Festive Holiday Celebrations for Bay Area Kids

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Ready to boldly go where no Santa has gone before? Try a different culture for a change. For future world travelers, multicultural holidays are the ultimate way to combine performing arts and the discovery of far flung shores in a festive atmosphere. From Hawaii to Mexico, the Philippines to Russia, the holidays are a rare opportunity to admire local talent celebrating their ancestral traditions. More than an eye opener, these events are total eye candy and will delight families with kids of all ages. Check our list and get curious.


Feliz Navidad with Mariachi
Celebrate the holidays Mexican style with Mariachi Colima de Javier Magallon, a nine member traveling mariachi band that provides unique musical entertainment for all celebrations. FREE

When: Wednesday December 7, 2011 – noon to 1:00 pm
Where: Oakland City Center, City Center Plaza, Oakland

La Posarela
La Posarela blends the Mexican traditions of Las Posadas and Las Pastorelas. This production features original arrangements of traditional Latin music and a bilingual script that is peppered with social commentary and twists of humor. It brings together performers of all ages and, as always La Posarela stars a set of angels and one very mischievous devil! La Posarela is also a great way for families to celebrate their Latino heritage and for non-Latino families to learn and enjoy Mexican holiday traditions. FREE

When: Sunday, December 11, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm (2:00 – 3:00 pm Posarela performance, 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm Fiesta featuring piñata, atole, y tamales)
Where: Mission Cultural Center, 2868 Mission Street, San Francisco,

Mariachi Juvenil en Concierto / Holiday Youth Mariachi Concert
Enjoy traditional Mexican holiday music with a special performance by San Francisco Bay Area youth mariachis.

When: Friday December 16, 7.30 pm – 9:00 pm
Where: Mission Cultural Center, 2868 Mission Street, San Francisco,


Parol Lantern Festival and Parade
It’s the time of the year again, when the San Francisco Filipino community starts making their parol lanterns and holiday decor to adorn their houses for the yuletide season. The festival begins with a series of parol lantern-making workshops held at the Bayanihan Community Center – parol workshops are open to the public. The parols made during these workshops are then displayed during a parade and festival held in Yerba Buena Lane, Jessie Square and St. Patrick’s Church. FREE

When: Saturday, December 10, 2011 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Where: Event starts in Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco and moves to St. Patrick’s Church.


Russian Holiday Concert Bazaar!
Intrigued by San Francisco’s Russian heritage? Join the Russian Holiday Concert Bazaar with special performances by Svetlana Nikitenko (soprano), Ella Belilovskaya (piano), Vladimir Kirikov Magic (Kaleidoscope) Vladimir Riazantsev Olga Prokoshina, Russian Center Dancers, Teremok, Nino’s Rhythmic Gymnastics Club, Sivka-Burka Vocal and Dance Ensemble, and the First Russian Ballet School directly from Russia. You will also find booths displaying silver, amber and turquoise jewelry, arts and crafts, Christmas decorations, and holiday gifts as well as traditional Russian food.

When: Saturday, December 10, 2011 – Doors open at 11.30 am – concert starts at 1:00 pm. Event goes on until 4.30 pm.
Where: Russian Center of San Francisco, 2460 Sutter Street, San Francisco –


Kwanzaa Celebration
“Habari Gani!” Join a joyous African-American celebration of family and community. Experience the rich traditions of Kwanzaa, featuring a celebration of African-American culture through hands-on art activities, and performances. There will be a traditional Kwanzaa altar on display in the Museum’s Entry Pavilion.

Two free performances by the African Roots of Jazz will be presented in the Discovery Theater at 11:00 am and 1:00 pm. Renowned jazz drummer E. W. Wainwright and his ensemble take audiences on a musical journey that traces African-American musical forms, such as jazz, gospel, and spirituals, from their earliest beginnings in African cultures to today. The program features instrumental music, songs, theater, and audience participation.

When: Monday, December 26, 2011, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Where: Bay Area Discovery Museum, Fort Baker, 557 McReynolds Road, Sausalito

Kwanzaa with West African Highlife Band
Reviving the “highlife” dance classics with a fusion of African and world music, this amazing band blends rich vocal harmonies, intertwining guitars, and exciting percussion. This all-star group features four West African music veterans: producer/bandleader Ken Okulolo, who was voted Nigeria’s best bassist five times; Pope Flyne, best known as lead vocalist for the legendary Sweet Talks; Soji Odukogbe, lead guitarist for the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti for 5 years; and Nii Armah Hammond, a present and founding member of the seminal Ghanaian group Hedzoleh Soundz. FREE

When: Wednesday December 14, 211
Where: Oakland City Center, City Center Plaza, Oakland –


12th Annual Hawaiian Holiday Craft & Bake Sale
Fundraiser for Hula On! Productions, a California non-profit to preserve the hula culture and to pass on the rich history, deep knowledge and life awareness of the Hawai’ian of yesterday to the community of today. Shop for unique holiday gifts, delicious homemade goodies, and mini-plate lunches. Beautiful gift baskets will be raffled off throughout the day. This year there will be a special sale of ukuleles. Be ready for spontaneous hula dancing and singing all day long.

When: Saturday, December 10, 2011 – 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Where: St. Patrick’s Parish Center, 409 Magnolia Avenue, Larkspur


Hiroshima Christmas
With a mix of Hiroshima “classics” as well as songs that reflect the spirit of the season, the Annual Holiday show at Yoshi’s San Francisco is a must-see of the holiday season! The  Los Angeles-based ensemble blend jazz, pop, and rock with traditional Japanese folk music and instruments. The Japanese koto, a zither-like, 13-stringed instrument, shakuhachi, a five holed bamboo flute, and the powerful taiko (which literally means “drum”) combined with instruments from the Western Hemisphere to create their unique musical palette.

When: Saturday December 10 at 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm, Sunday December 11, 2011 at 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm
Where: Yoshi’s San Francisco, 1330 Fillmore Street, San Francisco


Winter Festival and Concert 2011
Join an afternoon of entertainment from the Bay Area’s premier Chinese music ensemble celebrating the ancient Qin and Chinese chamber ensemble. The Chinese Cultural Center Winter Concert will host the world debut of a piece from renowned composer and musician Gang Situ, performed in conjunction with Qin virtuoso Liu Li and flute soloist Chen Tao.

When: December 10, 2011, Winter Sale 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, Concert 2 – 4.30 pm
Where: Chinese Cultural Center, 750 Kearny Street, 3rd Floor (inside the Hilton San Francisco Financial District), San Francisco

What multi-cultural holiday celebration will your family be attending this year?

— Laure Latham

Photo courtesy of Russia Center SF