Complete with a 65′ Ferris Wheel, Live Music, Outdoor Movies, Festively Lit Tree & More, Holidays Are “Reimagined” in Downtown Sacramento

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. (September 21, 2020) With the fall and holiday seasons quickly approaching, plans are in place for a fun, festive and fully reimagined holiday season in downtown Sacramento. While some popular activations that tend to attract large crowds – such as the Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink and Theatre of Lights – will pause for one season in order to comply with physical distancing guidelines, the community is invited to enjoy a number of favorite downtown traditions that have been reimagined with safety in mind so visitors can create new memories and participate in a variety of new downtown activations as well.

“Following the advisement of Sacramento County Health Services Director, the Downtown Sacramento Partnership has made the thoughtful decision to reimagine the holidays this year,” said Michael Ault, Executive Director of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership. “We’re going to safely continue to celebrate the season in innovative new ways downtown. In fact, we have some exciting reimagined activations planned – and a surprise or two that await – to delight visitors, shoppers and diners this coming season.”

Entertaining Outdoor Live Music (at least through October)

To add to the lively and festive ambiance throughout downtown, plans are in motion to safely continue to offer entertaining live music – from atop balconies in the historic district and/or in activated parks – throughout the fall and holiday seasons. With special tables set-up and bistro seating provided, visitors are invited to spend time enjoying the music along with takeout meals from nearby restaurants at Waterfront Park (Front & L Streets in front of Rio City Café at the Old Sacramento Waterfront) and Ali Youssefi Square (7th & K Streets).

While subject to change, the live musical line-up is as follows:

  • Old Sacramento Waterfront Park – now through October 17
    – Thursdays from 4 – 7 p.m.
    – Saturdays from 2 – 5 p.m.
  • Ali Youssefi Square – September 23 through October 31
    – Wednesdays from 12 a.m. – 2 p.m.

In addition, plans to add more special holiday music offerings are underway and will be announced at a later date.

“Movies Under the Stars” in October

Beginning Thursdays this October, downtown visitors and residents can enjoy a series of outdoor “Movies under the Stars” in Ali Youssefi Square. Presented by Crest Theatre and Xfinity, the series will feature family-friendly spooky movies, physically distanced seating, and the opportunity to enjoy takeout meal specials from nearby restaurants.

The “Movies Under the Stars” line-up is as follows:

  • October 1 at 7 p.m. – The Addams Family
  • October 8 at 7 p.m. –  Scooby-Doo
  • October 15 at 7 p.m. – Original Ghostbusters
  • October 16 at 7 p.m. – Original Ghostbusters
  • October 22 at 7 p.m. – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • October 23 at 7 p.m. – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • October 29 at 7 p.m. – Hocus Pocus
  • October 30 at 7 p.m. – Hocus Pocus

To ensure physical distancing, each household must purchase tickets in advance for groups of two or four. Movie tickets cost are $20 for groups of two or $40 for groups of four (which includes sanitized headphones and bistro seating) and will be available soon at

Waterfront Wheel (October 30, 2020 through January 31, 2021)

To be located at the newly activated Waterfront Park (in front of Rio City Café), a visually-exciting and whimsical 65’ Ferris wheel, operated by Brass Ring Amusements, Inc, will take center stage for the holidays with rides offered on Friday, October 30 and continuing daily through January 31, 2021. Offering fantastic views of the city atop the “Waterfront Wheel,” riders must be at least 42” to ride and in the same household in each open-air cart (that holds up to four people). Once debuted, hours of operation for the Waterfront Wheel will be Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. with special holiday hours from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (November 25-29, December 20-January 3 & January 15-18). To help keep the community safe, physically distanced line queues will be in place, carts will be sanitized regularly (with employee disinfecting of high-touch surfaces, restraints after patrons disembark, etc.), and contactless payment and admission will be available. Cost to ride the Waterfront Wheel is $6 per rider.

“We are so excited to be a part of the downtown holiday experience this season at the Old Sacramento Waterfront,” said Harry W. Mason of Brass Ring Amusements Inc. “As a part of the community since 1985, we think that this is an incredible location to showcase one of our signature attractions. It will be the perfect setting to take your holiday photos.”

Holiday Tree Lighting on Thanksgiving Eve (November 25)

To add to the holiday festivities and continue the spirited tradition for thousands of families throughout the region, a 60’ holiday tree will stand tall at Front & K Streets at the Old Sacramento Waterfront and will be lit for the first time on Wednesday evening, November 25 (Thanksgiving Eve), at approximately 6 p.m. As always, the holiday tree will remain in place to inspire holiday spirit through the New Year. While crowds are not encouraged for the tree lighting, the community can watch a short ceremony that evening that will be live streamed on the Old Sacramento Waterfront Facebook page. Plus, visitors, shoppers and diners to the historic district can enjoy seeing the tree and enhanced holiday decorations and taking family photos or holiday selfies anytime they visit the Old Sacramento Waterfront during the holiday season.

With community safety in mind, these new open-air activations are part of a new, multi-phased marketing campaign that continues to be rolled out through the end of the year by the Downtown Sacramento Partnership titled “We are Downtown. Together.” Tapping into a deep sense of pride for downtown Sacramento, the new campaign features a variety of new programs such as the “Keep COVID In Check” initiative, activations and displays, a ReImagine micro-grant program designed to drive art activations throughout the district, advertising and signage support, and more, all are made possible by the area’s property-based improvement district (PBID), Downtown Sacramento Partnership. For more information about Downtown Sacramento Partnership, please visit

*Note: all outdoor activation schedules could change due to inclement weather or air quality issues.


SOCIAL MEDIA TAGS: #DowntownSac, #SacLoveNotes, #CovidInCheck, #DowntownTogether, #OldSacramentoWaterfront

 PRESS: Download photos here. Interviews with event/program coordinators and local businesses available.

Contact: Emilie Cameron / 916-287-9960