12 Amazing Thing to Do during Christmas in Monterey

Spending the holiday season in Monterey will leave you with a warm and cozy feeling. During Christmas, Monterey is filled with holiday-themed events that take place in November through the New Year. These events can leave you feeling the holiday spirit or get you a little more ready for the winter and colder times that are upon us.

Always remember to double-check dates, opening times, and weather conditions before traveling.

Christmas in Monterey CA

Holiday Tree Lighting at Del Monte Center 

  • Dates: The weekend prior to Thanksgiving

Right before Thanksgiving, you can head out to the Del Monte Center and join Santa and Mrs. Claus to light the Holiday Tree. The Monterey Christmas tree is located right by Macy’s and includes live entertainment, cookies, and hot chocolate.

If you’re feeling generous, you can bring three canned goods to donate to the Monterey County Food Bank and be entered to win a Del Monte Shopping gift card.

Cannery Row Holiday Tree Lighting 

  • Date: Friday after Thanksgiving

Every year after Thanksgiving, your family can head down to Cannery Row to kick off their annual tree lighting tradition. Their ceremony will feature live music and, of course, an appearance from Santa. 

Christmas on the Wharf

Dates: Begins the first weekend of December 

Beginning the first weekend in December, Old Fisherman’s Wharf will hold Christmas festivities that include holiday musical choirs, caroling, holiday lights and decorations, a 23-foot Christmas tree, and more.

You can bring the entire family down to meet Santa and snap a photo, and every weekend they will hold different events to keep the locals and tourists loving their time on the wharf.

Depending on what weekend you go, you can visit their website to see what events occur.

“Brighten Your Harbor” Monterey Christmas Boat Parade 

  • Date: First Weekend of December 

If you’re looking for a fun parade, head out to Old Fisherman’s Wharf to marvel at their annual lighted boat parade. The Monterey boat parade will sail through the harbor giving off spectacular views, and you can even book a special boat trip with Princess Monterey Whale Watch or Discovery Whale Watch.

Besides watching the parade, you can stroll around the wharf to shop, eat, and take beautiful photos.

Ice Skating by the Bay

  • Dates: weekend before Thanksgiving through the New Year

Nothing beats grabbing a pair of skates and gliding across the ice, it is one of the top Christmas events in the Bay Area. This seasonal ice-skating rink is in Custom House Plaza, where you can enjoy this fantastic winter sport right along the Monterey coastline.

The rink is open Monday through Saturday, 11-10 pm and Sunday, 12-8 pm. There is a skate rental fee of $3, and tickets are $13 for adults and $11 for children 12 and under.

Downtown Monterey Tree Lighting Celebration

  • Date: First Friday in December 

This community tree lighting celebration is right on the front lawns of Colton Hall, from 5-6 pm. The event will feature local carols, candles, cookies, hot cider, and music by local bands. The event is free, and the City of Monterey welcomes anyone out to join them in getting the holidays started.

Christmas in the Adobes 

  • Date: The second weekend in December 

Head out to Monterey’s historic adobes that have been decorated for the winter season. Each entrance is lit with candle luminaries, and guests will be greeted by living history portrayers and festive music. Over a dozen adobes will be featured for this event, and their doors will be open from 5 pm to 9 pm.

You can buy tickets for the event at Pacific House or the Custom House, or online. You can check out their website to also see what adobes are being featured this year.

First Night in Monterey 

  • Date: December 31st 

Every year the community in Monterey gathers downtown on New Year’s Eve to celebrate an exciting, imaginative, and uplifting cultural event. This celebration starts at 3 pm and goes until midnight, where the community can watch performances that can be classical performances to hip-hop or jazz dancing.

Guest will also be able to view local artwork that was created year-round in outreach programs. This event is affordable and alcohol-free. If you have kids, bring them out at 5:30 to enjoy a Twilight Procession.

Monterey is filled with fun and family-friendly events that your entire family can enjoy during the holiday season. The best part is that a lot of these Monterey Christmas events are free and take place right along the coast, so you can have a stunning view while enjoying your holidays outdoors.

More things to do in Monterey at Christmas

  • Tree Lighting at Colton Hall Lawn
  • First Night Monterey (New Year’s Eve)
  • The Nutcracker at the Sunset Center in Carmel
  • Stillwell Holiday Fun in the Park at Caledonia Park

Where to stay in Santa Monica

Find more Santa Monica accommodation options on Booking.com.

Santa Monica is fairly easy to get around. We recommend renting a car and exploring all there is to see. You can find the best prices on rental cars by clicking here.

When you’re not discovering Santa Monica on your own, we suggest treating yourself to a tour. From private wine tours to kayak and SUP tours, cooking classes classes to tours of celebrity-owned homes, there’s a little something for everyone. Browse all the Santa Monica tours available on Viator by clicking here.

If you want to capture the memories from your trip to Monterey, we recommend hiring a professional photographer. A Flytographer photoshoot is one of our favorite souvenirs from our travels and we want to share them with you!

Looking for more Christmas events in the Bay area? Check this Ultimate Guide to Christmas in San Francisco!

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