The West's best holiday traditions

We asked our readers for their favorite local holiday celebrations big and small. Here are the best of the best, from festive light displays to classic performances

Christmas Eve at the Hotel Del Coronado

Thomas J. Story

Christmas Eve at the Hotel Del Coronado

Coronado (near San Diego), CA; hoteldel.com

"The Hotel del Coronado decorates from cellar to dome with magnificent trees, garlands, and traditional decorations. Many families have the tradition of coming to see the beautiful decorations. But the hotel also has a special dinner in the ballroom hosted by the Lambs Players dressed in period costume. The actors welcome you as you enter as if you are entering their home and after a delicious dinner they put on a play about their "family" and the holidays. Before or after the dinner you can go ice skating at a rink on the beach. Really a special way to celebrate the holidays!" - Faith M., San Diego, CA

San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker

Erik Tomasson

San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker 

San Francisco, CA; www.sfballet.org

"My family attends the San Francisco Ballet's production of the Nutcracker every year. It is such a beautiful performance. The costumes change every year. We also like to visit Union Square and have tea at the Neiman Marcus restaurant to further enjoy the view." - Kimberly B., Danville, CA

Argosy Christmas Ship Festival

Argosy Cruises

Argosy Christmas Ship Festival

Puget Sound, WA; www.argosycruises.com

"Every year Argosy's Christmas Ship sails to different spots around the Sound. The ship stops near the shore in each community and carolers on board sing as the ship's holiday lights twinkle. For years we and our friends have a tradition of building a bonfire near the beach, drinking hot cocoa, and enjoying the performance when it comes to our area." - Kathy L., Bainbridge Island, WA

Race of the Santas

Nathan Bilow

Race of the Santas

Breckenridge, CO; gobreck.com

On the first Saturday in December, before the crush of holiday tourists descends upon the resort town, locals create their own festive scene: 350 residents don Santa suits for a five-block dash down Main Street, followed by a block party. “The Race of the Santas is a social occasion for some and a must-win event for more competitive types,” says Andy Harris, who’s run (not won) the race each year since its inception in 2011. Afterward, runners and spectators convene for cocoa and caroling, then applaud the Lighting of Breckenridge, when the real—ahem—Santa arrives, parades through town in a horse-drawn carriage, and flips the switch for thousands of Christmas lights across town. - Sunset, December 2013

Winterhaven Festival of Lights

Erik Tomasson

Winterhaven Festival of Lights

Tucson, AZ; www.winterhavenfestival.org

"I love going to see the Christmas lights [in the Winterhaven neighborhood of Tucson] every year. I love going on a horse drawn carriage or a hayride through it. It always brings a happy memory." - Julie L., Milton, FL

 

Denver Botanic Gardens' Blossoms of Light

Scott Dressel-Martin

Denver Botanic Gardens' Blossoms of Light

Denver, CO; botanicgardens.org

"Denver Botanic Gardens does a magical lighting display. It's just so beautiful. There are carolers, hot cider, hot chocolate, and hot nuts. It's a wonderful way to get us all into the holiday spirit. It's good for all ages." - Celeste M., Superior, CO

Magic in the Market

Art Kuniyuki

Magic in the Market

Seattle, WA; www.pikeplacemarket.org

"We always love visiting Pike Place Market, but December is such a special time there. We bring the kids and take photos with Santa, get hot cider, and stroll the market before watching the grand tree lighting." - Ashleigh B., Woodinville, WA

Holiday Ale Festival

Timothy Horn

Holiday Ale Festival

Portland, OR; holidayale.com

"My favorite event of the holiday season, truly, but then again I am a beer nerd. The festival features dozens of craft beers for tasting, including batches released just for the holidays." - Dan C., Portland, OR

Santa Fe Farolito Walk

Eric Swanson

Santa Fe Farolito Walk

Santa Fe, NM; santafe.org

"On Christmas Eve the city gathers to enjoy the festive lights. We start at the base of Canyon Rd. at sunset, sip cider while we stroll, and have fun with our neighbors." - Mary H., Santa Fe, NM

Get your Christmas twinkle in Glendale, AZ

Brandon Sullivan

Get your Christmas twinkle in Glendale, AZ

Glendale, AZ; www.glendaleaz.com/events/glendaleglitters.cfm

"Our new holiday tradition is the Glendale Glitters tree lighting. While one must adjust to mixing saguaro and spruce, it is a disservice to call it a 'tree lighting' when you are counting down to igniting 1.5 million holiday lights: every bit as thrilling as the Times Square ball drop and the weather is always better. The lighting kicks off a month of holiday events which draw us closer together." - Bruce W., Chula Vista, CA

More: Great holiday festivities in Glendale

Pacific Northwest Ballet's Stowell and Sendak Nutcracker

Angela Sterling

Pacific Northwest Ballet's Stowell and Sendak Nutcracker

Seattle, WA; www.pnb.org

"This production of the Nutcracker is so unique, as it was co-created by THE Maurice Sendak. We take our kids every year!" - Sharon W., Seattle, WA

Christmas Tree Lane

Maria Karras

Christmas Tree Lane

Altadena, CA; www.christmastreelane.net

"Starting in December, the lovely pine trees are strung with colorful lights and homes are decorated with angels. Our son loves to ride down the street during this time although it isn't our normal way home. At his age, he doesn't understand the meaning of Christmas, but he does understand fun. I imagine our family driving down this street many years from now telling him that when he was a little boy he loved to watch the lights and ride in the car." - Mary C., Pasadena, CA

Taos Pueblo Christmas Eve

Cedric Angeles

Taos Pueblo Christmas Eve

Taos, NM; www.taospueblo.com

"The light of 50 lovingly tended fires flickers and dances across an 800 year old home - in fact, a mountain of home - built and shared by the people of Taos Pueblo, which itself lies against a backdrop of a 12,000 foot mountain. Songs of praise and gratitude rise above the crowd, as Mary - the Mother - is brought out from the chapel for all to see and adore. On good years, there's snow crunching beneath your feet as you huddle close, sing and laugh with strangers, and bask in hope, and each other. Christmas begins here for me." - Rachel P., Albuquerque, NM

California Living Museum Holiday Lights

California Living Museum

California Living Museum Holiday Lights

Bakersfield, CA; calmzoo.org

"The nonprofit California Living Museum (CALM) puts up this amazing display every holiday with 2 million Christmas lights that drench their property. They have a lot of fun displays wrapped in lights and usually have a youth group put on a play of "A Charlie Brown Christmas." We get a hot chocolate as soon as we arrive and walk around in the crisp air and enjoy the lights." - Katie B., Bakersfield, CA

Printed from:
http://www.sunset.com/travel/holiday-traditions-00418000085411/