Welcome 'Home for the Holidays' in Monterey County

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A winter respite with presence for a present

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Santa's pack overflows with a variety of possibilities this holiday season. In Monterey County, the holidays are celebrated in a way that brings back memories of a golden era. Here, winter is still about beautiful lights, the joy of sharing, and the pleasure of a cup of hot cocoa, all celebrated with tenderness of spirit. Enjoy our home for the holidays feel that Monterey has to offer amid indulgences in arts, culture, food, wine, playing and staying. Lounging in front of the fireplace, or breathtaking ocean vistas, take your pick as Monterey County presents a wide range of properties. With over 240 to choose from, bed & breakfasts, or plush spas, strap on your sleigh bells and hit the road, we are here to welcome you home when you arrive. Late November and early December are packed with events that evoke the feelings these holidays were meant to engender. We could keep them all to ourselves, but in the spirit of holiday sharing, we invite you to join in the good cheer with us. http://www.SeeMonterey.com

Holiday events sprinkle the month of December so grab some hot chocolate, crank up the carols and join us in Monterey County to ring in the holiday season.

  • 14th Annual Cannery Row Holiday Tree Lighting (Nov. 27). Santa sleighs in for a full day of play along legendary Cannery Row. The festivities begin at 6:00 p.m. at Steinbeck Plaza overlooking Monterey Bay when Santa flips the switch on a 25-ft. holiday tree and makes a return visit every weekend until Christmas Eve. Free. http://www.canneryrow.com.
  • Kick off your holidays at the Salinas Holiday Parade of Lights (Nov. 29.) This family and community delight attracts over 10,000 spectators and 80 Parade Entrants from marching bands, floats, dancers, and classic cars. The route winds up South Main Street and through Oldtown to the National Steinbeck Center. Celebrity announcers keep you well informed. http://www.salinasparade.com; 831.796.6915
  • Carmel Plaza will host its annual holiday open house (Dec. 4) immediately following the City of Carmel's tree lighting with festivities for all ages. Live music, fun foods, holiday giveaways from Carmel Plaza Retailers and complimentary wine sponsored by Robert Mondavi Private Selection. Starts at 5:30p.m. http://www.carmelplaza.com
  • Gather on the lawn outside Colton Hall Dec. 5 for Monterey Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. Enjoy live music, caroling and good cheer which abound! 831-646-5640
  • Wild Things Holiday Tours (throughout December): This Christmas, take a walk on the wild side with the holiday nighttime flashlight tour of Wild Things Wild Animal Park. Meet real, live reindeer - Santa's added his sleigh-pulling friends to the menagerie at Wild Things; so you can view them along with the kangaroos, hyenas, lions, tigers, elephants and other animals. Rumor has it that Santa himself will be dropping by. Don't miss him! Reservations required. Warm refreshments and candy canes served after the tour. Photos available with live reindeer. 831-455-1901 ext. 3; http://www.wildthingsinc.com
  • Pacific Grove showcases its holiday charm with Christmas at the Inns (Dec. 1-2). Visit 12 bed & breakfast inns decorated for the holidays in Victoria-era splendor. Limited number of tickets sold. Entertainment and light refreshments served. Tickets: $20; 831-373-3304; http://www.pacificgrove.org
  • Experience Streets of Bethlehem Dec. 3-7, 2009; a living history interactive experience. Step into the Nativity story, as 200 re-enactors, along with live animals and musical groups, recreate the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. Volunteers from the First Baptist Church of Salinas recreate the entire town of Bethlehem, to give visitors a true immersive experience. http://www.fbcsalinas.com ; 831.422.9872
  • Christmas Night at The Farm (Dec. 4): Drive out to The Farm and gather around the bonfire to sing Christmas carols, sip homemade cider, nibble cookies -- and even take a moonlit hayride -- in the Salinas Valley. 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. 831-455-2575; http://www.thefarm-salinasvalley.com
