1:30 pm : The Nutcracker Ballet
As you clutch the ticket in your right coat pocket and enter the gold-rimmed doors of the Center for the Performing Arts building, you are greeted by children’s laughter complemented by the teeming aroma of hot chocolate. You notice the growing line by the ticket booth and begin to approach it. The tall, blushed woman before you is adorned in a beige fur coat to match her cinnamon lipstick, the handsome couple, who had escaped from the 1800’s, behind you sporting a top hat and black velvet dress, and you smile at the sight of your own laced evening gown you paired with your great-aunt’s pearl beads.
You hand your ticket to the usher, who albeit fatigued by his prosaic routine, returns a smile to you. Grasping the ticket once again, you head to the balcony to find your seat. Row 8 Seat 51 awaits your presence.
The red velvet curtains slowly pave way for Uncle Drosselmeir’s entrance. Doors on both sides of the balcony close, and all lights direct attention towards the stage. Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy sounds all too familiar, and you begin to relive a memory from years ago. But those recollections are quickly interrupted by Marie’s triple pirouette. Her hypnotic solo leaves you in a trance for another two hours.
The Nutcracker Ballet will be one of the most riveting arts performance you will ever witness. You are left mesmerized from beginning to end, in complete awe of both the adept ballet performers and orchestrated theatrics. The Silicon Valley Ballet students are trained with highest professionalism, displayed among adolescents and adult dancers. There is no doubt that choreographer Karen Gabay’s The Nutcracker will leave you speechless.
San Jose Center for the Performing Arts 255 Almaden Blvd. Tickets: $25
5:00 pm : Christmas in the Park
Heading over to Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park, between West San Fernando and Market Streets, you–like every year– again face the bold yellow letters “Christmas in the Park”. Cream colored lights sparkle the night sky, while pedestrians block the roads to gather around the spectacle.
You yourself walk towards the yellow letters. It is no stranger to you. It’s been the same for thirty years. Children with helicopter toys, running from the holiday fair next door, shove past you. Young couples crusade by with their selfie-sticks. But you take the time to walk from the yellow and green sign to the new firehouse display on the right. You take extra minutes to appreciate the intricate detailing of the wooden dolls, the precision of ornaments on Christmas tree displays, and the 60 foot Community Giving Tree. This makes your visit worthwhile.
There are always new additions to Christmas in the Park’s display. In recent years, new exhibitions include Santa Paws, courtesy of Petco, and Environmental Alley, courtesy of the City of San Jose Environmental Department. The park never fails to fulfill entertainment through its assortment of displays and sponsored Christmas trees and holiday-themed street food. Plus, it’s your chance to meet jolly ol’ Saint Nicholas at the north end of the park!
Christmas in the Park Cost: Free
6:00 pm : Downtown Ice
Directly across from the park, next the the San Jose Art Museum, is an outdoor ice rink. Leaving the park, you wrap your coat tighter, hiding from the chilliness. However, you expect to warm yourself up the old fashioned way and rent a pair of ice skates.
A perfect fit, the skates take you up the cushioned mat to the opening of the ice rink. Your first steps on ice are no different than Bambi’s, but after a few moments, you have the confidence of Kristi Yamaguchi.
On most days, the rink opens from 11 am until midnight, and because streets are typically crowded, Downtown Ice offers parking validations on weekends or weekdays after 6 pm.
120 S. Market Street Admission: $15-$17
If you’re searching for unique holiday experiences, Downtown San Jose is the place to be. From morning to night, you are sure to find a variety of family-friendly entertainment–arts, dining, and activities.