Travel the world in a single night without ever leaving Sacramento when the Global Winter Wonderland opens at Cal Expo Nov. 22 and runs through Jan. 4, 2015.
See the beauty of some of the world’s most iconic landmarks fully lit and spread across 17 acres at the California State Fairgrounds with carnival rides, multicultural events and cuisine from all over the globe.
The event is a lantern festival modeled on similar spectacles popular in China. Global Winter Wonderland CEO Lulu Huang said she remembers being awed by the lantern festivals as a child in China, and wanted to bring one to the United States since moving here more than 20 years ago.
“I have these beautiful memories from when I was little,” she said. “I want this to be a place where we can appreciate different cultures and put people together.”
The Global Winter Wonderland was based in Santa Clara for its first three years, and this year will be the first time in Sacramento. It was wildly popular in Santa Clara, and Huang said she expects 300,000 visitors between opening weekend and Jan. 4, 2015.
A 70-foot-tall Christmas tree highlights the holiday season, and multiple stages will showcase various cultural events from musicians and dancers to fashion exhibitions.
Food plays a large part in the festivities, with cuisine from different cultures being highlighted. Greek gyros, tempura, tamales and burritos, pizza, chow mien, and barbecued meats are all spotlighted during the run of the event.
Plan Your Visit
Special grand opening ticket packages include two tickets for $26 and two tickets plus two unlimited ride wristbands for $56. General admission tickets are $16 for adults, $12 per child or senior, and an unlimited ride wristband is $25. Season passes and group tickets are also available. Purchase tickets through the official website. Parking at Cal Expo, 1600 Exposition Blvd., is $10.
The Global Winter Wonderland is open from 4:30 p.m. - 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 4:30 p.m. - 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
There are 32 event days. See the full schedule on the official website.
Make it a Day
The Global Winter Wonderland is a great way to cap off a festive day with the family, but there’s a lot more to do in Sacramento during the daylight hours.
Start off with a coffee or hot chocolate in Old Sacramento (centered around Front and K streets), then wander through the historic district, where you can visit the Railroad Museum to take a ride on a holiday train, check out the Old Sacramento Christmas tree on the waterfront and stop at the various vendors selling everything from sweets to movie memorabilia and western wear.
After that, head to the Capitol for a view of the State of California Christmas tree in Capitol Park. The park itself has numerous monuments and memorials, and you can tour the Capitol for free.
If the kids are young, head to Fairytale Town, which is transformed to a winter paradise during the holiday season with holiday lights, decorations, reindeer and even Santa.
Knock out some of the holiday shopping at Arden Fair Mall, 1689 Arden Way, which is just a couple blocks away from the Global Winter Wonderland.
While you’re out and about, don’t forget to eat at one of Sacramento’s local restaurants. Sacramento is America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital, and even in winter the chefs are using locally grown, fresh ingredients in their dishes and cocktails. Visit FarmToFork.com for more details.
Looking for more holiday events? Sacramento365.com has a special section rounding up all the holiday events in Sacramento.
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