Carmel-by-the-Sea welcomes the holiday season with the annual Holiday Tree Lighting party at Devendorf Park. Get there early to get a good view and enjoy the live entertainment. 4:30pm, Devendorf Park (Ocean Avenue and Junipero St.), Carmel-by-the-Sea. Free.
The Salinas First Fridays Art Walk features live entertainment, art and free refreshments at venues throughout Oldtown Salinas. 5pm-8pm, 100-300 blocks of Main Street and surrounding blocks, Salinas. Free.
Get "into the Grove" at Pacific Grove's Friday Night Lights celebration. Shops will stay open late and feature music and live entertainment. Soak in the great downtown Pacific Grove decorations. You may even get to meet Santa Claus! 5pm-8pm, blocks around the intersection of Forest and Lighthouse, Pacific Grove. Free.
Enjoy an old-fashioned Christmas celebration at The Farm. Take a moonlight hayride, sip hot cider, eat cookies and sing carols around a bonfire. 6-9pm. The Farm, Spreckels Boulevard and Highway 68, Salinas. Free.
The Smuin Ballet's annual holiday program, "The Christmas Ballet," features dances ranging from the classical to the kooky and music ranging from classical to "Santa Baby" to Elvis' "Blue Christmas" to klezmer. It's a great holiday tradition at the Sunset Center. 8pm, Sunset Center, San Carlos Street at Ninth Avenue, Carmel-by-the Sea. $49 and $59. Tickets are available online.
Attention all party people! This Saturday is Monterey's official Burning Man event, True Grit — this city's funkiest event of the year. Hundreds of people will gather at Del Monte Beach to dance to twelve hours of music, show off their amazing and outrageous outfits, see and create cool art and entertainment, and more. When night falls, fire dancers will put on an amazing display on the beach. The mantra of Burning Man is "participate," so put on your wildest clothes, head down and to lend a hand or bring creative works of your own to share. 10am-10pm, Del Monte Beach (on Del Monte Avenue across from El Estero). $10 suggested donation.
Playing in the snow is fun — but it's even more fun when it's a balmy 60 degrees out. Head to Caledonia Park in Pacific Grove for the 17th annual Stillwell's Snow in the Park. Meet the Snow Queen, Frosty the Snowman and Santa, take a hayride, enjoy live entertainment and enjoy the petting zoo. 10am to 4pm, Caledonia Park (Caledonia Avenue and Central Avenue), Pacific Grove. Free.
There's two more chances to experience the Smuin Ballet's fantastic Holiday Program at the Sunset Center, featuring dance to every kind of holiday music from classical to klezmer. 2pm and 8pm, Sunset Center, San Carlos Street at Ninth Avenue, Carmel-by-the Sea. $49 and $59. Tickets are available online.
The story of how Monterey Bay came to be the beautiful aquatic playground that it is today is a fascinating tale full of colorful characters including salty fishermen, hard-living scientists like Doc Ricketts, and an axe-wielding mayor. Dr. Steve Palumbi, who is both a fascinating storyteller and the Director of the Stanford Hopkins Marine Station, will tell highlights from the story of Monterey Bay. 3pm, Chautauqua Hall, Central and 16th, Pacific Grove. $5.
Carmel Valley hosts its annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, with refreshments and caroling. 4:30pm, Carmel Valley Community Park (entrance off West Carmel Valley Road northwest of Pilot Road), Carmel Valley. Free.
The Carmel Art Association hosts its Holiday Open House, featuring hundreds of small paintings by member artists. 6pm-8pm, Carmel Art Association, Dolores between 5th and 6th, Carmel-by-the-Sea. Free.
The Listening Place, Reader's Theater performs holiday storytelling selections including A Child's Christmas in Wales, Gift of the Magi and A Christmas Memory at the Monterey Museum of Art, La Mirada. 1:30pm, 720 Via Mirada, Monterey. Included in admission fee.
Visit eight of Carmel-by-the-Sea's finest inns, sample food from eight of its best restaurants and sip wine from eight of the area's great wineries at the Carmel Heritage Society'sInns of Distinction Tour. 2pm-5pm, throughout Carmel-by-the-Sea. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 on the day of the event and can be purchased online.