The Bay Area’s newest and most immersive holiday tradition, WinterFest, opens at California’s Great America on Friday, November 24 and will entertain guests on select dates through December 30. During WinterFest, Great America will be magically transformed into a winter wonderland where guests can experience unique new features, as well as fan favorites such as skating in front of the iconic Carousel Columbia, admiring magnificent displays of lights and décor, viewing spectacular live holiday shows, experiencing 25 rides and attractions, seeing Santa’s workshop and Mrs. Claus’ kitchen, and enjoying scrumptious holiday fare at numerous dining locations.
This unmatched event will feature more than 7 million LED lights, creating such a vibrant experience that it will be visible from the International Space Station, more than 270 miles away. The winter scene will be dominated by one of the Bay Area’s tallest Christmas trees adorned with thousands of twinkling lights accompanied by giant toy soldiers greeting guests. The six-week WinterFest celebration will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, with daily operations December 19-23 and 26-30 from 5pm-10pm (November 26 and December 17 from 6:30pm-10:30pm).
New for 2017 will be an enlarged crafters area where more than 20 Bay Area artisans will showcase their talents, an expansion of Candy Cane Lane, one of the most photographed scenes in 2016, and a fire pit setting to keep guests warm near the Patriot roller coaster. Also in 2017, every Planet Snoopy ride, including GR8 SK8, PEANUTS 500, Woodstock Express, Sally’s Love Buggies and more, will be open and providing fun for kids and parents alike.
There will also be a soothing hospitality room under the magical light show inside Orleans Place that will benefit the Boys & Girls Club of America. The tranquil area will provide a warm and relaxing destination for WinterFest guests, where they can enjoy the indoor ambience and make a donation to the club that will bring cheer to thousands of Bay Area youth.
“WinterFest is one of Northern California’s most spectacular winter events, delivering a unique experience where friends and families can create memories and traditions during the holiday season,” Great America’s Vice President and General Manager Raul Rehnborg said. “New additions for 2017 will create a dynamic experience for returning and first-time guests.”
Eight unique and decorative themed areas will guide attendees through WinterFest. Guests can gaze at 20 ft. tall candy canes in Candy Cane Lane, experience the wonder of snow falling in Hometown Square, admire Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree in Planet Snoopy, and stare up at the lighted palm trees inside the Grand Entrance.
Live shows include a nightly tree lighting, carolers throughout the park, “It’s Christmas, Snoopy!” ice show and more. Holiday crafters will design unique creations and guests will interact with original holiday characters, including Jack Frost, Candy Cane and the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Children will delight in decorating cookies with Mrs. Claus, taking a picture with Santa and writing holiday letters to family members. Food specialties will include eggnog funnel cakes, peppermint churros, a turkey dinner sandwich, all-you-can-drink hot chocolate and many more traditional holiday favorites. (Some activities require additional fee.)
Among the 25 rides and attractions entertaining guests will be Gold Striker and Patriot roller coasters for thrill seekers, the iconic Carousel Columbia and Flying Eagles family rides and all of Planet Snoopy for younger guests.
CALIFORNIA’S GREAT AMERICA
California’s Great America is a 100-acre theme and water park located in Santa Clara, Calif. that contains thrill rides, family attractions and live shows. The park opens for weekends in March, operates daily Memorial Day weekend through mid-August, continues weekends through fall with Halloween Haunt, and the season concludes in December with WinterFest.