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City of San Luis Obispo announces holiday plans 

SLO holidays

Image from Downtown SLO

See Mission Plaza decorations, city streets, and shop-window light displays

–Downtown San Luis Obispo has been a regional destination for making holiday memories for more than 40 years. This year, treasured family traditions will look a little bit brighter as Downtown SLO, the City of San Luis Obispo and other community partners reimagine the season to keep everyone safe, while still staying festive.

With family favorites like the Holiday Parade canceled and the Classic Carousel not in operation due to COVID, Downtown SLO and the City of San Luis Obispo are reimagining the Holiday Season for 2020. The new program, Light Up Downtown, will feature a dazzling array of lights, temporary murals, and Instagram pods, all outdoors for COVID safety. A complete schedule of events and more information will be available at

The Holiday season kicks off Saturday, November 28, with Shop Small Saturday, celebrating local businesses. This year, the Shop Small initiative will last all season long. Usual family favorites like Santa’s House and the 21-foot Holiday Tree will be on display in Mission Plaza with additional new bright and colorful lights and sights, window displays and lit-up buildings in Light Up Downtown. All activities are outdoors and visitors are expected to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines. Wear a mask, do not gather in large groups, and maintain distance from others while enjoying the sights of the holidays in Downtown San Luis Obispo.

Additionally, Downtown SLO will offer holiday shopping opportunities that can’t be found anywhere else with a diverse line-up of small shops and national retailers. A full list of our unique shops can be discovered in the business directory at

LIGHT UP DOWNTOWN: Visit Mission Plaza for the centerpiece of Light Up Downtown. Santa’s House and the Holiday Tree will be surrounded by creative and colorful light installations, a 20-foot rainbow light tunnel, a glammed-up Dine Out Downtown outdoor dining area, a lighted tree forest, and five interactive themed Memory Moment Pods. Visually appealing during the day and dazzling at night, Mission Plaza will be the perfect place for your family’s holiday photo and the place to create cherished holiday memories. Special thanks to our team of volunteers and creative collaborators at the City of SLO, Downtown SLO and Karson Butler Events who have re-imagined our 2020 holiday experience.

SANTA’S HOUSE: Santa’s House will fly in from the North Pole to its usual spot in Mission Plaza for photo opportunities with a lifesize photo of Santa outside the house. Bring your kids by the house to drop off letters for Santa, and this year, children will receive a letter back! Santa’s House is sponsored by the San Luis Obispo Collection.

HOLIDAY TREE: Enjoy the holiday spirit in the heart of Mission Plaza with this beautifully-decorated, 20-foot tall, fully-lit live Holiday Tree! The tree is sponsored by the San Luis Obispo Collection.

SCAVENGER HUNT – SEARCH FOR SANTA’S MOUSE: This free activity book, available at Santa’s House and at shops around downtown features a charming story, and a scavenger hunt with eight clues for kids and families to find together as they stroll downtown. Each activity book features the opportunity to win a prize! The Search for Santa’s Mouse Scavenger Hunt is brought to you in partnership with the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum in support of a safe holiday celebration activity for children.

HOLIDAY STROLL: Walk through Downtown San Luis Obispo to see businesses, windows and parklets lit up for the Holidays. Go to to get your Merry map and itinerary to see bright and cheery decorated windows, parklets, and other surprises and visual delights. You might even catch a glimpse of Santa out and about in his sleigh!

DECORATED WINDOW SHOWCASE: The businesses of downtown will celebrate the holidays with inspired window displays and lighted windows. Scan the QR code on your favorite shop window and vote for your favorite in the People’s Choice.

MENORAH LIGHTING: The socially-distanced candle lighting ceremony, coordinated by the JCC-Federation, happens outside the steps of the Mission in San Luis Obispo each night of Hanukkah at 5 pm, December 10 – 17, 2020.

LEARN ABOUT HOLIDAYS AROUND THE WORLD: Look up and learn about multicultural winter holidays on the colorful banners hung on the light poles. Brought to you by the City of San Luis Obispo Promotional Coordinating Committee.

VOLUNTEER: Anyone interested in volunteering this holiday season, sign up at



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