By Misty Hall
The holiday season is here! (Unless you’re a pumpkin spice fan, in which case you kicked things off in August at Starbucks.) The Central Coast plays host to hundreds of holiday events, from haunted houses to winter wine walks, so get out there and celebrate!
• Oct. 1 to 31
Cambria Scarecrow Festival
Photo by Donna Wolfe
Move over, Dorothy, the scarecrows are coming! Hundreds of them, in fact, all over the city of Cambria. Residents of all ages get in on the fun. How many can you spot?
• Oct. 4 to 6
California Avocado Festival
It’s all about the avocado at the 33rd annual California Avocado Festival. Well, not JUST about the avocado — it’s also about music! Avofest is one of the state’s biggest free music festivals, with more than 74 musical acts on four stages, slated for 2019. Set in the beach town of Carpinteria, Avofest is home to the world’s largest vat of guacamole, as well as every kind of avocado food you can imagine (and plenty more you can’t!). Lots of activities, tastings, contests, learning opportunities, and more make this a great family event. Want to bring your pet? They’re not allowed iside the festival, but you can drop them in the free doggie daycare with Sandy Paws Carpinteria Canine Care.
Where: 800 Linden Ave, Carpinteria
• Oct. 4 to 6
Central Coast Railroad Festival
Train lovers unite! Check out this festival spread all over San Luis Obispo County Oct. 4 to 6. Private model train enthusiasts will open their doors to show off their model railways. Several other events, such talks at the SLO Railway Museum and the SLO Railroad Museum Train Fest (Oct. 6 at the museum) are on the lineup. There’s way too much to list here, so be sure to check out the website for tickets and full details!
Where: Various locations in San Luis Obispo County
• Oct. 4 to 30 Friday to Sunday) and Oct. 31
The Haunt in Atascadero
The Haunt in Atascadero is ranked among the top haunted houses on the Central Coast! What makes it different: rather than a trail of people moving through the space, only small groups are allowed to move through the space at a time. The intimate experience is immersive, interactive, and wholly thrilling. With lights-on tours for kids, regular shows, and full-scale, in-the-dark “night terror” shows, there’s a scare for every age and taste.
Where: 5805 El Camino Real, Atascadero
Tickets: $50 to $20; $40 four-packs
• Oct. 5 to 6
Morro Bay Harbor Festival
Head on down to the Morro Bay Embarcadero for two days of live music, family activities, contests, fresh fish & other food, and local spirits. Two stages of live music will continue rocking throughout the weekend. Need libations to get your groove on? Head to the Oktoberfest beer garden! Kids will have plenty to do, too, with a rock climbing wall, rides, face painting and lots more.
Where: 1210 Embarcadero, Morro Bay
Tickets: $6 to $10
• Oct. 5 to Oct. 27 (weekends)
Fillmore & Western Railway’s Pumpkinliner
Why drive to the pumpkin patch when you can ride there in a historic train instead? Hop on the vintage “Pumpkinliner” and cruise to the patch, where you can do a lot more than just pick out the perfect jack-o-lantern pumpkin! Enjoy Jolly Jumps, ride the antique carousel, get lost in the hay maze, get your face painted, explore the many vendors, brave the haunted house, and feast in goodies like tri-tip sandwiches, hot dogs, and roasted corn! Advanced booking is strongly recommended.
Where: Fillmore & Western Railway, 364 Main St, Fillmore
Tickets: $10-$22 (infants free)
• Oct. 5 to Oct. 27 (weekends)
Fillmore & Western Railway’s Zombie Hunter Train
Think you’ve got what it takes to fend off the zombies? Find out on the Zombie Hunter Train! Blast the zombies lurking along the train route with a paintball gun, or enjoy the show with a cocktail in hand. In addition to being open every weekend in October, the Fillmore & Western Railway has added two Fridays — Oct. 18 and 25 — to their lineup. Still, be sure to book early. See our Heritage Valley Halloween story for more details.
Where: Fillmore & Western Railway, 364 Main St, Fillmore
Tickets: $55, or $25 (ride only)
• Oct. 11 to 27 (weekends)
Santa Paula Ghostwalk
The Santa Paula Theater Center will presents its annual “theater in the streets” on three weekends in October. Head out on a walking tour led by the undead. See our article on Heritage Valley Halloween for more details.
