Santa Maria Sun / Art
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 39
A season of funSolvang's Julefest lights up the Danish village with holiday cheer and a whole lot of fun
BY JOE PAYNE
You may wonder if Solvang’s annual Julefest celebration has something to do with jewelry, but you’d be wrong. The “J” makes a “Y” sound in the Danish tongue, and so Julefest is a celebration of the Yuletide season in Solvang with a sleigh-full of community revelry and fun.
“Julefest has been going on for a couple of decades in various forms with different activities,” said Solvang Visitors Bureau media relations director Laura Kath, “but there are a few traditional activities that have happened each year for decades.”
The kick-off event for Julefest is the community tree-lighting ceremony set for Dec. 7 in Solvang Park at Mission Drive and First Street. A large, living fir tree will be festooned with lights and ornaments in the center of Solvang Park.
“The tree lighting is so special,” Kath said. “It’s not just flipping the switch, but it includes music with live bands and carolers, and even ballerinas.”
My Living Christmas Tree, a Solvang-based business, will also set several living Christmas trees around the village, all to be decorated and lit in the Julefest fashion.
Following the lighting ceremony is the Julefest Parade, which will feature Danish dancers, musical groups, vintage vehicles, floats, horses, and carriages strolling down the street on Dec. 8 starting at 11 a.m. The parade begins at the Old Mission Santa Ines and runs down Mission Drive until it winds its way through the village.
“The culmination of the parade is Santa’s arrival,” Kath said. “Santa actually parks his sleigh in Solvang Park so kids of all ages can come and climb in the sleigh and get pictures with Santa.”
The many events of Julefest can be tied together with a common theme, selected each year before the ceremonies begin.
“The theme this year is ‘Share the Cheer,’” Kath said. “We are leaving that up to each individual parade entry and each individual business in town; we want everyone to express what their idea of sharing holiday cheer is.”
Julefest continues on Dec. 15 with “Cheer Around the Village,” featuring live music by many ensembles in and around the village and the park. Performing ensembles include the Valley Wind Quartet, Franci DeFranco and Lynni Gilfry, the Santa Ynez Valley Jazz Band, the Alan Satchwell and Woody DeMarco Duo, and the Steve Ochoa Trio.
The Nativity Pageant, another Julefest tradition, features actors in traditional costumes, live animals, a choir, and “The Christmas Story” with two free performances on Dec. 15 at 5 and 7 p.m. at the Solvang Festival Theater, 420 Second St., Solvang.
“Solvang’s Third Wednesday Holiday Celebration” is Dec. 19 and includes the theme “Keep the Cheer Here,” which will include lots of specials at the local shops to entice diners and shoppers. Carolers will also entertain the downtown and add to the cheery Solvang atmosphere.
“It’s a lot to live up to, but we’re up to the task,” Kath said. “We think we’ve got a pretty special place here.”
All great things must come to an end, and so it is for Julefest each year. The official end of the string of events is Solvang’s annual Christmas tree burn, set for Jan. 4 at 6 p.m. Anyone with a dead Christmas tree is invited by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department to contribute to one of the counties’ largest fire safety demonstrations and community gatherings.
Arts Editor Joe Payne is yust as yolly as Santa. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.