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Annual Events

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Featured Events:

Great Backyard Bird Count
Be a bird counter... for just 15minutes
Every day (Feb 16-Feb 19) from 6:00pm to 7:00pm

(0 January 2018) GreatBackyardBirdCount.jpgThe 2018 Great Backyard Bird Count runs from February 16-19. It's an easy way to help the birds you see everyday!


With just 15 minutes of your time, you can help scientists better understand birds.


Learn more and sign up today:

« November 2017 »
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Free First Friday
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Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History
Enjoy our intertidal touch pool, large-screen microscope, and geology exhibit and "dig pit".
Date: Every day from 11:00am to 4:00pm
Ages: All ages Admission Fees: FREE

FREE First Friday 11am-4pm. Enjoy the Museum for FREE with your family on the first Friday of every month. Enjoy our intertidal touch pool, large-screen microscope, and geology exhibit and "dig pit". Santa Cruz Natural History Museum. 1305 East Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz. 420-6115

Location: East Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz Map
Phone: (831) 420-6115 •website Santa Cruz create a direct event link
Strike Out Hunger
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Boardwalk Bowl
Can of food for a free game
Date: Every day (Nov 1-Dec 31)

(0 Nov 2017) BoardwalkBowl.jpgYou can help #StrikeOutHunger and bowl for FREE!  Bring a can of food to the Boardwalk Bowl, now through December 31st, and bowl a game on us.  Food for the bowling for you! All donations go to the Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz


Bring a can of food, and bowl a game for FREE!
All food donations go to Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz County to help feed local families. Last year, we collected over 10,810 cans or over five tons of food!


For a $100 cash donation to Second Harvest, we're giving away 25 FREE BOWLING passes for use at the Boardwalk Bowl on future visits.


Boardwalk Bowl League Players who bring in 3 cans of unexpired food during league play receive 3 FREE BOWLING passes for a future visit.


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Kirby Shadow Days
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Georgiana Bruce Kirby Preparatory School
How do students know if Kirby is a good fit? A shadow day is an ideal way to find out
Date: Every Mon (Nov 1-May 1)
Ages: Family Admission Fees: FREE

Shadow Day

How do students know if Kirby is a good fit? A shadow day is an ideal way to find out. We will pair your student with a student host with similar interests. Together they will experience a "day in the life" at Kirby. They will attend classes together, hang out with other Kirby students, and enjoy lunch with their host and some of their friends.


How it works:

  • Monday is our preferred shadow day because of our block schedule. However, a shadow day can be scheduled any day of the week.
  • Student shadows are treated to a hot lunch made fresh in our kitchen.
  • Schedule your shadow day through the Admissions Office. Call (831) 423-0658 ×202.

Location: 425 Encinal Street, Santa Cruz Map
Phone: (831) 423-0658 •website Santa Cruz West Sidecreate a direct event link
Holidays Downtown
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Magical holiday times downtown!
Date: Every day (Nov 24-Dec 24)

Downtown for the Holidays

Holiday Traditions and Magical Moments happen in Downtown Santa Cruz 

The Holidays are a magical time of year, and nowhere is that magic more apparent than in Downtown Santa Cruz. Throughout the season there are so many reasons to celebrate and enjoy the festivities. One of the things that makes this time of year so special is our traditions. The Victorian Carriage Rides, Visits with Santa at Marini's, the Holiday Parade, Just strolling through the neighborhood and checking off your gift list. Whatever your favorite Downtown holiday traditions, we wish you and yours all the best and we invite you to come join us and celebrate at our fun holiday events!

Black Friday Weekend

Sidewalk Sale - Nov 24th, 25th, 26th

Get a jump on your holiday shopping while enjoying a beautiful weekend in Downtown Santa Cruz. Bring the family and enjoy the walkable sidewalks of Downtown Santa Cruz. Sales run all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with great end of month clearance deals all around the Downtown.

Small Business Saturday - Nov 25th

Don't miss the biggest small promotion of the year. Think Big and shop Small with the annual event celebrating Small businesses. Pick up a Copy of the Santa Cruz Sentinel for a full listing of all of the local participating shops, eateries and other small businesses.

Downtown Holiday Parade - Saturday, Dec 2nd

Starting at 10 am on Pacific Avenue,

The traditional holiday parade is the official kickoff for the winter holidays celebration. Bands, Dancers, Classic Cars, Synchronized Librarians, perhaps even a "Rootbeer Float" one never knows exactly what to expect at the Parade, but you can be sure to expect the whole community to show up and have a great time, and of course, at the end of the parade, Sitting in a horse-drawn Victorian Carriage, the man of the hour is welcomed back to Downtown Santa Cruz. Bring the family or participate! Register to be in the parade HERE.

