Escapes: Victorian Christmas, more


Victorian Christmas

Nevada City’s long-running holiday tradition is a journey back in time.

Minstrels and carolers dressed in Victorian attire roam the gaslamp-lit streets of historic downtown, performing holiday songs. Visitors enjoy rides in horse-drawn carriages while vendors hawk yuletide wares. And the smell of roasted chestnuts seasons the crisp mountain air.

The 35th annual Victorian Christmas celebration, which begins this week, is presented on select December dates (Dec. 4, 11 and 18 from 5-9 p.m. and Dec. 15 and 22 from 1:30-6 p.m.). General admission is free.

Organizers warn that parking can be tricky, as Broad and Commercial streets are closed to traffic. However, drivers can park at the Nevada County Government Center at 950 Maidu Ave. and take a $5 shuttle to the festivities.

For more information, visit


Festival of Trees, Lights

What: The Barton Foundation’s massive fundraiser at the MontBleu Convention Center features an abundance of holiday displays, presentations and activities including dance troupes, musicians, magicians, children’s crafts, photos with Santa, a silent auction and a black-tie gala.

When: Thursday-Sunday

Where: 55 Highway 50 Lake Tahoe, Nevada

Cost: Events from free to $175



Tree lighting

What: Join the Children’s Choir of Chico, Sounds of Valley Chorus and Santa Claus for the city’s annual tree-lighting ceremony. This year’s blue atlas cedar stands more than 60 feet tall.

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Where: City Plaza, West Fourth and Broadway streets, Chico

Cost: Free



Wine exploration

What: Calistoga’s fifth annual Winter in the Wineries Passport offers an easy and affordable way to wine taste and meet the vintners at 14 wineries. Valued at more than $250, the pass allows for repeat visits through Feb. 9.

When: Starts Friday

Where: Various wineries in Calistoga

Cost: $75



Boat parade

What: Fifty boats decked out with twinkling lights and other holiday decorations will sail through the Santa Cruz Harbor for this family-friendly evening. Multiple stations will carry hot beverages, snacks.

When: 5:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Santa Cruz Harbor, 135 Fifth Ave., Santa Cruz

Cost: Free



Light show and ballerinas

What: San Francisco’s downtown mall offers a daily 3-D light show during the holidays – “Nutcracker Under the Dome,” inspired by the San Francisco Ballet production. On Dec. 8, San Francisco Ballet dancers are scheduled to attend, posing for photos and signing autographs, too.

When: 5-6 p.m. next Sunday

Where: Level four of Westfield San Francisco Centre, 865 Market St., San Francisco

Cost: Free


– Janelle Bitker