Travel Blog

CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAY SEASON IN SANTA CRUZ COUNTY!

Photo courtesy of @beachhouserental

The holiday spirit has hit Santa Cruz County and we’ve got a sleigh full of family fun to celebrate the season! The Holiday Lights Train, the Winter Wonderland at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, loads of outdoor Holiday Markets, Drive-In Holiday Movies, and more, we’ve got all the festive holiday events you won’t want to miss!

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS: HOLIDAY LIGHTS
November 19 – December 26
The Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds Foundation and the Agricultural History Project will again present HOLIDAY LIGHTS 2021 at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds. Starting November 19, 2021 – Holiday Lights will be open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in November and Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in December.
HOLIDAY LIGHTS is over a 1/2 mile drive-through experience at the Fairgrounds of spectacular lighted Holiday displays all around you. Giant Christmas trees twinkling with lights – Santa – reindeer – snowmen – lighted tunnels and many more magical moments. Stay in your warm car and drive through this Holiday Experience.
The event is open on  Hours from 5:30pm to 9:00pm. We will be open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Evening to add to your Holiday Festivities. Purchase tickets here.

SANTA CRUZ BEACH BOARDWALK: “THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS”
November 19 @ 6:30pm – 9pm
Enjoy a screening of The Nightmare Before Christmas movie on the beach in front of the arcades!

SANTA CRUZ HOLIDAY LIGHTS TRAIN
November 26 – 27, December 4 – 5, December 11 – 12, December 17 – 23
The seasonal tradition returns to Santa Cruz with the Santa Cruz Holiday Lights Train. Vintage excursion cars, adorned with thousands of colorful lights, roll through city streets past homes of Santa Cruz. Holiday Lights Train runs on November 26-27, December 4-5, December 11-12, December 17-23.

WEST CLIFF HOLIDAY OUTDOOR MARKET 2021
November 26 – 27
The holidays are upon us and what better to celebrate! Come enjoy West Cliff Holiday Outdoor Market which will feature unique artisans and local food trucks. This one-of-a-kind market will be held in two parking lots along West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz. This is always a popular spot for locals and tourists, as it overlooks the famous Steamers Lane surf spot. Enjoy the fresh air as you stroll among many artisan booths and specialty food while taking in the view. Come enjoy the LIVE MUSIC and admission is FREE!

SANTA CRUZ BEACH BOARDWALK: WINTER WONDERLAND
November 26 – January 2
Get in the holiday spirit – celebrate the season at the beach!
Activities Include: Selection of Boardwalk Rides, Games, and Arcades, Festive Holiday Decorations and Lights (Including a 3-story tall Christmas tree!), Photos with Santa, Delicious Boardwalk Treats, Boardwalk Racers: Pedal Karts in the Main Plaza, Fire Pit Rentals & Holiday S’Mores, Holiday Fun Package (includes MyBoardwalk Card and a photo with Santa), Holiday Shopping, Classic Holiday Movies (Rotated at Neptune’s Stage 5–7pm), and don’t forget the breathtaking beach view!
Hours and Dates: 12pm – 5pm: November 26 – 28 (Friday – Sunday); December 4 – 19 (Saturday & Sunday); December 20 – 24 (Monday – Thursday); December 26 – January 2 (Sunday – Sunday)

ROARING CAMP RAILROADS: DRIVE IN MOVIES “ELF”
November 26 – 27 @ 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Roaring Camp Railroads is proud to present Drive-In Movie Nights in the Redwoods. We will be showing your favorite family-friendly movies, surrounded by the beautiful redwood forest, in the heart of Roaring Camp. Be sure to dress warmly. Movie dates will be weather-dependent. Must tune into a radio station to listen. Movie refreshments will be available for purchase.

ROARING CAMP RAILROADS: HOLIDAY TREE WALK
November 27 – 28; December 4 – 5; December 11 – 12; December 18 – 19
Get in the holiday spirit by bringing the family to ride the Redwood Forest Steam Train through the wintry redwoods to Bear Mountain. Sip hot cocoa while greeting Santa Claus. In town, enjoy winter-themed activities.

SCM MAKERS MARKET IN FELTON
November 27 @ 10am – 4pm
Shop local this season at the Santa Cruz Mountain Makers Market in Felton! Located at 6134 Highway 9 in downtown FELTON (across from Rite Aid) at the Mountain Community Resources Lot. Hours- 10am-4pm and admission is FREE! Friendly, leashed pups are also welcome. Visit their website for the full lineup of vendors: www.scmmakersmarket.com | @scmmakersmarket.