Where: Former Fumigation Building , 822 E. Santa Barbara St, Santa Paula
Tickets: $10 to $15
• Oct. 12, 11 am to 6 pm
ART Santa Barbara Festival
The Santa Barbara Art District is hosting the ART Santa Barbara Festival celebrating the talented artists and growing number of galleries in the neighborhood and community as a whole. This festival of fine art designed as a self-guided walking tour of the Santa Barbara Art District. More than 15 galleries are participating featuring live painting, live music, live artist talks and of course, original artwork. Downtown’s Art District galleries exhibit the works of Santa Barbara and regional artists as well as internationally known, collectible works. More than 100 artists are represented. Oct. 11 from 5 to 8 p.m, a kick-off reception is planned at State Gallery (1219 State St.), featuring wine, hors d’oeuvres, and art by Santa Barbara’s Abstract Art Collective. An after-hours Print Fair is free and open to the public at Glenn Dallas Gallery, 927 State St, Oct. 12 from 6 to 8 pm
Where: Various locations in Santa Barbara
Tickets: varies; see website
• Oct. 11, 6 to 9 pm
Rocktoberfest at SLO Brew Rock
Can’t make it to the real thing? Let SLO Brew bring Oktoberfest to you — Central Coast style! Biergarten games, live music, lederhosen, an all-you-can-eat German buffet, keg-bowling, and beer maids running out quality brews … what more could you ask for?
Where: SLO Brew, 855 Aerovista Pl, San Luis Obispo
Tickets: $60 or $450 (VIP table for 6)
• Oct. 12, 12:30 to 4:30 pm
Santa Barbara Beer Festival
Brew up some fun with friends at the Santa Barbara Beer Festival! Held at the sprawling 230-acre Elings Park, the festival offers more than 40 beers, wines and ciders ‚ among them Angel City Brewery, Flying Embers, Firestone, Golden Road, Kona Brewing Co, Institution Ale Co, Island Brewing Co, Los Padres Brewing Co, Lagunitas, Poseidon, Rincon, Stone, SLO Brew, Sunshine Bottleworks Yerba Mate, Topa Topa Brewing Co, Truly, Tura, and tons more. Also on offer: plenty of local foods and live music from Wall of Tom, SolTree, Rent Party Blues Band, Kenny Nelson, and DJ Wizard. Get in an hour early with a VIP pass. The event benefits the Santa Barbara Rugby Association and the Elings Park Foundation.
Where: Elings Park, 1298 Las Positas Rd, Santa Barbara
Tickets: $45 to $65 (both include souvenir glass)
• Oct. 12, 2 to 6 pm
Arroyo Grande Beer Feast Festival
Beer lovers, rejoice! Come “feast” on 33 craft beers and food from 15 restaurants while enjoying live music in Arroyo Grande’s beautiful Heritage Square Park. Proceeds go to 5 Cities Meals on Wheels and the Arroyo Grande Village Improvement Association.
Where: 201 Nelson Street, Arroyo Grande
Tickets: $65/$75; $25 for designated drivers (food only)
• Oct. 17 to 20
Taste of the Santa Ynez Valley
The Santa Ynez Valley, home to one of the California Central Coast’s renowned wine regions, will host its inaugural four-day food, wine and experiential event, Taste of the Santa Ynez Valley: The First Course in Food, Wine, and Experiences, Oct. 17 to 20. The new signature event will take place in the six Santa Ynez Valley wine country towns of Los Alamos, Santa Ynez, Los Olivos, Solvang, Ballard, and Buellton, with immersive experiences meant to serve as an introductory course to the edible and imbibe-able bounty of the burgeoning food, wine and beer destination. More than 100 restaurants, wineries, wine tasting rooms, breweries, distilleries, and entertainment venues will welcome Santa Ynez Valley visitors and locals during the four days of foodie adventure, with other many associated events on the lineup.
“Santa Ynez Valley is quietly rising to the top of wine and food lovers’ lists as a must-visit wine region, and our offering of not one, but six towns to explore and consume, means there’s something here for nearly every ‘taste’,” said Shelby Sim, President / CEO of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley, the destination marketing organization overseeing the event’s production.
