The weather outside may get frightful, but our parks are still delightful! California State Parks up and down the state are celebrating the holidays with family-friendly events guaranteed to grow the heart of any Grinch grumbling at the end of your holiday table. Find one near you:
Throughout the month of December the California State Capitol Museum hosts holiday music from a diverse array of performers including the Camellia City Flute Choir and the Golden State Accordion Club. View the full schedule on the Capitol Museum’s Event Calendar.
If you’re on the Capitol Grounds on Wednesday, December 5, be sure to head to the West Steps of the Capitol by 4:30 for the 81st annual lighting of the Capitol Christmas Tree. It’s an event sure to bring out the holiday spirit in anyone.
Miner’s Christmas, December 8 and 9, 15 and 16: Sit around a campfire drinking hot cider or coffee and join in conversations with miners as they roast chestnuts. Children can make some favorite crafts of the 1850s and keep an eye out for Father Christmas! For more information call 209-588-9128.
Christmas Equestrian Parade, December 9: Sponsored by the Mid-Valley Unit of the Back Country Horsemen. Call 209-599-2620 for more information.
Las Posadas Nativity Procession, December 9: Since 1983 the people of Columbia have put on their own version of Las Posadas each December-with a distinctive 1850s flavor. Characters in this re-enactment include Mary and Joseph and their donkey, the three Wise Men, tax collector and innkeeper, and miners and musicians and other costumed townspeople. Columbia’s Main Street is decorated for the Christmas season, and luminaria light the way for the procession, while on-lookers hold candles and join in singing Christmas carols. For more information, call 209-536-1672.
Merry Merchants, December 14: The Columbia Chamber of Commerce invites you to enjoy an evening of old-fashioned Christmas charm in Columbia! Shop in the tradition of times gone by without the hustle and hassle of malls or traffic jams. Listen to Christmas carols and songs performed by local children, delight in traditional tastes-roasted chestnuts, hot gingerbread, and more. Enjoy a free carriage ride on decorated Main Street. Call 209-536-1672 or visit http://columbiacalifornia.com.
Winter Solstice Hike, December 21: Join Crystal Cove State Park docents for a Winter Solstice hike on Friday, December 21 at 6:30pm. Enjoy the rising moon over Moro ridge on this moderate 2 hour hike. Meet at the Moro Amphitheater (PCH inland at stoplight School-State Park.) Wear sturdy shoes, bring water, and dress in layers. Flashlights should have red lenses. $15 day-use fee. Call (949) 494-3539 for more information.
Una Noche de Las Posadas, December 14: Las Posadas (The Inns) is the time-honored reenactment of Joseph and Mary’s search for shelter in Bethlehem as it was once celebrated in Early California and is still observed throughout Mexico and South America. Join in this rich cultural tradition, experiencing first-hand the way in which Santa Barbara’s earliest Spanish and Mexican residents celebrated Christmas with song and food. Starts: 7PM, El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park Ends: Casa de la Guerra Historic House Museum. For more information (805) 965-0093 or www.sbthp.org.
Holiday Gift and Craft Faire—The Mountain Parks Foundation 20th Annual Holiday Fundraiser, December 8 and 9: Nature’s Beauty and the joy of the season meet as you shop for nature-themed gifts at the 20th annual Holiday Gift and Craft Faire at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Enjoy crafters and artisans, unique gifts, raffle prizes, hot beverages, baked goods and holiday cheer! Proceeds benefit environmental and cultural education in our local state parks. More information is available at (831) 335-3174 and online at www.mountainparks.org.
Lights on the Lake Holiday Boat Parade, December 8: 14th Annual “Lights on the Lake” holiday boat parade from 5 to 9 p.m. at the launch ramp 6. There will be several best-decorated boat competitions, DJ, food beverages, Kid’s activities and a special appearance by Santa Claus.
Judges will award one annual Lake Perris day use / boat launch pass to the winner of each category of vessel. There is free admission for all contestants and anyone donating an unwrapped toy valued at $10 or a $10 donation toward the purchase of children’s wagons which will benefit Loma Linda Children’s Hospital. Boaters will meet in Lot 6 and will need to be in the water before 4:30 p.m. Pre-Registration is recommended. Call 951-940-5600 for more information or email us at LPSRA@parks.ca.gov.
Christmas in the Adobes 2012, December 7 and 8: Stroll thought the streets of Historic Downtown Monterey and visit 19th C. adobes for fandango dance lessons at Custom House, or bagpipes and cookies at Robert Louis Stevenson House. Refreshments, games history and fun await the entire family during Monterey’s signature holiday event. Ticket Prices – $20 Adult 18 and over; $2 Youth ages 6-17; Children 5-and-under free. Proceeds benefit Monterey State Historic Park children’s educational programs. Events run 5 to 9pm each night. For more information call the Monterey State Historic Park office at (831) 649-7118.
Holiday in the Park, December 15: Live action performances, caroling around the fire, music, dancing, and more. All of the State Park stores and restaurants are represented by Old town Park Merchants Association, will be open and richly decorated. Enjoy special holiday treats, activities, and extended shopping hours.
Las Posadas, December 16: This centuries-old tradition is being celebrated in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park for the 62nd Consecutive year. Please join the Park Merchants Association as they reenact the Biblical journey of Mary and Joseph through the town of Bethlehem. The event begins at 2pm with carolers and children’s choirs in the state park, with the live theatrical procession starting promptly at 4pm. A piñata party for all the children follows at 5pm. Make this a new holiday tradition for your family. It is sure to be a night you will remember.
Bonfire Nights, December 15, 16, and December 26 through 30: Winter evenings are a reason to celebrate in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.Join Carolers and other performers from dusk to 9pm. Free s’mores round the bonfire are the highlight of the evening.
Santa by Daylight Train Rides, December 15 and 16: Get into the holiday spirit with a special “Santa By Daylight” train ride at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown! Guests will enjoy a historic train ride with Santa on board as well as entertainment by Railtown 1897′s “Roving Fiddler” Dave Rainwater. Don’t miss your chance to relax and enjoy a special holiday journey for all ages. Plus, while visiting Railtown 1897 SHP, don’t forget to stop by the Museum Store for popular holiday gift items such as Thomas the Tank Engine trains, toys, books and more! For tickets or more information about “Santa by Daylight” train rides, call 209-984-3953 or visit www.railtown1897.org today!
Holidays on the Ranch!, December 15: Wilder Ranch State Park creates the perfect atmosphere for friends, family and visitors to come together to celebrate the warmth of the holiday season with crafts, games, music and merriment from the early 20th century on Saturday, December 15, from 11:00a.m. to 3:00p.m. We’ll busy your hands with holiday wreath-making, invite you to join in an old-fashioned sing-along around the player piano, and provide you with materials to make Victorian and Mexican holiday crafts. Come play games like dreidel, take a draft-horse carriage ride, decorate the tree or create ornaments to bring home to your own tree while spending the day on the grounds of the cultural preserve at beautiful, historic, Wilder Ranch State Park.