Monterey County's Top Holiday Events
Holiday celebrations in Monterey County bring back memories of a golden era and create new memories to last a lifetime. Here, the holiday season is centered around beautiful lights, the joy of sharing and simple pleasures like a cup of hot cocoa with an ocean view.
Late November and early December are packed with events that evoke the feelings these holidays were meant to engender. We could keep them all to ourselves, but in the spirit of holiday sharing, we invite you to join in the good cheer with us!
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Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival Friday, November 21 - Sunday, November 23
Pack those chaps and spurs for a wranglin' good time with some of the nation's top balladeers and cowboy/girl poets featured during the Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival. The three-day event hosts several great shows, open mic sessions, a western art and gear sale, a Saturday night western hoedown, silent auction and "cowboy" church service among other festivities.
Ice Skating by the BaySaturday, November 22 - Sunday, January 4
Custom House Plaza transforms into a winter wonderland this season for Ice Skating by the Bay. Enjoy the outdoor ice rink well into the New Year! Admission is $10 for children and $12 for adults.
Cannery Row Holiday Tree LightingFriday, November 28, 5:00pm-8:00pm
Santa sleighs in for a full day of play along legendary Cannery Row. The festivities begin at Steinbeck Plaza overlooking Monterey Bay at 5pm with balloon artists, Christmas carolers and reindeer. Stick around until 6pm when Santa flips the switch on a towering 25-foot holiday tree.
Salinas Holiday Parade of LightsSunday, November 30, 6:00pm
Kick off your holidays at the annual Salinas family and community delight that attracts over 10,000 spectators. Parade entrants range from marching bands, floats and dancers to walking groups and classic cars. The route winds up South Main Street and through Oldtown to the National Steinbeck Center. Celebrity announcers keep you well informed during the festivities.
Pacific Grove Christmas Tree LightingMonday, December 1, 5:30pm-7:30pm
Come to Pacific Grove for an old-fashioned Christmas tree lighting! The town Christmas tree is located at Jewell Park, at the corner of Central and Forest Avenues. Don't forget to visit Santa's Christmas Party at Chautauaqua Hall for refreshments, live entertainment and a dance show.
Christmas at the InnsTuesday, December 2 and Wednesday, December 3, 6:00pm-9:00pm
It's Pacific Grove at its most picturesque, as ten of the town's bed and breakfasts and inns deck their halls and open their doors so you can share their holiday cheer in Victorian-era splendor. Each and every location will have great live music and tasty holiday treats! A limited number of tickets are available. Admission is $20. Please call 831-373-3304 or visit the official website to reserve your spot.
Streets of BethlehemWednesday, December 3 - Saturday, December 6, 6:00pm-8:30pm
Step into the Nativity story, as 200 re-enactors, along with live animals and musical groups, recreate the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. Volunteers from the First Baptist Church of Salinas recreate the entire town of Bethlehem to provide visitors with a truly immersive experience.
Monterey's Tree LightingThursday, December 4, 5:00pm
Historic Downtown Monterey's Traditional Christmas Tree Lighting will include carols, candles, cookies, cider and good cheer. The festivities will be from 5pm to 6pm on December 4th in front of Colton Hall.
Holiday Parade of LightsThursday, December 4, 6:00pm-9:00pm
An annual tradition, Pacific Grove's Holiday Parade of Lights is a fun hometown parade down "Main Street, USA." This lighted parade includes floats, marching bands, dance troupes, equestrian performances and Santa Claus. After the parade, carolers will walk through the streets of downtown Pacific Grove as local businesses stay open well into the evening for the holiday celebration.
Carmel-by-the-Sea Christmas Tree LightingFriday, December 5, 3:00pm
Carmel-by-the-Sea lights up the night with a special tree lighting ceremony at Devendorf Park. The festivities kick off at 3:00pm at the Sunset Center with complimentary wine, cookies and coffee. The tree lighting ceremony begins at 4:30pm in Devendorf Park with plenty of entertainment, refreshments and a visit from Santa Claus! After the tree is lit at 5:45pm stop by Carmel Plaza for their annual open house with live entertainment and refreshments.