The Holiday Parade is Rain or Shine!

Santa Cruise - Saturday, Dec 9th

Back by popular demand, Santa Cruise is a spirited, text-based scavenger hunt, throughout downtown, including holiday spirits at your favorite Downtown Drinking establishments.

Your ticket gets you a custom "Suessean" Santa Hat and the codes to connect with Santa himself, who will lead you on a frivolous journey through the streets of Downtown, sprinkled with specialty seasonal imbibements at some of Santa's favorite local haunts.

The Downtown Santa Cruise is a 21 and over event. Get a crew together a come hunt, scavenge and sleuth your way to a great after party!

Saturday, Dec 16 - Free Family Movie

10 am at the Del Mar Theatre

The Free Family Movie at the Del Mar is a special tradition and a wonderful way to support Second Harvest Food Bank as their holiday food drives help so many people in our community have healthy food, every day of the year.

Bring a food or cash donation and enjoy a great holiday classic on the Big Screen.

This is a fun, Saturday morning event for the whole family.

Victorian Carriage Rides

Reserve the traditional horse-drawn Victorian Carriage for a magical ride around downtown. Experience the lights and festive holiday environment in style. A fun outing for friends and family or part of a perfect date with that special someone. $50 reserves the carriage for a ride around Downtown. Two facing benches, seats 4-6 people comfortably, depending on size. The ride lasts about 15-20 minutes.

Limited Rides - Dates TBD

Visits with Santa at Marini's Candies

No matter how old you are, if you were a kid In Santa Cruz, you probably visited the Jolly Fellow himself at Marini's Candies on Pacific Avenue.

Well, it turns out, enough of us must have been nice this year, because he's coming back. Stop in for a relaxed, not rushed visit and photo with your own camera. Ho, ho, ho!

Marini's Candies

Santa's Reindeer Round-up


Nov 25 - Dec 18
Santa Needs your help!!!

It seems the whole team of reindeer is hidden in stores throughout Downtown Santa Cruz.

Help him find them before his big night! Pick up a map, have fun with this scavenger hunt and you could win Downtown Dollars and other great downtown prizes!

Parking for Hope

From December 18-Dec 24 revenue from Downtown Parking meters supports the great work of HOPE Services. Last year the Downtown meters raised over $30,000 for the HOPE services litter abatement crew.




Location: Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz Map
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Write A Letter to Those Who Serve
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Libraries - All
It's easy to participate and your letter and/or artwork will make some one very happy. Kids are especially encouraged to write.
Date: Every day (Nov 15-Dec 31)

(0 Nov 2017) Library_VeteranLetter.jpgOperation Gratitude sends 200,000+ Care Packages each year to Deployed Troops, Veterans, New Recruits & First Responders. Of all the items included in these packages, the most cherished are the personal letters of appreciation! That's why we're partnering with Operation Gratitude on a letter writing campaign at all of our libraries.


We'll have pens, pencils, paper, and inspiration available at all branch libraries and at the Veterans Information Center at the Downtown Library. We will begin gathering letters from our branches starting now and continuing through the New Year. We will mail one giant box with our letters to Operation Gratitude!


It's easy to participate and your letter and/or artwork will make some one very happy. Kids are especially encouraged to write.

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Curious Contraptions
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A temporary exhibition of the charming, often hilarious mechanical sculptures known as automata
Date: Every day (Nov 16-Jan 28) from 10:00am to 5:00pm
Ages: All
Special Instructions: Pier 15, which is on the Embarcadero at Green Street

(0 Nov 2017) Exloratorium_CuriousContraptions.jpgExplore small, surreal worlds at Curious Contraptions, a temporary exhibition of the charming, often hilarious mechanical sculptures known as automata. Like complex mechanical toys, these whimsical machines are brought to life by intricate arrangements of handmade cams, cranks, and other simple mechanisms.


Each sculpture performs an absurd miniature drama reflecting its maker's worldview and sense of humor. Take a look at their exposed inner workings and investigate the low-tech mechanisms that make these automata move.


This year, Curious Contraptions features the varied viewpoints of artists including Carlos Zapata, Paul Spooner, Keith Newstead, and Fi Henshall, plus artist residencies with Zapata, Hernán Lira, and Noga Elhassid.



