THE YULETIDE... doesn't happen over the course of a few hours or even a few days. It's a month-long celebration, or even a month-plus, and the party is festooned with caroling outings and seasonal concerts and tree-decorating to-dos and more. Likewise, Julefest, Solvang's sparkle-it-up, raise-your-cup celebration, isn't something that a holiday-happy reveler can partake in over one afternoon or night. The wine country festival happens over an impressively vast chunk of December, which means that an out-of-towner can't do it all (well, at least out-of-towners who have to return to their daily lives back home, which is pretty much all of us). Thus selecting what sorts of Danish-delightful, traditionally staged soirees you want to join well before the twelfth month arrives is as essential as eating a pastry upon your Solvang arrival. (Okay, that's not the law or anything, but it is always a really solid idea to seek out that starter pastry upon entering town, just to rev up your powered sugar-sprinkled getaway.)
HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE... a tree-lighting ceremony on Dec. 2, visits with Julemanden ("The Christmas Man") on select days, the Shop, Mingle & Jingle over the second weekend of December, and the ever-popular Wine & Beer Passport Walk (on Saturday, Dec. 10 and Sunday, Dec. 11). Tours, plays, and a basket full of ornaments (meaning lots of cute events) fill out several more days throughout the month. As for one of Julefest's most famous ornaments? It happens after Christmas, on Jan. 7, at the annual tree burn, a fire safety demo that bids the old year farewell. You probably can't be in Solvang for an entire five weeks, but lucky you if you can. Need to pick out your select fests, walks, and wine-tastings? This is a fine 'n festive place to begin.