Over 100 Performers and 1,000 String Lights on Hand as the Victorian Christmas Tradition Now Spans Three Generations of Families with Children.
Over 100 performers and 1,000 string lights will once again bring “the romance of Christmas past” to the Sierra foothills as Nevada City celebrates Victorian Christmas – an event that, now in its 41st year, draws a loyal following among three generations of local families. Victorian Christmas 2018 begins Sunday, December 9th, and continues each Wednesday evening, 5-9 pm, and Sunday afternoon, 1:30-6pm, through December 23rd.
The event is a recent Visit California “Dream Big” selection among “California Towns with Holiday Spirit” and a Fodor’s Travel selection as one of “Ten U.S. Towns with Incredible Christmas Celebrations.” These accolades add to Nevada City’s renown as the location of the classic Hallmark Channel movie, The Christmas Card.
The Walking Christmas Tree is Back, along with Cecil Snow, Father Christmas and Other Local Favorites
The event’s most venerable characters return this year to rekindle memories that, for some, harken back to childhood decades ago. Chief among these is The Walking Christmas Tree, a traditional costume recently re-designed and stitched with Christmas lights by Victorian Christmas actor, Cindy Moon — bringing to life a signature character that “grown-ups seem to love even more than the kids … because there’s nothing else like it” (not even the Stanford Tree — the university mascot — which she notes “isn’t even a Christmas tree!”). As of last year, The Walking Christmas Tree is accompanied by Toy Soldier – also designed and sewn by Moon and worn by her real-life husband, Jim. The duo make a festive couple, and an extremely popular photo op.
Other nostalgic favorites returning this year include chimney sweep Cecil Snow, roasting chestnuts on an open fire, Father Christmas (of the St. Ambrose Acting Group), and horse-drawn carriage rides with veteran drivers Dave Vertin and Chuck Shea from the Nevada City Carriage Company.
A shared tradition for children, parents and grandparents
Among the 100 plus performers confirmed for this year are the Auburnaires Quartet, juggler and raconteur Izzi Tooinsky, the Gold Country Brass Quartet, a high school choir, minstrels, Peter the Magician, the River Bells handbell choir, the Sierranaders, Scottish Highland dancers, the Thunderfoot and Tommyknocker Cloggers, the Victorian Christmas Singers, and horn, accordion, piano and trumpet players. Very young children will find amusement at the Bounce House, with entertainment from “Balloon Guy” Bernard Bradshaw, and by following their parents or grandparents to the North Pole (on upper Broad Street) for a picture with Santa Claus.
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 boughs, 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.
“We’re delighted to see more parents visiting with children, and the grandparents – families with all ages, like the old days” says Nevada City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Cathy Whittlesey. According to the Pew Research, a record number of families live in multigenerational households, which now account for the highest percentage of total U.S. households since the early 1950s. As a family-friendly event, the kids travel blog, Trekaroo, gives Victorian Christmas five stars and a rating as “Perfect for Kids in Strollers.” The event is also pet-friendly, for dogs on leashes.
Gift item discoveries as exotic as glass skulls, as soft as Alpaca
Among the hundreds of gift items displayed at vendor tents along Broad Street, few can be considered modern, techy, or typical of mainstream Christmas shopping. Your discoveries might include 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 quaint and out-of-the-ordinary gifs, while supporting family businesses.
Local tips for your convenience and safety
The Nevada City Chamber of Commerce reminds visitors that Victorian Christmas takes place rain or shine, and that in good weather the events can draw very large crowds that make parking difficult and traffic safety a top concern.
Parking: The most convenient approach to parking is to drop your group off in town at the Veterans Building parking lot and then park at the Nevada County Government Center at 950 Maidu Avenue in Nevada City, where shuttle bus service is available at $5 for adults and children 15 and over. Children under 15 ride free.Traffic safety: A new Safety Plan is in place in for Victorian Christmas 2018. The plan increases Shuttle bus capacity to reduce lines, waiting times, and pedestrian traffic across Highway 49, and improves signage to guide pedestrians to a pathway with solar lights that ends at the Highway 49/N. Bloomfield Road stoplight and crosswalk. Message boards will alert motorists to reduce their speed. All pedestrians walking to Nevada City are asked to use this crosswalk.
For more information, contact the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce at (530) 265-2692 or toll-free (800) 655-NJOY, online at nevadacitychamber.com/victorianchristmas/
Content and photos submitted by Nevada City Chamber of Commerce