Sonoma and Napa Wine Country Family Holiday Fun

November 16, 2015

Lighting of the SnowmenOne of the benefits of living in the North Bay is having the Wine Country of Sonoma and Napa right in our own backyard. It's a short trip from Marin but a world away, especially during the holidays, when the area does itself up in style.

Here are some selected family-friendly holiday events and happenings in Sonoma and Napa, as well as a few of our favorite places to visit in the Wine Country. There's nothing quite like taking in the Wine Country scenery (and maybe a glass of pinot noir) on a crisp and clear December day! Some of these events require tickets or advance reservations, so make sure you check for availability before you go.

Sonoma Valley

A Winter Circus for the Holidays at Cornerstone Sonoma
November 27–29, December 19–20, 26 & 27
1, 3 & 5 pm

An old style circus based on the French tradition of the 1920’s, Le Cirque de Bohème will transport you into a magical world filled with enchantment, adventure and wonder. This winter a Le Cirque de Bohème presents a new show: Stolen Moonlight. Delight in work of world class performers including a unicycle, contortionist, juggler, slack-rope, hand chair balancing, aerial fabrics, and a hooper aerialist. Tickets: $28 general, $18 kids under 15. More information

Sonoma Holiday Tree Lighting
Friday, December 4, 5–6 pm

Kick off the holidays at Sonoma's historic Plaza with Santa's arrival, a tree lighting, and more. It all takes place on Friday, December 4 at 5 pm. More information at (707) 996-1033.

Photos with Santa at Larson Family Winery
Saturday & Sunday, December 5 & 6, noon–4 pm
Larson Family Winery near Sonoma, is a great family-friendly winery. Kids can get their photo taken with Santa at the winery on Friday and Saturday, December 5 and 6, from noon to 4 pm. Photos are free but donations accepted. Larson Family Winery is located at 23355 Millerick Road in Sonoma. More infomation

Cornerstone Sonoma Lighting of the Snowmen
Sunday, December 6, 3 pm
Bring the family to watch the annual Lighting of the Snowmen at Cornerstone Sonoma. Enjoy live music, holiday children’s films in the olive grove cinema, pictures with Santa, hot chocolate, warm chestnuts, beer garden, and much more. Admission to Sonoma Valley’s traditional holiday kick-off event is free and open to the public. Parking $10. Location: 23570 Arnold Drive, Sonoma. For more info, visit their website.

Christmas at the Mission
Saturday, December 12, 4:30, 5:30, 6:30 & 7:30 pm
Four candlelight choral sessions take place in the Sonoma Mission Chapel, with a campfire in the Barracks courtyard along with live music and refreshments served in the breezeway. The Pickle Creek Jug Band will perform at the Toscano Hotel. Tickets for the Mission Chapel performances will be distributed on Saturday November 21 at 10 am in front of the Mission. A donation of $2.50 per ticket is suggested, maximum four tickets per person. More information

Other Places to Visit for Family Fun

While you're in Sonoma Valley, check out some of our favorite family destinations, including Cline Cellars (where you can feed the fish) and the Missions Museum, Larson Family Winery, which offers outdoor games and even ride-on toys for kids, Sonoma Train Town (open Friday–Sunday, 10 am–5 pm), Jack London State Historic Park, and the Sonoma Plaza with its historic sites.

Napa Valley

Napa's Christmas Parade
Saturday, November 28, 5 pm
The theme of 52nd annual Christmas parade is “Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas”, which lends itself to all kinds of creative interpretations. Napans build floats, decorate cars, animals and children, and march down the street in full Holiday spirit. Following the parade, Santa Claus will be in the lobby of the Andaz hotel. Free admission. More information

Napa Valley Wine Train Santa Trains
Mondays–Thursdays November 30–December 17

Napa Valley Wine Trains' Santa Express Trains are a magical experience for the whole family. Trains run Monday–Thursday from 9–11:30 am and 3–5:30 pm. Santa and some special friends will be on board, of course. Tickets do sell out very early, so check for availablity at (800) 427-4124. Tickets range from $25–$45 per person. Refreshments available for purchase on board. More information

Calistoga Christmas Faire
Saturday, December 5, 9 am–4 pm
This event at the Napa County Fairgrounds includes Breakfast with Santa, live music, Pet Santa, children's crafts, holiday contests, and a kitchen offering holiday treats, snacks, and festive drinks, as well as the opportunity to shop for artwork and crafts. More information

Calistoga Lighted Tractor Parade and Holiday Village
Saturday, December 5, 7–8 pm
This small town holiday celebration, now in its 20th year, features vintage and modern tractors and other vehicles decked out in dazzling lights on Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga's charming main street. Santa will make a special appearance, of course. Admission is free. More information

5th Annual Holiday Tree Lighting and Celebration at Robert Mondavi Winery
Saturday, December 5, 3–5 pm
Welcome the holiday season at Robert Mondavi Winery's annual holiday party, which includes a tree lighting, horse-and-buggy rides through the vineyards, wine tasting, hot cider, carolers, Italian cookies, and cheese charcuterie appetizers. Admission is $25 per person; free for children under 12, Wine Club Members, and those who bring a food donation for Napa Valley Food Bank. 7801 St. Helena Highway, Oakville. More information

Pioneer Christmas at Bale Grist Mill
December 12, 10 am–5 pm

Every Christmas season, Bale Grist Mill hosts a 19th-century Christmas celebration, pioneer style. Make a clove pomander or wreath of rosemary for your home, or string popcorn and cranberries for the tree. Write a letter to Santa in calligraphy and seal with red wax. Children especially enjoy decorating gingerbread cookies, cutting paper snowflakes and making “leavings dolls” out of scraps of fabric. There are demonstrations throughout the day: lace making, wool spinning, waxed egg decorating and milling demonstrations. Cookies and cider too! Admission $5, kids under 5 free. Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park is located between St. Helena and Calistoga along Highway 29/128. More information