What better reason to take a trip to Northern California than to catch holiday tractor parades? Dazzling lights strung on farm vehicles has become a tradition in towns with a strong agri-centric ethic. How else could you explain such a spectacle?
Calistoga: The 16th annual Lighted Tractor Parade begins 7 p.m. Saturday on Main Street in the Napa Valley town known for its vineyards and small-town vibe. And it's not just decked-out tractors that line up. Trucks and construction equipment join tractors new and old in getting decked out for the occasion. If you stick around for dinner afterward, make sure you have reservations; restaurants tend to be packed. Contact: Calistoga Chamber of Commerce, (707) 942-6333.
Madera: The Tractor Parade of Lights and Wine Stroll kicks off at 6 p.m. Thursday in Madera near Yosemite National Park. Tractors, harvesters as well as fire trucks are decorated with lights for the parade that takes place each year one week after Thanksgiving. Go early for tastings at 15 wineries along Yosemite Avenue that begins at 5 p.m. Contact: Madera Chamber of Commerce, (559) 673-3563.
Ferndale: The small Victorian town among the big redwood trees features a parade with decorated tractors and wagons depicting holiday scenes. The parade unfolds along Main Street starting at 7 p.m. Dec. 18 and is preceded by an "old-fashioned chicken dinner" at the Ferndale Community Center ($12 each for adults, $6 for children 10 and younger). Contact: Ferndale Chamber of Commerce, (707) 786-4477.