CHRISTMAS'S CALIFORNIA ADDRESS: If you've ever bopped around the country, or the world, because of school, or a job, or a series of family moves, you know that sometimes you have to keep an address, or a way to contact you, in a few different places, maybe via a friend's house or a post office box. Christmas, we suspect, also does just this, as one can find outposts of the North Pole, or at least North-Pole-y touches, throughout the United States. And while the yuletide bubbles up, with authenticity, charm, and many, many decorations throughout the Golden State, there is one town that is clearly its California address: Solvang. It has been said before: The Danish, windmill-y town feels like Christmas even on the most broiling, sweat-beads-everywhere July day, so when December shows up, laden with pastries, carols, and lights, Solvang shifts up into some serious sparkle courtesy of Julefest, its annual yuletide multi-day celebration. That shift starts juuuuust about the beginning of the month, but the tree lighting that really pumps up the jolly goes down on Friday, Dec. 5.
AS FOR THE PARADE? That follows the lighting of the big fir, on Saturday, Dec. 6, and visitors can view that whole first weekend of December as a sort of Christmassy open house. (It is, indeed, the Shop, Mingle & Jingle weekend, officially.) The grown-up glittery Solvang Julefest Wine About lands over the following weekend -- think 12 tasting rooms offering tastes for forty bucks a person -- and the wrap-it-all-up Christmas tree burn happens on Jan. 9. But whenever you find yourself in the town over the final month of the year, trust that it shall be well-baubled out. And is there a food more suited to the holiday than the aebleskiver, the plump doughy snack that's synonymous with Solvang? Yep, it's true: This is where Christmas keeps its post office box in the state of California.