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Celebrate the 2023 Holidays with Festive Fun in Downtown San Luis Obispo

Wednesday, November 1, 2023


FROM: Rachel Lackmann
Marketing & Communications Manager


Holiday Happenings include the 47th Annual Holiday Parade, Santa’s House, Lights & Sights, and More!

San Luis Obispo, CA — Downtown SLO, in partnership with the City of San Luis Obispo, is delighted to announce the 2023 Holiday Happenings! This year, visitors can expect to see a continuation of treasured community traditions as well as brand-new activations and dazzling lights.

47TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY PARADE: “OUT OF THIS WORLD!” • Friday, December 1, 2023, at 7 PM
Presented by Ah Louis Store and Friday Night Lights Youth Flag Football;
In partnership with the City of San Luis Obispo

Prepare to be dazzled by an evening of awe-inspiring cosmos and unforgettable festive fun in charming downtown San Luis Obispo; the 47th Annual Downtown SLO Holiday Parade will take place on Friday, December 1, 2023, at 7 PM. The 2023 theme will be “Out of This World!”; participants are encouraged to incorporate elements of space exploration, intergalactic adventure, and cosmic wonder into their entries.

The Annual Downtown SLO Holiday Parade has drawn thousands to downtown San Luis Obispo since 1976. Held on the first Friday in December, the parade has become a much-loved holiday tradition along the Central Coast for locals and visitors alike. Nearly 90 decorated floats, marching bands, vehicles, dancers, and more will march in the parade. Information regarding the route, accommodations, and more can be found at The parade will occur rain or shine! Attendees can RSVP and share the event on Facebook.

LIGHTS, SIGHTS, & FAMILY FUN IN MISSION PLAZA • Opens Friday, November 24, 2023
Presented by CoVelop;
In partnership with the City of San Luis Obispo

Mission Plaza is the centerpiece of downtown San Luis Obispo — it all happens here! This holiday season, visit Santa at Santa's House, ride the Classic Carousel, take family photos in front of the 20-foot tree, walk through animated lighted displays, experience a music-synced light show, and more!

Holiday Plaza & Santa’s House Opening Day Celebration • 12 PM

Watch Santa ride into Mission Plaza on a firetruck and enjoy a live performance from the SLO County Band. Celebrate the opening of all the fun in the Plaza. Attendees can RSVP and share the event on Facebook.

Light Up The Plaza! • 5 PM

Join Downtown SLO, the City of SLO, and sponsors and community partners to "switch on" the lights in the Plaza, ushering in the start of the 2023 holiday season. Grab a cozy drink downtown and enjoy live music and community. Attendees can RSVP and share the event on Facebook.

SANTA’S HOUSE • Through Sunday, December 24, 2023
Presented by Dignity Health

Santa will once again fly from the North Pole to his winter residence in Mission Plaza — families are invited to meet him, recite their wish list, and pose for photos. Guests can purchase one of three photo packages; take-your-own, printed souvenir photo, or a combination of both.

Downtown SLO is actively recruiting volunteer photo elves! Fill out an interest form here.

Santa’s House schedule:

  • 11/24: 12 PM – 7 PM
  • 11/25 – 12/17: Wed – Sun, 11 AM – 7 PM
  • 12/18 – 12/23: Every day, 11 AM – 7 PM
  • 12/24: 11 AM – 2 PM

Children can also take home a free Family Holiday Guide activity booklet that includes a calendar of kid-friendly events downtown, SLO-themed activities and games, and a chance to win a membership to the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum.

Additionally, find the mailbox outside of Santa’s House and mail your wishlist to the North Pole by Friday, December 15, 2023, for a response back from Santa.

Sponsored by Lamplighter Inn & Suites

Children can ride the Classic Carousel in Mission Plaza beginning Friday, November 24, 2023. Hours of operation will run in tandem with Santa’s House hours.

Sponsored by Swinerton, Meathead Movers, Tenet Health Central Coast, Hotel SLO, Toyota Central Coast

Find show-stopping photo opportunities, including animated light tunnels, a 20-foot holiday tree, a dazzling walk-through ornament, a lighted wreath, a sit-in sleigh, and more.

Sponsored by Lola & Ivy, PG&E, RRM Design, Thoma Electric, Nordstrom Rack, and Wallace Group

Stunning lights all throughout the Plaza will synchronize with music in the evening. Find a video of 2022’s light show here.


Downtown SLO encourages locals to choose downtown businesses when shopping for gifts this holiday season. A list of locally-owned businesses in downtown San Luis Obispo can be found here.

Small Business Saturday • Saturday, November 25, 2023
Sponsored by American Riviera Bank

Visit your favorite downtown retailers or the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center on Small Business Saturday for exclusive offers and free tote bags and buttons. A list of deals and events will be published here as the date approaches.

Buy Local Bonus • Begins Friday, November 24, 2023

Get rewarded for shopping local — spend $100 or more at locally-owned retailers and earn a $25 gift card to another local business. Learn more here.

The Buy Local Bonus is a program by the City of San Luis Obispo and the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce.


For more information on Downtown SLO Holiday Happenings, please visit, follow @DowntownSLO on Instagram, and like @ExperienceDowntownSLO on Facebook.

A list of volunteer opportunities for the Holiday Parade, Decorate Downtown Day & Clean Up Day, and Santa’s House can be found here.

A media kit for all Downtown SLO Holiday Happenings can be found here. Please contact Rachel Lackmann, Marketing & Communications Manager, for additional materials and information:, or visit


In partnership with the City of San Luis Obispo; Holiday Parade presented by Ah Louis Store, Friday Night Lights Youth Flag Football; Holiday Plaza presented by CoVelop; Santa’s House presented by Dignity Health; Holiday Tree sponsored by Swinerton; Photo Spots sponsored by Meathead Movers, Tenet Health Central Coast, Toyota San Luis Obispo; Light Show sponsored by Lola & Ivy, PG&E, Thoma Electric, RRM Design Group, Nordstrom Rack, Wallace Group; Holiday Parade Announcer Booths sponsored by Guaranteed Rate; Small Business Saturday sponsored by American Riviera Bank; Family Holiday Guide sponsored by Wildflower Women & Sandbox Kids; Letters to Santa sponsored by SESLOC; Holiday Parade sponsored by Wilde Wealth Management Group, Coastal Pediatric Dentistry, SLO Credit Union, Astound Business Solutions, Sunset Honda, Injectors Direct, Central Coast Gymnastics, New Heights Ventures, Poor Richard’s Press, Studio Prime Architecture, ASAP Movers; Holiday Parade Bike Valet sponsored by Avila Valley Barn; Lighted Tunnel sponsored by Hotel SLO; Classic Carousel sponsored by Lamplighter Inn & Suites; Special Thanks to San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum, JCC Federation of SLO, Traffic Management, San Luis Garbage; Media Partners include KSBY, New Times, the Sun, American General Media.

About Downtown SLO: Downtown SLO is a 501 (c)(6) nonprofit founded in 1975 whose mission is to foster an economically vibrant Downtown. Downtown SLO serves the community by working on initiatives like parking and beautification efforts, coordinating special events and the weekly Farmers’ Market, supporting economic activities, and examining Downtown issues.