A kid gets up close to the wolf lantern part of Glowfari at the Oakland Zoo. Credit: Oakland Zoo

With just one more week until Thanksgiving, the holiday season is about to be in full effect.  While not out of the pandemic yet, this year is markedly different from last. The availability of COVID-19 vaccines and lower case rates will allow families everywhere to gather in person if they’re comfortable after most festivities took place on Zoom in 2020. 

It also means many of the Bay Area’s seasonal events are back, and each week, we’ll be bringing you the top holiday (and non-holiday-related) highlights in this round-up. 

As a reminder, we are now including indoor events where proof of vaccination and mask-wearing are enforced in addition to outdoor events.

If there’s an event you think we should feature, email me at azucena@oaklandside.org, or fill out the form at the bottom of this page.

Screening of Cowboy short film at Eli’s

Cowboy is a short documentary based on Mr. McAllister, President of the Oakland Black Cowboys Association. Filmmakers James Mason (right) and John Gamiño (left) join Mr. McAllister (center) for photos at Eli's Mile High Club in Oakland
Cowboy is a short documentary based on Mr. McAllister, President of the Oakland Black Cowboys Association. Credit: Amir Aziz

Back in September, Eli’s Mile High Club held a sold-out screening for the premiere of the short-film, Cowboy, which tells the story of Oakland Black Cowboys leader, Wilbert “Cowboy” Freeman McAlister. That night, locals celebrated the film made by John Gamiño (talent buyer at Eli’s Mile High Club) and James Manson. After the screening, McAlister took the stage with his band, Cowboy and His Sometimes Blues. The magic from that first screening is bound to be repeated this Wednesday when Cowboy will again be shown at 8 p.m., 9 p.m., and 10 p.m at Eli’s. DJs Lil Ze and Geekn Rican will kick off the event prior to the back-to-back screenings. Proof of vaccination is required to enter the venue. If you can’t attend the series of screenings, the film is streaming now.  

Wednesday, Nov. 17, 7 p.m., free to attend, must RSVP, Eli’s Mile High Club, 3629 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 

Chat and book signing with author and podcast host Chloe Dulce Louvouezo

Author and Life, I Swear podcast host Chloe Dulce Louvouezo is making a stop in Oakland on her tour to promote her new book: Life, I Swear: Intimate Stories from Black Women on Healing, Identity, and Self-Trust. The coffee table book, like her podcast, features stories and reflections from Black women. It includes 26 personal essays by Black women about how they’ve navigated trauma and healing. One essay is by Kalkidan Gebreyohannes, co-founder of Blk Girls Green House, a large outdoor plant nursery that opened in West Oakland in August. In addition to being a popular shop for plant parents, Blk Girls Green House also holds intimate concerts and community events. The conversation with Louvouezo will be held at this space. 

Friday, Nov. 19, 8 p.m., free to attend but must RSVP, Blk Girls Green House, 1700 Center St.

California College of the Arts annual Holiday Art & Craft Fair

Beat the “Black Friday” masses and get a head start on checking off your gift list for your loved ones. This weekend, the California College of the Arts (Oakland campus) will hold a fair with handmade goods for sale from over 100 artisans who are CCA students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Attendees will also get the chance to check out a performance by Blues band, Delta Wires, in addition to food trucks, open studios, demonstrations, a printmaking workshop, and a showcase of student work from CCA’s Jewelry and Metal Arts and Ceramics programs. Masks are required. 

Saturday, Nov. 20, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., free to attend, CCA Oakland Campus, 5212 Broadway.

Orchestra Gold & The Humidors at Starline Social Club

The Starline Social Club, a popular venue on Martin Luther King Jr. Way, reopened in September with live events taking place in its upstairs ballroom. Currently, shows are scheduled all the way to May 2022. On that list is the concert with psychedelic rock from Mali led by Malian singer and dancer Mariam Diakité, Orchestra Gold this Saturday. Opening the night is R&B soul and jazz band, The Humidors. If you miss live music and dancing, then check out Starline’s line-up. Patrons must show proof of  vaccination or provide a “negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of show date issued by an official and verifiable testing site.” 

Saturday, Nov. 20, 9 p.m., $15-$18, Starline Social Club, 2236 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Oakland Zoo Presents: Glowfari

Fans of the zoo will be happy to read that as of last weekend, the popular Glowfari is back for another year of glowing and colorful giant animal lanterns. There are giant butterflies, an aquarium tunnel all made out of lanterns, giant insects, rhinos, giraffes, and more. In total, more than 100 animal lanterns are spread throughout the park. During the festival—which starts every night after 5 p.m. through January 30—the real animal exhibits are closed off to the public. Don’t forget to visit Santa while you’re there. Note that the zoo is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.  Masks are required regardless of vaccination status. See the zoo’s website for more info. 

Nov. 12 through Jan. 30, $20-$24, Oakland Zoo, 9777 Golf Links Rd. 

Azucena Rasilla is a bilingual journalist from East Oakland reporting in Spanish and in English, and a longtime reporter on Oakland arts, culture and community. As an independent local journalist, she has reported for KQED Arts, The Bold Italic, Zora and The San Francisco Chronicle. She was a writer and social media editor for the East Bay Express, helping readers navigate Oakland’s rich artistic and creative landscapes through a wide range of innovative digital approaches.