SANTA CRUZ BEACH BOARDWALK: OPEN AIR MARKET
November 27 @ 11am – 5pm
Support local artisans and direct sales representatives while shopping at this unique ocean view market at the Boardwalk!

SEASCAPE BEACH RESORT: TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY
November 27 @ 4:30pm – 6pm
Tree Lighting Ceremony on the bluff at Seascape Beach Resort. Ring in the holidays with complimentary Hot Apple Cider (spiked if you like) and lite bites.

CHANUKAH TRAIN
November 28
Santa Cruz Holiday Lights Trains depart and return in front of Neptune’s Kingdom on the Boardwalk of Santa Cruz at 5:00pm, 6:30, and 8:00 pm for a 60-minute round-trip excursion. Departure times added without notice. Click HERE to check for day/time availability. Adult tickets are $35; kids are $30.

TANNERY ARTS CENTER: WINTER ART MARKET
December 4 @ 10am – 5pm
The Winter Art Market at the Tannery Arts Center returns the first weekend of December! Find the perfect holiday gift as you peruse one-of-a-kind creations by local artists. Enjoy live music and on-site food truck as you explore the Small Works show at Radius Gallery, art demonstrations, and over 15 open artist studios. Find everything from ceramics, jewelry, and sculpture to painting, prints, and apparel. The Market is on, rain or shine, with plenty of available parking and a family-friendly atmosphere.

BARGETTO WINERY: ART IN THE CELLARS
December 4 – 5 @ 11am – 5pm
Join us for our Annual Art in the Cellars Holiday Festival. Over 20 local artists will have their art on display in our cellars; sip wine while you stroll the historic cellars and enjoy the beautiful artwork. Admission is free, wine tasting with the purchase of a festival glass, food available for purchase.

ROARING CAMP RAILROADS: DRIVE IN MOVIES “POLAR EXPRESS”
December 4 @ 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Roaring Camp Railroads is proud to present Drive-In Movie Nights in the Redwoods. We will be showing your favorite family-friendly movies, surrounded by the beautiful redwood forest, in the heart of Roaring Camp. Be sure to dress warmly. Movie dates will be weather-dependent. Must tune into a radio station to listen. Movie refreshments will be available for purchase.

WEST CLIFF HOLIDAY OUTDOOR MARKET 2021
December 11 @ 10am – 4pm
The holidays are upon us and what better to celebrate! Come enjoy West Cliff Holiday Outdoor Market which will feature unique artisans and local food trucks. This one-of-a-kind market will be held in two parking lots along West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz. This is always a popular spot for locals and tourists, as it overlooks the famous Steamers Lane surf spot. Enjoy the fresh air as you stroll among many artisan booths and specialty food while taking in the view. Come enjoy the LIVE MUSIC and admission is FREE!

WILDER RANCH: HOLIDAY LIVING HISTORY EVENT
December 11 @ 11am – 3pm
Join us for a family-friendly event with holiday-themed old-fashioned activities, crafts, and living history demonstrations. Step back in time with costumed docents as we turn back the clock to over 100 years ago. Watch machine shop and blacksmith demonstrations or take a tour of the 1859 Gothic Revival farmhouse and 1897 Victorian home and 1960’s cow barn. Rain cancels. Food will not be available. Free event. Vehicle day-use fee is $10. For more information, call (831) 426-0505.

ROARING CAMP RAILROADS: DRIVE IN MOVIES “A CHRISTMAS STORY”
December 11 @ 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Roaring Camp Railroads is proud to present Drive-In Movie Nights in the Redwoods. We will be showing your favorite family-friendly movies, surrounded by the beautiful redwood forest, in the heart of Roaring Camp. Be sure to dress warmly. Movie dates will be weather-dependent. Must tune into a radio station to listen. Movie refreshments will be available for purchase.

ROARING CAMP RAILROADS: DRIVE IN MOVIES “DR. SUESS’ THE GRINCH”
December 18 @ 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Roaring Camp Railroads is proud to present Drive-In Movie Nights in the Redwoods. We will be showing your favorite family-friendly movies, surrounded by the beautiful redwood forest, in the heart of Roaring Camp. Be sure to dress warm. Movie dates will be weather dependent. Must tune into a radio station to listen. Movie refreshments will be available for purchase.

And be sure to enjoy the festive spirit, decorations, and shopping in the Capitola Village, Downtown Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz Wharf, and other shopping areas throughout the county this season! Visit our website Events Page for even more holiday-inspired events!

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