More Marin Holiday Events Change Plans for 2020

The holidays in Marin County are often packed with festivals, fairs, concerts and other social gatherings meant to celebrate the season and the community.

This year’s ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has changed all of that, and many Marin County holiday events have been canceled or postponed due to Covid-19. Even outdoor events like the San Rafael Parade of Lights have been put on hold for the year, meaning that it’s harder than ever to revel in holiday cheer in Marin.

Yet, there are still happenings worth checking out, both in distanced events and online events. From holiday markets to scavenger hunts, there are several ways to find the seasonal spirit locally.

This weekend, the picturesque natural setting of the Marin Art & Garden Center in Ross becomes the scene for a Holiday Pop-Up Marketplace for those looking to get a head start on their holiday gift shopping.

The free event pops up on Saturday, Nov. 21, from 10am to 4pm and features special holiday items that wont’ be found anywhere else this season. Get cozy with cashmere and cotton, pick a book or some notecards, shop the variety of indoor houseplants and décor, hanging planters, or pre-order festive holiday greens. Social distancing measures will be observed, so please wear a mask. For more information visit

Another Marin holiday staple that’s being reimagined for 2020 is the Mill Valley Winterfest. In lieu of the traditional Winterfest activities, the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce will present a Covid-safe and family-friendly event that will be both virtual and socially distanced.

The event kicks off Friday, Nov. 27, with the Winterfest Holiday Hunt, a scavenger hunt-style contest that will take participants to more than 40 businesses throughout Mill Valley. Owners of those businesses will place silver-star decorations in their retail stores or restaurants, and kids accompanied by a parent will be able to take photos of these silver stars through December 18.

Once the pictures are taken, holiday hunters will email at least eight of their photos as attachments to [email protected], with their name and age in the body of the email. Those emails will be entered into a raffle for gift cards to participating businesses–one gift card per raffle winner. Find the rules, clues and other details at

​The other half of the newly Covid-friendly Mill Valley Winterfest is a virtual screening of a film helmed by Marin filmmaker Norm Hunter, who has spearheaded the Chamber’s ongoing Enjoy Mill Valley Films series highlighting creative businesses, organizations and people in Mill Valley.

The film highlights the spirit of the landmark event, featuring local arts organizations, a pre-recorded tree lighting and, of course, appearances by Santa Claus at locations around town, including the Mill Valley Fire Department. The Mill Valley Chamber will be debuting the Winterfest film on Sunday, December 6, the usual arrival of Winterfest.

The holidays also get artsy on Sunday, Nov 29, when the West End Studio Theatre in San Rafael hosts the Marin Arts & Crafts Festival. The socially distanced event features Rebecca Niles, the Bubble Lady, bringing out smiles; the Cotton Candy Girl whipping up sweet confections; Benjamin Bossi, saxophonist for the famed ‘80s band Romeo Void, displaying his mixed-media self portraits; Beth Buckley’s CBD line, including canine products, for sale and festival host and founding director of West End Studio Theater, Margot Jones, autographing her musical, children’s book for sale. Visit the Marin Arts & Crafts Festival on Nov. 29 from noon to 5pm at 1554 Fourth St., San Rafael. Free. 415.235.8557.

Charlie Swanson
Charlie Swanson is a North Bay native and an arts and music writer and editor who has covered the local scene since 2014.
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