Cornish Christmas Celebrates 50 Years!

Escape the city for a weekend and recapture the spirit of Christmas past amid the charming surroundings of historic downtown Grass Valley California during the annual Cornish Christmas Celebration. This year, the event celebrates its 50th anniversary, and the Grass Valley community invites everyone to come and enjoy this milestone of CornishLogoone of our favorite events of the year!
Just a short drive away, this wonderful tradition takes place on five Fridays, from November 24-December 22, from 6-9 p.m., and is truly fun for all ages.

Imagine strolling down the quaint main street of a town that has preserved its gold rush heritage but kept up with the times. Farm to Table restaurants, art galleries, and high end boutiques all dot this historic downtown where Mark Twain used to visit and lecture. And at Cornish Christmas, you get to travel to that Gold Rush past for an evening and imagine what life was like in that bygone era.

The first Cornish Christmas on November 24th will feature a foot parade to kick off the event with Beale Air Force Base, Grass Valley Fire and Police Department members, Cornish Pageant Queens and Santa leading the parade from Gold Miners Inn to Main Street where a town Christmas tree will receive a lighting ceremony.

Photo by GVDA

Started in 1967 as a way to preserve Grass Valley’s Cornish heritage and holiday traditions, Cornish Christmas remains one of the town’s most popular events. Mill and West Main Streets are closed to motorized traffic and filled with the sights and sounds of an old fashioned Christmas; carolers, jugglers, musicians, the Grass Valley Cornish Carol Choir, Tommyknocker Cloggers and of course, Santa Claus photos as Three Lilies Photography. Santa’s elves are gathering to build a workshop for kids’ crafts. Tofanelli’s Gold Country Bistro will have a Letters to Santa mailbox for all ages with stationary and guaranteed reply from Santa. Classic cars from Roamin’ Angels Car Club will pepper the surrounding streets with lots of photo opportunities. Handmade arts and crafts from artists throughout California are displayed on our historic downtown Grass Valley streets. Delicious food and drink can be purchased from a number of Grass Valley restaurants and specialty food vendors.

The Cornish Christmas celebration is truly a delight for the senses. Stroll down the bustling historic downtown Grass Valley streets as Christmas music fills the air. This year new Holiday lights, bows and trees adorn the town. Hear young and old alike play their rendition your favorite holiday tunes as buildings and windows dressed in Christmas lights sparkle in the Winter night air. Smell the aroma of your favorite dish while you browse the multitude of gifts and decorations made by some of California’s best crafters and artisans.

Pause at the steps of the historic Union Building as the Cornish Carol Choir performs traditional homeland Christmas carols. A long-standing Cornish tradition, Cornish Choirsome members are actually descendants of original Grass Valley Cornish Miners. The Cornish Choir will have a Cornish history booth. Cornish Connection includes free gift wrapping, Cornish Trivia, and Cornish King and Queen photo opportunities at M3Mall on Neal St.

At the Grass Valley Cornish Christmas you’ll see kids and adults dressed in period costumes selling mistletoe as elves skip through the walkways. You’ll discover one of California’s best kept secrets as you shop the amazing collection of merchants that call downtown Grass Valley their home.

Dine in one of the many world-class restaurants found in downtown Grass Valley. Sample local wines at one of three wine tasting rooms in downtown Grass Valley, including hot mulled wine, or just enjoy the simple pleasures of chestnuts roasted on an open fire.

Cornish Man in CostumeEnjoy the wide selection of holiday music offered by local Grass Valley musicians amongst the trappings of an historic gold rush town. Imagine life in another era where men and women worked hard, had little, but cherished the simple pleasures of hearty food and drink, a good song, and a warm fire with family and friends.

Christmas is a family friendly opportunity to celebrate the holidays while enjoying a taste of small town life and days long gone by. Event is held rain or shine, and admission is free. Period/holiday attire is encouraged for attendees, as well.

To learn about more exciting holiday events or find a place to stay while you’re here, visit

Photos provided by Grass Valley Downtown Association