Unique experiences, family - friendly events, a festive atmosphere, and a spectacular setting help Santa Ynez Valley ring in the holiday season
(SANTA YNEZ VALLEY, Calif.)— Already a renowned wine and food destination that offers respite from busy day-to-day lives, the Santa Ynez Valley turns even more magical during the holiday season. The region’s small-town charms embody the holiday spirit, and the festive lights and decorations of a community that includes one of TIME magazine’s “9 Most Christmassy Towns in America” only accentuate the Valley’s natural beauty
Holiday events such as the lighting of a 75-foot redwood Christmas tree, gingerbread wonderlands, visits from Santa, strolls through truly unique shops and merchants, where one is sure to find a truly unique gift, and a holiday wine and beer walk only serve to make the season brighter. Comprised of the distinct communities of Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, and Solvang, just two hours from Los Angeles and a scenic four-hour drive from San Francisco, no place celebrates the holidays quite like the Santa Ynez Valley.
“While every season in the Santa Ynez Valley is special for its own unique reasons, the holiday season is among my favorite times to be here,” said Shelby Sim, executive director of Visit Santa Ynez Valley. “The atmosphere is festive and authentic. The entire community embraces the spirit of the season, and the result is a truly joyous and beautiful experience for residents and visitors alike.”
Following are a few of the events and festivals that will ring in the holiday season in the Santa Ynez Valley:
Santa Ynez Christmas Tree Lighting
Thursday, Dec. 1, from 4-5:30 p.m.
Santa Ynez Valley’s holiday cheer begins with the lighting of the largest Christmas Tree in the Valley. The evening begins with the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus in downtown Santa Ynez, and the atmosphere is filled with live entertainment and the smells of cookies and cider. The evening is capped with the lighting of a 75-foot redwood tree, offering an impressive start to Santa Ynez Valley’s holiday season.
Los Alamos Holiday Stroll
Friday, Dec. 2, 5-8 p.m.
Deck downtown Los Alamos with holiday cheer during the Los Alamos Holiday Stroll. Hosted by the Los Alamos Valley Men’s Club — a local philanthropic not-for-profit — the event begins with the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in the center of town. Christmas carols fill the air as you stroll through town perusing the offerings of Los Alamos merchants. From contemporary art, to fine, locally produced wines, to delicious cuisine, each unique Los Alamos business offers something to be discovered in a festive holiday atmosphere.
Events begin on Dec. 2 and held on select dates throughout December
All that gives Solvang its character — its small-town charms and Danish-American traditions — is made better and brighter during Julefest (pronounced yule-fest). The holiday season springs to life with the annual tree-light ceremony (Dec. 2) and the town sparkles with holiday cheer. The Solvang Julefest Parade and after-parade children’s performance (Dec. 3), and Community Nativity Pageant (Dec. 10) hearken back to holiday seasons gone by. And visits from Santa Claus to Santa Village in Solvang Park (Dec. 2-4, 10-11) and the Holiday Lights Tour (Dec. 13) offer children memories that will last forever. The Julefest Wine & Beer Walk (Dec. 10-11) is a festive event unique to Solvang, and every Christmas list can be fulfilled at Shop, Mingle & Jingle (Dec. 2-4, 9-11) and Third Wednesday and Farmer’s Market (Dec. 21).
Los Olivos Olde Fashioned Christmas
Saturday, Dec. 3, from 1-8 p.m.
Los Olivos drips with holiday warmth and spirit all season long, and it starts with one festive day that all in the family will enjoy. Start the day at St. Mark’s In-The-Valley Episcopal Church and its Gingerbread Wonderland, with gingerbread houses decorated by local artisans and school children. Find truly unique gifts at Artisan Boutique in the Grange. And kids will love a ride on Summerset Farm & Dale’s Train at Lavinia Park, and a visit from Santa Claus downtown and at St. Mark’s. The town comes alive with the official lighting of the Los Olivos Christmas Tree.
Buellton Winter Fest
Sunday, Dec. 4, from 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
The mild climate of the Santa Ynez Valley may never bring snow. But with a holiday village that piles some 20 tons of snow for all to enjoy, the dream of a white Christmas is indeed possible at the Buellton Winter Fest. The Winter Fest begins with Breakfast with Santa and ends with a spectacular light parade and the traditional Buellton Christmas Tree Lighting. In between, enjoy food trucks, vendors, holiday libations, and all the snow in the Holiday Village.
Planning a trip to the Santa Ynez Valley during the holiday season is simple at visitsyv.com, where visitors can research events and attractions, book lodging and activities, and create a custom travel itinerary.
About the Santa Ynez Valley:
Barely two hours from Los Angeles and a scenic four-hour drive from San Francisco, the Santa Ynez Valley feels worlds apart from both. With six distinct communities encompassing everything from classic California wine country to Northern European traditions to the very best of the Old West, the Santa Ynez Valley is home to endless possibilities. Here in and around the towns of Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, and Solvang visitors will find more than 100 wineries, incredible food, special events and a unique, rich heritage. For more information, including a complete listing of wedding venues, restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms and events, go to VisitSYV.com.