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Downtown SLO 2021 Holiday Happenings

November 15, 2021


FROM: Rachel Lackmann,
Marketing & Communications Coordinator
(805) 541-0826


Holiday Plaza, Parade, Santa’s House & Classic Carousel, Shop Small Saturday, Hanukkah,  & Festive Decorations Downtown

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA – With its walkable environment, unique shops, and plentiful dining, Downtown San Luis Obispo has been the region’s destination for making holiday memories for more than 40 years. In 2021,  treasured family traditions return, including Santa’s House, the Classic Carousel, and a dazzling Holiday Plaza full of lights and sights for photo opportunities. 

Downtown SLO, in partnership with the City of San Luis Obispo, is pleased to announce the full schedule of Holiday Activities, beginning Friday, November 26, 2021:

The holiday season will kick off on Friday, November 26, 2021 with the opening of the centerpiece of the season: the Holiday Plaza! Visit Santa at Santa’s House, ride the Classic Carousel, and explore sparkly, interactive light exhibits that dazzle and delight during the day and glow at night. These charming decorations, along with the 20-foot lighted Holiday tree, will offer fun and festive backdrops for family photos in Mission Plaza.

The Holiday Plaza presented by the San Luis Obispo Collection
November 26, 2021 – January 2, 2022

The Holiday Plaza is the centerpiece of Downtown holiday happenings. Admire dazzling displays, pose with California-inspired photo backdrops, explore a magical lighted forest, and much more! Don’t forget your camera!

Stop by on Friday, November 26, 2021 at noon to celebrate the opening of the Holiday Plaza! Watch Santa arrive on a firetruck, be one of the first to ride the Classic Carousel, and enjoy a live performance from the SLO County Band.

Shop Small Saturday and support local all season long
Saturday, November 27, 2021

This year, Downtown SLO is a Neighborhood Champion for Shop Small with American Express. Support Downtown businesses and keep your dollars local all season long! Find unique shopping opportunities that can't be found anywhere else in Downtown SLO. A list of Downtown businesses that are celebrating on Shop Small Saturday is coming soon! Stay tuned for information on giveaways, treats, events, and more! 

Hanukkah Menorah Lighting presented by the JCC-Federation of SLO
Sunday, November 28, 2021 – Monday, December 6, 2021 Nightly at 5:00 PM

The SLO Jewish community is honored to continue its annual tradition of lighting the public menorah outside Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa each night of Hanukkah at 5:00 PM. First night of Hanukkah festivities at the Holiday Plaza will include making candy menorahs, Hanukkah sweets and treats, dreidel spinning contests, prayers, songs, and fun.

45th Annual Holiday Parade sponsored by American Riviera Bank
Friday, December 3, 2021, 7:00 PM

The 45th Annual Holiday Parade will take place on Friday, December 3, 2021 at 7:00 PM. This year, the annual Holiday Parade theme is California Dreamin’ and the parade will be led by a group of First Responders. The event is one of the largest parades on the Central Coast, attracting thousands of spectators. The Parade will feature over 80 decorative floats, vehicles, marching bands, dancers, and more. Announcer stations will be set up along the parade route, including a bilingual announcer station. 

Visits with Santa at Santa’s House sponsored by Tenet Health

Santa’s House will fly in from the North Pole to its usual spot in Mission Plaza for photo opportunities with Santa. Visits with Santa will take place outside on Santa’s front lawn in 2021. Hours will vary and there will be no in-person visits in inclement weather. Photos with Santa will be available for purchase: $8 take-your-own, $12 souvenir photo, and $19 for a souvenir package including both the souvenir photo and take-your-own.

Letters to/from Santa sponsored by Lola & Ivy

Stop by Santa’s House to drop off letters for Santa — include your child’s return address and keep your eyes out for a response from the North Pole in your mailbox!

Decorated Window Showcase presented by Downtown businesses

The businesses of Downtown are celebrating the holidays with inspired window displays and lighted windows. Scan the QR code on your favorite shop window and vote for your favorite in the People’s Choice.

The Search for Santa’s Mouse Scavenger Hunt in partnership with the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum

Start at Santa’s House in the Holiday Plaza and follow the clues all around Downtown. The booklet, available at Santa’s House and other Downtown businesses, features a charming story and a scavenger hunt with eight clues for kids and families to find together as they stroll downtown. Each activity book features the opportunity to win a prize! 

Buy Local Bonus presented by the City of SLO and the SLO Chamber of Commerce

Get rewarded for shopping local! Spend $100 at any local retail, restaurant, fitness or personal service business in the City of SLO and receive a $25 gift card to another local business. That’s right. You can get money just by spending your dollars locally in the City of San Luis Obispo this holiday season. Just save your receipts and submit them to receive $25.

For more information about all these exciting Holiday Happenings in Downtown San Luis Obispo, please visit A full press kit, which will be updated with current photo assets once the programs are underway, is available on our website.

Downtown SLO is a nonprofit 501(c)(6) membership organization working to foster an economically vibrant Downtown. The Friends of Downtown SLO is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable foundation supporting a clean, safe, and beautiful downtown.