Winter Attractions in Sunny DMOs
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Sunny Destinations are Fully Stocked with Collaborative Holiday Merriment This Winter

By Laurie Haynes 12/06/2018

Each year, the holiday season in California brings promises of enchantment, discovery, time well spent with family and friends and unforgettable food. While some holiday destinations are iconic for their snowy winter backdrops and icy ski slopes, warmer destinations in the Golden State are also known to pack a full supply of holiday delight through extraordinary winter activations.

Balboa Park December Nights in San Diego has become a citywide cultural holiday tradition and will celebrate its 41st year in 2018. Coordinated by the City of San Diego, the energized winter wonderland transforms the iconic Balboa Park into a hub of holiday music, lights, live performances, retail and international food experiences. Held annually on the first Friday and Saturday of December, it has become San Diego’s largest free festival with more than 350,000 attendees.

“December Nights definitely represents San Diego’s culture. From food to entertainment, the entire region is represented,” said Carolyn Wormser, Director of Special Events for the City of San Diego. “The lights and sounds of the event against the historical backdrop brings so much joy to all the guests. It is truly a unique experience.”

In maintaining the Golden State’s vigorous spirit of collaboration the city works with a multitude of partners, including San Diego Tourism Authority, to breathe life into December Nights and promote the festival each year. The International Cottages Christmas Festival is comprised of multi-cultural “houses” where visitors can relish in holiday flavors and bites from around the globe, including egg rolls, fried plantains, hot cider, crepes, samosas, tamales, baklava, lumpia and much more.

In the Bay Area where snowfall is a rare sight, the 10th annual Berkeley Snow Day transformed Shattuck Avenue into an icy holiday wonderland by trucking in 10 tons of snow for attendees. Lisa Bullwinkel, a member of the board of directors of Visit Berkeley, has worked to bring unforgettable events and cultural festivals, including Snow Day, to Berkeley for more than 30 years.

“There’s pony rides, craft vendors and entertainers… we have nutcracker dancers coming, and harps and singers,” said Bullwinkel. “Most of the people who are coming to enjoy Snow Day are kids who have never seen snow before, so it’s very special to them.”

The annual family holiday activation was held in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto district, a neighborhood known for its revolutionary restaurant scene and uncompromising food culture. Visitors were urged to bring their snow boots and mittens to play in the snow and share holiday wishes with the Snow Queen.

Even more enthralling holiday activations in mild to sunny regions are set to captivate visitors throughout the state this winter. At the Hilton Holiday By The Bay adventure park in San Diego, visitors can go for a ride with iceberg bumpers, or try to tame Santa’s bucking reindeer. The Reindeer Run, a 100-foot ice tubing slide, is the hotel’s newest attraction and the only one of its kind.

In the state capital of Sacramento, the Downtown Sacramento Partnership has coordinated a collection of special events, drawing visitors to the annual Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink all season long. Visitors can lace up their skates and stretch their legs at the Holiday Shoppe, Kids Day, Silent Disco Skate, Polar Bear Skate and many more.

Down south, the Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights celebrates the season in true Pacific coast style. Instead of Santa’s traditional snowy sleigh, the parade will feature vessels of all sizes decked in holiday lights and ornaments, while onlookers can watch along the harbor in enchantment. Hosted by the Oceanside Yacht Club, the parade is a unique spectacle and celebration of the destination’s local holiday culture.

In the Golden State, destinations are demonstrating that wintery cheer can span well beyond the icy slopes and snow-capped resorts. The mild - and often sunny - winter climate in regions throughout the state allows special opportunities to bring collaborative holiday activations to life, while festively elevating the local flare and culture. 



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