Named by Reader’s Digest as “The Best Christmas Town in California,” the popular Julefest comes complete with nostalgic Christmas lights, ornamented trees, seasonal music, shopping, and light shows.
Our personal favorite? The candlelit walking tour that meanders through the small town!
In this Solvang Julefest Christmas guide, we’ve included everything you need to know about the wonder of Solvang’s Julefest for yourself.
So, get ready to discover one of “America’s 50 Most Charming Small Towns for the Holidays (MSN.com)”!
When is the Solvang Julefest?
This year’s dates have not yet been officially announced, but last year’s edition of Solvang Julefest took place from November 26, 2022 to January 6, 2023 and this year’s dates will likely be in a similar range.
This official tourism page also confirms that this year’s Christmas Tree lighting will take place on December 1, 2023, and the parade will take place the day after on December 2, 2023.
Read our full list of Christmas market opening dates in the USA for more.
Where to Stay for Solvang Julefest
There are over 20 hotels, cottages, and bed and breakfasts in the Solvang area to accommodate any budget or preference.
Reservations are a must!
Most hotels are boutique style and size — selling out several months in advance. Here are some quick options at a glance:
- Budget: Click here to check reviews and availability
- Mid-Range: Click here to check reviews and availability
- Luxury: Click here to check reviews and availability
Budget Hotels. Atterdag Inn offers large, simply appointed rooms within walking distance of tasting rooms and restaurants. Another option, the Hamlet Inn, is an ultra-small boutique hotel located at city-center.
Mid-range Hotels. Mirabelle Inn & Restaurant is a traditional Danish hotel located in the heart of Solvang. We loved the old-world European style decor of the rooms, and everyone was amazingly helpful.
Luxury Hotels. The Landsby is a 41-room boutique hotel influenced by traditional Scandinavian aesthetics.
Another choice in the heart of wine country is the Hotel Ynez, which is famous for the little touches. If you are looking for a quiet spa-like atmosphere, we highly recommend this location.
Where to Find Solvang Julefest
Solvang is just 35 miles north of Santa Barbara or 125 miles north of Los Angeles on the 101 Ventura Freeway.
Amtrak offers daily connections via Amtrak Thruway Motor Coach to downtown Solvang from Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Carpinteria, California. And travelers can use their ticket for various discounts throughout the city.
Five miles from Solvang sits the Santa Ynez Airport (IZA), a publicly owned facility for private aircraft with general aviation services. For commercial air travel, Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (SBA), sits 30 miles south.
Once in Solvang, you’ll be able to find festivities all over town.
For instance, children of all ages will enjoy the tree lighting ceremony on Copenhagen Drive. There are also live animal interactions, and of course, Santa’s Village in Solvang Park.
What to Eat at Solvang Julefest
Celebration of the Winter holidays always involves food. And Solvang is a cornucopia of tastes and cooking styles.
Over sixty restaurants and eateries pepper the city. One can find Mexican, Belgian, wine country cuisine, burgers, steaks, trendy farm to table, and even Domino’s Pizza.
Aebleskiver Café is famous for the traditional Danish Aebleskiver pancake and sausages. Olsen’s Danish Village Bakery is one of the city’s top eateries, selling tasty pastries and meat pies.
Actor’s Corner Cafe is a traditional Italian, vegetarian-friendly, family-run restaurant. For amazing burgers, try the Succulent Cafe on Mission drive.
Two restaurants new to the area are family owned. Sear Steakhouse is a farm to table steakhouse supported by the Loizides’ family working farm.
Peasants FEAST offers first come first serve, locally sourced creations from Executive Chief Michael Cherney and General Manager Sarah Cherney.
And for a leisurely evening, try Sante, a wine bar with a hip atmosphere.
For late risers and brunchers, Brekkies is an all-day breakfast and brunch eatery. Waffles all-day, what a wonderful concept!
Most restaurants in Solvang list late seating. Many have prix fixe holiday offerings, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
For holiday meals, reservations are encouraged or required. Also, with the uncertainty of COVID-19 restrictions, we highly recommend a quick double-check of your intended destination.
What to Buy at Solvang Julefest
If shopping is your passion, there are more than 150 shoppes in Solvang.
During the Holiday, this small village is a Christmas shopper’s dream come true. And just like in Europe’s famous Christmas markets, the choice of gifts is endless.
At the city’s heart is Solvang Spice Merchant, an independently owned spice and gift shop brimming with hand-bottled spices, trendy cookbooks perfect for stockings or under the tree.
The Good Seed Coffee Boutique serves locally roasted coffee and teas – a great respite from shopping and the roasted coffee aroma is amazing!
Another Solvang staple, The Giving Ink, is a stationery and gift store. Its numerous hand-made paper goods, desktop accessories, and hand-crafted maps are perfect for one-of-a-kind Holiday cards and gifts.
Extra Tips for Visiting Solvang and Julefest
If you’re planning to visit Solvang at Christmas time, here are some additional tips to be mindful of.
Plan your trip around the Skal Wine and Stein Stroll
About mid-December is the famous Skål Wine & Stein Stroll — a two-day wine and beer tasting event. Visitors try local craft beers, area wines & Gløgg.
If you have never tasted Gløgg, it is a hot, aromatic beverage featuring red wine, lemons, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, port, almonds, and raisins.
Similar to “mulled wine,” this Winter treat is simply amazing. Each year since our first sip of Glogg in 2000, it has been a staple on our Christmas table.
Don’t miss the Solvang’s Julefest extra scheduled events
The Solvang Nativity Pageant, known as the “Christmas Story,” comes to life at the outdoor Solvang Festival Theater on Second Street.
Other festival events include:
- The JuleFEAST – a communal dinner served under the stars by Solvang’s best chefs. (Separate tickets needed).
- A citywide hunt for the Danish Nisse or elves.
- The Drone Show, dozens of lighted drones flying in a Christmas ballet of light. (Separate tickets needed).
Plan your trip and stay through the New Year!
The live streaming celebration of the Danish New Year in the Solvang Square is worth the stay.
Be prepared to walk
Solvang officials, confirmed that the main thoroughfare, Copenhagen Drive, is now only open to pedestrians.
Bring cash and coins
Cash is always a good idea for tips, donations, and other small purchases.
Bring a foldable canvas tote
This is to carry all the wonderful gifts and extra bottles of wine.
This saved us several times from going back and forth to the hotel.
Think ahead about reservations
The new restaurants in Solvang are extremely popular, and it is not uncommon for the bakeries to have lines, so make sure to book ahead for any must-visit food spots.
Check out the other awesome things to do in Solvang
Besides Julefest, there are plenty of wonderful activities to enjoy in Solvang, including…
- The Elverhøj Museum of History & Art: A Danish history museum sits within an 18th-century-styled Scandinavian home. Many of the exhibits are free.
- The California Missions: A vital part of the settlement and culture of California. Old Mission Santa Inés, founded in 1804, is now a church, museum, and historical landmark that is open to the public.
- Wine Tasting: The downtown district of Solvang is home to numerous exquisite wine tasting rooms where you can sit and learn about the history of the mid-Coast wine country. We loved the tasting rooms! They allowed us to sample the area’s wineries and then hop back to the hotel for a quick nap before dinner.