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Rice Ranch Holiday Lights & Events: Discover the Magic

selective focus photo of Happy Holidays board decor

If you’re looking for Christmassy towns and holiday lights, you’re in the right place on the Central Coast. There are plenty of visits with Santa, tree lighting, a drive-thru light show, holiday parades, winter snowfall, Julefest traditions, tons of gift shopping, and more. (And by more, we mean candlelight tours and Danish elves.)

Living in the Santa Maria Valley means you can visit them all! You can also grab dinner and a drink, and check out local wineries and breweries at the same time.

Read on for the list of Christmas and holiday events near us!

Pismo Beach Holiday Harmony

Friday, December 1st

This free event is an evening of family friendly entertainment from 5:30 -7:30PM at the Pismo Beach Pier Plaza! This year’s event will include our tree lighting ceremony, Santa Claus, 2 snow zones, and activities for the kids. The first 250 children in the Santa Line will receive goody bags compliments of Pismo Beach Recreation. This event is free to all and begins at 5:30PM. Food & beverages will be available for purchase, please leave pets at home.

Arroyo Grande Christmas in the Village

Saturday, November 25th through Thursday, December 21st

Visit Santa at Historical Society’s Heritage House and Gardens, plus attend the Elegant Evening December 10th in the Historic Village of Arroyo Grande. It’s a fun time for visitors to celebrate the season as they tour the Village, do some holiday shopping, enjoy local fare, live music, and spirits. This is a magical evening you don’t want to miss and a wonderful opportunity to dress in festive attire if you’d like, enjoy the holiday celebration, beautiful Christmas lighting and decor, and find unique gifts while experiencing the warm, welcoming hospitality of Arroyo Grande.

Christmas In The Country in Santa Maria

Starts Friday, November 24th and runs on all Fridays & Saturdays of December

Elks Recreation and the City of Santa Maria invite you to the 4th annual “Christmas in the County” lights festival at the Elks Rodeo Grounds in Santa Maria with festive scenes and dancing lights. There are two ways to experience this magical magical holiday light experience at the Elks Event Center: drive through the displays presented by local businesses and families (and never get out of your car!) or on a wagon ride through the winter wonderland, the “VIP Christmas Experience,” the jolliest adventure on the Central Coast. Ride in an open-air wagon, pulled by a tractor, through the entire Christmas in the Country display, while enjoying holiday goodies and hot chocolate. You won’t want to miss this experience!

There will also be Santa’s Mailbox, where children can drop their letters to Santa for delivery! Then, keep watching your own mailbox for a letter back from Santa Claus.

Watch the video here!

Elks Rodeo Grounds are located at 4040 Highway 101 in Santa Maria ( hours vary, so check the website for details ).

Old Town Orcutt Christmas Parade

December 9, 2023, 12 pm Weather Permitting

The Old Town Orcutt Christmas Parade has been a holiday favorite since 1961. Started by the volunteer fire department, the parade remains a small town afternoon event. A small group of volunteers form the Orcutt Community parade organize the parade. The Orcutt Lions Club also help with the planning and organization. They are joined by many more community members on parade day. You’ll see kids, dogs, floats, animals, cars, bands and our special guest Santa. Join us on the second Saturday of December at high noon as we celebrate Christmas the Old Town Orcutt way.

Holiday Tree Lighting in Los Olivos & Santa Ynez

On Thursday, Nov. 30, enjoy a Santa Ynez Country Christmas beginning at 4:00 pm. in the courtyard of the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum. There will be music, a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, performances by the Fossemalle Studio dancers, holiday treats, and more. The 55-foot redwood tree will be lit at 6:00 pm. on Sagunto Street.

On Saturday, Dec. 2 in Los Olivos, start the holiday season with the warm & friendly small-town fun of an Olde Fashioned Christmas! Enjoy holiday open houses and refreshments (and even some snow!) at downtown businesses, meet Santa for photos, check out the Gingerbread Wonderland, and then head to the park in the center of town at 6 p.m. for the tree lighting. Tasting rooms and shops will be open late for your enjoyment, plus restaurants will all be open for dinner.

Solvang’s Danish Julefest Holiday Celebration

November 24 through January 6, 2024

Photo by Solvang USA

Solvang’s Danish-style month-long Holiday Celebration has tons of family fun, music, shopping, culinary delights, wine & beer, and more Skål (Danish-style mulled wine)! The big weekend of events will be December 2 – 4 with a tree lighting ceremony, visits with Santa, and a town-wide holiday parade. You can also experience Holiday Light Shows nightly, Holiday Music and dancers, a Night Market, a Christmas Pageant, and other fun holiday experiences for the whole family.

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. Get the schedule here.

Tree Lighting Ceremony
December 1, 5-6:30 pm

Kick off the holiday season with the annual Tree Lighting Friday night. The Lighting takes place at Solvang Park (First Street and Mission Drive), in the heart of Downtown Solvang. It includes ballerinas, live entertainment, caroling, and the much-anticipated arrival of Santa Claus for visits and photos.

Julefest Parade
December 2, 11am

Watch parade floats along the village streets Saturday morning, with marching bands, horses, antique cars, dancers and more. There are more than 400 parade participants! After the parade, there’s another free opportunity to meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

Nisse Adventure
Nov. 24-Jan. 6, anytime

This is a city-wide holiday scavenger hunt for the whole family finding the mischievous Solvang Nisse (Danish for “gnome”). This group of Nisser have hidden themselves throughout Downtown Solvang and you’ll get a prize for tracking them down. Find one or find them all as you enjoy one of the “Most Christmassy Towns in America” (Time Magazine).

Meet Santa, Free Photos
Saturdays, December 2 (2pm-4pm), 9, 16 & 23, 12pm-4pm

Come on out to Solvang Park with your little ones to meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus with Christmas lists ready! Pictures with Santa are free to all, as are all Santa’s Village activities. Enjoy this walkable downtown with its Christmas lights, and fun retail and restaurant locations.

Candlelight & Trolley Tours
Select Saturdays in December

Travel up and down the streets of Solvang, singing carols and learning popular Danish traditions on a holiday candlelight tour. This is a guided tour where you’ll hold an LED candle and walk the downtown, learning about Solvang, listening to Christmas carols, and experiencing the sights and sounds of Christmas.

Enjoy the magic of the holidays in a Trolley Tour of Christmas lights through the Santa Ynez Valley! Featuring fresh hot chocolate, and a jolly good time.

Get more info on Solvang Julefest events here.

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