Our neighbors to the north were hit hard by the recent fires—let’s step up and support them this holiday season! Much of Sonoma and Napa Counties is open for business and eager to welcome visitors to parades, a reindeer run, pie tastings and more. Read on for 15 of our favorite holiday events you should add to your calendar!

photo: Visit Petaluma

1. Santa’s Riverboat Arrival – Santa leaves his sleigh at home and arrives via tugboat on the Petaluma River to greet children of all ages. They are welcomed by costumed dancers from the Petaluma School of Ballet’s Nutcracker and then head off to sit for photos with the kids. Free. Sat., Nov. 25. 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. River Plaza Shopping Center, 50 E. Washington St., Petaluma. 

2. Festival of Trees – Oooh and aaah over hundreds of themed trees created by local businesses and bid on your favorite. Enjoy live music, treats at the sweet shop and photos with Santa. Free. Fri., Dec. 1, 6-9 p.m. & Sat., Dec. 2, 3-9 p.m. Hotel Petaluma, 205 Kentucky St., Petaluma.

3. Healdsburg Turkey Trot – Burn some calories before the big meal at this turkey trot that’s perfect for the whole family. This 5k run/walk takes you through the Healdsburg Open Space Preserve. $35/adults, $25/youth, $15/kids 5 and under. Thu., Nov. 23, 8 a.m. Starts at Vine and North Streets, Healdsburg. 

 photo: Visit Petaluma

4. Holiday Lighted Boat Parade – A flotilla of decorated boats make their way to the Petaluma River Turning Basin in the heart of historic downtown. Free. Sat., Dec. 9. 6-8 p.m. Petaluma Turning Basin. 

5. Napa’s 55th Annual Christmas Parade – Enjoy cars, horses and even children decorated in festive lights at this annual parade. Following the parade, Santa Claus will be in the “Big Chair on the Riverfront” to hear Christmas wishes. Free. Sat., Nov. 25. 5-7 p.m. Second and Third Streets, Downtown Napa. 

6. Holidays at Healdsburg Museum – Model Trains Spectacular – Enjoy this spectacular Lionel scale-model trains featured in small-town winter settings from the mid 1940s to the 1960s. Free. Wed.-Sun., Nov. 24-Jan. 7. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Healdsburg Museum, 221 Matheson St., Healdsburg. 

photo: Petaluma Pie Company

7. Holiday Pie TastingPear Ginger Cardamom, Apple Pecan Crumble with Salted Caramel, and pumpkin are just a few of the options that will be available for sampling and purchase. Free samples available Dec. 2, 9 & 16, noon-3 p.m. Petaluma Pie Company, 125 Petaluma Blvd. N., Suite C. (in Putnam Plaza). 

8. City of Lights Driving Tour – Grab a map from the Petaluma Visitors Center and tour houses all decked out with twinkling lights. Free. Dec. 2-30. 5-10 p.m. Maps available at 210 Lakeville St., Petaluma. 

9. The Reindeer Run – Lace up your sneakers and get decked out in your Santa hat for either the 3-mile or 6.5-mile option of this fun run. $32-45. Sat., Dec. 2. 8 a.m. runner check-in, 9 a.m. race start. Thompson Trail on Wetlands Edge View Area Trailhead, American Canyon.

photo: Napa Valley Wine Train

10. Santa Train – All aboard! The Napa Valley Wine Train transforms into the Santa Train for the holiday season complete with games, sing-alongs and a fun cast of holiday-inspired characters. Sip some hot chocolate and enjoy fresh-baked cookies. $49-69/person. Nov. 18-Dec. 29. 1275 McKinstry St., Napa. 

11. Brick Palooza – LEGO fans, this event is for you. Come see all sorts of displays made out of LEGO bricks. Special robotics workshops are available for an additional fee. $12/person. Sun., Dec. 3. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Veterans Building, 1351 Maple Ave., Santa Rosa.

12. Gingerbread House Showcase and Competition – Enter your gingerbread masterpiece in the competition or stop by to view those on display. Free. Dec. 15-17. Hotel Petaluma, 205 Kentucky St., Petaluma. 

13. Lighted Tractor Parade – Celebrate the holidays at this small town celebration where vintage and modern tractors, antique trucks and construction equipment get decked out in twinkling lights. Free. Sat., Dec. 2. 7-8 p.m. Stevenson and Cedar Streets, Calistoga. 

photo: Petaluma School of Ballet

14. The NutcrackerIt just wouldn’t be the holidays without watching the nutcracker battle the mouse king! Grab some tickets to The Nutcracker performed by Petaluma School of Ballet and North Coast Ballet California to usher in the holiday season. $16-29. Dec. 15-17. Evert B, Person Theatre at Sonoma State University, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. 

15. Napa Valley Wine Trolley “Holiday Light Tours” – Hop aboard the Holiday Wine Trolley and take a joyful tour through historic Downtown Napa and its Victorian neighborhoods. The vintage Cable Car takes visitors and locals on a fun ride filled with classic carols from the 1890s-1940s, and lots of holiday spirit. $15/child, $25/adult. Dec. 8-10, 15-17 & 22-23. Departs from Oxbow Public Market, 610 First St., Napa. 

What’s your favorite holiday tradition in wine country? Let us know below!


—Kate Loweth