Location: Pier 15, San Francisco Map
website San Franciscocreate a direct event link
Fantasy of Lights
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County of Santa Clara Parks
Magical wonderland of thousands of colorful twinkling lights, exciting, animated displays and favorite holiday music
Date: Every day (Nov 1-Dec 30) from 6:00pm to 10:00pm
Admission Fees: Tickets available NOW!
Special Instructions: OPEN DECEMBER 2-30

Fantasy of Lights is a spectacular 1.5 mile Drive-thru extravaganza of Holiday Lights and Displays for the entire family.

Enjoy a magical evening in the warmth of your vehicle as you drive through large animated
displays while listening to Holiday music on your car radio. See the sights and sounds of
an erupting volcano in the dangerously fun Dinosaur Den, cheer on Santa shooting hoops,
wave at a pen of playful penguins, watch blazing Pirate Cannons and sail through tunnels
of moving lights. Over 50 themed displays and a 90-foot twinkling tree will have you
"oohing and aahing" throughout your adventure.


(0 Nov 2017) Christmas_FantasyWalk.jpg Saturday December 2 and Sunday December 3 ONLY!  4:00 pm - 9:00 pm, ADMISSION WITH PRE-PAID TICKETS ONLY! -- ON SALE NOVEMBER 1!

  • $10 - adult (13 & up)
  • $5 - child (4 thru 12)
  • FREE - 3 years old or younger

(0 Nov 2017) Christmas_FantasyDrive.jpgTuesday, December 5 - Saturday, December 30, 2017 - 6:00pm - 10:00pm, (Closed December 25), ADMISSION WITH PRE-PAID TICKETS ONLY! -- ON SALE NOVEMBER 1! --


  • $20 - PER VEHICLE (up to 12 people)
  • $50 - oversize vehicles (capacity 13+)

There is NO event parking at Vasona County Park! Free parking & shuttle available at NETFLIX, 121 Albright Way. We HIGHLY encourage ridesharing with LYFT or UBER.  Please respect our neighbors! Event cancelled ONLY with heavy rains or unsafe conditions.

Location: Vasona Lake County Park, 333 Blossom Hill Dr, Los Gatos Map
Phone: (408) 355-2201 •website Los Gatos create a direct event link
Gingerbread House Workshops
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Hurry, spots sell out fast! Tell Marini's you found out about this workshop on!
Date: Every day (Nov 25-Dec 23) at 2:00pm

Gingerbread House Workshops

For kids of all ages! Beautiful gingerbread houses that you design and create.


Classes fill quickly so call to reserve your spot.866-627-4647


Tell Marini's you found out about this workshop on!

Location: 1308 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz Map
Phone: 831.423.3299 •website Santa Cruz create a direct event link
Elephant Seal Walks
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State Park Ano Nuevo
3 mile hike over sand and sloping terrain to see thousands of elephant seals, including newborn pups, their mothers, and bulls
Date: Every day (Oct 20-Mar 31)
Ages: All: (Lots of walking) Admission Fees: Guided $7; Self-guided free
Special Instructions: Dec 15 - Mar 31

Explore Año Nuevo with a Docent Naturalist

gudied walks

Guided Elephant Seal Walks

Ticket sales open Friday, October 20

Cost: $7 per person + $3.99 reservation fee

Journey to view a large colony of Northern elephant seals, guided by your docent naturalist on this moderate 3-mile, 2.5 hour adventure. In the month of December, male elephant seals, or bulls, arrive along the shore of Año Nuevo State Park to establish hierarchy, while pregnant females come ashore to birth to their pups.


These popular guided walks take place rain or shine, so be prepared for windy, rainy conditions as well as muddy trails. Layered clothing, sturdy shoes, and rain gear is strongly advised. Umbrellas and strollers are not permitted. Pets are not allowed in the park. Parking is $10. For more information, please call (650) 879-2025 or for recorded information (650) 879-0227.


People with accessibility needs may reserve an equal access tour along the boardwalk.

These tours take place on Fridays, weekends, and select holidays. For reservations and info call ReserveCalifornia at 1-800-444-4445. Events made possible by Coastside State Parks Association and California State Parks.


Self-Guided Seal Walks

Daily, between 8:30am and 3:30pm (Natural Preserve closes at 5pm)

Stroll over sand dunes, enjoy beautiful ocean views, and gain a unique opportunity to view a large colony of Northern elephant seals on this 3-mile, 2.5-hour self-guided trail! Visit the female elephant seals as they return to shore to molt, or shed their fur, in this annual excursion.  Additionally, young pups are still ashore from the winter breeding season. Layered clothing, closed-toes shoes, and rain/wind gear are strongly advised. Umbrellas and strollers are not permitted inside the dune area. Pets are not allowed in the park. Walk is free; day-use vehicle fee is $10. Entrance to the reserve for your self-guided walk requires a free permit that can be obtained at the entrance station, or the Visitor Center. Please contact the park at 650-879-2025 for further information.


