You won’t find any scrooges during the holiday celebrations throughout the Carson Valley and beyond; each season, the small-town charm of Minden, Gardnerville, Genoa, and Carson City go into overdrive to bring holiday cheer to everyone.

There are many events throughout the season to stack your calendar with, whether it’s holiday train rides, tree lighting ceremonies, holiday markets, and so much more!

Polar Express

The Polar Express is more than just a ride on a train, it’s an evening of magic, music, dancing, and family fun. Experience the magic of the classic holiday story come to life, and don’t forget to pack your pajamas!

Riders will take part in caroling and a reading of the classic story, complete with songs, dance numbers, hot cocoa, and the gift of a silver sleigh bell to each rider.

The Polar Express runs Thursday through Sunday each weekend with some exceptions. Trains depart at 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and 8 p.m. Standard rates are offered now through Dec. 3, and premier rates from Dec. 8 through Dec. 23.

Polar Express is hosted by the V&T Railway located in East Carson City, which will take passengers on a magical ride to the North Pole — which may or may not take the same historic route to Gold Hill near Virginia City.

To learn more about this annual event, visit

Candy Cane Express in Virginia City

Can’t get enough of festive train rides? Don’t worry because the region has you covered. The Candy Cane Express is an annual holiday event blending history, caroling, holiday treats, and literature.

The V&T Candy Cane Express is a whimsical adventure that traverses over the 140-year-old V&T Railroad route beginning in Virginia City. The ride lasts just shy of an hour, and leaves at noon, 1:30 p.m., and 3 p.m.

The Candy Cane Express typically runs weekends through Dec. 24 and is decorated with holiday flair.

During the scenic ride, participants will enjoy hot cocoa or cider, candy canes and cookies, sing-along caroling, and will listen to a reading of the 1823 classic “T’was the Night Before Christmas.”

For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit

Silver & Snowflakes Festival of Lights at Nevada State Capitol

The Silver & Snowflakes Festival of Lights in Carson City is the perfect way to herald in the holiday season. A time-honored tradition spanning decades, this community event takes place during the first weekend in December each year.

Carson City’s Downtown closes to vehicle traffic surrounding the Capitol building for the crowds of families that gather each year to watch the lighting of the season.

The fun begins around 4 p.m. with free sleigh rides, hot cocoa and cider, cookie booths, caroling, and more.

Each year, the festival is cemented by the city’s fifth graders from each elementary school, who gather together on the capitol steps to sing the holiday’s favorite carols.

During the concert, there is even a visit from Santa Claus himself – and the Grinch! The green man will often sneak in to conduct the children and cause a little mischief in the process.

The tree lighting, which includes the lighting of the thousands of lights across the downtown area, capitol, and legislative grounds, takes place at the end of the concert, which begins at 5:30 p.m.

After the event, be sure to warm up in one of the downtown restaurants which typically offer festival specials to commemorate the evening. You may even be given a free show by local high school carolers!

Minden Gazebo Lighting

Enjoy the transformation of Minden Park’s gazebo for the holiday season. Each year, the town of Minden gathers at 5 p.m. on Dec. 1 to await the lighting of the gazebo. During the festivities, live music, hot cider, fire pits, s’mores and more is provided, along with cookies offered by Carson Valley Inn.

The official lighting takes place at 6 p.m., which coincides with a special visit from Santa Claus! Children are encouraged to bring a canned food item in exchange for a goodie bag.

For more information, be sure to visit to learn more about this free annual community event.

Carson Valley Parade of Lights

For nearly 30 years, the annual Parade of Lights has ushered in the holiday season in the Carson Valley. With a new theme each year, the experience always seems new and fresh for participants, even those who have been attending for decades!

The fun begins at Eddy Street and finishes at Minden Park. Roads close at approximately 4:30 p.m. Dec. 2 and the parade will begin at 5 p.m. Main Street will remain closed to traffic from Waterloo to Sixth Street until 7 p.m. allowing safe walking for parade-goers.

Participants are encouraged to bring their blankets and chairs to set up along the parade route to watch the procession of floats, marching bands, color guard, and even a special guest all the way from the North Pole itself.

To learn more about this annual event visit for more information.

Whether you’re in the mood for small-town parades, caroling concerts, or festive train rides, you’re sure to find your fill of holiday events in the Carson Valley, Carson City, Virginia City and more.

To keep up to date with all the fun the Northern Nevada region has to offer, visit for more.