Bring the entire family to experience the lights, sights, and sounds of the season
Take a step away from the ordinary this holiday season and revel in the sights, sounds, and festive ambiance that make Christmastime in Cambria a tradition that continues to delight family members of all ages. And with the addition of the Cambria Christmas Market, now in its fourth year, a visit to this quaint seaside town is even more enticing – in fact, it’s a bit magical.
“It’s magical and it’s breathtaking,” says Cambria Christmas Market Coordinator George Marschall. “The amount of lights that we put up – over one million – is unique to not only this area but even throughout the state.”
A true street market in every sense, the Cambria Christmas Market was created to pay homage to the markets that originated in Europe. These markets, known as Weihnachtsmarkts and held in town squares in Germany and Austria, signal the beginning of the holiday season with food, drink, singing, and seasonal items offered in open-air stalls.
Stunning light displays
The fabulous light displays and festive decorations of the Cambria Christmas Market start at the Cambria Pines Lodge, located at 2905 Burton Drive. From the Tunnel of Lights and along the pathway leading to the Cambria Nursery where fully-decorated Christmas trees, plants, and gift items are a must-see, visitors are in constant awe. Additional displays including the Twelve Days of Christmas, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Grinch, the Nutcracker, and Surfing Santa keep the Christmas spirit alive. With over 35,000 people visiting the Cambria Christmas Market in 2014, it seems the creative team has found its formula for success.
“My favorite display has always been the Tunnel of Lights,” says Marschall. “When you step inside the tunnel, it is just absolutely wonderful – it’s the first display you walk through and it just wows people each and every time.”
Food, shopping, music & more
In the same tradition of the European markets, the Cambria Christmas Market vendors serve up local food and drink offerings including brats, hot German potato salad, fondue, pretzels, fresh baked goods, and a traditional German hot-spiced wine – Glühwein. A large, tented eating area accommodates diners and fire pits are situated at various locations along the path to allow visitors a chance to warm up in the cool night air.
With 25 or so vendors setting up shop in red and white striped wooden booths, there’s plenty of browsing and shopping taking place along the pathways as well. Offerings include wood ornaments, décor and toys from He Saw, She Saw; pottery and driftwood mobiles and wind chimes from Flying Fish; trains from Hardwood Toys; handmade lavender products from Lavender Oak Farms; food products from LaBella Olives; handcrafted scarves and hats from Bridgette’s Creations, and much more. For a full list of vendors, check out cambriachristmasmarket.com.
Nightly entertainment from local artists lends a special ambiance to the Cambria Christmas Market. Groups and individuals slated to perform along the paths and onstage at the specially-designed amphitheatre this year include: the Coast Union High School band, acoustic and folk performers Dennis Mack, Brett and Julia Mitchell, and Loren Radis, a brass band, a steel drum duo, a saxophone quartet and more – with classic Christmas carols added to the mix as well.
Come on out & see Santa
Of course the highlight for kids of all ages is Santa – and he will be at the Cambria Christmas Market each and every night. Be sure to make a point of experiencing this magical holiday event, a celebration that brings out visitors year after year to enjoy the festive ambiance, fabulous decorations and brilliant holiday lights at the Market and throughout the charming town of Cambria.
“Being at the Cambria Christmas Market is like being in a completely different world; it’s festive and everyone is happy when they are here,” says Marschall. “The best part is seeing the smiles on all the children’s faces – children of all ages!”
No parking allowed at Cambria Pines Lodge, except a limited amount of handicapped parking. Carpooling to the area is encouraged; all guests will take free shuttles (no pets, please) to the market, with service pick-ups every 15 minutes from Coast Union High School, located at 2950 Santa Rosa Creek Road. Overflow parking is available.
For up-to-date info, take a peek at the Cambria Christmas Market Facebook page or see cambriachristmasmarket.com.
– Meagan Friberg
Dates, parking & ticket info
The 2015 Cambria Christmas Market offers 21 nights of magical experiences. Discounted pricing available; sorry, no pets allowed. Open 5-9 p.m. on nights listed below:
Free for children 5 and under
$3 admission – Dec. 2-3, 9-10, 16-17
$5 admission – Nov. 29, Dec. 4, 6, 11, 13
$10 admission – Nov. 27-28, Dec. 5, 12, 18-23
$25 – Season pass