Where: Various locations in Santa Ynez Valley
Tickets: varies; see website
• Oct. 18 to 20
The cult hit Sideways put the Santa Ynez Valley on the wine map. Now, the region is paying tribute to the movie with a festival in its honor. Screenings, panels, tastings (especially of Pinot Noirs!) … this festival promises to be a blast for Sideways fans and the uninitiated alike! See our article in the Santa Ynez section for more information.
Where: Various locations in Santa Ynez Valley
Tickets: varies; see website
For more: sidewaysfest.com
• Oct. 18 to 20, 4:30 to 7:30 pm
Complimentary workshop at Lucky Hen Larder
with artist Chelsea Ward. Treat yourself to gourmet/artisan baked goods, salads and sandwiches or a charcuterie platter
• Oct. 18
Boo at the Zoo at Santa Barbara Zoo
Come out and trick-or-treat in a safe, fun, and educational environment. Hop aboard the Boo-Choo-Choo train, get up close with creepy crawly zoo residents, play games, and more!
Where: Santa Barbara Zoo, 500 Ninos Dr, Santa Barbara
Tickets: $12 to $20
• Oct. 18-20
Paso Robles Wine Country Harvest Wine Weekend
Love vino? Then get yourself out to Paso Robles Wine Country for the Harvest Wine Weekend! With more than 140 activities all over the region — from exclusive winemaker dinners to ceremonial grape stomps to special releases — you’re sure to find your way to a perfect, wine-drenched adventure. And if 140 events sounds like a lot, hop over to pasowine.com, where all the events are listed.
Where: Paso Robles Wine Country
• Oct. 26, 5 to 8:30 pm
Zoo Boo at the Charles Paddock Zoo
The Central Coast’s only zoo does it right for Halloween! Enjoy a night suitable for all ages featuring a costume contest, games, a haunted house, and of course, more than 200 incredible animals!
Where: Charles Paddock Zoo, 9100 Morro Road, Atascadero
Tickets: $13 (ages 2 and under are free)
• Oct. 27, noon to 3 pm
Día de los Muertos Santa Barbara
With its Spanish architecture, the beautiful courtyard of the Casa de le Guerra is the perfect place for a Dia de los Muertos celebration. The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation is bringing this event back for the whole family Oct. 27. Celebrate the “Day of the Dead” by making traditional decorations like tissue paper flowers tin art, sugar skulls and block prints, then feasting on Mexican hot chocolate and pan de muerto.
Where: Casa de la Guerra, 15 E. De la Guerra St, Santa Barbara
• Oct. 27
SYV Museum movie screening
SYV Museum movie screening of “Townspeople” presented by John Copeland, Producer and Board member
• Oct. 27, 2 to 5:30 pm
Taste of Ojai
Come have a taste — or two, or three — of the Ojai Valley! This Rotary Club of Ojai event features fantastic local wines, beers, and spirits, along with food from a diverse range of local restaurants. From Home Kitchen’s famous grilled cheese to Mandala’s unmatched Tibetan cuisine; Boccali’s pizza to Lark Ellen Farms grain-free granola; The Artesian’s meatballs to Ojai Pub’s gastro-pub fare to Wild at Heart’s strawberry mint bio-soda, there really will be something for every palate. On tap: Ojai Valley Brewery’s craft beers, which use local chaparral herbs to tell the tale of Ojai through brews; Topa Mountain Winery’s lovely selection of wines sourced from the Santa Barbara region; and Alquimia Organic Tequila, voted No. 1 by GQ and produced by Ojai’s Murillo family. More is on the horizon, so check the website for updates.
This 19th annual event has moved from the Ojai Valley Inn to the Topa Mountain Winery. This relatively new tasting room sits on a beautiful property just west of downtown with what is arguably the area’s best view of Ojai’s famous Topa Topa mountains. The bright and airy indoor tasting room has plenty of seating faces east toward the Topas. Take in the “Pink Moment” indoors or out in the expansive backyard, which has a small vineyard, plenty of intimate seating areas, a music stage, and lawn games like giant Jenga and bocce ball. Live music will be provided by the Danny McGaw Band throughout the afternoon. Proceeds from this event go to the Rotary Club of Ojai, which gives out almost $70,000 in college scholarships to local students annually.
