Holiday Events in Monterey County

This page has all the events that took place in 2016. Bookmark this page and return to get information about 2017's 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!

Click here for even more holiday events.

Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival

Friday, November 18 - Sunday, November 20

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 Bay

Saturday, November 19 - Sunday, January 1

Enjoy the splendor of winter with views of the Monterey Bay! Ice Skating by the Bay returns this year at Custom House Plaza near Old Fisherman's Wharf for several weeks of ice rink fun!

Cannery Row Holiday Tree Lighting

Friday, November 25, 5:00pm-9:00pm

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 Christmas carolers and live reindeer. Stick around until 6pm when Santa flips the switch on a towering 25-foot holiday tree.

Salinas Holiday Parade of Lights

Sunday, November 27, 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 Lighting

Monday, November 28, 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 Chautauqua Hall for refreshments, live entertainment and a dance show.

Christmas at the Inns

Tuesday, November 29 and Wednesday, November 30, 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.

Holiday Parade of Lights

Thursday, December 1, 6:00pm-7:00pm

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 Lighting

Friday, December 2, 3:30pm

Carmel-by-the-Sea lights up the night with a special tree lighting ceremony at Devendorf Park. The tree lighting ceremony begins at 3:30pm 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.  

Colton Hall Christmas Tree Lighting 

Friday, December 2, 5:00pm-6:00pm

Watch downtown Monterey flip the switch on the Christmas Tree at Colton Hall this afternoon. The tree lighting ceremony will be full of cheer including carols, candles, cookies and cider.

Marina's Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration

Friday, December 2, 6:00pm-7:30pm

Marina celebrates the season with their annual Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration at Vince DiMaggio Park. The evening will be full of caroling around the living Christmas tree, musical entertainment, s'mores around an open fire, fresh cookies, hot apple cider and a special appearance from Santa.

Smuin Ballet's The Christmas Ballet

Friday, December 2 at 8:00pm and Saturday, December 2 at 2:00pm

Light up the holiday season with a stellar performance from the Smuin Ballet at the Sunset Center! This holiday-themed program is filled with a stunning and original array of ballet, tap and jazz.

Christmas on the Wharf

Friday, December 2 - Sunday, December 18

Old Fisherman's Wharf invites you for some festive cheer with special holiday entertainment, sweet treats, free Santa “meet and greet” visits, holiday princesses and much more! “Christmas on the Wharf” occurs on Friday evenings from 5pm-9pm, Saturdays from 11am-9pm and Sundays from 11am-9pm.

Stillwell's Fun in the Park

Saturday, December 3, 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. 

Santa's Live Reindeer in Downtown Monterey

Saturday, December 3, 12:00pm-4:00pm

Visit with Santa and his Christmas reindeer under the Golden State Theatre in Old Monterey. It's a perfect time for holiday gifts, treats, and good cheer!


Inns of Distinction

Sunday, December 4, 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. Stroll the streets of Carmel and visit charming inns while sampling tastings from some of the area's finest restaurants and wine tasting rooms.

Brighten the Harbor Boat Parade

Sunday, December 4, 6:00pm-8:00pm

Watch decked out boats cruise along Monterey Bay's scenic coastline during the Monterey Yacht Club's lighted boat parade.

Streets of Bethlehem

Wednesday, December 7 - Saturday, December 10, 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.

Seaside's Winter Wonderland & Tree Lighting

Friday, December 9, 6:00pm-9:00pm

Celebrate the Christmas season in the City of Seaside! The annual Winter Wonderland Celebration and Tree Lighting Ceremony features ice skating, interactive crafts, hay rides, a petting zoo and a special visit from Santa.

Christmas in the Adobes

Friday, December 9 and Saturday, December 10, 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 $25 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-17 (must be accompanied by a paying adult), and free for children ages 5 and under. Buy tickets online

Jingle Bell Run with Santa

Saturday, December 10, 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-In

Saturday, December 10, 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! Afterward, kids can head to the Carmel Valley Youth Center for a photo with jolly Old Saint Nick.

Christmas Dinners

Sunday, 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. Click here to see the full list.

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