Staff Report

Solvang businessman Bent Olsen got the conversation going in January to plant a live Christmas tree in Solvang Park for this year’s Julefest celebration.

His fundraising challenge came to fruition when a 20-year-old spruce tree from Oregon was placed in Solvang Park in October.

“Bent was instrumental in making this happen, and we are so thankful to all the businesses and locals who stepped up and donated to make this happen,” said John Martino, a board member of the Solvang Chamber of Commerce.

Martino noted that Alan Needham and his Valley Gardner crew spent many hours getting the planter ready for the tree and then installed an irrigation system so it will be well cared for.

“We have a new lighting system going in as well for the tree and the gazebo, which will be wonderful,” Martino said.

The 2019 Solvang Julefest will begin Nov. 30 and run through Jan. 3, 2020. Once again it will feature many components, including the interactive Nisse Adventure search, evening Candlelight Tours – with a VIP-level option – and free visits with Santa in Solvang Park, as well as the annual tree-lighting ceremony, Skål Wine and Stein Stroll, and Julefest Parade.

“We are honored that the Solvang City Council has decided to place their faith in us to steward such a joyous event forward through 2019. We are working diligently to ensure the Danish culture, heritage, and traditions are maintained and cultivated, while elevating Julefest to new and exciting heights,” said Scott Shuemake, president of IDK Events, the new producers of Julefest.

New this year is the celebration of Saint Lucia Day on Dec. 13; a Christmas Drone Show on Dec. 21, the only Southern California holiday drone show of its kind; a daytime countdown to the Danish New Year, with a simulcast of the party happening in Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens, on Dec. 31; and additions to Santa visits in Solvang Park.

Accompanying the traditionally free photos with Santa will be a photo opportunity in the Solvang Park Gazebo, a photographic setting for capturing “holiday moments.” Also in Solvang Park will be a new play area in the form of “Santas Lade” (Santa’s Barn), a children’s winter wonderland featuring snow and live animals.

The 2019 Solvang Julefest is produced by the City of Solvang ( in partnership with Northern California-based IDK Events (

More information is available at, with direct links to ticketing for the paid portions of the holiday happenings. Event updates will also be posted to the Solvang Julefest Instagram and Facebook accounts: @SolvangJulefest and


Solvang Julefest 2019-20

Tentative Schedule

Saturdays (Nov. 30, Dec. 7, 14, 21) 

Santa’s Village in Solvang Park Free visits and Santa photos opportunities for the whole family, in Solvang Park. First come, first seated with the Mr. Claus. Noon to 7 p.m.

New this year is Santas Lade (Santas Barn), a paid-admission ($5) play area that includes snow and live animals.


Nov. 30 – Jan. 3

Nisse Adventure Kids of all ages are invited to explore Solvang while trying to find 12 Danish Christmas elves known as Jule Nisse (pronounced Yule Nee-suh), each about 16 inches tall, during this festive scavenger hunt. Stop by the Solvang Visitor Center at 1639 Copenhagen Drive between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily to pick up a free Nisse Adventuremap that provides clues to the elveswhereabouts.

Take a picture of all 12 Jule Nisse on a smart phone or camera, then return to the Visitor Center to show the attendants your results and to receive a prize.


Sundays (Dec. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29) 

Candlelight Walking Tours – Free, 60-minute guided tours depart from the Solvang Park Gazebo, Mission Drive at First Street, at 5 p.m. A costumed tour guide will provide guests with a souvenir, battery-powered LED candle, and will then share Solvangs history and fun facts while strolling and caroling along village sidewalks.

Also planned, with the date to be announced, is a VIP version of the tour that will conclude with a private meet-and-greet with Santa Claus, hot cocoa and cookies at Hotel Corque. Tickets are $25 per person (children under the age of 2 are free), with a limit of 25 guests. Purchase tickets at


Friday, Dec. 6 

5:00 PM-6:30 PM: Annual Tree Lighting in Solvang Park, 5 to 6:30 p.m., including entertainment by local bands, choirs and caroling culminating in a ballet routine by ballerinas from Fossemalle Dance Studio and the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Claus.


Saturday, Dec. 7

Julefest Parade at 11 a.m. with more than 400 participants and more than 50 entries of floats dancers, musical groups, vintage vehicles, horses, carriages and other live animals, with Mr. and Mrs. Claus bringing up the rear of the holiday procession.

The parade originates at Solvang Veterans Hall (1745 Mission Drive), travels west on Mission Drive, turns left onto Fourth Place, turns east on Copenhagen Drive, and ends on Alisal Road near the Solvang Post Office.

To submit a free parade entry application, visit


Friday, Dec. 13

Saint Lucia Day – A new event, at 6:30 p.m., the celebration of Saint Lucia Day will include a lighted, evening childrens parade through town, led by the symbolic Saint Lucia, a young woman chosen to portray the special saint. Illuminated floats and parade entries will follow. To submit a free parade entry application, visit


Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 14-15

Skål Wine & Stein Stroll A passport event from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the stroll features tastings at more than a dozen wine and beer tasting rooms. Guests will also judge tasting venues as they uncork their respective takes on a traditional gløgg (mulled red wine) for the holidays.

Tickets are $45 per person for the two-day, adult-only passport or $25 per person for one day. Purchase tickets at


Saturday, Dec. 21

Christmas Drone Show A new event, a nighttime lights spectacular, the drone show will be viewable five miles in all directions from the fields of Old Mission Santa Inés. Limited VIP grandstand viewing will be available for purchase. (The rain date is Sunday, Dec. 22.)

Tuesday, Dec. 31

Countdown to Danish New Year in Solvang Park Another new event, this is a family-friendly, daytime New Years Eve celebration from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. At 3 p.m. Pacific time, the crowd will count down to the Danish New Year while enjoying a simulcast of the New Years Eve events taking place in Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens.


Friday, Jan. 3

Christmas Tree Burn and Fire Safety Demonstration Held in the fields of Old Mission Santa Inés from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., supervised by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, the Tree Burn is one of the largest fire safety demonstrations and community gatherings on the Central Coast. Coordinated by Solvang Parks & Recreation, the Tree Burn will include free, live entertainment and refreshments for purchase.