Columbia State Historical Park, part of the California State Park system was the place to be during the California Gold Rush and it is the place to be more than 150 years later, perhaps especially at holiday time. That’s when this living historic town, just three hours from San Francisco in the Sierra Nevada foothills, puts on its lights and decorations, hosts a passel of events, and perhaps even provides a little snow, as it already has this season.
This special town, in which you literally step into history, offers costumed docents year-round, along with shops and activities, such as tours, mining cabins, gold panning, a working blacksmith, and stagecoach rides.
Holiday events this year include:
Miners’ Christmas, Sat and Sun., December 12th, 13th, 19th and 20th, from 1-4pm each day.
Miners will roast chestnuts, make coffee and cider, and tell stories around a campfire. Participants can partake in classic Christmas crafts and a visit by Father Christmas.
Merry Merchants, Fri. and Sat., Dec. 11th and 12th, 5-8 p.m.
Shops are open late in what is a complete antidote to the modern mall. Free carriage rides are offered on Main Street. Carolers sing and storytellers perform. Guests can warm themselves with roasted chestnuts, gingerbread and other specialties, and enjoy a visit by Father Christmas.
Equestrian Parade, Sun., Dec. 13th, 11 a.m.
Las Posadas Nativity Procession, Sun., Dec. 13, 5 p.m.
Enjoy this Spanish tradition that re-enacts the Biblical story of Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve. The procession is a 25-year Columbia tradition which features many costumed townspeople, from Bibilical as well as mining-camp times. Luminaria and candles light the way for the special evening parade and performance.
For more information, visit the Columbia State Historical Park web site.
Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman