Monterey County Shines for the Holidays
Events Throughout the Season Spread Cheer for Kids from 1 to 92

Monterey County offers an ideal getaway to light up the holiday season with indulgences in the arts, culture, food, wine and family-friendly activities.  Strap on those sleigh bells and hit the road - November and December are packed with events that evoke the feelings the holidays were meant to inspire.

Ice Skating by the Bay

Spend the day in a winter wonderland on Monterey Bay as this seasonal ice arena gears up for the holidays.  Located in Custom House Plaza, this must-do annual escape will make even a Grinch smile!  831.649.4511. November 18 – January 8.

Cannery Row 17th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony

Sleigh in for a full day of play along legendary Cannery Row.  Perched overlooking Monterey Bay in Steinbeck Plaza, this annual event showcases the season in all its glory.  Throughout the day, families can enjoy festive holiday music, family entertainment and a visit from the big guy in red, who flips the switch on the towering 25-foot holiday tree at 6:00 p.m.  Santa returns every weekend until Christmas Eve.    Free. November 25.

Salinas Holiday Parade of Lights

Kick off the season at the annual Salinas Holiday Parade of Lights, a spectacular family and community delight that attracts over 10,000 spectators. Parade entrants range from marching bands, floats and dancers to classic cars. The route winds up South Main Street and through Oldtown to the National Steinbeck Center.  November 27.

Christmas at the Inns

Known for its historic inns and architectural wonders, Pacific Grove steps up with the annual Christmas at the Inns showcasing 10 bed & breakfast inns decorated in Victoria-era splendor.   This evening walk is laced with period-style innkeepers, light refreshments and entertainment. Tickets are limited.  November 29-30.

Holiday Flashlight Tours at Wild Things
Curious as to how animals spend their holiday? Take a walk on the wild side with the holiday flashlight tours at Wild Things, a 50-acre exotic animal facility tucked deep in Steinbeck Country.  Meet live reindeer along with kangaroos, hyenas, lions, tigers, elephants and other animals.   Rumor has it that Santa himself will be dropping by. Warm refreshments and candy canes served after the tour. Reservations required: 800.228.7382. Throughout December.

10th Annual Holiday Parade of Lights in Pacific Grove

The lighted parade features marching bands, holiday floats, dance teams, equestrian groups and of course, Santa Claus. After the parade, stores will remain open for holiday shopping. Enjoy wagon rides, holiday photos with Santa and serenades by local carolers.  December 1.

Holiday Tree Lighting in Carmel-by-the-Sea

Devendorf Park and Carmel Plaza spike up the season with the annual tree lighting in downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea.  December 2.

The Christmas Ballet at Sunset Center

The Smuin Ballet Holiday Program hits a high note with The Christmas Ballet at Carmel’s stunning Sunset Center.  Charming, humorous and sexy dance pieces weave a story to time-honored favorites.  December 2 & 3.

Cowboy Poetry & Musical Festival

Pack those chaps and spurs for the 13th Annual Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Musical Festival.  Ride on in for a  wranglin’ good time sporting the nation’s top balladeers and cowboy/girl poets featured in a three-day weekend event including a western art and gear sale, Saturday night western hoedown and "cowboy" church service among other festivities. 800.722.9652.   December 2-4.

18th Annual Stillwell's Fun in the Park

For a winter wonderland getaway, Caledonia Park in downtown Pacific Grove sparks the senses with a fresh blanket of snow, festive holiday lights and plenty of cheer.  Special guests include Frosty the Snowman, Snow Queen and, of course, Santa’s arrival on a shiny Pacific Grove fire truck.  Families can also enjoy hayrides, a petting zoo and entertainment.  December 3.

Inns of Distinction Tour

Explore Carmel-by-the-Sea’s top inns on this annual holiday tour pairing food and beverage from local wineries and restaurants with festive holiday decor.  Eight properties will be showcased including the historic Pine Inn, Doris Day’s dog-friendly Cypress Inn and the Carmel County Inn.  Info:  Carmel Heritage Society, 831.624.4447.  December 4.

Lighted Boat Parade
The boats of Monterey Bay will be brilliantly decked out as they sail from the Coast Guard Pier past Cannery Row to Lover's Point. The ships compete for the coveted award for Best Decorations from the Monterey Bay Yacht Club at the end of the evening. Check out this unique, can't-miss event from along the Monterey and Pacific Grove coastline.  December 4.

Streets of Bethlehem

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.  Info:  831.422.9872 for more information.  December 7-10.

Monterey’s Christmas in the Adobes

Travel back to the 19th Century via the annual Christmas in the Adobes in historic Monterey.  This two-day event is a top draw in Monterey, showcasing 23 historic buildings in full seasonal regalia, with illuminated interiors and period costumes.   This is the only time of year many of these stunning structures are open to the public.  Key adobes include Casa Amesti, the Larkin House, Casa  Soberanes and the Old Whaling Station.  Info: 831.649.7120. December 8 & 10.

Jingle Bell Run
Spread the holiday spirit of giving with the Pacific Grove Chamber of Commerce and Arthritis Foundation as they host a 5K race (run or walk) at Lovers Point Park.  Strap on those jingle bells and hit the pavement to help raise funds to support the foundation. December 10.

First Night Monterey 2011 

First Night Monterey celebrates the lively arts scene in Monterey County with its 19th annual family-friendly celebration.  More than thirty venues hold concurrent performances and activities for both children and adults, culminating at Custom House Plaza to ring in the New Year.  Live music ranges from classical to Irish traditional to experimental hip-hop. There will be dance performances, great food and lots of surprises! December 31.

Enjoy your holiday in Monterey County!

[Back to Top]     [Back to Index]

Powered by WSI Inc. in partnership with Monte Gifford Design.