Is your dog good in crowds? If so, bring him along to a neighborhood festival where the two of you can enjoy lights, elves, carolers and shopping (you’ll be surprised at the number of stores Spot is allowed to enter). While these events are not designed for dogs, it’s OK for Fido to tag along, providing he behaves. Most community events that charge admission turn away canines, so if one of those is on your calendar, be sure to call before you go.
Dog-friendly Pleasanton gets into the holiday spirit early this year with a Magical Holiday Evening from 5-8 p.m. this Saturday, Nov. 19. Decorations, window displays, elves and the fat guy will all make appearances, while shops and restaurants will beckon with open-house specials.
Among our favorite annual fetes is the Festival of Lights in Yountville, set for Nov. 25 this year and saluting the season with tens of thousands of twinkling lights along with carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides, ice carvings, tastings and, of course, the guy in red. On Dec. 3, the up-valley town of Calistoga hosts its annual Lighted Tractor Parade, a quintessentially small-town holiday experience featuring antique and modern trucks, tractors and construction equipment bedecked with lights. If you’d like to do a little wine tasting in conjunction with your tractor-watching, we suggest dog-friendly Dutch Henry Winery just outside town.
Up in the Sierra Nevada foothills, the Gold Rush town of Auburn celebrates an Old Town Country Christmas on Dec. 10 and again on Dec. 17. The event showcases crafters, artists, photos with Santa, twinkle lights, entertainment and open house at all the shops. Nevada City’s Victorian Christmas is a perennial favorite made all the more special for its costumed characters (including many dogs), strolling minstrels, roasted chestnuts and other old-fashioned touches. It will be celebrated on three Wednesday nights (Dec. 7, 14 and 21) and two Sunday afternoons (Dec. 11 and 18) this year. Photo: Yountville Festival of Lights, courtesy Yountville Chamber of Commerce.