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Sparkle and Santa on tap

Winter is right around the corner, and the artists at the Sawdust Art Festival are busy, as Santa’s elves are getting ready for the 21st annual Winter Fantasy.

The show, dubbed “Put a Little Sparkle in Your Holiday,” opens at 10 a.m. Saturday and runs for 10 days on weekends through Dec. 11. The show closes at 6 p.m. daily.

The 11th annual Community Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place at 5:30 p.m. on opening day. Mayor Toni Iseman will officiate, and special guests include the Laguna Concert Band, Magic Matt, Top of the World honors chorus, the Lil’ Dickens Carolers, Tricia Freeman, The Balloon Diva and, of course, the Jolly Old Elf himself.

Laguna Beach residents with I.D. are invited to join the fun for free after 3 p.m. on opening day.


The event features the work of 170 artists and crafts people, 32 of whom are new to the show this year, according to marketing manager Cynthia Fung.

A freshly decorated Towne Square is the centerpiece of the show, where Santa will visit with kids and thousands of sumptuous holiday decorations will sparkle. Winter Fantasy is a great place to take your family’s holiday photo against a backdrop of holiday-themed trees, Santa’s house and sleigh, a reindeer barn, children’s playhouse and falling snow.

Central to the show are the artists, who will demonstrate their art and create artwork for sale in the booths and at the always-fascinating glassblowing cage, according to Fung.

Media represented at the show include art glass, ceramics, jewelry, clothing, textiles, painting, photography, mixed-media and more.


Aside from purchasing art as gifts, visitors can create their own holiday gifts by taking a class in ceramics, glassblowing and many other art and craft projects. A Children’s Art Spot will offer activities for young elves.

Some of the projects are: “Upcycled Decorative Ornaments,” “Create Your Own Wrapping Paper,” “Air-dry Clay Sow People,” plus holiday cards and decorations. All classes are taught by Sawdust artists with a large variety of materials at hand.

Some of the artist-taught classes include “Winter Watercolors” with Linda Valesco, in which students from ages 6 and up can create their own watercolor scene to take home, from 10:30 a.m. to noon Sunday.

Judy Kearby and Susan Leonhard will teach a class on how to make an “Embellished Holiday Gift Holder.” This class will take place from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. for ages 6 and up.

“Digital Photography” will be taught by Mary Gulino from 4 to 5 p.m. Nov. 27, Dec. 4 and Dec. 11. Gulino will lead the class for all ages through the tricks and tips of digital photography.

New to the Sawdust is photographer Ret Talbot, who will take students on a journey into photojournalism with a lesson in “Challenging Location Photography” from 4 to 5 p.m. Nov. 26 and Dec. 10. This class is appropriate for ages 12 and up.

Travel and safari photographer Paul Renner will give a glimpse into his world with “Aspects of Photography,” 4 to 5 p.m. Dec. 3 for students ages 12 and up.

“Weaving with Natural Dyes” will be offered by artist Antonio Mendoza from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Dec. 4, for ages 12 and up.


A Toys for Tots drive will also take place. Those who bring a new, unwrapped toy valued at least $5 for children ages newborn to 17 on Sundays will receive a free one-day admission to that day’s show.

Twitter: @cindyfrazier1

If you go:

What: Winter Fantasy

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 19, 20, 25, 26, 27 and Dec. 3, 4, 9, 10, 11

Where: Sawdust Art Festival, 935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach


Cost: Adult admission is $6; $5 for seniors age 65 and older; $3 for children 6 to 12; children five and younger are free

Information: Call (949) 494-3030 or visit