Christmas in Solvang is officially underway as the town's annual tree lighting ceremony and Julefest parade this weekend are expected to fill downtown streets with holiday cheer.
Festivities begin from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, when the 21-foot blue spruce trucked in from Idaho in October 2019 to serve as the town's Christmas tree will be lit in Solvang Park.
Guests also will be treated to live music and dance performances by the Santa Ynez Valley Wind Ensemble, the Santa Ynez Valley Jazz Band, Fossemalle Dance Studio and a special performance by local musician Dewey Roberts.
At 11 a.m. Saturday, the Julefest parade, which will boast a new route similar to that of Solvang's July Fourth parade, will roll through downtown Solvang showcasing 40 parade entrants with more than 400 participants who will march and cruise down Alisal Road to Copenhagen Drive, south onto Second Street and end at Oak Street.
According to Julefest organizers, many favorite floats are making a grand return to this year's event.
Already back to tradition as of Saturday, Nov. 27, the monthlong elf-tracking Nisse Adventure has returned, inviting participants to join in a citywide hunt for the mischievous Solvang Nisse (Christmas elves). Participants can refer to www.NisseAdventure.com to find animated videos containing clues to Nisse hiding spots. Guests will be able to scan a QR code to continue finding Nisse and earn a special prize upon completion.
Every Saturday through Dec. 18, Santa will open up the barn doors to small guests at Santa's Village in Solvang Park from 12 to 4 p.m. for the opportunity to meet Mr. Claus and snap memorable photos.
Other planned events:
— Elverhoj Museum's Makers Market at the Elverhoj Museum of History & Art kicks off on Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and will return Dec. 11 and 18 featuring handcrafted works from different area artisans. Entrance is free.
— Solvang Nativity Pageant returns for a live production of the "Christmas Story" with live music, actors and animals on Saturday, Dec. 11, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Solvang Park. Tickets are available at www.eventbrite.com/e/solvang-nativity-pageant-2021-tickets-196879681427
— Solvang Food Tours holiday edition will be led by the food and photo professionals at Eat This, Shoot That! on Saturday, Dec. 18. Tickets are available at eatthisshootthat.com/tours/solvang/
— Solvang's annual Tree Burn is slated for Jan. 7 in the empty fields at Old Mission Santa Ines, 1760 Mission Drive in Solvang. The event is subject to change, according to city officials.
All Solvang Julefest events are open to the public with either free or paid admission.
To access event updates, visit www.SolvangJulefest.org.
On display and for sale this weekend will be wood crafts by Scott Bruhn; jewelry by Diana Paul; gifts and hand-dyed scarves by Emily Abello; and jewelry and paper gifts by Lori McConnell.
Local charity Wheels ‘N Windmills distributed $19,000 to three Santa Ynez Valley nonprofits with funds raised from the annual Solvang Fall Classic Car and Motorcycle Show held on October 9.
Buellton's Fall Fest attracted an estimated 15,000 people to downtown Buellton over the weekend where rides, games, artisan food booths and live bands lined major throughway Avenue of the Flags.