WhereTraveler San Francisco
Calendar of Festive Events
There is no shortage of events and activities to help celebrate the season. From opera to ice-skating, we have the ultimate guide for you.
HALF MOON BAY NIGHT OF LIGHTS
Visit Half Moon Bay for their charming annual holiday event. The Night of Lights consists of a tree-lighting ceremony in Mac Dutra Plaza, followed by the colorful Parade of Lights down Main Street. The iconic experience takes visitors back to the holiday seasons of yesteryear, with carolers, roasted chestnuts and a visit from Santa Claus rounding out the family-friendly fun.
LIGHTED BOAT FESTIVAL & CONTEST
Half Moon Bay takes its Annual Boat Decorating Contest seriously, giving members of the community a chance to step up their decoration game and compete for the best-decorated boat. Whether or not you can attend the contest, visitors can stroll along Pillar Point Harbor all month long to check out the uniquely lit-up boats.
HOT CHOCOLATE BAR AT RITZ-CARLTON
The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay is always decked out for the holidays, with holiday trees, garlands and wreaths displayed throughout the resort, including a 25-foot holiday tree on the Ocean Lawn. This year, every weekend in December and on Christmas Day, the resort will offer a Hot Chocolate Bar that includes all the toppings you can imagine. Think marshmallows, chocolate shavings, whipped cream, sprinkles, graham crackers and chocolate sauce—all of which you can enjoy overlooking the ocean.
SAUSALITO GINGERBREAD HOUSE COMPETITION & TOUR
Now in its 13th year, the Gingerbread House Competition has become a Sausalito tradition that encourages restaurants, retail shops and other businesses to compete in building the ultimate gingerbread house. A map highlights all the gingerbread houses that visitors can check out throughout December. The public is asked to vote for their favorite, and the People’s Choice Award is given in January. In keeping with the theme, several participating restaurants and bars serve up gingerbread desserts or cocktails this month, as well.
SAUSALITO LIGHTED BOAT PARADE
The 32nd Annual Lighted Boat Parade attracts visitors from all over the Bay Area to come watch dozens of decorated boats as they parade along the shoreline at the Sausalito Yacht Club and Ferry Landing. A colorful fireworks show concludes the community-oriented affair that evening. Then, the next morning, the community is at it again with the annual Jingle
Bell 5K Run, with proceeds going to benefit at-risk youth through the Dipsea Kidz & Waterfront Kids programs.
HEALDSBURG HOLIDAYS IN HEALDSBURG TOURS
Nov. 23-Dec. 31
Every year, Healdsburg brings out its season’s cheer with decorative window displays, horse-drawn carriage rides, carolers and a beautiful Christmas tree lit up in the historic central plaza. One of the best ways to experience these
small-town festivities is with Wine Country Walking Tours, which offers day and evening tours for those looking to do some wine tasting and noshing while visiting the sights.
SANTA ROSA HANDMADE HOLIDAY CRAFTS FAIR
Ready to do some gift shopping? Santa Rosa’s 45th Annual Handmade Holiday Crafts Fair at the Finley Community Complex is just the place to get you started. More than 90 local artists display their unique home goods, jewelry, bath and body products, food treats and, of course, hand-crafted holiday decor for shoppers to peruse.
HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE
If you want to keep the festivities going, the Handmade Holiday Crafts Fair links to the Luther Burbank Home & Gardens Holiday Open House via a free trolley ride. The historic Victorian home and gardens are bedazzled with old-fashioned holiday decor.
Light refreshments, music and kids’ crafts are also part of the festitivies.
NAPA SANTA TRAIN
Nov. 19- Dec. 27
The Napa Valley Wine Train’s Santa Train returns with a spirited musical experience for the whole family. The conductor, along with elf and fairy friends, greets guests at the station, where there are daily departures to Yountville’s “North Pole” to visit Santa’s village and
workshop. Along the way, games, sing-alongs and a cast of holiday characters will entertain as passengers enjoy hot cocoa and a selection of freshly baked cookies.
WWW.WINETRAIN.COM HOLIDAY LIGHT TOURS
Napa Valley Wine Trolley’s “Holiday Light Tours” take guests on an exploration of the holiday lights on display throughout the Victorian neighborhoods in downtown Napa. Available Friday to Sunday for three weekends in a row, the vintage cable car starts at the Oxbow Public Market before going on the 90-minute tour, which plays classic Christmas carols onboard and encourages passengers to sing along.
Nov. 24-Jan. 1
Every year, Yountville gets in the holiday spirit with six weeks of holiday-related events for guests to enjoy. Not only are holiday lights on full display as part of the city’s “North Pole” experience, but restaurants, shops, hotels and tasting rooms are all decked out for the festivities. Free carriage rides are available throughout the month on Saturdays, while free holiday movies are shown at the Lincoln Theater (“Home Alone” on Dec. 6 and “White Christmas” on Dec. 18). The festivities conclude with the annual 5K/10K Resolution Run on New Years Day.
ST. HELENA JINGLE ALL THE WAY
Nov. 29-Dec. 29
St. Helena starts the holidays with its Jingle All the Way festivities held throughout the entire month of December in Lyman Park. This year, the city is hosting a Winter Wonderland Roller Rink in partnership with San Francisco’s Church of 8 Wheels (available Thursdays through Sundays). Not only will the park feature the roller rink, it will also have ice igloos, a fire pit station, wine bar and light displays—plus, it will “snow” on occasion while visitors are skating. Themed nights at the roller rink will include an Ugly Christmas Sweater Night that will surely spark a laugh or two.
CALISTOGA CALISTOGA LIGHTED TRACTOR PARADE
What better way to get in the holiday spirit than with Calistoga’s annual Lighted Tractor Parade lighted tractor parade? The smalltown celebration pays homage to the city’s agricultural heritage, as brightly decorated vintage and modern tractors, antique trucks and construction equipment parade down Calistoga’s Main Street. Even Santa makes an appearance during the parade.