The weather outside is delightful and, except for the drought, not at all frightful, but believe it or not the holiday season is upon us. And that means nearly two months of holiday fun and cheer are coming your way. To help you navigate the season and keep your spirits bright, we present our select guide to holiday fun inside and out from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
Lighting of Sonoma Plaza The Sonoma Plaza will light up with over 100,000 bulbs, a performance from Transcendence Theatre Company, hot chocolate and cider and plenty of holiday cheer. Nov. 14. 453 First St. E., Sonoma. 4–8pm. Free. holidaysinsonoma.com.
Winterblast Ninth annual holiday art party takes over the South of A arts district in downtown Santa Rosa. Open studios showcase dozens of artists in their element while live music from Black Water Gold and the Hubbub Club kick the holiday spirit into gear. Magic, belly dancing, food from Spinster Sisters and others, drinks from Atlas Coffee Company. Nov. 14. 312 South A St., Santa Rosa. 5–8pm. Free entry. sofasantarosa.com.
Napa on Ice Napa's outdoor skating rink, located on the grounds of the Napa Expo, is back for another year of holiday fun. Recreational ice skating is open daily with lessons, parties, private ice time and special events offered. Nov. 20–Jan. 10. $13 admission. 707.227.7141. napaonice.com.
Holidays in Carneros Nearly 20 wineries in the Carneros region of the Sonoma and Napa valleys will offer a variety of activities including food and wine pairings, live music, art or craft shows and special tastings. Nov. 21–22, various locations. 11am to 4pm. $50; $15, designated drivers. Contact the Carneros Winery Collective for info. 707.256.0693.
Napa Valley Wine Train Thanksgiving Thanksgiving on the Napa Valley Wine Train is a traditional gourmet feast with all the fixings in a nontraditional but memorable setting. Nov. 26. Lunch, 10:30am–3pm; dinner 4–8:30pm. $134–$209. winetrain.com/package/thanksgiving.
Yountville 27th Annual Festival of Lights Skip the shopping malls and join the people of Yountville for a food and wine festival in the holiday spirit. Santa, his elves and local celebrities will all be there to transform the town into a magical winter wonderland with thousands of sparkling lights, live entertainment and carriage rides. Nov. 27. Yountville Community Center, 6516 Washington St., Yountville. 2–6pm. Free ($15–$25 for tasting bracelets). 707.944.0904.
Healdsburg Downtown Holiday Party The chic stores downtown light up their windows with holiday lights and cheer. Live entertainment, caroling, carriage rides, pictures with Santa and merriment galore are all part of this annual small town holiday tradition. Nov. 27. Healdsburg Plaza. 4–8pm. Free. 707.433.6935.
Heart of Sonoma Valley 32nd Annual Holiday Open House Toast the holiday season on a tour of over 20 wineries including Benziger Family Winery, Imagery Estate Winery and Paradise Ridge. Includes access to wineries and winemakers, holiday gifts and souvenir wine glass. Nov. 27–28. 11am–4pm. $45 per person; designated driver, $10. 866.794.9463. heartofsonomavalley.com.
Santa's Riverboat Arrival Santa and Mrs. Claus give the season its start when they arrive by tugboat into the Petaluma River Turning Basin and disembark to hand out candy and take holiday photos with kids while live entertainment entertains the crowd. Nov. 28. River Plaza Shopping Center, 72 E. Washington St., Petaluma. 11am to 2pm. Free. 707.762.9348.
Napa's 53rd Annual Christmas Parade This family-friendly evening parade features floats built by Napans themselves, decked out in lights and focusing on the theme "Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas." Nov. 28. First and Second streets between Franklin and Main streets. 5pm. Free.
Windsor Holiday Celebration on the Green Open the holiday season and bring the kids to send letters to Santa, make crafts, decorate gingerbread and ride the Polar Express before the annual tree lighting ceremony. Dec. 3. Windsor Town Green, 701 McClelland Drive, Windsor. 5–8pm. Free admission; $1–$8 for various activities. olddowntownwindsor.com.
Light Up A Life St. Joseph Hospice honors lives lost with annual candle- and tree-lighting ceremonies. Dec. 3. Montgomery Village Terrace, 911 Village Court, Santa Rosa. 5pm. Free. mvshops.com.
Lighting of the Vines Second annual event offers new surprises as well as the usual favorites including snacks, crafts, desserts and, of course, wine. Join the community in celebrating holiday cheer with the formal lighting of the vines taking place after dark. Proceeds go to the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation. Dec. 5. Hamel Family Wines, 15401 Sonoma Hwy., Sonoma. 4pm. $25; kids are free. 707.996.5800.
Holidaypalooza "Wine club members only" holiday party takes you into wine caves and lets you meet the merry winemakers at Gun Bun, with food pairings, games, prizes and more. Bring a new, unwrapped gift to donate to Toys for Tots. Dec. 5. Gundlach Bundschu Winery, 2000 Denmark St., Sonoma. Sign up to join the wine club at 707.938.5277.
- CHANTICLEER The vocal orchestra tells the Christmas story through song Dec. 20 at St. Vincent's Church in Petaluma.
Napa B&B Holiday Tour & Taste Event The bed and breakfasts of Napa invite you inside their historical inns, decked out in festive decorations, to savor select wines and tasty holiday treats. Transportation and entertainment included. Proceeds benefit local charities. Dec. 5. 3–7pm. $75 per person. napaholidaytour.com.
Petaluma Holiday Lighted Boat Parade A parade of sparkling boats shine on the Petaluma River to ring in the season while downtown shops stay open late for holiday strolling. Dec. 5. Petaluma River Turning Basin, Petaluma. 6pm. Free. visitpetaluma.com.
20th Annual Calistoga Lighted Tractor Parade A small-town celebration of the holiday season and Calistoga's agricultural heritage boasts vintage tractors, antique trucks and other rustic autos lit up in dazzling displays in this perfect family event. Dec. 5. Lincoln Avenue between Cedar and Stevenson, Calistoga. 7pm. Free. visitcalistoga.com.
Luther Burbank Holiday Open House A popular holiday tradition in its 36th year, this open house features Victorian-era finery and a charming tour of the home and gardens, with free parking at First and D streets and free rides on Rosie the Trolley to and from the Handmade Holiday Crafts Fair held at the Finley Community Center. Dec. 5–6. 10am to 4pm. $2 (12 and older). 707.524.5445.
ICB's 47th Annual Winter Open Studios More than a hundred painters, sculptors, fabric artists, jewelers, photographers and other artists open their doors to let you discover new and unique works of art where they are created. Dec. 5–6. Industrial Center Building, 480 Gate Five Road, Sausalito. 11am–6pm. Free admission and parking. icbbuilding.com.
Calistoga Sixth Annual Winter in the Wineries Visit up to 15 wineries and meet the winemakers in and around the Calistoga area in relaxed tasting tours that you schedule at your convenience. Dec. 5–Feb. 7. $50. visitcalistoga.com.
Osher Marin Festival of Lights Marin's biggest Hanukkah party includes latkes, sufganiyot (doughnuts) and other festive food with the jazzy sounds of Brandeis Marin, an artisan crafts marketplace and kids' activities. All are welcome. Dec. 6. Osher Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael. 11:30am. Free entry. 415.444.8000.