Having lived for many years in Florida and now in Southern California, the holiday season is a lot different than the wintery wonderlands the rest of the country may encounter. But visiting Knott’s Berry Farm gives every visitor a a little taste of that kind of seasonal experience. Knott’s Merry Farm is like stepping to a classic winter holiday with everyone’s favorite beagle and a touch of modernity.
By Victoria Lim
It starts the moment you go through the turnstiles. Lights, garland, big bows and poinsettias adorn the Knott’s wind crane-water tower. It’s a popular photo-op, and the best time is just as the sun is setting so you still have some natural light, but it’s dark enough for the decorative lights to pop on.
If you’re eager to see the rest of the park, just move a little to the right to the decorated car and nutcracker to grab a selfie.
Head to Ghost Town for a taste of an old western and Victorian Christmas. If the decorations haven’t put you in the holiday mood, make time to see the Home for the Holidays stage show, the featured production at the Calico Mine Stage — upbeat, dancing and fun set to traditional music.
Exploring this part of the park also means you may run into the Calico Carolers performing seasonal songs with the beautiful ringing of bells accompanying their vocals. It’s soothing and comforting… and familiar. Or for something more rousing, you’ll want to hear the foot-stompin’ Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies at Wagon Camp.
Whether you’ve brought your list, whether you’ve been naughty or nice, Santa welcomes everyone to the Wilderness Dance Hall, that has transformed the Santa’s Christmas Cabin. It’s better than the long lines at the mall to meet him. Share your wish list, take photos and warm up with some gourmet hot chocolate.
The lighting of the Calico Tree was the highlight. I arrived before sunset, while the a cappella group The Sleigh Bells were on stage, bringing a new beat to holiday classics at the foot of the tree. Stick around for a few minutes after their second performance of the day. The sky is just about dark, when a voice invites everyone to enjoy the holidays, then tree lights dance and sparkle to music before the full tree is aglow.
There’s always lots of activity in the Fiesta Village. Perhaps it’s the games and lively music that usually bring the foot traffic through. The courtyard is also a popular spot to gather and regroup. But during Knott’s Merry Farm, lights are strewn across the building tops, trees are decorated, and if you’re lucky, you’ll catch the Mariachi Angelitas.
This might be controversial, but I’ll just say it: “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is the television tradition I look forward to the most. (Sorry not sorry, Rudolph and Frosty…) So, Camp Snoopy is really a treat this time of year. It’s like stepping into the iconic TV special. You won’t find sad looking Charlie Brown-trees here, but instead, lots of colorful lights and Vince Guaraldi Trio tunes.
It’s for the kids, but “A Peanuts Guide to Christmas” at the Camp Snoopy Theatre is a sweet stage show that adults will appreciate. The younger audience members will simply delight at seeing their favorite characters “in real life” dancing, singing, and being silly as they provide a step-by-step guide to enjoying Christmas. Adults will enjoy some of the lyrics about surviving the celebration that will probably go over the little ones’ heads but are chuckle-worthy nonetheless. After the show, you can meet Snoopy dressed in his dapper holiday vest and the Gang. Sweet baboos — don’t pass up that opportunity!
While it’s not in the same area, it’s definitely worth it to cross the property back to the Walter Knott Theatre for the “Merry Christmas, Snoopy” ice show. Then it’ll really feel like you’re with the Peanuts at the pond — but without all those hockey pucks flying around from Peppermint Patty. We all knew Snoopy had the moves but watching him in a Rockette-esque line is pretty impressive.
The merry menu for the holiday season is where you’ll see some twists: savory holiday waffle chicken tacos, Prancer pickle and bacon pizza, a Merry Christmas sushi roll (a California roll speckled with green and red), and the Tinsel Thai Turkey Burger, to name just a few. There are also plenty of holiday flavors in the sweet selection; the most eye-catching among them are the Christmas Maple Walnut Bundt Cake Shake and Noel’s Nutella Cream Cheese funnel cake. The Peppermint Moscow Mule and Mulled Wine may take the chill out of the Southern California nights.
In case you need to grab some gifts, Knott’s has plenty. The Berry Market Christmas Cider and the T-shirt featuring gingerbread Snoopy and his doghouse are the big sellers. A nice SoCal touch is that the Christmas Crafts Village features items from local artisans. It gets a little tight where the kiosks are set up, but it’s worth a browse.
When nighttime falls and there’s a (Southern California version) chill in the air, the Snow and Glow experience does feel appropriate and somewhat natural. Dancing lights synced to music as snow falls is a festive way to finish your visit.
Knott’s Merry Farm runs until Jan. 2, 2022. For more information, check out Knotts.com.