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Best Holiday Celebrations In The North Bay

The best holiday celebrations in the North Bay offer the sophistication of world class wineries to the small town charm of old fashioned rural celebrations with a twist. These parades come with floats, but not the traditional kind as Santa comes by yacht or other marine vessel, decked out with twinkling lights in the form of palm trees, the Sausalito sea lion and perhaps a flamingo. Santa also visits Calistoga not only at the Christmas breakfast but at the lighted tractor parade honoring agricultural heritage. If you have anything that floats, hauls or plows, sign up and flash your twinkling lights this year, or just come by for the carols and treats. These North Bay holiday celebrations are sure to bring cheer to all families.


Sausalito Lighted Boat Parade & Fireworks
100 Spinnaker Drive
Sausalito, CA ‎94965
(415) 332-1500

Dates: Dec. 13-15, 2013

Sausalito Lighted Boat Parade & Fireworks enchant with this spectacular celebration on the water and in the air. Enjoy the picturesque seafood restaurants and bars on the water and a moonlight stroll on the waterfront. In December, the yacht club also hosts the Children's Community Pancake Breakfast. Winterfest lasts three days on the waterfront and starts on the grounds of the Spinnaker restaurant.

Related: Best Art Galleries In The North Bay

(credit: Holiday Lighted Boat Parade 
Petaluma River Turning Basin
Petaluma, CA
(707) 769-0429

Date: Dec. 7, 2013 at 6:00 p.m.

The flotilla of decorated boats from any yacht club or even paddle boats will parade on the Petaluma River as they have for 20 years. Yachters and spectators take a short walk to historic downtown for shopping and dining after the parade. Boats aglow start at the Petaluma Marina at 5:30 p.m. and arrive in the Turning Basin between 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Check out the festivities from Water Street, Jack Balshaw Bridge or River Plaza Shopping Center. Yachts remain docked and on display all evening in the Historic Downtown harbor. It's behind the Great Petaluma Mill at 6 Petaluma Blvd.

(credit: Annual Calistoga Lighted Tractor Parade
Lincoln St.
Calistoga, CA 94515
(707) 942-6333

Date: Sat. Dec. 7, 2013, at 7 p.m.

Calistoga's Tractor Parade is for you if you have a tractor or just want an old fashioned, small town celebration. Celebrate the agricultural heritage with vintage and modern tractors, antique trucks and construction equipment rolling through the town's charming main street. Santa will appear rain or shine. Revelers who arrive early will be able to join in the Christmas carols while wandering up and down the parade route.

(credit:'s a Wonderful Life – A Live Radio Play
Napa County Fairgrounds Cropp Building
1435 N. Oak St.
Calistoga, CA 94515
(707) 942-2278

Dates: Dec. 6, 8,13-15, 2013

"It's a Wonderful Life – A Radio Play" takes a step back in time to the 1940s under the direction Sharie Renault, trained by Shakespeare and Company. Patrons become the live studio audience for a radio broadcast of Frank Capra's film. Small town George Bailey learns via Christmas magic that no man is a failure who has friends. It's also about giving back to the community you grew up in rather than going to the big city and pursuing ambition or money. Experience "It's a Wonderful Life" live with a few actors performing the voices of dozens while creating foley sound effects.

(credit: Community Christmas Bazaar and Santa's Workshop
Napa County Fairgrounds Tubbs Building
1435 N. Oak St.
Calistoga, CA 94515
(707) 942-4232

Date: Dec. 7 and 8, 2013

On December 7, Santa's Workshop Stations give kids from age two to 12 the opportunity to create ornaments, gingerbread houses and other Christmas gifts. Take holiday photos for your Christmas cards on the holiday stage. Also on December 7, the 44th Annual Calistoga Community Christmas Bazaar offers lovely one-of-a-kind items to wear, see, smell and taste. Everybody will enjoy the local arts, crafts, jewelry, baked goods, candies, ornaments and hundreds of items for oneself or as gifts. Buy for the home, friends and family. On Sunday, December 8 from 9 p.m. to noon, Christmas Breakfast with Santa at the fairgrounds will hit the spot after working up an appetite at the tractor parade, caroling and Christmas bazaar. It's more than pancakes, sausage and eggs. The workshop will be open before and after to make crafts.  Bring your own camera to take pictures with Santa as well.

Cindy Warner is a freelance writer and a San Francisco Bay Area native. Cindy has covered SF theater and opera for via her bicycle since January 2009. Check out her work on

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