Growing up as an only child in Cincinnati, Ohio, gave me plenty of opportunity to shovel snow in sub-zero temperatures. Let’s just say, I’m grateful to live on the California Central Coast where we don’t have to deal with ice on our windshields and plowing snow out of the driveway in the morning.
We may not have freezing temperatures or snow, but we do have an abundance of things to do, to enhance the joy of celebrating the Christmas season on the Central Coast. Towns transform and traditions emerge.
Here are some of my favorite picks so you don’t miss the best places to explore this Christmas season.
Cambria Christmas Market
The Cambria Christmas Market is by far one of the biggest attractions on the Central Coast. Each year, the town transforms into a traditional German Christmas Market. The market is filled with a variety of vendor booths where German food and drinks can be experienced, live entertainment, and a photo area to take pictures with Santa. The city is blanketed in decorations and illuminated with well over two million Christmas lights that wind through the market space. Each year, different designs are made with the lights, such as traditional reindeer in the woods, to the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland.
The market opens Nov. 29 and runs through Dec. 23. Shuttles are provided to transport visitors to the market from off-site parking. The market opens at 5 p.m. and closes at 8:30 p.m. Make sure that you allow at least an hour to view the market and lights. This is a choice event that all ages will surely enjoy.
For more information or to purchase your tickets to this unique event, please visit their website at The Cambria Christmas Market.
Solvang Julefest (Yule-fest)
I lived in Solvang, once upon a time, and can attest to the fact that the warm and wonderful people who live there bask in tradition. The Danish village of Solvang transforms into a festive, picturesque and iconic Christmas town. There is nothing like the city of Solvang, this side of Denmark. It’s more than worth visiting if you have the opportunity this holiday season. The Julefest is a series of different events throughout November and December for people of all ages and tastes to enjoy. Speaking of tastes, don’t leave without a bucket of butter cookies from one of Solvang’s amazing bakeries.
Every Saturday, starting November 30 through December 21, Santa’s Village is open to in Solvang Park. Mr. and Mrs. Claus will be there to take pictures with you and yours. The clean and clear Solvang air is filled with holiday spirit.
The Solvang Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place on December 6, from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm, at First St. and Mission Dr. The tree lighting ceremony will have live ballerinas, entertainment, caroling and, of course, the much-anticipated arrival of Santa Claus himself! After the tree lighting ceremony, be sure to check out the local restaurants and get some Danishes to top off the night.
The Skal Wine and Stein Stroll is a highlight of the holiday season in Solvang. The event features two days of wine and beer tasting, from some of the best wineries and breweries that the Central Coast has to offer. For more information about the events in Solvang, visit their website at The Solvang Julefest.
This year will be the first year that Solvang will host their drone light show on December 21. Created by FireFly Drone Show, hundreds of autonomous drones will dance in the sky, creating holiday images that can be seen from five miles away, in every direction. This 15-minute show is not one to be missed.
Christmas on the Wharf – Monterey
The Old Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey is delighted to bring back the 4th Annual Christmas on the Wharf this holiday season. Each year, the wharf hosts everything needed for a fun holiday outing. From the holiday decorations and the 23-foot Christmas tree, to free treats and meeting Santa, there is something for everyone to enjoy. During the weekends, treat yourself to free hot chocolate, hot apple cider and cookies.
Throughout the month of December, there will also be live entertainment and Christmas carolers featured each weekend. Christmas on the Wharf runs from Dec. 6-22. To see a full schedule of events and entertainment check out their website at The Fisherman’s Wharf.
Hometown Christmas in Orcutt
Old Orcutt, in the heart of the Central Coast, might just be the most charming town on the coast. The town comes alive with festivities and locals are warm and welcoming. To kick off the season, on Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. is the Old Town Christmas Stroll, starting at the Orcutt Lions Den with the Christmas Tree Lighting and holiday bazaar, with complimentary hot chocolate. Enjoy a beautiful evening walk around Old Orcutt, making a stop for a glass of wine at Vino et Amicis or a beer at Naughty Oak Brewing Company. Every year, on the second Saturday of December, Old Orcutt hosts its Christmas Parade at noon. The Orcutt American Legion participates as the color guard, leading the parade and various businesses follow behind with their floats.
Happy Holidays from Keys 2 the Coast. Get out there and have some fun.