– The Crown Jewel of “California Towns with Holiday Spirit” –
This December 3rd, Victorian Christmas makes its Roman numeral “XL” appearance, marking the fortieth year since its festive debut in 1978 – and marking the 2017 event as one with an “extra large” holiday spirit.
As if to accentuate the grandeur of this year’s decennial, Victorian Christmas is currently pictured at visitcalifornia.com as the state’s “Dream Big” selection among “California Towns with Holiday Spirit.” This recognition adds to Nevada City’s renown as the location of the 2006 award-winning Hallmark Channel movie, The Christmas Card, and as a 2016 Fodor’s Travel selection as one of “Ten U.S. Towns with Incredible Christmas Celebrations.”
Victorian Christmas has bedazzled and charmed generations in Northern California by transforming Historic Downtown Nevada City into a magical setting reminiscent of old world Christmas greeting cards and the bustling holiday markets of Victorian London. In 1859, when an awe-struck Charles Dickens described those markets as “a bewildering scene which quite confuses the senses,” he unknowingly presaged a holiday spirit that would be rekindled over a century later in the American West, along the narrow streets of Nevada City.
– A phantasmagoria of performers, food & drink, sights & sounds –
This year’s array of street performers and attractions includes a kaleidoscope of Scottish Highlands dancers, cloggers, carriage rides, juggling, storytelling, magic shows, brass bands, a banjo-playing minstrel, horn and accordion players, carolers, choirs, myriad vocalists, and revered costumed characters such as Santa, the sensational Walking Christmas Tree, the Amazing Fezziwig costumed Golden Retriever, Father Christmas, and Cecil Snow roasting chestnuts — in classic fashion — on an open fire.
All this and more amid the swirling, enticing aromas of sizzling steaks, barbecued meats, kettle corn, sweet and savory pies, Shawarma, falafel, mandarins, fresh-cut pine bows, hot buttered rum, mulled wine, hot cocoa, and chai. These scents follow you from softly illuminated street to street, corner to corner, all aglow under gas lamps and the twinkle of over 1,000 bulbs on rooftop contour lights.
– A bounty of gift items as exotic as glass skulls, as soft as Alpaca –
Among the hundreds of gift items displayed at Victorian Christmas, few can be considered typical. Mystical esoterica are always plentiful. You might find sparkling glass mosaic skulls and pirate bottles alongside jewelry with the reputedly healing energy of orgonite; or hand-crafted pottery from local studios, cold press soaps, organic lavender body butter, and re-purposed vintage utensils; or luxuriously soft hats, scarves, gloves, socks, dolls, and rugs from a local Alpaca ranch. Among the popular children’s gift items, one might find surprises such as fairy gardens, mini marshmallow shooters, and funky fleece hats! Victorian Christmas is a cherished opportunity to find exquisite, out-of-the-ordinary gifs while supporting family businesses.
– Sunday afternoons & Wednesday evenings, rain or shine –
The repeating Sunday and Wednesday events are highly popular, with Broad and Commercial Streets often filled to capacity, and closed to all traffic except the occasional horse-drawn carriage. Motorists are encouraged to drop their group off in town and find parking as well as $5 shuttle bus service at the Nevada County Government Center, at 950 Maidu Avenue. The shuttle is free for children under 15, and return journeys are free for all.
Leashed dogs and alcoholic beverages are permitted at all Victorian Christmas events. Toddlers in strollers – bedazzled by the twinkling lights overhead – are a familiar and welcome sight. The kids travel blog, Trekaroo, gives Victorian Christmas five stars and a rating as “Perfect for Kids in Strollers.” Families with older children will likely find their way to photos with Santa, the bounce house, and “Balloon Guy.”
One to two hours per event is the recommended time to spend sampling, sipping, noshing, rejoicing with friends and neighbors, joining voices with carolers, and bantering with shop keepers and merchant booth vendors. Many of the latter will be dressed with the swagger of Victorian costermongers — street sellers known for their gawdy shawls, ostrich feathers, caps, and silk kerchiefs. Visitors in period costumes are increasingly common. Tips and ideas can be found HERE.
– Local Tips on Keeping Warm, Dry, and In the Spirit –
Nevada City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Cathy Whittlesey, reminds visitors that Victorian Christmas takes place if fair or foul weather. She suggests arriving prepared with a few local tips on how to stay warm and dry if the weather turns cold and wet:
– Head straight for the hot drinks – hot buttered rum, mulled wine, hot cocoa and chai.
– Visit Mountain Pastimes to play 5-cent Christmas songs on the old-time orchestrion.
– Huddle with Cecil Snow, the Victorian chimney sweep, at his open fire for roasting chestnuts.
– Attend the open house Craft Faire inside the Methodist Church at the top of Broad Street.
– Order a chicken club on rye, curly fries (extra crispy) and a hot chocolate at the
Nevada City Classic Café. That’s the official meal of the Hallmark Channel movie, The Christmas Card,
filmed on location in Nevada City.
– Step inside any of the stores and cozy boutiques along the main thoroughfares, open late and decorated
with gorgeous Christmas décor and local crafts.
– Steal a kiss! A man occasionally walks around Nevada City with mistletoe on a stick, catching
unsuspecting couples whether they came together or not …
There is oh-so-much to see, hear, feast upon and experience at Victorian Christmas. Whether you and yours have been naughty or nice…treat yourself and loved ones to the best of the holiday season! For more information, contact the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce at (530) 265-2692 or toll-free (800) 655-NJOY, or HERE.