The 2017 Guide to Sonoma County’s Best Holiday Happenings

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  • on NOVEMBER 12, 2017
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‘Tis the season for holiday cheer where in Sonoma, everything from the town plaza to boats to hundreds of snowmen light up with joy. We’ve rounded up this year’s best events, including holiday performances, shopping, and even adults-only fun. Eggnog shooters, anyone?

Let There Be Light

Lighting of the Historic Sonoma Plaza

Lighting of the Historic Sonoma Plaza
Experience Sonoma Valley

Saturday, November 18, 5-8pm at Sonoma Plaza
Cost: Free

The holiday season isn’t officially on until the switch his flipped on the historic Sonoma Plaza’s 100,000 twinkling lights. The ceremony includes live music and a performance by the locally-acclaimed Transcendence Theatre Company, plus hot drinks and cookies are complimentary. Bring some extra cash for adult beverages and goodness from The Fig Rig or Tri Tip Trolley.

453 1st St. E, Sonoma, CA 95476

Annual Lighting of the Snowmen Festival

Annual Lighting of the Snowmen Festival in Sonoma County
Cornerstone Sonoma

Saturday, December 2, 4-8pm at Cornerstone Sonoma
Cost: Free with a $10 charity donation for parking

Cornerstone’s Lighting of the Snowmen has a Charlie Brown Christmas-esque story behind it: David Allen, who owns Artefact Design & Salvage at Cornerstone, discovered hundreds of decorative snowmen at a factory in Boston that was closing, so naturally, he purchased them all for the gardens. Since 2004, Cornerstone lights gives the adopted snowmen new life at a festival that includes live music, kids’ activities and of course, wine, beer and food for the adults. If you miss the actual lighting, you can still swing by anytime in December to see the display.

23570 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA 95476

Holiday Lighted Boat Parade

Holiday Lighted Boat Parade in Petaluma

Saturday, December 9, 6-8pm at The Petaluma River Turning Basin
Cost: Free

Napa Valley’s Calistoga may have its lighted tractor parade, but Petaluma has boats. Bundle up, pack some hot chocolate, and watch these festive, twinkling boats float by. We suggest you arrive early to make a day of it. Stop by the Petaluma Pie Company for a free tasting of holiday pies and peruse the Holiday Arts and Crafts Sale, happening in town between 10am-4pm.

10 C Street, Petaluma, CA 94952

Catch a Show

Cirque de Bohème Winter Show

Aerialist at Cirque de Bohème Winter Show at Cornerstone Sonoma
Cirque de Bohème

November 24-December 17, weekend showings at Cornerstone Sonoma
Cost: $32 adult, $25 kids under 15

Turns out, you don’t have to go to Paris, or even Las Vegas, to see a cirque show. Cirque de Bohème takes place right in Sonoma, and promises gravity-defying acrobatics in a performance inspired by the old-style circus acts from 1920s France (think Moulin Rouge). This year’s holiday-themed winter showing is called “Freedom,” and even if you went last year, trust that this year’s will be totally new, with lots of added showtimes due to its past popularity.

23570 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA 95476

Transcendence Theatre’s Broadway Holiday Spectacular

Singer at Transcendence Theatre’s Broadway Holiday Spectacular in Sonoma County
Transcendence Theatre

Friday, December 1-Sunday, December 3, 2 and 7:30pm at Luther Burbank Center for the Arts
Cost: From $39

Come celebrate the fact that Sonoma’s Luther Burbank Center miraculously survived the North Bay Wildfires and has reopened just in time for its holiday programming. The season kicks off with this captivating Broadway-themed holiday performance by the Transcendence Theatre Company, best known for their popular Broadway Under the Stars concerts. You won’t be able to stop yourself from singing along, so you might as well give in to it. If you can’t make it, Luther Burbank has a lineup of other holiday showings to choose from, like the Symphony Pops.

50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Holiday Shopping

Petaluma Downtown Merchants Holiday Open House

Store display at the Petaluma Downtown Merchants Holiday Open House
Petaluma Downtown Merchants

Saturday, December 2, 11am-5pm in Historic Downtown Petaluma
Cost: Free

While you shop for gifts from dozens of local merchants, the kids can be kept busy with carriage rides, balloon art, face painting and more at this Holiday market in downtown Petaluma. Between 4-6pm, you can catch Santa spreading holiday cheer on his stroll through the town’s center, and then you might as well stay for the Light Up the Square Annual Tree Lighting at 6pm, complete with another appearance from Santa and a “magical snowfall.”

Petaluma Boulevard and Western Avenue, Petaluma, California 94952

Handmade Holiday Crafts Fair

Santa Rosa Handmade Holiday Crafts Fair
City of Santa Rosa

Saturday, December 2, 9am-5pm, Sunday, December 3, 10am-4pm at Finley Community College
Cost: $3, children under 12 free

More than 80 local artists gather at this holiday gift fair with unique, hand-crafted goods, like home decor, jewelry, holiday decorations, art and tasty treats. Sip hot chocolate and cider and munch on kettle corn and cookies while you shop, and keep an eye out for Santa, who may just stop in to check up on his Sonoma-based workshop. There will be live entertainment, a kid’s craft area, and once you’ve checked everyone off your list, you can jump on Rosie the Trolley for a free ride to the Luther Burbank Home and Gardens Holiday Open House, happening the same weekend.

2060 West College Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA 95401

Wine & Dine

Holidays in Healdsburg

Dining during a Healdsburg Walking Tour
Wine Country Walking Tours

November 25-December 31 at Healdsburg Plaza, 11am and 5pm
Cost: $99 for 4-hour day tour, $59 for 2-hour evening tour

Sip, savor and shop your way through downtown Healdsburg on a gourmet holiday walking tour. Though four-hour day tours are available (offered daily), we think the evening tour (offered Thurs.-Sun.) is the way to go. The whole town will light up for a magical stroll as you sip wine and cocktails and nosh on tasty bites at three of the town’s top restaurants. The tour can also be customized around any holiday happenings that night. Use this as your starter, and afterwards, hit the town for dinner and drinks and collapse at one of Healdsburg’s chic hotels.

Healdsburg Avenue and Matheson Street, Healdsburg, CA 95448

Ramekins Annual Santa Brunch

Group photo at Ramekins annual santa brunch in Sonoma County

Saturday, December 10, 10am and 12:30pm at Ramekins Culinary School
Cost: $65 adults, $25 children, free 5 & under

They had us a pumpkin and gingerbread waffles. The Ramekins Culinary School whips up this delicious, farm-to-table holiday brunch every year. Other menu items include sage and honey brined bone-in diesel turkey breast, wild mushroom and spinach bread pudding, and peppermint crusted dark chocolate brownies. Kids can visit the new Christmas workshop, where they can decorate cookies, make holiday crafts and take a photo with Santa. For adults, they’re promising a complimentary glass of bubbly and a spiked eggnog shooter when you walk in the door.

450 West Spain Street, Sonoma, CA 95476

— Get more ideas on our Sonoma Events Calendar

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Jess Lander

Jess Lander is a freelance wine, food and travel writer based in Napa Valley and exploring all things California wine country. Follow her on Instagram at @willwrite4wine to get Napa and Sonoma #travelinspo.


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