If you require mobility assistance, you may request a volunteer-led equal access tour. You will board our accessible van and get a ride to our wheelchair-accessible boardwalk. A volunteer(s) will accompany you to the two seal-viewing decks, explain the Northern elephant seal natural history, the history of the park, and answer questions. Reservations are required. Please, allow a 2-week advance notice. The volunteer led tour is free, day-use vehicle fee is $10. Contact the park at 650-879-2033 or email Events made possible by Coastside State Parks Association and California State Parks.

Location: Hwy 1, Pescadero Map
Phone: (650) 879-2025 •website Pescadero create a direct event link
Farley's Christmas Wonderland
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Farley's Christmas Wonderland
Visit an elaborate Christmas-themed oasis
Date: Every day (Nov 23-Dec 31) from 5:45pm to 9:00pm
Admission Fees: Donations accepted

Farley's Christmas Wonderland

untitled-design-37Tucked away in Seabright is a one-of-a-kind local neighborhood attraction: Farley's Christmas Wonderland.


Pat Farley, a local Seabright resident, creates an elaborate Christmas-themed oasis each year in his front yard and opens it up for the public to walk through and view.


If you're looking for a uniquely local Christmas experience to share with family then consider stopping by Farley's Christmas Wonderland.


Visit the Farley's Christmas Wonderland website or Facebook page for more information.


Location: 108 Seaview Ave., Aptos Map
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The Ultimate Christmas Show
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Mountain Community Theater
The fruitcakes of Mountain Community Theater invite you to take an irreverent, comedic, yet heartwarming trip through the holida
Date: Every day (Nov 24-Dec 17)
Ages: 12+ Admission Fees: $17-$20
Special Instructions: Fri & Sat 8pm, Sun2pm

The fruitcakes of Mountain Community Theater invite you to take an irreverent, comedic, yet heartwarming trip through the holidays in their upcoming comedy production of Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor's The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged) playing Nov. 24 through Dec. 17, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, and Sundays at 2 PM at Park Hall in Ben Lomond.


Tickets can be purchased for $20 general and $17 for students and seniors at, or at

It is festive, funny, physical and fun as some of your favorite MCT comedians poke fun at many holiday traditions, while stepping on more than a few sacred cows. There's lots of singing, a live band, and you can even bring a wrapped holiday gift of $5 value or less and participate in the audience gift exchange! Delicious holidays desserts will be served, as well as inspired madness! This hilarious show promises to boost your spirits and bring gales of holiday belly-aching laughter!

The show stars Santa Cruz area favorite comedians Karin Babbitt, W. Scott Whisler, and Jackson Wolffe, and is directed by MCT veteran Kathie Kratochvil, with musical direction by Mazera Cox, and choreography by Shannon Marie Kerr.

Audience members will enter the world belonging to the "Saint Everybody's Non-Denominational Universalist Church" who are currently hosting their annual "Multicultural Interfaith Holiday Variety Show and Christmas Pageant." Scheduled to perform are groups such as: The Holy Strollers (Holiday toddlers perform the Nativity story); as well as The Christmas Boys' Choir from our Our Lady of Eternal Suspicion Catholic Church.

  • Unfortunately, it is a dark and stormy night in the San Lorenzo Valley and all the roads into the Valley have been closed (sound familiar?). Fortunately, the costume trunks and props from all the scheduled performing acts arrived before the big storm. Unfortunately, the scheduled performers can't get into the Valley. So, the evening's hosts must perform the show themselves! Join us as Mountain Community Theater rekindles the joy, inner-child and familial dysfunction inside us all! This show is recommended for ages 12 and older.

  • Location: Park Hall, 9400 Mill Street, Ben Lomond Map
    Phone: (831) 336-4777 •website Ben Lomond create a direct event link
    Holiday Train Rides
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    Beach Boardwalk
    Celebrate the Holiday Season with a ride on one of three festive trains!
    Date: Every day (Nov 24-Dec 23)

    (0 Dec 2016) Boardwalk_Holiday-Train-Rides2.jpg

    Santa Cruz Holiday Lights Train

    November 24 through December 23

    Operated by Roaring Camp Railroads.
    Will-Call/Ticketing at Main Entrance

    Vintage excursion cars, adorned with thousands of colorful lights, roll through Santa Cruz streets.

    Passengers lend their voices to holiday carols and sip spiced cider while Santa visits with the little ones and the young at heart!





