Downtown Stockton shines for the holidays!

City of Stockton's 60' Christmas Tree is lighted nightly at the Weber Point Event Center (photo courtesy of Visit Stockton).

Plan a visit to downtown Stockton, aglow for the holidays and offering lots of family choices!

The City’s huge Christmas tree, downtown and the waterfront bedecked with holiday lights, movies at the Cineplex, a classic movie at the Bob Hope Theatre, the Haggin Museum aglow  and a host of delectable and new restaurants bursting upon the epicurean scene – holidays are the perfect time to travel to resurgent downtown Stockton!

The Cineplex's Janet Leigh Plaza is also brightly decorated for the holidays (courtesy of Downtown Stockton Alliance).

Come in the evening and enjoy the City’s huge 60’ Christmas Tree in Weber Point Event Center and the holiday lighting in the Cineplex’s Janet Leigh Plaza. The Regal City Centre Cineplex, with 16 screens and IMAX, hosts holiday movies playing on its sixteen screens. The Cineplex also hosts the annual Christmas CanTree, a 20’ tall Christmas tree made of canned goods, a benefit for the Emergency Food Bank.

Highly anticipated is the release of the next episode of Star Wars; the Cineplex will feature this ever popular science fiction saga of the eternal struggle between the Jedi and the Dark Side in 3D, IMAX, or digital formats. On December 9, downtown will celebrate with the event “Choose Your Destiny! “at Cast Iron Trading Co. and Channel Brew.

For a classic movie for the entire family, visit the Bob Hope Theatre, 242 East Main St., on Sunday, December 17 when Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye, and Vera-Ellen star in the 1954 classic “White Christmas”. Doors open at 1 PM with Santa and Mrs. Claus in the lobby along with the Stock¬ton Portsmen Barbershop Chorus singing all your favorite Christmas carols, beautiful artwork displayed and complimentary snacks and soft drinks provided. Dave Moreno plays the Mighty Morton theatre organ starting at 1:30 pm; the movie plays at 2 pm.

The Stockton Portsmen Barbershop Quartet will lead Christmas songs in the Bob Hope Theatre prior to the December 17 movie.

The classic movie White Christmas plays at the Fox/Bob Hope Theatre on December 17.

“White Christmas”, the classic released in 1954, tells the story of two WWII song-and-dance partners who gather entertainers to help their former commanding general through hard times. Tickets are $4 – $8 and are available at the Bob Hope Theatre on the day of the film with no additional fees (the box office opens at 1:00 pm), or buy tickets in advance, online or at the Stockton Arena box office (additional fees may apply). info, foxfriends.org.

A long-standing Mexican tradition observed at this time of year is Posadas, a candle-lit procession symbolizing Mary and Joseph’s journey through Bethlehem. Organized by the Mexican Heritage Center and Gallery , the first stop is the towering historic St. Mary’s Church (the oldest brick building in Stockton), ending at the Center on Market Street. The Posadas is set for December 22, while the Nacimientos exhibit is open to public December 12 – January 5 (info, mexicanheritagecenter.org).

Downtown offers scores of unique shops and the Holiday Stockmarket occurs on December 8. This popular crafts and market fair takes over the grand Stockton Civic Memorial Auditorium, featuring a variety of vendors selling items perfect for gifts and decorations, as well as food and live music (info, goodstockca.com).

Decorated sleigh and tree are typical of holiday decorations at the Haggin Museum (courtesy of the Haggin).

While technically just beyond the downtown district, plan a visit to the Haggin Museum, 1201 N. Pershing in Victory Park. The museum is alive with holiday décor including shimmering trees, joyful Santas, and poinsettia. The newly renovated galleries and temporary exhibition spaces feature a new exhibit, American Impressionism: The Lure of the Artists’ Colony opening December 7, 2017 and continuing through March 4, 2018.  A collection of lyrical landscapes, ranging from snow-covered hills to sun-filled harbors and seascapes, penetrating portraits, and still-life paintings, it documents the history of American art dating from the golden age of American Impressionism, the 1880s through the 1940s.

Additional events round out a busy holiday season at the museum; including their 1ST & 3RD Thursday events featuring complimentary wine and snacks at 6:30 pm. every 1st & 3rd Thursday evening, when the museum is open until 9 pm.

Huge vintage Caterpiller tractor is decorated for the holidays (courtesy, Haggin Museum).

2ND Saturdays for Families, December 9, 1:30 to 3:00 pm, offers families with kids ages 5 – 12 hands-on fun, “Creating holiday-themed crafts to decorate your home”. 2nd Saturdays for Families events are included with museum admission and all materials are provided. Reservations not required but seating may be limited; it’s available on a first come, first served basis.

A special museum treat comes on Thursday, December 21, 2017, 7 PM, when the Sacramento Renaissance Choir performs 15th and 16th century music, the choir under the direction of Dr. Lee Lovallo (Haggin info, hagginmuseum.org).

A growing restaurant scene is unfolding in downtown. Near the Cinema, Belle Vista (west end of the old Hotel Stockton) and Misaki (part of the Cineplex complex) are favorites. New or recent additions to downtown include Channel Brewing and Cast Iron Trading Company (both the NE corner of Weber and San Joaquin St.), the Deliberation Room (19 N. California St.) and Nena’s (in the Waterfront Warehouse, 445 W. Weber – check all the boats lighted for the season in the Stockton Marina just outside) and Delta Bistro and Lounge in the University Plaza Waterfront Hotel (110 W. Fremont). All offer avant-garde dining choices and host holiday events (see their Facebook pages). Old stalwarts like Casa Flores, Cancun, On Lock Sam and Yasoo Yani also beckon holiday visitors.

Get your holiday spirit on by visiting downtown Stockton in the next month!

For additional downtown events and programs, check out Visit Stockton, visitstockton.org and the Downtown Stockton Alliance, downtownstockton.org.

Read more from Tim Viall’s travel blog, follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter; or, email him at tviall@msn.com. Happy travels in the west!

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  • Blog Author

    Tim Viall

    Viall is a local travel writer who retired in late 2012 after 10 years as executive director of Stockton, CA's, Emergency Food Bank and six years with the Downtown Stockton Alliance. Previously, a 21-year career in daily newspapers helped shape his ... Read Full
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