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Children's Fairyland, near Lake Merritt, will be transformed into a Fairy Winterland for the holidays. Photo by Debora Silva.

Children’s Fairyland to turn into “Fairy Winterland” to celebrate the holiday season

on December 14, 2012

The Nutcracker Prince, the Grinch, Snowflake the Elf, Santa Claus and even a tap dancing Christmas tree will be joining the whimsical cast of characters at Children’s Fairyland this holiday season. For 10 days, the beloved Oakland theme park will be transformed with twinkling lights and decorations into a multi-cultural winter wonderland.

The annual Fairy Winterland does not focus solely on Christmas. The Jewish holiday of Chanukah, African Kwanzaa, the Mexican tradition of Las Posadas, the Hindu festival of lights called Diwali and Chinese New Year will all be represented with displays at the children’s park, located on the north side of Lake Merritt in Oakland. These cultural displays will join the Old Lady in the Shoe, the Jolly Roger Pirate Ship, the Alice in Wonderland Tunnel and other storybook sets that are fixtures in the park year-round, helping bring to life holiday traditions around the globe for visitors, both children and adults.

“The Bay Area is such a diverse region,” said Maria Rodriguez, a graphic designer and photographer at Children’s Fairyland. “It’s important to represent all the different cultures that make up Oakland and the Bay Area.”

The park has been hosting this holiday-themed event for nine years: the first Fairy Winterland was created in 2004. The holiday celebration has emphasized diversity from its very first year. Fairyland itself has been an Oakland fixture since 1950. In addition to Winterland, the park holds a yearly “Jack o’Lantern Jamboree” for Halloween, and an adult-only costume party and gala in June.

Winterland is a very popular event, Rodriguez said. Since she usually works at the beverage booth—all visitors to Winterland get free hot cocoa and hot cider—she has seen the same families come back for this special event in December, year after year.

“People are coming for the holidays, and really making it a family tradition,” she said. “One year, we had a whole family show up in gnome outfits, dressed like Christmas elves.”

During the 10-day holiday celebration, there will be performances at the Storybook Puppet Theater, magic shows, arts and crafts and unlimited rides on the Jolly Trolly train, mini Ferris wheel, carousel and Fairyland’s other child-size rides. Each day, Santa Claus will visit Winterland in his red suit, from 5 to 6 pm. Children can sit on Santa’s lap in the Chapel of Peace and tell him their Christmas wishes.

Each day will feature different events—from a variety of puppet shows and circus acts to performances by the Pacific Boy Choir, the Oakland Ballet Company, storyteller John Weaver and magicians like Blake Maxam, Magic Dan and Mike Della Penna. Fairyland characters will be wandering the park, greeting visitors, throughout the afternoon, and Winterland will close with a Festival of Lights Parade at 6:15 each night.

The park, normally open from 10 am to 4 pm, has different Winterland hours. It will be open December 14 to 23, from noon to 7 pm. Admission is $8 for adults and children over the age of 1, and $4 for members.

Click here for more information.

See a schedule of events here. 



  1. Alicia Carte on December 23, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    I have been coming to Fairyland since my son was 2 years old. He is now 37 and I take his daughter 7 years old all the time and look forward to having her one year old brother join us soon. We are all members of Fairyland and so much enjoy being supporters of this magical place for young children. It encourages a love of literature in little people and provides children with a unique experience of almost jumping into a story that is just their size. I’d recommend it to anyone who can spare a few hours to feel more in touch with their children (or grands) in this age of isolating screens. You’ll leave with a spring in your step and a song in your heart. May Fairyland live forever. It is one of the Bay Area’s true treasures! Join! It’s the best way to support the dedicated board and staff.

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