Nothing feels more like the holidays than a small town Christmas parade with a marching band, dancers, and a visit from Santa himself. Get into the spirit this weekend during Benicia’s holiday festivities that include its annual Christmas Parade, Holiday Market, Lighted Boat Parade, and a Family Art Day – fun for the whole family, including your four-legged friends.

Christmas Parade

Starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, December 10 at the corner of First and D streets, Benicia’s annual Christmas Parade will make its way through downtown and will end on H Street. With bells a-ringing and dancers a-jigging, this hometown tradition will be sure to start your day off merry and bright. There’s lots for kids to do, and dog-friendly Benicia invites all your furry friends to join the fun, too. Most of the shops along First Street welcome pups and keep fresh water on the sidewalk for thirsty passersby. And some restaurants have sidewalk dining where dogs are welcome.

Holiday Market

CraftsJust after the parade, pop over to the Holiday Market, set up at First and D streets, where you’ll feel like you have entered Santa’s own workshop. There will be handmade gifts, gourmet food, art, and artisan crafts that will please even the hard to shop for loved ones on your list. Enjoy hot cocoa and a tasty bite at the market while you shop for unique stocking stuffers and gifts. And many shops will wrap your gift for free!

In addition to the parade and market, many of the restaurants and shops downtown are packed with Christmas cheer. Decked out in boughs of holly, shoppers can enjoy all the service of small town charm with many of the options found in a big city.

Kids can have their picture taken with Santa from 4-7 p.m. at Benicia Fire Station #11, located at 150 Military West. There will be a session for children with special needs to take pictures with Santa from 2-3 p.m. This session will be geared for kids who are sensitive to excessive noise. Sponsored by Benicia Fire Department and Benicia Parks & Community Services, they are accepting donations of new, unwrapped toys for the Toys for Tots Drive.

Also Saturday, December 10, you can learn how to make Victorian ornaments at the historic Fischer Hanlon House (for a nominal fee). Docents in period attire will serve cookies and cider from the wood-burning stove. The event takes place from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fischer Hanlon House at Benicia Capitol State Historic Park (First & West G streets).

Lighted Boat Parade

As the sun sets, Benicia’s Yacht Club will commence its 26th Annual Lighted Boat Parade. Join the locals for this holiday favorite at the Benicia Marina, Saturday, December 10 at 6 p.m. Bundle up and enjoy the show as each ornately decorated vessel takes to the bay. The boats will travel through the Carquinez Strait from the Benicia Marina to the First Street Pier, and back. After the parade, the promenade makes for a lovely walk back up First Street where the trees are sparkling with lights.

Family Art Day

artsbeniciaOn Sunday, December 11 the whole family is invited to participate in Family Art Day at Arts Benicia. Located in Suite 114 at 991 Tyler Street, this event is free and open to the public from 1-3 p.m. Explore the creative world of art with hands-on projects that are both fun and educational. Learn all about the investigation and observation of art while you make something special and unique. The current exhibition at Arts Benicia is “The Art of the Toy: Wild, Whimsical, and Magical.”

Let the spirit of Christmas fill your heart and home during this holiday season, and see why some people call this small town “Mayberry by the bay.” For a full listing of shops, restaurants, and activities please visit our website at visitbenicia.org or follow us on Facebook.