The time is here, time to get into the holiday spirit of sharing memories and creating new ones, bringing out the old and adding something new as we decorate homes, marvel at 30-foot Christmas trees and see just how many photos we can take with Santa.
East County has geared up with enough activities to make you wish you owned a Hermione Granger time-turner, allowing you to be in two places at once. There are holiday house tours and gift boutiques, a wonderful array of tree lighting ceremonies and meetings with Santa, even a lighted boat parade, a health run and walk, and a night of holiday music filling the sky.
So, get out your calendars and get ready to ring in the holidays, East County style.
Holiday home tours
The Brentwood Education Wins Holiday Home Tour starts the season on Dec. 1 when homes and businesses open their doors to display their "Old World Finery" festive holiday décor. Hosted by Liberty Union High School District Ed Foundation, the event begins and ends at Hannah Nicole Winery where, post-tour, there will be libations, refreshments, prizes, live entertainment and some terrific silent auction items including passes to Disneyland and 49er box seats.
Home tour runs from noon to 5 p.m. Advance tickets $35, day of event $40, includes complimentary glass of wine. Hannah Nicole Winery: 6700 Balfour Road, Brentwood. For more information visit www.educationwins.org.
On Dec. 9, Antioch Woman's Club presents its 58th annual classic Christmas Home Tour with proceeds supporting local charities and Antioch High School student scholarships. After picking up decorating ideas, the party continues at Humphrey's on the Delta, with refreshments and Christmas-worthy raffle prizes that include a Kindle Fire and Amazon gift card, and an "Embrace the Community Christmas Spirit" silent auction. Home tour is noon to 5:30 p.m., reception 2:30-5:30 p.m. at 1 Marine Plaza. Tickets $30, including refreshments. For information and tickets, call 925-754-8771, 925-360-0562.
Get a jump on holiday shopping and support your community at three East County holiday boutiques.
Antioch Covenant Church opens it doors to family fun, shopping and Santa sightings Dec. 1, with a wide array of vendors and arts and crafts guaranteed to display that special seasonal gift. Boutique opens from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. at 1919 Buchanan Road. Free admission. For more information, call Pastor Ron Bowman at 925-754-3626.
Discovery Bay Elementary School hosts its holiday boutique on Dec. 7. Craft vendors include representatives from It Works!, Fling A Bling Boutique, Custom Crochet by Beverly, Light As A Feather, Stella & Dot, Bag It Up!, Todd's Soaps & More, Paparazzi and many more. While parents shop, kids can enjoy The Ultimate Game Truck. Boutique opens 4-8 p.m. at 1700 Willow Lake Road. Early registration required for The Ultimate Game Truck. For more information, call 925-783-8644.
Oakley rounds out the trio with the Freedom High School PTSA Holiday Boutique on Dec. 8 when more than 50 vendors will offer goodies for all your holiday shopping needs. There'll be raffles, yummy treats and photos with Santa for the young-at-heart, as well as The Gold Refinery trading cash for your unwanted gold and silver. Boutique opens 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at 1050 Neroly Road. For more information, call 925-418-4079.
Christmas tree lighting
Brentwood gets the jump on lighting its tree as well as offering a crowd-pleasing Hipwaders concert on Saturday. The Streets of Brentwood Shopping Center will host Santa lighting the tree, Tap Dancing Christmas Trees and free train rides on the Party Line Express. The festivities go from 5-8 p.m. at 2565 Sand Creek Road. For more information, call 925-516-8500.
In Oakley, the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony takes place at Civic Center Plaza on Dec. 1. It begins with performances by the Oakley Elementary School District choir and Freedom High School select choir. Santa is a special guest and will help light the 30-foot tree with Mayor Kevin Romick. Free refreshments will be provided and nonprofit groups will be on hand with activities for the children. The event begins at 5 p.m. with the tree lighting at 6 p.m. at 3231 Main St. For information call Cindy at 925-625-7044 or Coelho@ci.oakley.ca.us.
Rio Vista pulls out all the stops for an entire day of Christmas activities on Dec. 1. The festivities begin at Downtown Rio Vista with arts and craft vendors at 10 a.m. and continue with holiday music, a Delta Drifters Toy Drive, Fire House festivities, Rio Vista Museum Holiday Fair, a holiday parade, the "Light up a light, light up a life" tree lighting ceremony and, finally, a lighted boat parade at 6 p.m. Events take place at the foot of Main Street and at the Senior Center. For more information, call 707-374-2700 or visit www.riovista.org.
The Bethel Island Christmas tree lighting takes place at Bethel Island Park on Dec. 2 with music and singing with the local high school choir and "karaoke" carol singing. The Bethel Island Women's Club will provide cookies and warm beverages and Santa will oversee the evening's events. The event takes place from 5 to 6 p.m. For information call the Chamber of Commerce at 925-684-3220.
Bay Point completes the tree lighting spectacle on Dec. 13 at Ambrose Community Center, with music by the Riverside Junior High School band, holiday singing, seasonal greetings, refreshments and free carriage rides. Events take place at 3105 Willow Pass Road, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.ambroserec.org/calendar.
More activities with Santa
In Brentwood, Smith Family Farms sets aside a special time with Santa on Dec. 1, for special needs kids. The annual event takes place in the barn where a quiet visit results in a free photo to take home. The farm also has Christmas trees, garlands and wreaths to add to your memories. The event takes place at 4430 Sellers Ave. from 9-11 a.m., with 9-10 a.m. reserved for special kids. For more information call 925-516-9690 or visit www.spkids.org.
It's time for breakfast with Santa in Bay Point on Dec. 8. Enjoy pancakes with all the trimmings, and pictures and candy canes with the man in red himself. The event takes place from 8-11 a.m. at Ambrose Center Auditorium, 3105 Willow Pass Road. For more information, call 925-458-1601.
Lighted boats steal the show in Bethel Island at the San Joaquin Lighted Boat Parade pn Dec. 8. To the theme of "Jolly Yachting," Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive aboard a decorated yacht to begin the festivities at 3:30 p.m., a hamburger and chips lunch will be served at 4:15 p.m. and the lighted boat parade gets off at 5 p.m. Events take place from 3-7 p.m. at the San Joaquin Yacht Club, 550 Riverside Place. Parents of small children are asked to bring a small gift for Santa to distribute. Lunch is $5, under 5 free. For more information call 925-625-1999 or visit www.bethelisland-chamber.com.
Bethel Island next hosts a Children's Holiday Party for island youth from babies through high school-age on Dec. 18 at Scout Hall. That afternoon everyone gets a picture with Santa, there's a pizza party to enjoy and crafts to make and take home. The event takes place after school at 3090 Ranch Lane. Parents who preregister can receive a coat or small gift for their child. For more information call 925-625-1999 or visit www.bethelisland-chamber.com.
More holiday activities
Antioch sets the holiday mood for good health with its 36th annual Holiday Run and Walk for Health on Dec. 8. Billed the "longest running fitness event" in East Contra Costa, the day promises run or walk challenges of 1-mile, 10K, 3-mile and kid dashes with Santa. A health fair will also take place with vendors to provide health testing, fitness information and healthy food and drink samples. Proceeds benefit local schools, youth programs and libraries. For more information and to register visit www.holidayrun.org. Registration fees from $15-$25.
Antioch's Seventh-day Adventist Church opens its doors on Dec. 14 for a Fountain of Music "O Holy Night!" Christmas Concert. Hear your Christmas favorites sung by a youth choir accompanied by a full orchestra to formally herald the holiday season. The free concert begins at 7 p.m. at 2200 Country Hills Drive.