  • Sing for joy and celebrate the holiday season with a night of music, wine and good cheer at Chateau Julien Wine Estate. This acoustic wonder featuring the A cappella Choral Project out of San Jose echoes magnificently through the Chai. Come enjoy the music that is sure to put you in the spirit of the season, followed by a wine tasting and gift exchange. Sunday Dec. 6, 2009 2:30 p.m.- 5:30 p.m. Tickets $40 831-624-2600 http://www.chateaujulien.com
  • 25th Annual Christmas in the Adobes - Step back into Monterey's past during Christmas in the Adobes. See the adobes by candlelight as costumed volunteers welcome you into historic homes decorated in age appropriate style. Pack the good cheer and stroll 20 of Monterey's historic adobes which are within an easy walk of each other, so you can enjoy the wide array of tasty refreshments and celebratory music that each has on offer (Dec 10 & 12), lit by luminaries and enhanced with period decorations, entertainment, and refreshments. Learn while you celebrate in each of these 19th century charming buildings, many of which are only open to the public and in the evening during this celebration. Special activities will be planned at the state parks to celebrate the 25th year. Tickets: $17 - $20/adults, $2 ages 6-17 years. 831-649-7118; http://www.SeeMonterey.com/montereyholidays
  • Pack those chaps and spurs for the 11th Annual Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival and Christmas Art and Gear Show. (Dec. 11-13) for a wranglin' good time with some of the nation's top balladeers and cowboy/girl poets featured in a three-day weekend event that also includes a western art and gear sale, a Saturday night western ho' down and "cowboy" church service among other festivities. 800-722-9652; http://www.montereycowboy.org.
  • Dec. 14, Brighten the Harbor. You've seen parades on land -- now see one on the ocean. The boats of Monterey Bay will be brilliantly decked out as they sail from Coast Guard Pier past Cannery Row to Lover's Point. These are no paltry decorations; the ships compete fiercely to win the coveted award for Best Decorations from the Yacht Club at the end of the evening. Check out this unique, can't-miss event from along the Monterey and Pacific Grove coastline.
  • Ring in 2010 with a New Year's Eve at the Aquarium dance party among the sea creatures sparkling and swimming in the Monterey Bay Aquarium's award-winning galleries. The ''Silver Fishes and New Year's Wishes'' extravaganza will feature two live bands playing and a DJ spinning hits in front the million-gallon Outer Bay exhibit, in the dance-floor perfect Marine Mammal Gallery, and in front of the stunning, 335,000-gallon Kelp Forest exhibit. The adults-only event will also offer three themed VIP lounges, each with a signature drink and food - a Martini Lounge, a Reggae Lounge and a Speakeasy Lounge. Tickets range from $75 to $150 per person for aquarium members and $95 to $175 per person for the general public. Call 866-963-9645 or 831-647-6886 to make reservations, or visit http://www.montereybayaquarium.org
  • Dec. 31, New Year's Eve Cap off your holiday celebration with a New Year's Eve to remember. First Night Monterey celebrates the lively arts scene in Monterey County; this family-friendly event is a celebration of the arts. Over 30 venues hold concurrent performances and activities for both children and adults, culminating in a convergence on Custom House Plaza to ring in the New Year. Live music ranges from classical to Irish traditional to experimental hip-hop. There will be dance performances, great food and lots of surprises. http://www.SeeMonterey.com


Monterey County is located 120 miles/192 km south of San Francisco and 345 miles/552 km north of Los Angeles along the classic California corridor. The region boasts 99 miles of prime Pacific Coastline, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, three historic missions, 40,000 acres of premium vineyards, 25 golf courses and nearly 200 lodging properties. Monterey County includes the Monterey Peninsula, Big Sur, North County and the Salinas Valley. The Monterey Peninsula Airport (MRY), just three miles from historic downtown Monterey and minutes from the area's major attractions, is served by non-stop flights to and from Denver (DIA), Salt Lake City (SLC), Las Vegas (LAS), Phoenix (PHX), Los Angeles (LAX and ONT), San Diego (SAN) and San Francisco (SFO). Visitor info: http://www.SeeMonterey.com.

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Celeste White

Koleen Hamblin
KOLI Comm.
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