Visit Visalia gets ready for the holiday season

Tourism advocate Visit Visalia highlights the perks of the local holiday season starting the Sunday after Thanksgiving

VISALIA – Halloween is less than two weeks away and that means the holiday spirit is just around the bend. Turning the calendar to Nov. 1 is the first day in a 55-day countdown to Christmas. And in Visalia, the holidays officially kick off on Sunday, Nov. 28, with the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree at Oval Park.

Residents have gathered for the ceremonial tree lighting since 1953, and Visit Visalia is trying to get as many people inside and outside the city to enjoy beginning of the holiday season. They’re encouraging everyone to find a seat along the sidewalk on Main Street for the Central Valley’s largest holiday parade, The Candy Cane Lane Parade.

This year marks the 75th year the parade has marched down Main Street while families and friends gather together to watch the floats, bands, dancers and more bring cheer to those excitedly awaiting the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus.

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Darie Young takes the time to put the finishing touches on a newly wrapped Christmas basket at Pacific Treasures.File Photo

New this year is “Christmas on the Farm,” from Dec. 4 to Jan. 2 at Vossler Farms. The farm will transition from its popular fall pumpkin patch and corn maze into a family-friendly holiday wonderland that includes a real outdoor ice skating rink, a Santa Train, a nighttime magical lighted hayride, visits with Santa, the Grinch and much more.

In December, shop the “Holiday Open Houses” each Thursday night leading up to Christmas in downtown Visalia as merchants extend their hours for shoppers looking for the perfect gifts for loved ones. Enjoy the ambiance of strolling the sidewalk along the charmingly decorated shop windows and trees adorned with thousands of white lights.

Horse-drawn carriage rides in downtown will also be available. While not dashing through the snow, the jingling bells on the horses’ reins will be certain raise Yuletide spirits as they clip-clop along Candy Cane Lane (a.k.a. Main Street) aglow with twinkling lights.

Enjoy a seasonal drink or celebratory meal at the elegant Vintage Press Restaurant. Not only are their drinks and food spectacular, the decorations will put you in the holiday mood. Dining at this iconic restaurant is a treat any time of the year, but especially during the holidays.

Santa returns to the Visalia Mall for cherished holiday family photo opportunities. The mall will also host sensory-friendly Santa experiences especially for guests with autism on Dec. 5 and 12.

A visit to Visalia wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks. Take a guided snowshoe walk through the giant sequoia groves and enjoy a little snow play with the family. Plan your visit for Sunday, Dec. 12 and gather around the General Grant Tree. The National Parks Service lays a wreath at the base of the giant sequoia, which is a living shrine to the men and women of the armed service. This solemn and touching ceremony at the tree happens each year regardless of weather. The “Trek to the Trees” is on the second Sunday of December each year, but you can visit any time.

Along with all the holiday activities, there is more to explore. Take a self-guided walking tour of downtown to learn about Visalia’s history, take the kids to Imagine U Children’s Museum for interactive and creative play.

Bird lovers will want to see the Sand Hill Cranes at the Pixley Wildlife Refuge who winter here as part of their migration each year or take part in the Annual Christmas Bird Count in Sequoia National Park on Saturday, Dec. 18. This annual event is hosted by Sequoia Parks Conservancy and welcomes all abilities.

Visalia is known for having the famous Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks in its backyard, but natural charm, welcoming locals and an abundance of experiences are why this Central California city is much more than a gateway to the great outdoors. This vibrant city welcomes visitors for a nostalgic holiday experience for creating memories that will last a lifetime. Visalia looks forward to greeting travelers this winter.

For more information or to book your stay, go to www.visitvisalia.com/a-nostalgic-holiday-in-visalia.

About Visit Visalia

Visit Visalia is a collaboration of the Visalia Tourism and Marketing District and the Visalia Convention and Visitors Bureau (VCVB) dedicated to marketing, advertising, public relations and other promotional efforts that inspire travel to the city of Visalia. Visit Visalia works closely with local lodging properties, restaurants and attractions to foster interest in Visalia as a year-round destination for leisure, family, and meeting and convention travelers. For more information about Visit Visalia go to www.VisitVisalia.com and follow Visit Visalia on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and Pinterest.

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