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Drive-in, drive-by and virtual holiday activities in Atascadero 

Drive-in, drive-by and virtual holiday activities in Atascadero–Mark your calendar to enjoy the City of Atascadero’s holiday events in a COVID-safe manner. Starting on Dec. 4, Atascadero’s Downtown and Atascadero High School will be the place to drive and enjoy a COVID-safe start to the holiday season. The city, along with the Atascadero Downtown Business Improvement District and the Atascadero Unified School District, are getting ready to launch the holidays for everyone to enjoy from the safety and the comfort of their vehicles!

The festivities kick off on Dec. 4 at 5:30 p.m. in the Sunken Gardens, with the annual countdown to light up Historic City Hall at “Light up the Downtown Drive-In!” This year, “Light up the Downtown” will be drive-in style, all around Sunken Gardens. The gates will open at 5:15 p.m. to allow guests to park and get ready to enjoy wonderful holiday music from a collection of AUSD school choirs and bands that will begin at 5:30 p.m. Then at 6:15 p.m., enjoy the traditional countdown to light up Historic City Hall with our Mayor and Council members, followed by Santa and Mrs. Claus making their way around Sunken Gardens on the Model-A firetruck, wishing everyone “Happy Holidays!” Rumor has it that the Claus’ will have a couple of their famous reindeer on-site at Sunken Gardens for photo opportunities Dec. 4 – 6 from 12-6 p.m.

The Atascadero Downtown businesses will be decorated and open for your holiday shopping and dining too. This year, businesses will join in the lighting of the downtown, with participating storefronts competing in their first-ever holiday decoration contest. It will be fun to see how all of the businesses get creative with their holiday lights and décor and the winners will be announced the evening of Dec. 4.

After the lighting of Historic City Hall, Atascadero High School will launch their “Glow, Shine, Sparkle Reverse Holiday Parade” from 5:30-8 p.m. along High School Hill. Each of the school clubs and organizations will be creating a standing float. These floats will be filled with lights to light up High School Hill for families to drive through and enjoy.

In addition to the festivities this holiday season, the City of Atascadero will be introducing a new holiday lighting trail map, “Trail of Lights,” which will offer an opportunity for the residents to showcase their holiday lights from Dec. 4 through the 25. Deadline to enter into the “Trail of Lights” will be Nov. 30. Go to to sign up. It’s free to participate.

Don’t miss the Charles Paddock Zoo’s Holiday Magic event on Saturday, Dec. 19, which will be all virtual this year and details will be available soon.

Two holiday events have been canceled this year:

  • Holiday Walk Around the Lake at Atascadero Lake has been rescheduled for Dec. 4, 2021.
  • Winter Wonderland has been rescheduled for Dec. 10, 2021.


For more information about all of the upcoming city and city-sponsored events in Atascadero, go to or call Terrie Banish at (805) 470-3490, If you are interested in helping students with their light-filled floats, please contact If you are a musician and would like to have a video at the “Light Up the Downtown Drive-In” ceremony, please contact If you are a downtown Atascadero business and wish to participate in the Holiday Decorating Contest, contact Zoe Zappas at (805) 674-6817 or

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The news staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote or edited this story from local contributors and press releases. The news staff can be reached at