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Downtown SLO Holiday Fun Kicks Off Thanksgiving Weekend

Monday, November 20, 2023


FROM: Rachel Lackmann
Marketing & Communications Manager


Santa’s House Opening Day Celebration, Light Up The Plaza, Small Business Saturday, and More!

San Luis Obispo, CA — Downtown SLO, in partnership with the City of San Luis Obispo, plans to kick off the holiday season with several community events beginning Friday, November 24, 2023. This year, visitors can expect to see a continuation of treasured community traditions, brand-new activations, and dazzling lights. Plus, anybody can park for free in any of the three downtown structures all weekend; learn more at

Friday, November 24, 2023, at 12 PM in Mission Plaza

Watch Santa ride into Mission Plaza on a firetruck and enjoy a live performance from the SLO County Band. Visitors can ride the Classic Carousel, take family photos in front of the 20-foot tree, and celebrate the opening of all the fun in the “Holiday Plaza” (presented by CoVelop). Attendees can RSVP and share the event on Facebook.

Santa’s House, presented by Dignity Health, will be open through Christmas Eve (Sunday, December 24, 2023). A calendar of Santa’s House hours can be found at Guests can purchase one of three photo packages: take-your-own, printed souvenir photo, or a combination of both. 

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 from Santa (sponsored by SESLOC).

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

Lights and sights in the Holiday Plaza were built by Adept Events.

Friday, November 24, 2023, at 5 PM in Mission Plaza

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 a performance from the Central Coast Youth Chorus. Spend the evening celebrating community — take photos in immersive photo opportunities, walk through animated light displays, experience a music-synced light show, and more! Attendees can RSVP and share the event on Facebook.

Special thank you to Adept Events, PG&E, and Swinerton.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Keep your dollars local this holiday season! Downtown SLO offers holiday shopping opportunities unlike any other, with a diverse line-up of small merchants. Shop at your favorite local business or stop by the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center and receive a free tote bag on Saturday, November 25, 2023 (Sponsored by American Riviera Bank). While supplies last. Find a list of businesses with free totes bags available, along with a directory of deals and happenings on Small Business Saturday, at

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.

Buy Local Bonus: Save your receipts and get more rewards! 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.

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.

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.

Leading the 2023 Holiday Parade will be Grand Marshal Frank DuFault, the first administrator of the Downtown Business Improvement Area (now “Downtown SLO”). Frank was one of the key members involved in beginning the “Thursday Night Promotions,” now known as the famous Downtown SLO Farmers’ Market, celebrating its 40th Anniversary in 2023. Join us in celebrating Frank’s contributions to our community.

This year, the public can vote for their favorite entry for People’s Choice via online form. The link to vote will go live on Friday, December 1, 2023, and close at 12 PM on Sunday, December 3, 2023. The winners will be announced on Monday, December 4, 2023, via Instagram, Facebook, and


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; Lights & sights in Mission Plaza built by Adept Events; 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.