Where: Topa Mountain Winery, 821 W. Ojai Ave, Oja
Tickets: $75 to $85
• Oct. 31
Halloween Street Faire
Halloween Street Faire 5-8 Sagunto Street in Santa Ynez will feature music by the Agin Brothers Territorial Law Band, bounce houses, small tractor riding course for the kids, candy, prizes and a Halloween Costume Contest. Besides the typical age group categories, two new categories have been added this year; Best Family Themed Costume and Best Homemade Costume. The movie “Young Frankenstein” will be showing outdoors at the Santa Ynez Historical Museum. The Santa Ynez Elks will be barbequing their delicious tri tip sandwiches and most restaurants will be open. The event is sponsored by Santa Ynez Valley Youth Recreation, The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, Village Properties, El Rancho Market and the members of the Santa Ynez Chamber of Commerce.
• Oct. 31 to Nov. 10
Ojai Film Festival
Celebrating 20 years, the Ojai Film Festival returns to the bucolic Ojai Valley Oct. 31 to Nov. 10. Featuring free Halloween films the first evening, the week swells with screenings ranging from environmental documentaries to animated shorts. See our article in the Ojai Valley section for more information.
Where: Various locations in the Ojai Valley
Tickets: varies; see website
• Nov. 9, 10
Vaquero Show and Sale
Vaquero Show and Sale at the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum, 3596 Sagunto Street in Santa Ynez A special event featuring Vaquero horsemanship demonstrations as well as western art, home décor, horse bits, spurs, chaps and more
• Nov. 11, 10 am to 3 pm
Veterans Day Commemoration at Reagan Library
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library will host a Veterans Day event to honor those who serve in the United States Armed Forces. Activities include live music, a Civil War encampment military vehicle display, and a special program to honor all branches of the military. Speaking will be Captain Dan Pedersen, who served in Vietnam and was among the men who formed the Navy’s legendary “Topgun” graduate program. There is no cost for military vets with ID (but reservations are recommended).
Where: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, 40 Presidential Dr, Simi Valley
Tickets: $29.95 (includes library entry)
• Nov. 16 and 17
Ojai Holiday Home Tour & Marketplace
The 23rd annual Ojai Holiday Home Tour & Marketplace invites guests to tour four Ojai Valley residences, highlighting the distinctive architectural and historical styles while giving glimpses to the various holiday themes. Self-guided tours runs 10 am to 4 pm. each day. This year, a tour highlight is the acclaimed modern country home of architect Scott Johnson, of Johnson Fain.
Also taking place the same weekend is the Holiday Marketplace with its new location in Ojai’s Libbey Park. The companion event will feature lifestyle and fashion items from more than 40 vendors. Admission to the Marketplace is free. The weekend benefits the Ojai Music Festival and its BRAVO education and community program, which offers free music workshops to the Ojai Valley public schools and the community.
Where: various Ojai Valley locations
• Nov. 25, 10 am to 3 pm
Carpinteria Valley Museum of History Holiday Faire
Peruse through more than 85 artisans at the 39th annual Carpinteria Valley Museum of History’s Holiday Faire. From ceramics, to succulent dish gardens, exotic wooden bowls to fresh, home-baked treats, there will be something for every taste and budget. Live bluegrass and Irish folk music help set the tone — as do the face-painting booth and visits to Santa Claus!
Where: 956 Maple Ave, Carpinteria
• Nov. 29 to Dec. 23, 5 to 9 pm
Cambria Christmas Market
Enter a winter wonderland and find yourself immersed in a world of twinkling lights, music and merriment this holiday season in Cambria. Shop in the huge (and adorable!) vendor market, take photos with Santa, enjoy live music, taste traditional German foods, sip warm glühwein, and more at this charming outdoor festival. With a biergarten. live music, train rides, and more, this is one NOT to be missed!
