Despite our sandy shores and predominantly sunny weather, we still know how to get in the holiday spirit in Santa Cruz. Check out this list of five great holiday activities you must do this season. These attractions have all the traditional holiday feels, with that classic Santa Cruz twist.
A Celtic Christmas
While many families have a holiday tradition of seeing Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker”, why not switch it up a bit? Check out Tomaseen Foley’s “A Celtic Christmas”. For the past twenty years William Coulter, a professional and lecturer in guitar and a UCSC alumnus, has directed and performed in “A Celtic Christmas”. This performance features Irish music and storytelling. The stage for this piece is set in rural Irish farmhouse on a winter evening in the 1940s. It brings the Christmas spirit to viewers with traditional Irish Christmas carols, traditional Irish dance, and old stories. You can check this performance out on Wednesday, December 19th, at 7:30 pm at the UCSC Recital Hall.
Winter Art Market
Located at the Tannery Arts Center this annual winter market is a must-see in Santa Cruz. Featuring handmade ceramics, jewelry, clothing, and art this is a great way to support our local artisans while also checking some things off that holiday shopping list. You can check this winter market out Saturday, December 1st, and Sunday, December 2nd from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Lighted Boat Parade
One of our favorite holiday traditions in Santa Cruz is the annual Lighted Boat Parade. What better way to celebrate the holiday season in Santa Cruz style than to decorate your boat and sit seaside to take in thousands of Christmas lights? Located at the Santa Cruz harbor, this family-friendly event kicks off at the beginning of December every year, rain or shine. Bring snacks, lawn chairs and grab a spot early, or watch the parade from The Crow’s Nest if you make a reservation in time. This year’s boat parade will be Saturday, December 1st at 5:30 pm.
Jingle Shells Arts & Crafts
The Seymour Marine Discovery Museum hosts an annual holiday celebration that embraces all things, Santa Cruz. Local artists display their ocean-inspired gifts while visitors can enjoy live music and simple refreshments with an ocean view. This event is family-friendly with a crafts table and activities for your kids. You can browse and buy jewelry, art, photography, and ceramics. Again, this is a great way to shop local and support your local Santa Cruz artisans. This year’s Jingle Shells event will be on Sunday, December 9th from 12:00 pm – 5:30 pm.
Holiday Lights Train
If you’ve lived in Santa Cruz for a long time then you have most likely ridden the Holiday Lights Train featured by Roaring Camp at least once. If you are new to Santa Cruz or haven’t checked this out yet, we recommend you try it out – and for many local families, its become an annual holiday tradition. This train ride features decorated train cars, complimentary apple cider, and holiday cookies, and Santa and Mrs. Clause make it a point to visit each and every child on the train. The times and pick-up locations vary depending on the day of the week and time of day you wish to ride so check out Roaring Camp for details.