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By Andrew Wedgebury
Cheers to the holiday season
Nevada County celebrations set to kick off

There are few areas in Northern California that offer a more diverse array of activities and events than the Nevada City/Grass Valley area. Beginning in November and lasting through New Year’s Eve, Nevada County treats residents and visitors alike to a variety of fairs, parades, art, music and foods that are difficult to resist.

There are over two dozen holiday events coming up in our area, from local artisans shows to large street fairs and gift shows. The following list of events details some of the highlights of the season, but for a more comprehensive look at what holiday treats are coming up, check with the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce (nevadacitychamber.com) or Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce (grassvalleychamber.com)

Victorian Christmas
Dec. 3, 10 & 17, 1:30 p.m.-6 p.m.
Dec 13 & 20, 5 p.m.-9 p.m.

One of the crown jewels of the holidays, Victorian Christmas is full of new shows, sights, sounds and attractions in historic Nevada City.  Each year the town’s picturesque downtown streets are closed and transformed into a genuine Christmas card come to life. It’s a magical setting of streets outlined with twinkling white lights and authentic gas lamps, wandering minstrels and carolers dressed in Victorian attire, and a myriad of visitors sharing holiday cheer and good tidings. This annual family tradition features activities for all ages: carriage rides, live entertainment, savory yuletide treats and libations, and of course, Father Christmas!

Cornish Christmas (50th Year)
Nov. 24, Dec. 1, 8, 15 & 22
6 p.m.-9 p.m.

Started in 1967 to help preserve Grass Valley’s Cornish heritage and holiday traditions, Cornish Christmas remains one of the county’s most popular events. Mill and West Main Streets are closed and filled with the sights and sounds of an old-fashioned Christmas: carolers, jugglers, musicians, the Grass Valley Cornish Carol Choir, Tommyknocker Cloggers and, of course, Santa Claus. Handmade arts and crafts from artists throughout California are displayed on the downtown Grass Valley streets. Food and drink can be purchased from numerous Grass Valley restaurants and specialty food vendors.

Country Christmas Faire
Nov. 24. 25, 26, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. on Sunday
Rated as one of the top craft shows in Northern California, the Country Christmas Faire at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley features unique gifts and art from top artisans from across the state.

Exhibit buildings will be filled during the Thanksgiving weekend, giving shoppers a chance to start their holiday shopping with quality hand-made holiday items, ornaments, jewelry, wooden crafts, soaps and lotions, hand-woven baskets, stained glass, candles, beadwork, nuts and candies, handmade hats, wine barrel furniture, and dozens of other unique gifts. In addition, for the kids there will be a coloring contest and a gingerbread house competition. For more information, visit nevadacountyfair.com

14th Annual Banner Mountain Artisans show
Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 18 & 19
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The 14th Annual Banner Mountain Artisans Show and Sale ushers in the holiday shopping season with more than 30 artisans who bring their quality goods together for this annual show. Some of the unique works of art you will find include mosaics, jewelry, gourd art, weaving, functional ceramics, glass, furniture and decor, photography, woodturning, oil paintings, metal sculpture, water color, copper art, handmade teddy bears, silk painted scarves, tiles, fiber art, handmade soaps, repurposed art and more. Held at the Nevada City Elks Lodge. For more information, visit bannermountainartisans.com

134th Donation Day Parade
Thursday, Dec. 21, 10 a.m.-11a.m.

1883 was not a good year for residents of Nevada County. The large Eureka Mine and several smaller mines were forced to close leaving many miners out of work. The Grass Valley Ladies Relief Society was swamped with requests for assistance. As Christmas neared, the treasury was nearing bottom. Knowing of the community’s plight, Caroline Hansen proposed each school child could bring a stick of wood and a potato to school, and she recommended that the Grass Valley Ladies Relief Society was the perfect group to collect and distribute the stove wood and potatoes to those in need. Donation Day soon grew to become an annual holiday observance. City merchants jumped on the bandwagon contributing hams, sacks of flour, and other such goods to augment the children’s sticks of wood and potatoes. The tradition has continued through three different centuries. Today, nearly one thousand local school children march in the Donation Day Parade each December on the last day of school before Christmas break. For more information, visit gvlrs.org

Holiday Lights in the Park
Friday and Saturday, Dec. 15 and 16
5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.

Penn Valley’s 3rd annual light display at Gateway Park allows revelers to view the community’s holiday lights in one location, presented by the Penn Valley Area Chamber of Commerce. Free giveaways. For more information, visit pennvalleycoc.org.
Photo by Mike Anderson
Cindy Moon, who portrays the walking Christmas tree every year at Victorian Christmas in Nevada City.