Welcome to Our Winter Wonderland

Make a list and check it twice for fun-filled holiday happenings.

Judith Salkin Attractions

The holiday tree lights up the night sky at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PALM SPRINGS AERIAL TRAMWAY

Whether you’ve escaped to the desert for the first time for a different kind of white Christmas, or this is a regular winter retreat from snow country, you have plenty of ways to celebrate the season in the Coachella Valley.

A couple of the events, like WildLights at The Living Desert and Santaland at the Desert Rose Playhouse, began in November. Others, like Palm Springs’ Festival of Lights Parade and the tree lighting at the Mountain Station of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, are two of the annual activities that get the holidays off to a great start for everyone from longtime residents to weekend visitors.

So, let’s take a look at a sampling of the events and activities that make the desert a winter wonderland for everyone.

LIGHT ‘EM UP:
Palm Springs Annual Tree Lighting
Dec. 1, 5:15 p.m.
Tree lighting just before the downtown VillageFest street fair in Palm Springs. Includes Palm Springs High School’s Madrigal Singers and Symphonic Orchestra and a visit from Santa!
Francis Stevens Park, 500 N. Palm Canyon Drive at Alejo Road, Palm Springs.

Palm Springs 23rd Annual Festival of Lights Parade
Dec. 3, 5:45 p.m.
More than a million lights decorate floats, marching bands, cheer and dance groups, cars, vans, your feet, and anything else on the street, with Santa officially opening the holiday season.
Palm Canyon Drive, between Ramon Road and Tamarisk Road, Palm Springs. 760-323-8276; www.festivaloflights.com

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway Mountain Station Annual Tree Lighting
Dec. 4, 5:30 p.m.
Tree lighting with celebrities and other entertainment including the Palm Springs High School choir.
Prices range $16.95, 3-12 years; $23.95, 65+; $25.95, adults; $23, $36, Ride-N-Dine.
1 Tramway Road, Palm Springs. 888-515-8726; www.pstramway.com

SANTA SIGHTING:
Palm Springs Mountain Station Aerial Tramway Santa Visits
Dec. 17, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
See the Jolly Ol’ Elf and explore the mountain.
Prices range $16.95, 3-12 years; $23.95, 65+; $25.95, adults; $23, $36, Ride-N-Dine
1 Tramway Road, Palm Springs. 888-515-8726; www.pstramway.com

Breakfast with Santa at The Living Desert
Dec. 17, 7:30-11 a.m.
Two seatings for Breakfast with Santa. 7:30-9 a.m., members only; 10-11 a.m., open to the public. Reservations recommended; call for cost.
The Living Desert, 47900 Portola Avenue, Palm Desert. 760-346-5694; www.livingdesert.org

ON STAGE:
The Nutcracker
Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 3, 3 p.m.
Is it really the holidays if you don’t see Tchaikovsky’s holiday ballet? This is the 20th anniversary production by the CK Dance Company, starring local ballet students.$20, $30.
Annenberg Theater, 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs. 760-323-4490;
www.psmuseum.org/annenberg-theater/schedule/

The Nutcracker
Dec. 13, 7 p.m.
Join the Los Angeles Ballet for a seasonal classic: the story of Clara and her magical Nutcracker.
$27, $47, $67, $87.
McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert. 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com;
www.losangelesballet.org

Holidays at The River
The Renova Rink at the River in Rancho Mirage debuted Nov. 22, and will be open through Jan. 8. Ice skating is available daily and every evening with local entertainment, including bands and DJs scheduled to provide holiday music to accompany most skating sessions. Skating hours: Monday noon-10 p.m., Tuesday (seniors) 10 a.m. to noon, (public) noon-10 p.m., Wednesday noon-10 p.m., Thursday noon-8 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday noon- 8 p.m. Fee is $15, includes skate rental.
71800 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage.
760-341-2711; www.theriveratranchomirage.com

The Santaland Diaries
Through Dec. 18. Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sunday, 2 p.m.
David Sedaris and Joe Mantello wrote this play about Sedaris’ experiences as an elf at Macy’s. Classic Sedaris, and not for kids.
$35 evenings, $32 matinees
Desert Rose Playhouse, 69620 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage.
760-202-3000; www.desertroseplayhouse.org

HOLIDAY MUSIC:
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway Mountain Station Carols on the Mountain
Dec. 2-4, 9-11, and Dec. 16 at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Local choirs and choral groups perform songs that capture the holiday spirit.
Prices range $16.95, 3-12 years; $23.95, 65+; $25.95, adults; $23, $36, Ride-N-Dine
1 Tramway Road, Palm Springs.
888-515-8726; www.pstramway.com

NEW YEAR’S EVE:
Huey Lewis and the News
Dec. 31, 10:30 p.m.
Celebrate the new year with a great pop rock show by Huey and the band.
$105-$125.
The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage. 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com

Palm Springs New Year’s Eve Block Party
Dec. 31, 8 p.m.-1 a.m.
DJ Dense, kids zone, midnight fireworks display, bar garden, local restaurants and merchant booths, and performance by The Village People. Ring in 2017 with your rendition of “YMCA.”
General admission, $35; Premier VIP package, $75, 6 ticket limit, must be 21.
Spa Resort Casino, 401 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs. 800-585-3737; www.sparesortcasino.com

For more holiday events, see our Calendar or visit www.palmspringslife.com