Christmas in the AdobesFriday, December 5 and Saturday, December 6, 5:00pm-9:00pm
Step back into Monterey's past during Christmas in the Adobes. See the adobes by candlelight and enjoy refreshments and live performances as volunteers in period attire welcome you into historic homes decorated in historical style. The twenty 19th-century adobes, lit by luminaries and enhanced with period decorations, are within an easy walk of each other. Learn while you celebrate; docents and volunteers will be on hand to tell the story of each of these charming buildings, many of which are only open to the public during this celebration.
Tickets are $20 for adults through October 31st and $25 after. Tickets are $2 for children ages 6-17 (must be accompanied by a paying adult), and free for children ages 5 and under. Buy tickets online.
Stillwell's Fun in the ParkSaturday, December 6, 10:00am-4:00pm
Caledonia Park in downtown Pacific Grove behind the Post Office will be full of wintry fun for all! Fun in the Park features Santa's arrival on a shiny Pacific Grove fire truck, Frosty the Snowman, hayrides, a petting zoo & lots of entertainment.
Inns of DistinctionSunday, December 7, 2:00pm-5:00pm
Several quaint inns and B&Bs in Carmel-by-the-Sea open their doors this afternoon for the Inns of Distinction tour. Featured inns include Carmel Country Inn, Happy Landing Inn, Tally Ho, Candlelight Inn, Cypress Inn, La Playa Carmel, Coachman's Inn and Wayside Inn. Guests will also enjoy delicious food from Flaherty's, the Grill on Ocean Avenue, Portabella, Terry's Lounge, La Playa Bar and Mundaka while sipping savory wines from Cima Collina, Scheid and more. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door.
Brighten the Harbor Boat ParadeSunday, December 7, 5:30pm-8:00pm
Monterey Yacht Club's lighted boat parade, "Brighten the Harbor" will be held on Sunday, December 7. Watch the decorated boats cruise along Monterey Bay's coastline from 5:30pm-8:00pm.
Seaside's Winter WonderlandFriday, December 12, 6:00pm
Celebrate the season with the City of Seaside during their Winter Wonderland Celebration! Don't miss arts and crafts, hay rides, official tree lighting, ice skating and a visit from Santa!
Jingle Bell Run with SantaSaturday, December 13, 8:00am-11:00am
Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce and the Arthritis Foundation introduce a festive Jingle Bell 5K race (run or walk) at Lovers Point Park. Have fun with Santa, tie jingle bells to your shoes, and help raise funds to support the foundation.
Santa's Fly-InSaturday, December 13, 10:30am
Santa and Mrs. Claus fly-in by helicopter direct from the North Pole to Carmel Valley Village Airfield! There they'll board their sleigh and lead a parade through Carmel Valley Village. The parade is filled with horses, the Carmel Valley Kiwanis Club train, unique autos and more! Afterwards kids can head to the Carmel Valley Youth Center for a photo with jolly Old Saint Nick.
Christmas Dinners Thursday, December 25
Leave the stress of the holidays to the fabulous restaurants in Monterey County! Several eateries remain open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to serve up delicious seasonal meals. See the full list the "Best Christmas Dinners in Monterey County 2014" blog.
First Night Monterey Wednesday, December 31
First Night Monterey celebrates the lively arts scene in Monterey County with its family-friendly celebration of the arts on New Years Eve. Over thirty venues hold concurrent performances and activities for both children and adults, culminating in a convergence on Custom House Plaza, Monterey State Historic Park to ring in 2015. Live music ranges from classical to Irish traditional to experimental hip-hop.
New Year's Eve Dinners and & Celebrations Wednesday, December 31
Ring in the New Year in style! If you're looking for a large celebration, or an intimate one, you can find it at one of the hot spots listed in the "Best New Year's Eve Celebrations in Monterey County 2014" blog.
Rio Grill's Resolution Run Thursday, January 1
Live up to your New Year's resolutions with a run to kick off the beginning of 2015 during Rio Grill's Resolution Run! This 6.5 mile foot race and 3-mile family fun run are set on a breathtaking cross-country course. The race begins at Rio Grill in Carmel, CA.