Entrance to Christmas in the Park.

Have a Jolly Time at Christmas in the Park, San Jose

Some of the many Christmas trees at Christmas in the Park, San Jose.

Around this time of the year I miss the German Weihnachtsmärkte. A festive way of celebrating the season. There you can meet some friends, warm up with some Glühwein (mulled wine), or punch, have some candied almonds, and shop for some artisan gifts. Yes, this is an idealization, my mind ignoring the crowds, but these fairs definitely are part of the Holidays. If you are ever in Berlin for December make sure to visit many of these markets because they all feel different. 

Saucer carnival ride at Christmas in the Park.

Christmas in the Park in San Jose’s Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park compares to a Christmas market in Spandau. Here are a lot of carnival rides for little kids. I was greeted by the smell of kettle corn. There are also candy shops, Belgium waffles, and churros to munch on. You can’t buy Glühwein, but there is a hot chocolate booth. The crowds were not bad and the line for food was reasonable. 

Five girls dancing on the Community Stage of Christmas in the Park, San Jose.

Most people enjoyed the community stage, where local groups performed Christmas acts. But the special attraction of this fair is the hundreds of Christmas trees that are decorated by local businesses, high schoolers, and families, and the animated Christmas themed figures that move about. These figures include the stable of Santa’s reindeers, a train with trolls working, and a band of a fox, a skunk and a raccoon.

Sign for the Kristi Yamaguchi ice rink.

There is also a photoshoot opportunity with Santa on an outside stage and some Lego landscapes with a Holiday theme.

At one end, next to the San Jose Museum of Art, is the Kristi Yamaguchi Downtown Ice skating rink. 

A San Jose tradition

Christmas in the Park is a San Jose tradition for over 40 years now. For people preferring a more socially distant experience, they have continued the drive-thru light experience Blinky’s Illuminated Holiday near Raging Waters that was established last year (tickets are required) or you can sign up for a zoom meeting with Santa.

Christmas in the Park is located at Plaza de Cesar Chavez in downtown San Jose. Admission is free. The experience is open every day till January 2nd, from noon to midnight.

Is Christmas in the Park part of your Holiday tradition?
This is a nice place to come at night and see the lights on the many Christmas trees. The last time I was here, in 2017, I stopped by during the day, and seeing these many trees is still special.

Skate in Central Park, San Mateo on Ice

Skate in Central Park, San Mateo on Ice

San Mateo on Ice is a holiday tradition. It is located in the Central Park of San Mateo. With 11,000 square feet of real ice any ice skating lover will have a great time. Real ice means that it can be a bumpy experience, so keep this in mind. Plus popular holiday songs will get you in the seasonal spirit.

San Mateo on Ice admissions booth with the ice rink in the background.

For opening hours it’s best to check their calendar. Tickets can be purchased onsite and are divided into standard ($17) or premium ($20). What rate applies depends on the day and includes skate rentals. They tender a $2 discount for people working in the military, police, and fire fighters. It’s not a frugal adventure, but they do offer free skate days that are sponsored by local companies. The next free skate day is December 15th.

People ice skating around a Christmas tree.

All skaters and spectators must sign a waiver. San Mateo on Ice does recommend that people wear helmets, but when we checked it out there was no one with protective gear on ice. Also, notice that it is the rainy season (yay!) and the rink is open rain or shine. When it has to close due to weather there is no refund.  

San Mateo on Ice

Located on 50 E 5th Ave, San Mateo, CA

Check their website for opening hours and prices.

Nutcracker and a sign to welcome skaters.

Open everyday including holiday, until January 9th, 2022.

Disclaimer: I did not get any compensation for this post. In fact I only photographed and did not skate. 

While you are in Central Park you should check out the Japanese Garden