Crispness in the air. Angelic voices singing carols. Snow blanketing the upper peaks. Simply put, Christmas in the Sierra Nevada is a very special time. And for those wanting something unique to do, here’s a few ye ole traditions happening across the High Sierra.

Open Houses Of Calaveras – Like Being In A Normal Rockwell Painting

Holiday Magic In Calaveras

Christmas Traditions In The High Sierra
Image appears courtesy: Calaveras Visitors Bureau

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow. Spending a weekend in Calaveras County from Thanksgiving through New Years, you’ll feel as though you’re in Nat King Cole’s song. From enjoying hygge to sipping on a glass o’ red as part of a wine tasting tour through historic gold rush era towns, each of Calaveras County’s charming small-towns provides a unique experience that you need to see in person. For the full run-down of events and activities, check out the Holiday Magic page.  

Candy Cane Lane Parade – Oldest In The Central Valley

Learn more about the Candy Cane Lane Parade

Christmas Festivals in The High Sierra Candy Cane Lane Visit Visalia
Image appears courtesy: Visit Visalia

You know it’s the Monday after Thanksgiving when hundreds claim their “spot” on Main Street in Visalia for the Candy Cane Lane Parade. In its 76th year, this is no longer just a parade, but rather a true tradition for generations. With a cup of hot cocoa and possibly a warm jacket, kids as well as adults usher in the holiday spirit at the longest running nighttime Christmas parade in the Central Valley.

Downtown Sonora Christmas Parade – A Glimpse Into Parades Of Yore

Learn more about the Sonora Christmas Parade

Image appears courtesy: Visit Tuolumne

Ever wondered what Christmas holiday events were like 100 years ago? Well, you don’t have to anymore. This charming small-town holiday event is known as the downtown Sonora Christmas Parade. It’s filled with bright lights, floats, antique cars, and sounds of the holidays from marching bands. You’ll definitely get the feeling of what it was like a century ago. In its 40th year, it’s always the Friday after Thanksgiving and starts promptly at 6:00 pm rain or shine.

Tree Lighting & Street Of Lights – Bishop’s Time Honored Tradition

Learn more about Bishop’s Street Of Lights Extravaganza

Bishop Street Of Lights
Image appears courtesy: Visit Bishop – Photo by: Gayla Wolf

The first Saturday of December in Bishop is one that should be on everyone’s calendars, just like their Mule Days. The annual get together of visitors and residents alike begins with a Christmas Parade full of lighted floats marching down Main Street up to the City Park for the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. From there, it’s off to the Street of Lights party. Within the downtown area, you’ll find warming fires, carolers, live music, Mr & Mrs. Claus, and merchants staying open until 8pm offering tasty treats like hot cocoa and soup. If you have kiddos, another great event to consider during the holidays is Railroad Express event at Laws Museum on 12/9. Families will enjoy train rides, crafts, refreshments, wagon rides, and of course a visit with Santa.  

Merry Mountain Christmas Parade & Tree Lighting – Christmas Spirit With A Sierra Twist

Mariposa Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting
Image appears courtesy: Yosemite Mariposa County

Start off a weekend of Christmas traditions around Yosemite by enjoying the Merry Mountain Christmas Parade and tree lighting. Happening on the second Saturday in December the evening begins with a parade down historic Main Street in Mariposa. Shopkeepers get in the spirit by decorating their stores with holly jolly trimmings and bells a jingling. As the parade winds down, the festivities finish off with a tree lighting ceremony at Mariposa’s historic courthouse, one of the most underrated landmarks in the Sierra. With free food and the glow of a festive bonfire, you’ll come home in the mood for the season. Looking for more reasons to visit during the holidays? Here’s 10 of them to sink your teeth into. 

Night Of Lights – Mammoth’s Wintry Celebration

Plan your Night of Lights Vacation

Night Of Lights Christmas Traditions In The High Sierra
Image Appears Courtesy: Mammoth Mountain

Across the Sierra Nevada to the east side of the mountain range is a long-standing tradition in Mammoth Lakes to usher in the wintry season. Celebrating the magic of snow and the holidays, the Night of Lights offers a spectacular display like no other mountain. The event features a stunning fireworks show, a torchlight parade, live music, and much more all against the backdrop of Mammoth Mountain itself.

Northern Lights – A Tradition Returns To The Shores Of Tahoe

Learn about the festival of Lights on the north shore

Christmas Traditions In Tahoe
Photo by: Ryan Salm – Image appears courtesy: North Lake Tahoe Tourism

Just like the Aurora Borealis up north, the Northern Lights festivities on the shores of Lake Tahoe are your reward for embracing the chilliest weather of the season. Just because it’s cold outside, doesn’t mean the amount of festivities are slowing down. In fact, starting in November there’s a full month of events such as the Tahoe Film Fest, Pray for Snow Party, Santa Crawl, Diamond Peak’s kick off celebration, and much more. Come experience the return of the popular 1990’s Incline Village and Crystal Bay event that’s now even bigger and better! Not enough? Head to Tahoe North’s winter page to find your winter wow!

From the foothills to the highest peaks, this is your chance to explore the many fun Christmas traditions going on throughout the High Sierra.

Author: Alex Silgalis

Alex founded Local Freshies® in 2014 to be the #1 website providing the “local scoop” on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer.

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