Where: Cambria (park at Coast Union High School, 2950 Santa Rosa Creek Rd, or The Brambles, 4005 Burton Dr, and catch a free shuttle to the location)
• Nov. 30 to Dec. 22 (weekends)
Fillmore & Western Railway’s Sugar Plum Express
Picking out a Christmas tree is a special family tradition. Why not add to it with a ride on a vintage train? Pick out a beautiful pre-cut Christmas tree, take photos with Santa Claus, take a ride on the antique carousel, jump in the Jolly Jump, peruse the Holiday Village and its wide selection of gifts and holiday-themed wares, and lots more! As with all Fillmore & Western Railway holiday events, booking in advance is strongly recommended.
Where: Fillmore & Western Railway Santa Paula Depot, 200 N. 10th St, Santa Paula
Tickets: $10-$20 (infants free)
• Nov. 30 to Dec. 30
Christmas at Hearst Castle
As if Hearst Castle wasn’t grand enough, just wait till you see it during the holidays! Mr. Hearst went all out in the ’20s and ‘30s, and this unique state park carries on the tradition, with huge Christmas trees and elaborate decorations indoors and out.
Where: Hearst Castle, 750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon
• Dec. 1, 5 pm
Santa Ynez Community Christmas Tree Lighting
Santa Ynez Community Christmas Tree Lighting 4-6. A delightful small town event with caroling, dance performances, hot cider, holiday sweets, crafts for the kids all culminating at the end of the evening by lighting the largest living tree in the SY Valley.
• Dec. 1, 5 pm
Arroyo Grande Christmas Parade
This 17th annual Christmas Parade winds through the Arroyo Grande Village, and features dozens of local entries that highlight the heart and soul of this sweet Central Coast community.
Where: Arroyo Grande Village
• Dec. 5, 12 and 19, 4:30 to 7:30 pm
Christmas at the Ranch with Santa
Celebrate the season at the Historic Camarillo Ranch Dec. 10! Get a tour of this beautiful and historic estate, which dates back to 1892 and was owned by the city’s namesake, Adolfo Camarillo. The property’s barn has been transformed into Santa’s workshop, where you can get a photo with Santa, feast on festive food and drinks, explore the holiday market, and enjoy the Victorian Carolers! In the giving spirit? Donate to the Camarillo Ranch Foundation’s toy drive!
Where: Camarillo Ranch, 201 Camarillo Ranch Rd, Camarillo
Tickets: $6, or $20 for a family four-pack
• Dec. 6 to 7
Solvang Julefest Tree Lighting and Parade
Ring in the season in Solvang! Dec. 6 at 5 pm, watch as the tree is lit in Solvang Park, then enjoy free live entertainment from ballerinas, bands carolers, and Santa Claus! The next day, more than 400 participants will join in the Julefest Parade. Some of the best viewing points lie along Mission Drive and Copenhagen Drive and surrounding streets.
Where: Mission Drive, Solvang
• Dec. 7, noon to 8 pm
Ventura Winter Wine Walk & Holiday Street Fair
Ventura’s favorite holiday wine event is back and it’s bigger than ever! Wine your way through the city’s historic downtown tasting beer, wine, and champagne all along the way. Tastings are set up in and around shops, so you’ll get the chance to explore just how amazing this shopping district really is! Come early and check out the Holoday Street Fair from noon to 8 pm Bring your holiday shopping list — you’re going to be able to find something for everyone Dec. 7! (And hey, if you just happen to do it all with a drink in your hand, we’re not here to judge.) As you go between wine tasting, you’ll get to enjoy live entertainment, beautiful holiday lighting, and snowfall from 6:45 to 8 p.m!
Where: Downtown Ventura
Tickets: $55 to $99
• Dec. 7, 8 pm
Granada Theatre Holiday Pops
The Santa Barbara Symphony is descending on the beautiful Granada Theatre Dec. 7 for the Holiday Pops concert. Join conductor Andy Einhorn and Broadway star vocalist Christiane Noll as they lead you through an evening of holiday favorites at this historic location.
Where: Granada Threatre, 1214 State St, Santa Barbara
Tickets: $34 to $137
• Dec. 7, 9 am to 6:30 pm
Oxnard Tamale Festival
Nothing says Christmas in Southern California like fresh, homemade tamales! Come celebrate this local specialty at the 12th annual Oxnard Tamales Festival. Music, fun for the kids, and of course, some truly amazing food! Bring the family for a day of holiday fun.
