The first full weekend of December brings us an onslaught of Northern California events and festivals, including lighted tractors, trains and boats, meals with Santa, historical look-backs, and shopping 'till you're dropping.
Here's a lineup of some of the Northern California events that are coming your way this weekend:
The Bay Area
The Benicia Holiday Open House & Tree Lighting is a cherished holiday tradition in the East Bay, with horse-drawn carriages and holiday carolers. December 6th, starting at 6 p.m.
Caltrain brings back the Silicon Valley Holiday Train this year. Aglitter with over 60,000 lights, the train will travel between San Francisco and San Jose supporting The Salvation Army and U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots programs. December 7th and 8th.
Brunch with Santa aboard a Hornblower cruise in San Francisco Bay with live entertainment, free-flowing champagne, and spectacular San Francisco views. Weekends, December 7th and 8th through the 21st and 22nd.
The Central Valley
A very popular treat in the Central Valley, Fresno's Christmas Tree Lane boasts 140 homes, 300 trees, and nearly two miles of splendid holiday displays. December 3rd through the 25th, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
For the 52nd year in a row, the Crocker Art Museum presents a premier black-tie gala to kick off the holiday season. The Crocker Ball and Art Auction invites you to wine and dine, dance and romance, and enjoy the exciting live auction. December 7th, 6 p.m.
The Coastal Area
The Seymour Marine Discovery Center of Santa Cruz presents its annual Jingle Shells Art and Craft Festival featuring the talents of local artists and crafts people, crafts for kids, and musical performances. December 8th, 12 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Hop aboard the Santa Cruz Holiday Lights Train to sing carols, sip hot-spiced cider, enjoy the musical entertainment, and meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus for some holiday cheer. Weekends, December 7th and 8th through December 23rd.
The Gold Country
Columbia State Historic Park brings you Lamplight Tours, a walking play that wanders the streets of historic Columbia to learn more about Christmases past. There will be entertainment, dance, and refreshments after the tour. December 6th and 7th.
The Wine Country
Calistoga's Lighted Tractor Parade, with vintage tractors and antique trucks bedecked with dazzling lights, is a favorite holiday event in Northern California's Wine Country. Before and after the parade, enjoy Calistoga Holiday Village. December 7th, 7 to 8 p.m.
Get your passports for Calistoga's Winter in the Wineries - a relaxing tour, taste, and meet the winemakers in and around this little Napa County town. Schedule as many visits as you want during the two month passport period! December 6th, 2013 through February 9th, 2014.
The Merchant's Holiday Open House kicks off Petaluma's holiday season with open doors, smiling faces, and holiday entertainment. The Open House is followed by the traditional Lighted Boat Parade. December 7th.
Savvy Shopper Expo 2013 spreads holiday cheer in Santa Rosa with the offerings of talented artisans, craftspeople, and small businesses. December 7th and 8th, 12 to 4 p.m.
With so many fun holiday fairs, festivals, and events all over Northern California this coming weekend, you're sure to get your holidays off to just the right start!
For more about what there is to see and do in Northern California, visit my website, DiscoverNorthernCalifornia.com http://www.DiscoverNorthernCalifornia.com .