The Cambrian

Holiday dinner plans? How about an elegant black-tie affair at Hearst Castle?

Think holiday time. Glamor and glitz. A black-tie feast-to-remember for 75. A truly grand event.

At Hearst Castle.

Sparkling wine and appetizers at a terrace reception overlooking the iconic Neptune Pool. Wine-paired, epicurean dining in William Randolph Hearst’s dining hall, the Castle’s equally well-recognized Refectory. Holiday décor on a grand scale. Professional holiday portraits of guests. A live auction. And music, maestro, please.

As you would expect, if someone has to ask how much this rare, sumptuous opportunity costs, they probably can’t afford it: For each attendee, a full-year, $500-or-more membership in The Foundation at Hearst Castle nonprofit, plus a $1,500 “additional donation” for the event, if paid by Oct. 31. After that, the extra fee increases.

But oh my, what memories there’ll be.

And the money? It will help support conservation and restoration at the Castle, and sponsor youth programs so underserved middle school students can immerse themselves in the art and architecture, majesty and mystery of the state historical monument on the San Simeon hilltop, perhaps ultimately inspiring future generations of visionaries and artists.

The Holiday Feast will be “a rare opportunity to experience the legendary estate the way Mr. Hearst’s guests enjoyed it in the 1920s and 1930s,” according to a Foundation media release. “The evening of Dec. 7 will be drenched in history and a level of formality not often experienced on the Central Coast,” much to the delight of the guests at the fundraising fete.

While various fundraisers have been held at the Castle throughout the decades, very few of them have included meals served in Hearst’s dining room, with the Refectory’s silk banners overhead, twinkling lights reflecting in the antique silver and live music wafting around the room.

So far, the event’s menu is confidential, but previous holiday fest feasts have included such luxe ingredients as lobster, grilled rare Muscovy duck breast, foie gras, rosemary-crusted lamb chops, chocolate souffle cake and bourbon-chocolate truffles.

It’s been two years since the Castle’s cooperating association (previously called Friends of Hearst Castle) held the popular December event, and there had been a three-year gap between that event and the feast that preceded it.

So, who knows how long it will be before the Foundation’s holiday opportunity is offered again.

For tickets and details, go to and click on the events tab, which gives links to the Holiday Feast and other special fundraising events offered only to Foundation members.

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