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Local News

Guide to December Holiday Events in Santa Barbara County

As the holiday season rolls in, Santa Barbara County residents will have plenty of opportunities to get into the spirit beginning with several events this weekend. 

From gingerbread creations, annual happenings, holiday carols to tree lighting ceremonies, the area is buzzing with activities.

Now through Dec. 30 

» Snowflakes fall on Paseo Nuevo in downtown Santa Barbara nightly at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Set to holiday music, the show takes place at Center Court. The “Let it Snow” event will not take place on Dec. 25.

Now through Dec. 24

» Santa Claus and his elves will set up shop and host a meet-and-greet in Paseo Nuevo’s Center Court from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Photo packages are priced starting at $23. Every child will receive a free gift. Children with special needs are welcome to join at 9 a.m. through Dec. 12. Tuesday nights are geared towards family photos with furry friends from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. through Dec. 20. ​

Thursday, Dec. 1

» Join the first ever “Silent Night” silent disco event at Paseo Nuevo. Attendees are encouraged to wear their ugly Christmas sweaters and bring dancing shoes. Arrive early to get a headset that will be linked to DJ mixing tunes throughout the night. The free event begins after the snow falls at 6 p.m. at Paseo Nuevo and scheduled to end at 9 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 2

» A Christmas parade will assemble at the Union Bank parking lot on the corner of Pine Ave. and H St. in Lompoc. The Lompoc annual "Children’s Christmas Season Parade” is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. This year’s theme is “Christmas Trees and Memories.” For more information call the Lompoc Recreation Division, 805.875.8100.

» More than five blocks of State Street in Santa Barbara will be busy with holiday cheer, as more than 90 organizations, parade-goers and floats travel down State Street. Approximately 65,000 spectators are expected to view the nighttime celebration, and the event includes a special appearance from Santa Claus. The Annual Downtown Santa Barbara Holiday Parade is set to begin at 6:30 p.m., at State and Sola streets and concludes at Cota Street. This year marks the parade’s 64th annual event. The Holiday Prince and Fairy will kick-off the event by lighting the 45-foot Christmas tree at State Street just north of the Victoria Street intersection. This year's theme is “Holiday Under the Sea.” 

» Enjoy Christmas music, photo booths, holiday-inspired cocktails, food and a silent auction at an event benefiting the Jodi House Brain Injury Support Center. The guest wearing the ugliest sweater or outfit will be awarded a $100 gift card. The event is backed by Imagine X Functional Neurology and scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at 1221 State St., Suite 11.

» Enjoy game booths, bounce houses, food and Christmas gifts from local vendors at the 2nd annual “Holly Jolly Jubilee” in Lompoc. Children are invited to write letters to Santa Claus. The celebration also includes an ugly sweater contest. The event begins at 2 p.m., at 111 South I St. in Lompoc.

Saturday, Dec. 3 

» At 11 a.m., members of Living Faith Church will host their annual free Christmas art and craft fair. The event at 4595 Hollister Ave. also includes raffle tickets, prizes and food. 

» Multiple holiday events are scheduled starting at 1 p.m. in Los Olivos. The Los Olivos Olde Fashioned Christmas celebration includes live music, food, the official lighting of a Christmas tree, a visit from Santa Claus and $5 train rides in Lavinia Park, 2398 Alamo Pintado Ave., Los Olivos. View the town map for participating business, parks and the tree lighting location.

» Enjoy coffee and hot chocolate at the “Tree at The G for Unity” at the Granada Theatre. The free event includes holiday music, a tree and attendees can also drop off an unwrapped toy at the box office to support the Unity Shoppe’s annual Toys for Tots drive. The celebration begins at 12 p.m. at 1214 State St., Santa Barbara. The event is also happening on Dec. 10.

» More than 100 handmade gingerbread houses will be on display at the 4th annual “Gingerbread Wonderland” held at 2901 Nojoqui Ave. in downtown Los Olivos. St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church and Preschool and Arts Outreach members will open the doors at 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Raffle tickets are available for $1 at the event, and guests can vote for and enter to win their favorite gingerbread house. All proceeds benefit Arts Outreach and St. Mark’s Preschool. The event coincides with the Los Olivos Olde Fashioned Christmas Celebration.

» The annual Santa Maria Parade of Lights will travel up Broadway from Stowell Road to the Santa Maria Town Center mall. The parade is set to begin at 5:20 p.m. and is expected to draw 2,500 participants, city officials said. 

Dec. 3 through Dec. 24

» Costumed carolers, holiday songs and live entertainment ensembles will fill Paseo Nuevo. More than 20 shows are scheduled to perform. Check here for the schedule of performance times.

Sunday, Dec. 4

» Snow leopards will make their big debut at the Santa Barbara Zoo during a celebration featuring the highly endangered animal. The “Snow Leopard Festival” will include arts and crafts and a visit from Santa Claus. Kids will also have the opportunity to play in the snow area and sled down the zoo’s “mini-Himalayan” mountains. Admission begins at 9 a.m. for Santa Barbara Zoo members and general admission opens at 10 a.m. The festival is free with a $10 to $17 zoo admission. Sledding costs $3 per child.

Saturday, Dec. 10

» Old Town Goleta will host its first Christmas parade at 6:30 p.m., traveling along along Hollister Avenue from Orange Avenue to the Goleta Valley Community Center. The event will close with a tree lighting ceremony at the Goleta Valley Community Center.

» Children, animals, community members, floats and local organizations will walk down a parade route at noon during the 55th annual Old Town Orcutt Christmas Parade.​ The theme this year is "Christmas in Orcutt."

Sunday, Dec. 11

»Enjoy waterfront views and lighted holiday-theme boats at the 31st Annual Parade of Lights at the Santa Barbara Harbor. The free event will feature more than 20 boat participants motoring, sailing and traveling down the Santa Barbara Coastline. The best viewing locations include Stearns Wharf and the breakwater, according to city officials. Grab your cowboy hats and boots because this year's theme is "Wild West Holiday.” Decorated entries will be judged and awarded in five categories. Fireworks are set to light off at 7 p.m. In conjunction with the parade, Santa’s Village activities begin at 3 p.m. on the harbor and include picture opportunities with Santa Claus. The first 200 children receive free goody bags.

Dec. 16 - Dec. 18

» Seventy actors, singers, dancers and instrumentalists will take center stage at “The Christmas Revels.” The show transports audience members to the Scottish Highlands in the mid-1700’s and crowds will enjoy the Scottish celebration of the winter solstice. Tickets are priced at $29 for adults, $19 for students and $15 for children under the age of 12. The show takes place at the Lobero Theatre, 33 East Canon Perdido St., Santa Barbara. View the theatre's website for performance times.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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