Where: Plaza Park, Downtown Oxnard
• Dec. 7, 10 to 11 am.
South County Holiday Parade
Head out to Grover Beach for a morning of fun with the kids! After winding its way through town, the parade ends at the Ramona Garden Park Center. Attendees are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy as admission to the event, which will be donated to local charities.
Where: City of Grover Beach
• Dec. 7, 6 to 8 pm
Morro Bay Lighted Boat Parade
Morro Bay does the holidays in true California beach style, with its Lighted Boat Parade. More than 40 boats decorate themselves from bow to stern with Christmas lights that would make Tim “The Toolman” Taylor jealous. The evening includes many other activities, including photos with Santa, hot cocoa stations, and live music.
Where: Embarcadero Morro Bay
• Dec. 8, 5:30 pm
Santa Barbara Parade of Lights
The annual Santa Barbara Parade of Lights kicks off at 3 pm on the City Pier with the opportunity to play in a whopping 10 tons (tons!) of snow. Get a picture with Santa and a goody bag (first 200 kids) and explore the harbor before settling in for the parade at 5:30 pm. About 30 boats year year — of all sizes — participate. The evening is capped off with a fireworks display!
Get to Stearns Wharf for the best viewing opportunities. It’s also the location of the judging.
Where: Santa Barbara Harbor
• Dec. 13, 5 to 9 pm Atascadero Winter Wonderland
Come see Atascadero’s Sunken Gardens & Downtown transform into a winter paradise! Yes — snow, in Atascadero, and lots of it! Bring the kids to enjoy the giant snow slide, snow play area, rock climbing wall, bouncy houses, food, booths, and tons more. You might even spot Santa Claus!
Where: Sunken Gardens, 6500 Palma, Atascadero
• Dec. 13 to 14, 6:30 pm (parade)
Ventura Harbor Parade of Lights
The Ventura Harbor is great any time of year, with a multitude of excellent shops and restaurants and fun family events. During the holidays they really kick it up a notch, and the annual Parade of Lights is the main event. Watch as boats decked out in holiday lights ring the harbor, with plenty of cheerful passengers and music. Be sure to get there early — this is one of Ventura’s most popular events! Grab a bite to eat and enjoy the holiday marketplace (complete with games and rides for the kids!) before the sun sets and the big show begins.
Where: Ventura Harbor Village, 1583 Spinnaker Dr, Ventura
• Dec. 14, 9 am to 4 pm
Purrs & Paws Holiday Boutique & Vintage Market
Love animals? Shop for your holiday gifts and help support the Humane Society of Ventura County at the same time at the Purrs & Paws Holiday Boutique & Vintage Market!
Where: Chaparral Auditorium, 414 E. Ojai Ave, Ojai
• Dec. 14 (noon)
Orcutt Christmas Parade
More than 50 years old and with dozens of entries, this charming small-town affair is a true throwback. Expect marching bands, youth and veterans groups, community clubs, and — of course — a visit from Kris Kringle himself!
Where: Downtown Orcutt
• Dec. 14, 10 am to 8 pm
Channel Islands Harbor Parade of Lights
The 54th annual Channel Islands Harbor Parade of Lights returns to Oxnard with a full day of fun Dec. 14. Enjoy a snow park during the day near Marine Emporium Landing (3600 Harbor Blvd, Oxnard), get your photo taken with Santa Claus, and explore the many food, gift and craft vendors — as well as the area’s fun and diverse shops. The main event kicks off at 7 pm with the Parade of Lights, which begins in front of Peninsula Park and loops around the main channel toward the Pacific Corinthian Yacht Club and back. Reserve a table at one of the harbor restaurants for front-row seats (and great food to boot).
Where: Channel Islands Harbor, Oxnard
• Dec. 14 to 5, 11 am to 4 pm
Julefest Wine & Beer Walk
Sip your way through Solvang at this “spirited” two day event! More than 15 local wineries and breweries are participating this year, and you get to be the judge of whose brews are best. Be sure to save room for the uncorking of the traditional “gløgg!” Buy your tickets early; they often sell out!
Where: Various locations in Solvang