Make New Holiday Memories at Great America’s Winterfest in Santa Clara
A brand new holiday tradition has sprung up at the back door of Hilton Santa Clara. Holiday magic has been sprinkled over California’s Great America theme park this year resulting in a charming winter wonderland where families can enjoy Winterfest until the end of December.
This is first year of Winterfest at the park so the place looks quite different from the thrilling amusement and water park that regular visitors know. Lights twinkle from every tree, snowflakes fall, and decorations color every inch of the landscape.
The lake and fountains normally in front of the Columbia carousel have been transformed into the Snowflake Lake ice rink. Holiday characters, including the Ice Prince and Sugar Plum Fairy, easily move in and out of the crowds. We encountered carolers and dancers. We even ran into Bob Cratchit from A Christmas Carol.
For those who still like a little thrill with their Christmas memories, the Gold Striker, Flight Deck, Delirium, and other rides are open. For those who wish to bask in the spirit of the season, there are plenty of sights to dazzle you.
Fun Activities at California’s Great America Winterfest
LIVE SHOWS AT CELEBRATION PLAZA
Enjoy upbeat and energetic pop shows that will have you singing along. Cool Yule Christmas performs underneath the 70-foot tall Christmas tree at Celebration Plaza. Dance along if that’s your preference; just know that a spirited time will be had by all. Shows run regularly and are often capped by a light dusting of snow to the delight of the kids.
HANG OUT WITH THE PEANUTS GANG
The park’s Planet Snoopy area is like walking into A Charlie Brown Christmas special in some spots. We hobnobbed with Linus, Charlie Brown, Sally, Franklin, and Snoopy himself! Christmas crafts like ornaments and cards were available to the kids. My Peanuts fans were most delighted to visit Charlie Brown’s Tree Lot and have a photo opp with the famous “Charlie Brown Tree!”
SATISFY YOUR SWEET TOOTH
Visit Candy Cane Lane where you’ll find Ms. Candy Cane at her two-story gingerbread house and dance with her gingerbread friends. It’s a great way to enact those visions of sugar plums dancing in your kids’ heads without having to consume them and leave you to deal with any sort of physical sugar high!
A SYNCHRONIZED LIGHT SHOW AND MORE
Orleans Place was loaded with thousands of chasing, flashing, and sparkling lights on buildings and above the midways! Throughout the evening, the lights synchronize to the music playing and it is quite a fun sight.
There are a couple of stops you shouldn’t miss in this area, including the opportunity to hang out in Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen and make cookies with Santa’s better half, as well as a stop at the North Pole Post Office where you can fire off that short list or long missive to the Big Man.
MY PERSONAL FAVORITES
I had two Winterfest favorites I wanted to call out: the Crafter’s Corner and the North Pole Ride. The Crafter’s Corner is a hub of local vendors showcasing an array of handmade gifts. We admired gorgeous artwork and lovely jewelry, but we left with a variety pack of BBQ rubs!
On the North Pole ride, we were treated to the park’s version of The Night Before Christmas, and as the ride lifted us up above the park, a spectacular view of the decorations and lights revealed itself to us. I rode it three times while my family ice skated below!
WHERE TO EAT AT CALIFORNIA’S GREAT AMERICA WINTERFEST
Now, all of this is surely going to make you hungry at some point. My family recommends you make your way to the Festive Feast. Enjoy all of the trimmings of a classic turkey dinner at the park’s sit-down restaurant.
If you prefer to eat Mom’s turkey dinner at home, Subway, Panda Express, Cool Joe’s Café, the Planet Snoopy Snack Shack and more are also open. Do stop by Auntie Annie’s for some hot chocolate in a cup rimmed with sprinkles and topped with whipped cream and marshmallows and served with a mini doughnut on a skewer.
This good old-fashioned family-friendly fun affair is poised to be a wonderful annual holiday tradition! Winterfest is open now on weekends and will run on weekdays from December 19 to 23 and 26 to 30.
You may also enjoy:
- Let San Jose’s “Christmas in the Park” Get You in the Holiday Spirit
- A Great Holiday Tradition: Sleepover at Hilton San Francisco Union Square
- Gilroy Gardens: A Great Day Trip from San Jose, CA
- Silicon Valley Tour – Adventures for Geeks of All Ages
The team at Great America hosted Kristine’s family. Her reviews are always her own opinions and are not influenced by staff or its affiliates.
Hilton Mom Voyage writers receive free night certificates to use at Hilton Hotels & Resorts worldwide. To learn more, visit our About Us page.
Kristine lives in Mountain View, California, where she is the mother of a gifted girl athlete and a special needs charmer. Like almost everything in her house,…