Fourth of July Festivities Include Parade, BBQ, Free Concert, Festival and Fireworks Show!

Celebrate USA Independence Day next Tuesday, July 4, 2017, with fun festivities right here in Solvang!  You don’t want to miss anything! At 10:00 a.m. enjoy a Free Concert by Santa Ynez Valley Wind Ensemble at Solvang Park (Mission Drive & First Street). Then, it’s the traditional parade at 11:00 a.m. presented by the Solvang Rotary Club that rolls along Mission Drive (Route 246); turns south on Fourth Place, then east along Copenhagen Drive and back to the starting point at Old Mission Santa Ines (1760 Mission Drive). This year’s theme is “American Heroes.”  2017 Parade Grand Marshal is a Solvang hero, Jim Kunkle, Sr., a highly decorated World War II US pilot who a life member of the Legion of Honor, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in action against the enemy near Aachen, Germany, on Sept. 16, 1944. He also received the Air Medal of Honor as well as a Purple Heart.

From Noon- 2:00 p.m. enjoy the BBQ and Free Concert by the T-Bone Ramblers at Solvang Park sponsored by Solvang  Rotary Club featuring hot dogs, hamburgers, linguiça and all the fixings for $5-7 combos–with chips and soda or water.

At 2:00 p.m., gates open at Old Mission Santa Ines for the 23rd Annual Solvang Independence Day Festival & Fireworks Show sponsored by Rotary Club of the Santa Ynez Valley . Admission is only $10.00 per adult; and FREE for children ages 7 and under, as well as FREE for active duty military and their immediate family members with ID. Tickets can be purchased in advance at Solvang Friendship House or at the gate on July 4th. The Solvang Independence Day Festival will feature food booths, wine & beer garden, kids’ activities including bounce castle, face-painting and plenty of time to kick-back & relax. All proceeds benefit local charities. Don’t miss the live entertainment on the outdoor stage starting at 5:00 p.m. Then at 9:00 p.m.—it’s what we all want to see—an amazing 20-minute fireworks show!

Remember, there is free parking in public lots and businesses throughout Solvang year-round. The Solvang Visitors Center is open daily from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. at 1630 Copenhagen Drive offering free maps, guides, savings coupons and plenty of information. Happy Birthday USA!

Time for Popcorn! Free Movies in the Park Start Friday, June 23

If your family is like mine, we think there is something pretty special about watching movies outdoors under the stars! You and your family can do just that again this summer right here! Free Movies in Solvang Park (Mission Drive & First Street) are happening starting this Friday, 6/23/17 with Secret Life of Pets. July 7 is Zootopia; July 21 is Moana; August 4 is Star Wars/Rogue One and August 18 is The Jungle Book. All shows are rated G or PG-13. The pre-show begins at 7:30 p.m. and the featured flick starts as soon as darkness allows. So, grab your blankets, low-back lawn chairs and settle in for a great evening! Popcorn and hot chocolate are available for sale for $1 each. For more details, just call the friendly folks at Solvang Parks & Recreation Department at 805-688-PLAY.

Free Concerts in the Park this Summer start June 14th!

You know that “summer” is right around the corner since the days are longer with a lot more sunshine which means more time for outdoor fun! Starting this Wednesday, 6/14/17 and EVERY Wednesday thru 8/16/17—you’ll want to be at Solvang Park (Mission Drive & First Street) for FREE concerts from 5-8pm! The blues/rockers of the Mark Roberts Band will kick-off this year’s sounds. Plus there will be four free bonus concerts on Friday evenings 6/30, 7/14, 7/28 and 8/11, too! For the complete line-up of bands ranging from bluegrass to jazz to good ole rock & roll, check out http://solvang3rdwednesday.com/solvang-summer-concerts/

Remember, Solvang Third Wednesday events continue this summer featuring the Wine & Beer Walk (from 3-7pm), where you can enjoy 2 tastings at 5 places of your choice, for just $20 per person; plus, there an added restaurant deal: select Solvang restaurants feature a special 3-course Solvang 3rd Wednesday menu, for just $25++ per person. As a tie-in to the Solvang Farmers Market, the 3-course menus include ingredients sourced straight from the Market. Participating Solvang merchants offer 3rd Wednesday deals on merchandise. You should definitely consider spending the night with special Solvang Third Wednesday hotel discounts! Cheers to the official arrival of summer in Solvang!

