Downtown for the Holidays

Holiday Traditions and Magical Moments happen in Downtown Santa Cruz 

The Holidays are a magical time of year, and nowhere is that magic more apparent than in Downtown Santa Cruz. Throughout the season there are so many reasons to celebrate and enjoy the festivities. One of the things that makes this time of year so special is our traditions. The Victorian Carriage Rides, Visits with Santa at Marini’s, the Holiday Parade, Just strolling through the neighborhood and checking off your gift list. Whatever your favorite Downtown holiday traditions, we wish you and yours all the best and we invite you to come join us and celebrate at our fun holiday events!

Black Friday Weekend

Sidewalk Sale – Nov 24th, 25th, 26th

Get a jump on your holiday shopping while enjoying a beautiful weekend in Downtown Santa Cruz. Bring the family and enjoy the walkable sidewalks of Downtown Santa Cruz. Sales run all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with great end of month clearance deals all around the Downtown.

Small Business Saturday – Nov 25th

Don’t miss the biggest small promotion of the year. Think Big and shop Small with the annual event celebrating Small businesses. Pick up a Copy of the Santa Cruz Sentinel for a full listing of all of the local participating shops, eateries and other small businesses.

Downtown Holiday Parade – Saturday, Dec 2nd

Starting at 10 am on Pacific Avenue,

The traditional holiday parade is the official kickoff for the winter holidays celebration. Bands, Dancers, Classic Cars, Synchronized Librarians, perhaps even a “Rootbeer Float” one never knows exactly what to expect at the Parade, but you can be sure to expect the whole community to show up and have a great time, and of course, at the end of the parade, Sitting in a horse-drawn Victorian Carriage, the man of the hour is welcomed back to Downtown Santa Cruz. Bring the family or participate! Register to be in the parade HERE.

The Holiday Parade is Rain or Shine!

Santa Cruise – Saturday, Dec 9th

Back by popular demand, Santa Cruise is a spirited, text-based scavenger hunt, throughout downtown, including holiday spirits at your favorite Downtown Drinking establishments.

Your ticket gets you a custom “Suessean” Santa Hat and the codes to connect with Santa himself, who will lead you on a frivolous journey through the streets of Downtown, sprinkled with specialty seasonal imbibements at some of Santa’s favorite local haunts.

The Downtown Santa Cruise is a 21 and over event. Get a crew together a come hunt, scavenge and sleuth your way to a great after party!

Saturday, Dec 16 – Free Family Movie

Home Alone – 10 am at the Del Mar Theatre

The Free Family Movie at the Del Mar is a special tradition and a wonderful way to support Second Harvest Food Bank as their holiday food drives help so many people in our community have healthy food, every day of the year.

Bring a food or cash donation and enjoy a great holiday classic on the Big Screen.

This is a fun, Saturday morning event for the whole family.

Victorian Carriage Rides

Reserve the traditional horse-drawn Victorian Carriage for a magical ride around downtown. Experience the lights and festive holiday environment in style. A fun outing for friends and family or part of a perfect date with that special someone.
$60 reserves the carriage for a ride around Downtown. Two facing benches, seats 4-6 people comfortably, depending on size. The ride lasts about 15-20 minutes.

Limited Rides December 22nd and 23rd only- Reserve your spot today

Visits with Santa at Marini’s Candies

No matter how old you are, if you were a kid In Santa Cruz, you probably visited the Jolly Fellow himself at Marini’s Candies on Pacific Avenue.

Well, it turns out, enough of us must have been nice this year, because he’s coming back. Stop in for a relaxed, not rushed visit and photo with your own camera. Ho, ho, ho!

Marini’s Candies will be hosting Santa from 1-5pm, December 2-3, 9-10, 16-17 and 20-23.

Santa’s Reindeer Round-up


Nov 25 – Dec 18
Santa Needs your help!!!

It seems the whole team of reindeer is hidden in stores throughout Downtown Santa Cruz.

Help him find them before his big night! Pick up a map, have fun with this scavenger hunt and you could win Downtown Dollars and other great downtown prizes!

Parking for Hope

From December 18-Dec 24 revenue from Downtown Parking meters supports the great work of HOPE Services. Last year the Downtown meters raised over $30,000 for the HOPE services litter abatement crew.



Sponsored in part by

Kaiser Permanente
City of Santa Cruz Economic Development Department

UC Santa Cruz

Pacific Cookie Company
Sockshop and Shoe Company
Artisans Gallery
Palace Art and Office Supply
Marini’s Candies
Litmus Box
Landmark Theaters
KPIG Radio
Santa Cruz Waves
Good Times Santa Cruz
Maverick Mailing
NextSpace Santa Cruz

 For sponsorship opportunities click HERE

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