Holiday events in San Luis Obispo County

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Photo by Trisha Butcher.

Photo by Trisha Butcher.

Spend the holidays enjoying tree lightings, parades, festivals, shopping & special events

–The crisp fall air has arrived and ’tis the season of holiday happenings in San Luis Obispo County. San Luis Obispo County welcomes a variety of fun and memorable events for the whole family. From festive parades and tree lightings, to craft fairs and fresh snow, there is no better time to plan your getaway to San Luis Obispo County.

Explore the seasonal events below and visit one, or all, as you build your itinerary for your best holiday yet.

Illuminating the cities, and the trees

Beaming with goodwill and cheer, the cities of San Luis Obispo County light their trees and illuminate their streets. At the Downtown Lighting Ceremony in Paso Robles (Nov. 25) find Mrs. Claus and other costumed characters gathering at the Downtown City Park at 5:30 p.m. The Annual Holiday Lighting Ceremony in Atascadero (Dec. 2) is where family and friends will enjoy an evening of holiday fun and a complimentary tour of the historic City Hall. We bet you’ve never played in the snow at the beach. Pismo Beach’s Holiday Harmony & Tree Lighting Ceremony (Dec. 2) makes dreams come true with fresh snow, bounce houses, crafts, music and cookie decorating, as well as pictures with Santa Claus for the kiddos. The small coastal town of Cayucos celebrates their Christmas Tree Lighting (Dec. 4) with the lighting and caroling at 5 p.m. Finally, Grover Beach’s Holiday Tree Lighting (Dec. 5) is where families can savor cocoa, coffee, cookies and caroling.

Parades & festivals

There’s nothing like a merry holiday parade for the whole family. Explore the Christmas Parade in Downtown Arroyo Grande (Nov. 27), which will feature a live nativity scene and a holiday-themed movie, while the Cambria Christmas Market (Nov. 25-Dec. 23, check for specific times) becomes a festive German-style celebration with local food, drink, brats and fresh-baked goodies. Enjoy the San Luis Obispo annual Holiday Parade in downtown (Dec. 2), one of the largest parades on the Central Coast, featuring floats, decorated vehicles, marching bands, dancers and more. The Christmas Light Parade in Downtown Paso Robles (Dec. 3) is themed “The Magic and Music of Christmas,” and marks the arrival of Kris Kringle, who will be in residence at the Holiday House in the Downtown City Park until Christmas Eve. Catch the only daytime parade at the 50th Annual South County Holiday Parade in Grover Beach (Dec. 3). Finally, the iconic Lighted Boat Parade (Dec. 10) in Morro Bay will commence as the most beautifully-decorated skiffs, yachts, fishing boats, cutters, sailboats and kayaks cross the harbor and fill the bay with yuletide glow.

Shopping, market & craft events

It’s that time of year to give, and to receive, local gifts and craft artisanal products from San Luis Obispo County. Find local gems at the Holiday Boutique (Nov. 19) at the Atascadero Pavilion on the Lake and the Holiday Craft Bazaar (Nov. 25) in the Paso Robles City Park. The Annual Winter Faire & Juried Craft Show (now until Dec. 23) at the Art Center Morro Bay is a collective of exceptional paintings, photography and fine crafts, spanning a variety of artistic mediums from traditional to contemporary. Enjoy Holidays at Madonna Inn (Nov. 24-Dec. 31) where shopping, delightful decorations and holiday music will warm your spirits.

Delightfully snowy yet heartwarming special events

Be jolly by golly at the Cayucos Christmas Open House (Dec. 10), as free trolley and carriage rides sweep the streets. Morro Bay’s Home for the Holidays Street Faire (Nov. 27) brings the holidays to life against the background of the iconic Morro Rock. There’s snow everywhere at the Atascadero Winter Wonderland (Dec. 9), where a massive snow slide and snow play areas create a winter playground for all ages. Deck the halls during an Elegant Christmas in the Village in Downtown Arroyo Grande (Dec. 4), where store owners will serve food and drinks in full costume. Enjoy an Illuminating Evening at Vina Robles Winery (Dec. 3), Holiday on the Farm at Windrose Farms with FARMstead ED (Dec. 4) or Holidays at the Apple Farm in San Luis Obispo (now until Dec. 25). Vine Street is transformed into an 18-block Christmas party in Paso Robles, complete with an appearance from Ebenezer Scrooge, during the 30th Annual Vine Street Victorian Showcase (Dec. 10). See the Holiday Magic at Charles Paddock Zoo (Dec. 17) as the zookeepers step in as Santa’s Elves to prepare gifts for the animals. There’s always time to enjoy the classic tale of “A Christmas Story” at the SLO Little Theatre (Dec. 3-23) or experience Cal Poly Choirs’ ‘A Christmas Celebration’ (Dec. 3) at the Performing Arts Center in San Luis Obispo. Join classical music lovers at the Festival Mozaic WinterMezzo (Nov. 17-19) or rub elbows with classic art lovers at the Hearst Castle Holiday Twilight Tours in San Simeon.

Take the plunge in the outdoors

Run, jump and splash into the new year with a chilling rush during the Polar Bear Plunge (Jan. 1 ) in Avila Beach or the Polar Bear Dip (Jan 1) at the Cayucos Pier. For those who aren’t quite so daring, but still want to enjoy the outdoors, visit the Elephant Seals in San Simeon or the Monarch Butterflies Pismo Beach Butterfly Grove (Now-March 4).

Looking for more events to attend this holiday season? See a few more below and visit our website at for more events and to book your lodging.

Other events

CowParade – San Luis Obispo County – Now until April 2017
Santa’s House in Mission Plaza – San Luis Obispo – Nov. 24-Dec. 24
Pink Martini Holiday Spectacular – San Luis Obispo– Nov. 28
Holiday Musical Walk Around the Lake – Atascadero – Dec. 3
Santa’s Holiday House – Paso Robles – Dec. 4-24
26th Annual Victorian Teddy Bear Tea – Paso Robles – Dec. 17
Madonna Inn New Year’s Eve Gala – San Luis Obispo – Dec. 31
Winter Bird Festival – Morro Bay – Jan. 13 – 16

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