Take a break from finals with festive, free fun


Now that we’re done stuffing our faces with Thanksgiving food, it’s officially time for the holidays. Although for many, Christmas music began filling households as early as Nov. 1, it’s now acceptable to blast Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” 24/7. 

With the air getting crisper, temperatures dropping and winter break being around the corner, there are tons of activities in Sonoma County to really put you in the holiday spirit. 

Despite the fact that finals are next week and being away from family during this time of year may be difficult, don’t let that stop you from exploring the holiday festivities the area has to offer. From Christmas tree lightings in Cotati and Windsor, to ice skating at Union Square in San Francisco, there is much to do. 

For those who celebrate the holidays, the festivities offered are a great way to continue or even start new traditions. For sophomore and Rohnert Park native Rachael Zschach, traditions are very important and she will continue her traditions for years to come. 

Talking about her favorite and most cherished holiday habits Zschach gave tips as to which local holiday activities are worth while.

“The best tree lighting is definitely in Windsor, everyone from Sonoma County goes,” Zschach said. “Although there is no snow, you can still feel the holiday spirit around town with the houses and stores decorated.”

Many cities surrounding Rohnert Park decorate their streets with lights and tinsel setting the festive mood. You know it’s officially the holiday season when the trees down Rohnert Park Expressway are decorated with luminous Christmas lights making you feel as if you’re surrounded by a dozen giant Christmas trees. 

Other cities like Healdsburg continue their beloved seasonal tradition with bright street decor, Christmas trees lighting the plaza and holiday window displays. 

Along with the beautifully decorated streets, visitors partake in spiced teas and hot chocolate while listening to holiday tunes performed by carolers. Holiday fans may even consider taking a ride in a horse-drawn carriage. The event takes place throughout the whole month of December so you can go multiple times to get your fill of holiday cheer.

Other activities include the Petaluma Marina boat parade, which will be held on Dec. 17 at 6 p.m., where boats decorated with Christmas lights make their way down the river illuminating the night and attracting crowds.

There are also traditional holiday performances such as “A Charlie Brown Christmas Concert,” where the Santa Rosa Symphony and pianist Jim Martinez, along with his quartet, perform songs from the “Peanuts” to commend Charles M. Schulz for his work. The performance will be held at Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa on Dec. 11 at 3 p.m. with ticket prices ranging from $37-$80. For more information visitlutherburbankcenter.org.

The holiday classic “The Nutcracker” will be performed right here in Rohnert Park as well, at the Spreckles Performing Arts Center Dec. 18- 20. For more information about this performance visit santarosadancetheater.com.

If you’re on a college student budget not looking to spend much money, whilestaying close to campus, you can visit a house known for its spectacular display of lights. Open daily from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. until Dec. 25, is the house that won first place on the 2014 ABC television competition “The Great Christmas Light Fight.” 

The house, with its large display of lights and handcrafted Disney characters, is located at 1190 Cielo Circle.

“I went to this house last year and it was amazing. You could see the lights from down the street and all of the handcrafted Disney characters made it so much better,” sophomore Abigail Bulnes said. “I can’t wait to go again this year.” 

With neighbors selling hot chocolate on the corner and children yelling out with holiday spirit, it somehow makes you feel a little closer to home though you may still be far away.

This house is a highly recommended Christmas light destination, even more so since this is the last year the display will be set up. If you’ve never experienced this magical house be sure you do this holiday season.

Finals may seem to put a damper on things but with the several different festive activities throughout Sonoma County it’s easy to keep those holiday spirits high.