    Location: 400 Beach St, Santa Cruz Map
    website Santa Cruz create a direct event link
    December at The Farm
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    The Farm
    Carols, cookies, hot apple cider and moonlit hayrides. 6-9pm. Weather permitting!
    Date: Every day (Nov 21-Dec 23)

    Special Instructions: Spreckles Boulevard West at Highway 68

    Dec 2 & Dec 3 (Fri. & Sat.): Open House/Christmas Sale!  
    Our Last Day of 2016!

    Dec 2 (Fri.): Christmas Night at The Farm
    Carols, cookies, hot apple cider and moonlit hayrides. 6-9pm.  Weather permitting!

    Dec 9 (Fri.): Fresh-baked pies. Pick up from office (green house) 1pm-4pm.  Credit card or check only, please.

    Dec 16 (Fri.): Fresh-baked pies. Pick up from office (green house) 1pm-4pm. 

    Dec 19 (Mon.): Deadline for Christmas Pie orders.

    Dec 22 & 23 (Wed. & Thur.): Christmas Pie pick-up!  Pick up from office (green house) 1pm-4pm. 



    Location: Boulevard West, Spreckels Map
    Phone: (831) 455-2575 •websitecreate a direct event link
    Holiday Ice Skating
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    Beach Boardwalk
    Ice skate by the beach, on real ice!
    Date: Every day (Nov 11-Jan 7)
    Admission Fees: Each 1-hour session includes ice skate rental. $12

    Boardwalk Holiday Ice
    Presented by Dignity Health Medical Network

    November 11, 2017- January 7, 2018

    Celebrate this holiday season with a new family tradition - ice skating at the Boardwalk!

    Festivities Include:

    • Ice Skating by the Beach - on Real Ice!
    • Holiday Lights and Decorations
    • Boardwalk Rides* & Games
    • Indoor Arcades, Mini Golf, and Laser Tag
    • Classic Holiday Movies


    November 11 - December 24, 2017, and January 2 - 7, 2018

    Fridays-Sundays: 12pm-9pm

    Mondays-Thursdays: 4pm-9pm

    December 25, 2017 - January 1, 2018


    Ice Skating

    Our new 40' x 60' covered ice skating rink is open rain or shine!

    Each 1-hour session includes ice skate rental.


    photo of ice skating

    Reserve your ice skating session before you arrive!

    (Online reservations coming in November)


    *Please call (831) 423-5590 the day of your visit to confirm which rides and games are open.


    Location: 400 Beach St, Santa Cruz Map
    website Santa Cruz create a direct event link
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    First Night Monterey
    Dance, play, act, perform, create and sing our way into 2018!
    Date: Every day (Dec 17-Jan 1) from 3:00pm to 12:01am
    Admission Fees: $0 - $20

    Welcome to our FNM 2018 website, celebrating 25 years! Planning is being finalized and we will keep you updated with changes as they occur. Watch for a complete listing of performers, coming later this month (you can see a sneak peek here). 80% of the performances are indoors and an FNM Button is your ticket to those performances. 


    Kids' Night Out! The First Act for the Young and Young-at-Heart

    The most creative New Year's Eve you will have with your family!

    Kids' Night Out! The First Act for the Young and Young-at-Heart

    First Night is Monterey's most exciting, imaginative and uplifting cultural event. FNM is an affordable, alcohol-free family celebration of the arts on New Year's Eve from the 3 pm Opening Ceremony to the Countdown to Midnight; our theme for FNM 2018 celebrates "25 Years of Magic". The many performances range from Classical to Hip-Hop, Jazz to Reggae, dance and artwork.

    (0 Dec 2017) FNM_2018YouthButton_300x200.jpg (0 Dec 2017) FNM_Parade1.jpg (0 Dec 2017) FNM_2018AdultButton_300x200.jpg

    The most creative New Year's Eve you will have with your family!

    Kids' Night Out (5 and under free) features music & art activities for the younger set, culminating with the Costume Contest & Twilight Procession at 5:30 pm.


    At 3:00 p.m. kick-off at Colton Lawn on Pacific Street, culminating with the Twilight Parade at 5:30 p.m on Alvarado Street serving as the kids' Finale. Music, song, drumming, dance, ballet, face art, art creating, hat making and more! Check out the Colton Lawn on Pacific Street, the Monterey Art Museum and the Work Building on Alvarado Street for activities to complete artful time.


    Make sure to have your FNM button - admission to all the fun for the over-5 set! Please refer to the afternoon and evening grids to plan your New Year's Eve and participate in all the fun! Thanks to First Five Monterey County for their support of the free kids' activities.

    Location: Historic Downtown, Alvarez St, Monterey Map
    website Monterey create a direct event link
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