The Napa Valley’s string of small towns from Calistoga to Napa are rolling out their culinary stars and creativity during December to celebrate the holiday season in ways that offer guests great reasons to stay for days.
Below is a chronological listing of many of the activities. And a variety of special offers that make it easy to stay a little longer are available at area inns and resorts.
The Napa Valley is home to the founders of America’s fine wine industry – legendary entrepreneurs who showed the world that the art of winemaking had crossed continents – and is prized for its natural beauty, phenomenal culinary scene, world-class hotel accommodations, robust arts community, and one-of-a-kind wellness experiences including the region’s famed spas, mud baths and healing geo-thermal springs. The word Napa means ‘land of plenty’ in the language of its first known inhabitants, the Wappo Indians, and the Valley itself is one of the most precious agricultural preserves on earth – a place that moves in perfect synchrony with the seasons. The area was voted the World’s #1 Food & Wine Destination in the recent 2010 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards, and is internationally recognized as one of only nine “Great Wine Capitals.”
- NOVEMBER 26, from 2-5:30 p.m. – YOUNTVILLE’S ANNUAL FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS – Kick off the holiday season at the 22nd Annual Festival of Lights. Enjoy gourmet food and wine, holiday entertainment, horse-drawn carriage rides, late shopping and dining at local galleries, boutiques and restaurants, a visit with Santa and more.
- NOVEMBER 27, from 5-8 p.m. – NAPA CHRISTMAS PARADE – For great holiday and family fun, don’t miss the annual Napa Christmas Parade, with its spectacular floats. Follow Santa as he leads everyone to the Napa Town Center Rotunda at the end of the parade for free cookies and hot chocolate.
- DECEMBER 3-18, THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS AT MEADOWOOD – Guests are invited to attend Meadowood’s signature holiday culinary extravaganza as 12 of the country’s most renowned chefs collaborate with 12 of The Napa Valley’s preeminent vintners to present holiday feasts on 12 festive December evenings in the heart of America’s premiere wine growing region. Along with Christopher Kostow, Chef at The Restaurant at Meadowood – which recently earned the Michelin Three-Star rating – the event will feature cuisine from world-celebrated chefs and Napa Valley vintners.
- DECEMBER 3 – FEBRUARY 6, 2011 – CALISTOGA’S WINTER IN THE WINERIES – A great way to tour, taste wine and meet winemakers at 15 award-winning wineries in and around this northernmost Napa Valley town. Purchase an event passport for $50, which will cover a tasting at all 15 wineries and provide special offers at Calistoga’s finest restaurants and lodging properties.
- DECEMBER 4, from 2-6 p.m. NAPA’S HOLIDAY HISTORIC B&B TOUR AND TASTE EVENT – Featuring food and wine pairings from the City of Napa’s premiere chefs and winemakers, each of the 12 historic Napa inns will be decked out for the holidays, with festive lights and entertainment – live music, choral ensembles, pastry demonstrations and even mini massages. Buses and shuttles will provide complementary transportation between inns. Tickets are $55 per person and include food, wine and access to all B&B tours.
- DECEMBER 4, beginning at 7 p.m. – CALISTOGA LIGHTED TRACTOR PARADE – The 15th Annual Calistoga Lighted Tractor Parade is the ultimate small-town holiday experience in a delightfully quirky parade. Vintage and modern tractors, antique trucks, and construction equipment bedecked with dazzling lights will roll down Calistoga’s scenic main street to celebrate the season and the city’s agricultural heritage in a uniquely fun way. Santa himself makes a special appearance! This popular Napa Valley event gets bigger and better every year and is perfect for the whole family. Local merchants stay open late for holiday shopping and offer spiced cider, Christmas cookies and other sweet treats.
- DECEMBER 10-12, NAPA TRUFFLE FESTIVAL – A celebration of food, wine and most importantly truffles, the inaugural Napa Truffle Festival features a unique combination of leading truffle cultivation experts and scientists, along with internationally renowned Michelin-star chefs and special guests from the food and wine world. Events include organized dinners at select Napa restaurants, cultivation and culinary seminars, cooking classes, a truffle orchard tour excursion, Michelin Star Truffle Dinner and a Champagne Truffle Brunch, followed by an Epicurean Marketplace.
- DECEMBER 1 – JANUARY 2 – YOUNTVILLE’S NEW HOLIDAY “WINTERSCAPE” – The Town of Yountville transforms into a holiday winter wonderland during the entire month of December. Visitors can ice-skate under the stars at the town’s new Vintage Winter Pavilion, enjoy complimentary horse-drawn carriage rides through the town (Dec 4, 11, 18 & 31); explore the Dreams of Toyland exhibition at The Napa Valley Museum, featuring a magical holiday exhibition of Old World toys, games, decorations and Victorian ornaments (available through Jan. 23, 2011); or take in a holiday performance at the Lincoln Theatre – seasonal shows include the Oak Ridge Boys Christmas Show (December 8) and the 10th anniversary of Napa Regional Dance Company’s Nutcracker (December 18 & 19).
- DECEMBER 11, from 3-6 p.m. – 22ND ANNUAL HOLIDAY CANDLELIGHT TOUR – Napa County Landmarks and the Napa County Historical Society host the 22nd Annual Holiday Candlelight Tour, showcasing the impressive “California Modern” homes of Monticello Park, a mid-century modern neighborhood in Napa. These large and lovingly maintained homes demonstrate the beautiful and innovative design features of post-war architecture and landscape design. Tickets are $30 for the general public.
- DECEMBER 13-24, & 31 (SELECT DATES ONLY) – NAPA VALLEY WINE TRAIN’S SANTA EXPRESS & NEW YEARS EVE TRAIN – A fabulous and fun holiday outing for the whole family, The Santa Express Train is a magical experience for the young and the young at heart. Adding to the holiday cheer aboard the train will be the featured guest, Santa, along with his friends and Carolers. Ring in the New Year with The Napa Valley Wine train. Celebrations begin with a reception at the Wine Train station, followed by a gourmet journey and a New Year’s Eve party back at the station.
- DECEMBER 31 – RING IN THE NEW YEAR AT DOMAINE CHANDON’S ÉTOILE RESTAURANT and celebrate with a sumptuous five-course meal expertly paired with wine, dancing and a midnight toast.
- HOLIDAY WINERY PARTIES – Celebrate the holidays with one of Napa Valley’s acclaimed wineries. Check out the VIADER Holiday Party, December 11, and join the Viader family for a special wine pairing of award-winning wines and homemade wine-infused chocolate truffles; or enjoy the timeless tradition of afternoon tea service at Domaine Carneros, December 19 & 26, and taste Domaine Carneros Sparkling wines with tantalizing food pairings including a selection of sweets, tea sandwiches and scones.