By Michele E. Buttelman
One moment you’re basking in the sun, frolicking at pool parties and gasping at the cost of your summer air conditioning bill, the next, WHAM!, you are surrounded by decorated Christmas trees and holiday ham at Costco.
How did that happen?
This year embrace the onrushing crush of holiday cheer and explore some of the towns in California that spare no expense when it comes to holiday spirit.
Saturday, Nov. 26 2022 to Friday, Jan. 6 2023
Solvang is a two-hour drive along Highway 126 north to U.S. 101.
Julefest is a month-long holiday celebration in the village of Solvang. This holiday celebration harkens back to a simpler time and holiday memories of days gone by. Visiting the quaint village of Solvang during Julefest is a walk through a vintage postcard and a Hallmark movie at the same time.
Old world towns like Solvang are often the best places to celebrate the holidays. Solvang offers authentic Danish-style buildings and beautiful windmills decked out for the holidays.
Thousands of lights illuminate the Dutch village and hundreds of small Christmas trees are decorated outside of local businesses. Some of the best spots to see the lights are Copenhagen Drive, Alisal Road, and Solvang Park.
Among the “must see” events in Solvang during the Christmas season:
Daily Light and Music Show
5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the hour, every hour for 10 minutes. Solvang Park, 1630 Mission Drive, Solvang, CA 93463.
Nisse Adventure Scavenger Hunt
The Nisse Adventure is a scavenger hunt through downtown Solvang in search of a Danish gnome named Nisse. Organizers have hidden Nisse in city landmarks and storefronts all throughout Solvang.
Pick up your clues at the Solvang Visitor Center ,1637-1639 Copenhagen Drive, Solvang, CA 93463 for your Nisse adventure. Find all the dolls and return back to the Visitor Center for a prize.
Take part in an evening candlelight walking tour led by a local guide in Danish folk dress. Every participant will receive an LED candle to hold while strolling through the streets of downtown Solvang. Learn fun facts, and experience the sights, sounds, and even some tastes of Christmas in this quaint Danish Village. All tours 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Dec.3, 4, 9, 16, 17, 23.
Tickets are $36 each. Contact the Solvang Visitor Center for information. (805) 688-6144.
Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
Friday, Dec. 2, 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Enjoy an evening in Solvang Park with live music and entertainment and of course, lighting the Solvang Christmas Tree. Free to attend.
Dec. 3 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
This year’s theme is “Hyggeling” A Cozy Christmas. Enjoy floats, local performers, marching bands and even a possible Santa sighting.
Food, Santa, More Events
Make sure to attend the annual Christmas Tree Burn in January to wrap up the holiday season.
Don’t miss the Solvang Bakery’s gingerbread houses and it’s offering of holiday baked goods.
Many other events and activities including photo ops with Santa can be found during the season in Solvang. Visit the Visitor Center website for details, www.solvangusa.com.
Sundays – Dec. 4, 11 and 18 from 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Wednesdays – Dec. 7 and 14 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Nevada City is located 60 miles northeast of Sacramento. It is 409 miles from Santa Clarita and a six and half hour drive along CA-99 N.
Nevada City is a magical setting of hilly streets with authentic gas lamps, wandering carolers dressed in Victorian attire and visitors sharing holiday cheer and good tidings.
The aroma of roasted chestnuts fills the air along with cries of street vendors, it truly is a Victorian Christmas.
If you have ever wanted to explore a town straight out of a Charles Dickens novel, welcome to Nevada City. Narrow streets are lit by glowing gas lamps with authentically dressed Christmas carolers and bagpipers.
Artisan Vendors & Boutique Shops
Walk through the Victorian streets while browsing the 100+ artisan vendors or pop into one of the many boutique shops.
Free Hot Roasted Chestnuts
Step back in time and experience the sweet flavor and aromas of chestnuts roasted on an open fire. Stop by the fire pit located in the Food Court to watch the whole process and try a free chestnut.
Big Bear Lake
Nov. 29-Jan. 1
Less than three hours from Santa Clarita follow I-210 E and CA-210 to CA-330 N/City Creek Road in San Bernardino. Take exit 81 from CA-210 and follow CA-330 N and CA-18 to Pine Knot Avenue in Big Bear Lake.
Ranked #9 in the Top 10 Christmassy Towns in the United States by TravelPulse.com, Big Bear Lake is home to a famous City Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and welcomes 52.7 inches of snowfall each winter.
It also offers its own Christmas market for locals and visitors to enjoy.
Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain and Big Bear Snow Play are open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nighttime Glow Tubing will begin at both locations Nov. 29.
Visit Santa & Mrs. Claus
Say hello to Santa & Mrs. Claus every weekend in The Village at Christmas Tree Corner. Christmas Tree Corner is located at the corner of Village Drive and Pine Knot Avenue.
Dec. 17-18. Head to Christkindlmarkt and celebrate the holidays with some long-standing German traditions. Located at the Big Bear Convention Center, 42900 Big Bear Blvd., Big Bear Lake, CA 92315. Think Oktoberfest but for the holidays.
Big Bear Lake Tree Lighting
Santa’s Grand Entrance and Tree Lighting Nov. 25, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Village Drive and Pine Knot Avenue.
New Year’s Eve Torchlight Parade
7 p.m.-Midnight. Snow Summit will host the 58th annual Torchlight Parade on Dec. 31. Admission to the parade viewing area is free and open to all ages. Live DJ and music. Watch 200-plus skiers and snowboarders light up the night as they make their way down the face of the mountain in the dark with torches to create a spellbinding spectacle of light before the (snow)ball drops to ring in the New Year.