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Downtown SLO announces schedule of ‘holiday happenings’ 

slo holiday parade

Beloved family traditions return to downtown San Luis Obispo

– Traditions will return this year to downtown San Luis Obispo, including Santa’s house, the carousel, and a holiday plaza full of lights and sights for photo opportunities.

Downtown SLO and the City of San Luis Obispo have announced the full schedule of holiday activities, beginning Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. The City of San Luis Obispo is offering free parking on Sundays and select holidays from Thanksgiving Day through New Year’s Day.

Schedule of Holiday Happenings

The Holiday Plaza presented by the San Luis Obispo Collection
Nov. 26, 2021 – Jan. 2, 2022
The holiday season will kick off on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021 with the opening of the centerpiece of the season: the Holiday Plaza. Visit Santa at Santa’s house, ride the classic carousel, and explore sparkly, interactive light exhibits. These charming decorations, along with the 20-foot lighted Holiday tree, will offer fun and festive backdrops for family photos in Mission Plaza. The holiday plaza is the centerpiece of downtown holiday happenings. Admire displays, pose with California-inspired photo backdrops, explore a magical lighted forest, and more. Don’t forget your camera! Stop by on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021 at noon to celebrate the opening of the Holiday Plaza. Watch Santa arrive on a firetruck, be one of the first to ride the Classic Carousel, and enjoy a live performance from the SLO County Band.

Shop Small Saturday and support local all season long
Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021
This year, downtown SLO is a Neighborhood Champion for Shop Small with American Express. Support downtown businesses and keep your dollars local all season long. Find unique shopping opportunities that can’t be found anywhere else in downtown SLO. A list of downtown businesses that are celebrating on Shop Small Saturday is coming soon, stay tuned for information on giveaways, treats, events, and more.

Hanukkah Menorah Lighting presented by the JCC-Federation of SLO
Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021 – Monday, Dec. 6, 2021; nightly at 5 p.m.
The SLO Jewish community will continue its annual tradition of lighting the public menorah outside Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa each night of Hanukkah at 5 p.m. First night of Hanukkah festivities at the Holiday Plaza will include making candy menorahs, Hanukkah sweets and treats, dreidel spinning contests, prayers, songs, and fun.

45th Annual Holiday Parade sponsored by American Riviera Bank
Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, 7 p.m.
The 45th Annual Holiday Parade will take place on Friday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m. This year, the annual Holiday Parade theme is California Dreamin’ and the parade will be led by a group of First Responders. The event is one of the largest parades on the Central Coast, attracting thousands of spectators. The parade will feature over 80 decorative floats, vehicles, marching bands, dancers, and more. Announcer stations will be set up along the parade route, including a bilingual announcer station.

Visits with Santa at Santa’s House sponsored by Tenet Health
Santa’s House will fly in from the North Pole to its usual spot in Mission Plaza for photo opportunities with Santa. Visits with Santa will take place outside on Santa’s front lawn in 2021. Hours will vary and there will be no in-person visits in inclement weather. Photos with Santa will be available for purchase: $8 take-your-own, $12 souvenir photo, and $19 for a souvenir package including both the souvenir photo and take-your-own.

Letters to/from Santa sponsored by Lola & Ivy
Stop by Santa’s House to drop off letters for Santa — include your child’s return address and keep your eyes out for a response from the North Pole in your mailbox.

Decorated Window Showcase presented by downtown businesses
The businesses of Downtown are celebrating 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.

The Search for Santa’s Mouse Scavenger Hunt in partnership with the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum
Start at Santa’s House in the Holiday Plaza and follow the clues all around downtown. The booklet, available at Santa’s house and other downtown businesses, 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!

Buy Local Bonus presented by the City of SLO and the SLO Chamber of Commerce
Get rewarded for shopping local; Spend $100 at any local retail, restaurant, fitness or personal service business in the City of SLO and receive a $25 gift card to another local business, until supplies last. That’s right. You can get money just by spending your dollars locally in the City of San Luis Obispo this holiday season. Just save your receipts and submit them to receive $25.

For more information about holiday happenings in downtown San Luis Obispo, visit

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