Good Tidings How to eat, drink, and be merry in Lake Tahoe

  • 6 Holiday Activities
  • Noel Nights, Northstar
  • First Fridays, Truckee
  • NYE at Heavenly Village
  • Festival of Lights, Montbleu
  • Polar Express train ride

There’s nothing like the feeling of walking through a ski village during the holidays.

The lights strung overhead twinkle, their reflection captured in the snow.

Carolers sing while a horse-drawn carriage passes by.

Children stand in lines, anticipating that special moment they can put in their requests with Kris Kringle.

I have to admit, though, that I didn’t always feel this way.

Several years ago, long before I moved to Lake Tahoe, my family was preparing for a Christmastime trip to Tahoe.

I feared that traveling during the holidays would make the holidays lose their meaning. It just wouldn’t feel like Christmas, I reasoned, without gingerbread cookies and mistletoe at home.

Looking back, I can’t help but laugh at myself.

I soon discovered that holiday tradition—gingerbread and mistletoe are just the beginning—is in high abundance in Lake Tahoe.

Don’t hesitate to pack up the kiddos and celebrate near the slopes, because these events around the lake will put a smile on the face of even the grumpiest little elf.

North Shore

Noel Nights at NorthstarHeld the first three Thursdays of December, this event has become an annual tradition for our family, and it’s a great experience for young kids.

Float around to carolers, face painters, crafts, sleigh rides, ice skating, and a chance to get some face time with the jolly ol’ big guy.

First Fridays in Truckee: The First Fridays series in historic downtown Truckee happens year-round on, you guessed it, the first Friday of every month.

During the holidays, however, the monthly festivities take on a magical feel.

Stroll through town and enjoy live music and art, complimentary appetizers and drinks, and the glow of the Christmas tree surrounded by local carolers.

South Shore

New Year’s Eve Celebration at Heavenly VillageWhile a lot of holiday fanfare starts to drop off after Christmas, you might say Heavenly saves the best for last.

Heavenly Holidays kick off the week leading up to Christmas (think ice sculptures, fire dancers, carolers, ice skating shows, Santa’s Workshop, and more) and culminate with a fabulous New Year’s Eve celebration, complete with a Gondola Ball Drop and fireworks to ring in the new year.

Festival of Trees and Lights at MontBleuThis annual soiree is the largest fundraiser for South Lake Tahoe’s Barton Hospital and Foundation.

Locals (and visitors) look forward to it every year as the MontBleu Convention Center is transformed into a holiday wonderland with thousands of twinkling lights.

Take your photo with Santa, catch the Christmas Pageant, make gingerbread cookies, or just go for a stroll.

Reno and Carson City

Christmas Wonderland at Eldorado Resort & Casino: The Eldorado Resort hosts a massive Christmas show from the producers of the dance spectacular Spirit of the Dance. 

Guests are invited to do more than take in the stunning costumes and breathtaking effects—you can join right in with the singing of classics like “White Christmas,” “Winter Wonderland,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

Polar Express Train Ride: If this doesn’t get you—and the entire family—in the spirit, I’m not sure what will.

Pro Tip

This hour-long ride is a magical experience that transports you right into the scenes of Chris Van Allsburg’s classic story.

This hour-long ride is a magical experience that transports you right into the scenes of Chris Van Allsburg’s classic story.

No matter where you are in Lake Tahoe, you won’t have to look far for a hearty dose of holiday cheer.

Embrace it.

Celebrate it.

Revel in it.

It’s the best time of the year.

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