The seventh annual Cambria Christmas Market, opening Friday, wants to replicate the joy of watching a toy train circling the holiday tree into a real-life experience, especially for children —although anybody can ride it.
A new market train will take riders around one of the Cambria Pines Lodge buildings and show them lights and décor that can’t be seen any other way. A special holiday story will unfold along the route.
The train is just one of the additions to this year’s market, which runs from 5 to 9 p.m. on 28 of the days between Friday, Nov. 23, and Sunday, Dec. 23. For specific dates, check the calendar at cambriachristmasmarket.com.
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Dirk Winter, owner of the lodge that hosts the annual holiday event, said in a recent phone interview that each of the four ride-on train cars will accommodate four people. He said train tickets will cost up to $4 per person, depending on the night.
Lots of lights
The 2018 Cambria Christmas Market will be brighter and more festive than ever, Winter said, with close to 2 million lights in a mix of clear, single-color and multi-color strands. “We paint with lights,” Winter said, adding that light-emitting diode (LED) technology reduces the displays’ power use and heat.
“We couldn’t run a tenth of that with incandescent lights,” Winter said. “It would be too expensive and we wouldn’t have enough power” to run them all. But with LED lights, the lodge is able to supply the market’s power with the same level of electrical service they’ve always had.
While there’ll be some entirely new displays — and some previous designs have been modified or changed around — one iconic feature stays the same, year after year: rhe long light tunnel, in which the walking visitors are encircled by vivid overhead swaths of illuminating color.
The festive holiday decor will extend to Winter’s neighboring Cambria Nursery and Florist, 2801 Eton Road, where seasonal items are offered for sale.
Downtown Cambria areas will also be decked out for the season, especially for the upcoming Hospitality Night from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6.
Another new feature of the 2018 market will be a classical Christmas dinner served before the market opens on Dec. 15 and 16. Ticket sales end a week before the dinners.
Tickets are $50 for adults and $25 for children 12 and under, including gratuity, service charge, the traditional turkey-and-ham dinner (served family-style), transportation to the event, VIP access to the market and live entertainment by Grammy Award-winning musician Louie Ortega and magician Elliott Hunter.
The Cambria Christmas Market is based on the Christmas markets that originated in Europe and date back to the Late Middle Ages. Vendors at those open-air holiday markets sold festive food, drink and goods, and the town celebrated with traditional song and dance.
Cambria’s market offers various craft items, local food and drink, fresh baked goods and treats including glühwein, a traditional German hot spiced wine.
According to the website, the market will feature dazzling light displays, live music every night, access to the Biergarten for music, drinks and food, and visits to Santa. (Photos with the jolly elf cost more, whether you take them or Santa’s helper does. Funds raised by the Santa pictures benefit Cambria’s Homeless Animal Rescue Team and its mission of rescuing and caring for animals).
While some very limited VIP parking is available for a $25, date-specific fee, most market attendees are not allowed to park onsite, along Burton Drive or in neighboring residential areas, but must instead park at:
• Coast Union High School, 2950 Santa Rosa Creek Road
• The former Brambles restaurant, 4005 Burton Drive, near the Burton Drive bridge at the foot of the hill.
Attendees are then shuttled to the marketplace through 8 p.m., with the final shuttle of the night leaving the lodge at 9:15 p.m.
No parking is allowed along Burton Drive or in area neighborhoods.
For more information, visit cambriachristmasmarket.com.