Top 5 Non-Stressful and FREE things to do in Petaluma for the Holidays

The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, filled with family traditions and magical moments. However, the reality is that we often find ourselves in a race to the finish with a goal of just getting to December 25th when we can finally collapse in a heap on the couch.

As an antidote to the stress and expense that seems to be inherent in today’s holiday season, we have a list of our top five recommendations that are all free and easy!

#1 – Festival of Trees on December 1 & 2

Hosted by The Fabulous Women at Hotel Petaluma, the Festival of Trees is quickly becoming one of Petaluma’s favorite holiday events. Dozens and dozens of exquisitely decorated trees will transform the ballroom into a winter wonderland. Each tree reflects the personality of the business or organization that decorated it, showing amazing creativity. Corks are transformed to ornaments on the Sonoma Portworks tree – just one example of the discoveries to be found. And best of all, the trees are auctioned off with the proceeds supporting local charities. Live music, Santa and a sweet shop complete the festive atmosphere.

Festival of Trees at Hotel Petaluma
Holiday Lighted Boat Parade

#2 – Holiday Lighted Boat Parade on December 9

Petaluma has many unique features and the Petaluma River is one of its most important. The city owes its existence to the commerce created by the river. A family favorite holiday event for decades, the Holiday Lighted Boat Parade gives the river a chance to shine. This year, all types of watercraft will share the spotlight with boats, perhaps leading to renaming the event the “Holiday Lighted Boat and Kayak and SUP Parade.” Stately yachts or one person stand-up-paddleboards, the spectacle of the lights reflecting off the water is a memorable way to celebrate the season.

#3 – Gingerbread House Showcase and Competition

Petaluma’s newest holiday event is quickly becoming a community tradition. Now in its second year, the Gingerbread House Showcase and Competition is certain to inspire another group of architecturally creative bakers. Last year, the entries included a gingerbread replicas of some of Petaluma’s iconic buildings including the Phoenix Theater and Hunt & Behrens Feed Mill. The event is hosted by Hotel Petaluma which has just completed an extensive renovation to return it to its 1923 glory. Perhaps a gingerbread hotel entry is in the works for this year’s competition.

Hotel Petaluma's Gingerbread House Showcase & Competition

#4 – City of Lights Driving Tour

Holiday fun and family bonding doesn’t get any easier than this…you don’t have worry about being on time, mom doesn’t need to put on any makeup, and the kids can be in their jammies. All you need to do to take the City of Lights Driving Tour is gather the family in the car after dark and head out to enjoy some of Petaluma’s most spectacularly decorated houses. We are still gathering addresses for the participating houses. Please check back after December 1 for the full list of addresses. And after you’ve taken the tour, be sure to vote for you favorite!

#5 – Community Christmas Carol Sing on December 23

On Christmas eve eve, what would be the ideal way to drop down a few notches on the busy-ness scale and settle into what the holidays really mean to you? By joining in a Community Christmas Carol sing, held in the stillness of the night under the heritage oaks of Walnut Park. The First Presbyterian Flute Choir will provide the accompaniment. Whether you sound like Pavarotti or a rusty saw makes no difference. It’s all about feeling the joy of the season. Bring a flashlight and dress warmly.

Community Christmas Carol Sing