Julefest and Winter Fest among the events happening in December
By Raiza Giorgi
The elves in Santa’s workshop must work well without supervision, because the holiday spirit will be everywhere in the Santa Ynez Valley the next two months as Buellton, Solvang, Los Olivos and Santa Ynez are holding their annual Christmas, Julefest and Winter Fest celebrations.
In addition to appearances by the jolly old soul, the festivities included plenty of food and music, an elf hunt, a Gingerbread Wonderland, multiple tree lightings, the Julefest Parade — and 20 tons of imported snow.
Starting with the Santa Ynez Tree Lighting traditions on Wednesday, Dec. 1, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be available for a visit and kids can drop off letters for Santa at the mailbox in front of the Santa Ynez Library. Fossemalle Dancers will be dancing and holiday carolers will be singing for the spectators. The tree lighting will be 5:45 p.m. and there will be various family activities at the Santa Ynez Historical Museum in the courtyard. For more info visit www.santaynezchamber.org.
Buellton’s annual Winter Fest will take place on Sunday, Dec. 5. This one-of-a-kind experience is fun for the whole family, and a perfect way to kick off the winter holidays. Event-goers can start the day at Breakfast With Santa in the Buellton Rec Center from 9 to 11 a.m., followed by a neighborhood parade. The parade starts at Jonata Middle School around noon and goes up Second Street around Oak Valley and back to Jonata.
The afternoon brings the Holiday Village at Village Park, located behind Tractor Supply. There will be 20 tons of snow along with vendors, music and live performances, and beer, wine and spirits. Winter Fest runs from 4 to 7 p.m. with the tree lighting at 7 p.m.
Last but not least is the Julefest celebration in Solvang. As one of the nation’s most Christmas-y towns, Solvang will present a refreshed lineup of Julefest offerings and extra holiday cheer in the form of new illuminated displays, celebratory scenescapes and settings in an effort to enhance the “hygge” holiday ambience already native to the city.
Plans are in place for the return of the Solvang Julefest tree lighting ceremony, tentatively scheduled for 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 3, in Solvang Park, on the corner of Mission Drive and First Street. The ceremony is slated to include ballerinas encircling the Solvang Christmas tree, live entertainment, caroling and of course, the season-starting tree lighting. The return of the Solvang Julefest Parade is also in the works, scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4, with the parade route to be announced.
During Solvang Julefest, the village will once again host its now-annual Nisse Adventure, where participants join in a city-wide hunt for the mysterious Solvang Nisse (Christmas elves), who will have hidden themselves throughout downtown Solvang. Elf-trackers may visit www.NisseAdventure.com, where they will find animated videos containing clues to the various hiding spots which the Nisse frequents. Once guests find each Nisse they scan a QR code to continue along the adventure, earning a special prize at completion.
On Saturdays throughout the Julefest stretch, town-wide Solvang Food Tours will be led by the foodie — and photo — experts at Eat This, Shoot That!, and the popular evening Candlelight Tours will return select Saturday nights (Nov. 27, and Dec. 4, 11 and 18), tickets for which include holiday-themed refreshments and a VIP Santa meet and greet experience. Either tour option presents a unique, educational, and entertaining way to explore the history-filled village on foot during the most festive of Solvang’s seasons. More information will be available at www.SolvangJulefest.org.