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Follow California's Festive Spirit for the Holidays

Oct. 30, 2019

Californians always celebrate the good life, but the festivities kick up a notch or two for the holidays—from holiday trains and Christmas parades and markets to Kwanzaa festivals and Hanukah events. Jingle up the fun and make merry with these special holiday happenings.

Theme Parks and Attractions
Guests at Fairy Winterland at in Oakland can see performance, light parades, daily visits from Santa Claus and multi-cultural holidays—such as Kwanzaa and Hanukka—told through stories and crafts.

Winterfest OC features ice tubing down a 150-foot mountain, snow play and slide area with separate areas for toddlers and kids, outdoor ice rink, nightly tree lighting, parade, carnival and fireworks.

L.A. Zoo Lights offers wildlife-inspired displays, lights and projections and seasonal magic like giant glowing animals, dancing snowflakes and the popular Twinkle Tunnel—plus holiday treats and Santa.

Outdoor Activities
Join Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows for activities that are fun for the whole family! Free Merry Days and Holly Nights activities include Reindeer Games, Ice garden & Mini Train Rides, Horse-Drawn Sleigh Rides, and Story Time with Santa.

Visalia boasts the only place in the U.S. where visitors can trek to the “Nation’s Christmas Tree”—a.k.a. General Grant Tree. Visitors can also enjoy the Candy Cane Lane Parade and Ugly Sweater Pub Crawl.

Oxnard’s holiday cheer shines with a Tree Lighting Ceremony, Christmas Parade and the Santa to the Sea Half Marathon, plus the Holly Trolley Holiday Light Tour and Parade of Lights in Channel Islands Harbor.

Holiday Trains
California’s versions of the Polar Express train bring all the holiday magic without the snow. Mendocino Skunk Train’s Magical Christmas Train chugs through the redwoods with treats, reindeer games, singalongs and Santa.

Napa Valley Wine Train’s Santa Train journeys to Santa’s Workshop with games, sing-alongs, holiday-inspired characters and treats.

Ride to a sunny beach instead of the North Pole with the Holiday Lights Train to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, where you ride through a decorated Roaring Camp Railroads train through the redwoods and sing carols, sip spiced cider and visit with Santa.

Boat Parades
Enjoy a visual feast like no other in mild winter weather with California’s holiday boat parades along the coast:


Festivals and Family Events
The Embarcadero Center Lighting Ceremony & Carnival kicks off with a carnival and performance, and then it’s time to count down to the illumination of four buildings, followed by a grand fireworks show.

Downtown Paso Robles’ 58th Annual Holiday Light Parade event includes a visit with Santa and the Vine Street Victorian Christmas Show, with elaborately decorated Victorian homes who open their doors.

San Diego's Balboa Park December Nights features carolers, festive music, holiday light displays, dance performances, free museum admissions and the musical “Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas!”

Wine Country Merriment
Sonoma County twinkles with holiday festivals, such as the Sonoma Plaza Tree Lighting and Geyserville’s Tree Lighting and Tractor Parade. Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive by tugboat in Petaluma and the 13th Annual Lighting of the Snowmen features hundreds of vintage snowmen and entertainment.

The 24th Annual Calistoga Lighted Tractor Parade celebrates local agricultural heritage with bedazzled vintage and modern tractors, antique trucks, and construction equipment proceeding down Main Street.

Napa’s 56th Annual Christmas Parade boasts creatively decorated cars, horses and even children, with bright, festive lights and Santa Claus holding court from his “Big Chair on the Riverfront.”

Christmas Markets
The 36th Annual Telegraph Avenue Holiday Street Fair features food and music paired with handcrafted wares from more than 200 local Berkeley artisans, while the 29th annual Berkeley Artisans Holiday Open Studios boasts 100 professional artists, craftspeople and galleries offering original and creative gifts. 

Cambria’s Christmas Market, an Old-World European style open-air holiday market, boasts two million lights, performances, hot chocolate, traditional German fare, visits with Santa and more.

Big Bear Lake’s 35th Annual Mountain Christmas Boutique boasts more than 50 artisans showcasing their handmade gifts and collectibles, plus visits with Santa, craft-making for kids and more.


For more information on holiday events and happenings in California this year, visit VisitCalifornia.com.