nutcracker (12/23, 12/24, 12/26) – check out the newly designed and choreographed Nutcracker ballet by the Graham Lustig (the company’s new artistic director) and his award-winning set designer collaborator Zack Brown.
    Just like last year, if you bring a non-perishable food item directly to the Paramount Theatre’s box office, you’ll receive a 20% discount on your tickets – a win-win as all donations go to support the Alameda County Community Food Bank!  Otherwise, expect a surcharge in the opposite direction if you prefer the “convenience” of Ticketmaster.
  • Fairy Winterland (12/15 – 12/23) – “Each December, for just one week, Children’s Fairyland is transformed into a sparkling festival of holiday entertainment.
    Through songs and stories, arts and crafts, Fairy Winterland celebrates the winter holidays of many cultures: Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas, Diwali, and Chinese New Year. After sunset, we turn on our fairy lights and transform Fairyland into a twinkling, enchanting realm of wonder.”
  • Downtown Oakland 1st Annual “Claus Crawl” (12/18, 6 – 9pm) – I’m sure this will be no Santacon, but it looks to be a fun ride nonetheless… put on your Santa suit or Santa hat and check in at these participating venues:
    * The Layover: 1517 Franklin St, Oakland, CA 94612‎
    * Bar Three Fifty Five: 355 19th St, Oakland, CA 94612
    * 2022: 2022 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94612
    * Ozumo Restaurant: 2251 Broadway Ave, Oakland, CA 94612
    * Picán Restaurant: 2295 Broadway Ave, Oakland, CA 94612
    Receive a holiday discounted beverage when you donate an unwrapped gift for the Family Giving Tree at any of the participating “Claus Crawl venues.” Details here.
  • Oakland Zoolights (thru New Years, but closed 12/24-25) A good one for the kids… See my writeup from last year here.
  • Holiday Tradition at Dunsmuir Hellman (12/17 – 12/19) – I have yet to visit this historic estate, but it sounds like fun with ice skating, carriage rides, mansion tours, a petting zoo, and more!  I wonder if you get to pet Santa’s elves…  Details here.
  • Christmas Tree Lane – a hop skip & jump across the water in Alameda, this is the spectacle of lights in the East Bay.  Fun for xmas enthusiasts, photographers, and revellers of all shapes and sizes!  See my writeup from last year for info.

That’s all I got folks…

Let me know if you have any other fun Oakland-based plans for the holidays…  Cheers!

Zoolights! & Willy Wonka

My girlfriend and I took her 6 year old to Zoolights the other night… I’d been reading lots about it and people really seem to love this holiday light display and show. It consistently gets ranked in local editors’ picks for holiday to-do’s and gets 4 stars on Yelp. As someone who’s never even been to the Oakland Zoo (and I hear it’s quite lovely for the small zoo that it is), I was pretty excited to see this show too. And for the most part, I’d say it didn’t disappoint… just check out these lights!

oakland zoo, zoolights entrance

oakland zoo, zoolights

oakland zoo, zoolights, tunnel of light

oakland zoo, zoolights giraffes

From an artistic standpoint, these animal representations are pretty darned impressive. And the kids love ’em! If you have young children, or the maturity of a kindergartner yourself, you should definitely check this out.

Though not free, it’s for a good cause as all proceeds go towards The Oakland Zoo, a non-profit organization that depends on your support. A regional treasure for over 80 years, the Oakland Zoo’s mission is to inspire respect for and stewardship of the natural world while providing a quality visitor experience. The Zoo is open daily 10:00am – 4:00pm. And the Zoolights holiday shows run evenings through January 4th…

5:30pm – 9:00pm (Monday – Thursday)
5:30pm – 9:30pm (Friday – Sunday)

*Note that Zoo animal residents will be nestled all snug in their beds, with visions of fresh fish and steak, dancing in their heads.

And just in case you were worried, you don’t have to feel guilty about indulging in the electric spectacle, because PG&E has collaborated with the Oakland Zoo to make the lighting display extremely energy efficient through the use of LEDs (which use about 1/10th of the electricity of regular xmas lights).

Shown below is the Holiday Light Show Safari that’s set up in the zoo’s meadow. It’s a light show sychronized to a musical/theatrical soundtrack, and if I were to be totally honest (which I am), I would have to say that this was somewhat disappointing, at least for grown-ups. The lights were great, but the medley soundtrack was an awful disjointed mismash of stuff that might appeal to the sensibilities of a 2 year old, but frankly, was just plain bad. It could have been way cooler. Sorry.

Pretty blue tree.

You still with me? I hope so, ’cause we’re just getting to the really cool stuff. Below is the entrance to Candyland, which is where the carnival rides are: merry-go-round-where-you-can-ride-a-tiger, airplane spinny rides, little racecars, and of course, the launching point for the mini-steam train, the Snowball Express.

This is the view of the bay from our train ride… and yes, you have to pay extra for this. But aren’t you used to the whoosh of cash flowing through your hands these days? And remember, it’s for a good cause. This, truly, was my favorite part of the night. Do ride the train, but do dress warm!

oakland zoo train, view from train ride

The ultimate experience was travelling through the tunnel of light… it totally reminded me of that scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory…the psychedelic boat trip…

“there’s no earthly way of knowing
which direction we are going
there’s no knowing where we’re rowing
or which way the river’s flowing…”

Watch it here. It’s AWESOME.

tunnel of light, oakland zoolights train

Which reminds me: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, this Friday night 8pm (doors at 7), at the aptly named Paramount Theatre in Oakland. Part of their wonderful classic movie series… pay five bucks to see a great work of art, in a great work of art, with pre-film entertainment to boot. This is one of the best deals in town. I love the Paramount. More on it during Art Deco Days…