Beauty and the Beast Opens PCPA Summer Season on June 15th

Have you discovered Solvang Festival Theater yet? This 700-seat outdoor venue in the half-round hosts marvelous live concerts, plays, musicals and comedies; and was built by community volunteers in only 58 days in summer 1974. For the 43rd summer in this magical setting, PCPA (Pacific Conservatory Theatre) professional performances are presented under the stars featuring acclaimed actors and stunning sets. Highlights of the 2017 PCPA summer season are Beauty and the Beast (June 15-July 2) a musical version based on the classic fairy tale; Lend Me A Tenor The Musical (July 6-23) a tale of mistaken identities and unexpected romance; Disney’s Newsies The Musical (July 27-August 20) is a Tony Award-winning Broadway show telling the true story of those who took on the most powerful names in New York; and concluding with Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night (August 24-September 10). Solvang Festival Theater is located at 420 Second Street within easy walking distance of hotels, restaurants and wine tasting rooms. You should definitely check out PCPA overnight packages as well as dinner specials available to really enjoy your experience. Here are all the details: http://www.solvangusa.com/explore-solvang/what-to-do/live-theater-nightlife/

What to Give Those Grads & Dads

Now is the time for graduation ceremonies (and those fun parties) as well as Father’s Day on June 18th—and if your brain is like mine, you know these are definite gift-giving occasions—so time to get shopping! Thank heavens you don’t have to go far since perfect presents can be discovered along practically every block in downtown Solvang! There are more than 150 independent and family-owned boutiques (chain stores are virtually non-existent here). All within easy strolling distance, here’s some ideas to get your gift list handled! Since 1946, Rasmussen’s has featured imports from Europe and Scandinavia—it’s like a general store with so much more!

Check out The Copenhagen House with numerous retail boutiques featuring some of the best contemporary Danish designer brands including Bering (love those watches), Holme Gaard, Louis Poulsen, Rosendahl and Stelton.  How about First Street Leather for luxe wallets, purses, jackets and more. No matter who is on your list, I’ll bet you’ll find The Book Loft is a readers and writers paradise with new and used books, puzzles and games.  Want something one-of-a-kind? How about B.Living offering vintage and modern collections? For ALL your options, visit http://www.solvangusa.com/things-to-do/shopping/

Memorial Day Happenings

The Memorial Day holiday weekend is all most here.  First and foremost, on Monday, 5/29/17, at Noon in Solvang Park–join with officials, veterans, family and friends to commemorate all men and women who have died in military service for the USA. This ceremony is free, everyone is welcome to attend and will feature a performance by the Santa Ynez Wind Ensemble; speakers Rear Adm. Brian Brown, vice commander of the Joint Forces Component Command for Space at Vandenberg Air Force Base; Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans; and members of American Legion Post 160 and the Boy Scouts of America. A flyover of vintage military aircraft is also anticipated. A heartfelt thank you to all who have served esepcially those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Throughout this Memorial holiday weekend, there’s certainly plenty of places and opportunities to celebrate with a  picnic! If your family is like mine, picnics in the park are a favorite. There are choices aplenty for perfect picnic settings around Solvang. First of all, did you know ALL Solvang parks are FREE and open to the public daily? Solvang Park & Gazebo right in the center of town on Mission Drive at First Street. For a more active group, check out Hans Christian Andersen Park at 775 Atterdag Road, with a skate park, play areas and tennis courts within easy walking distance of downtown. Then, there’s the super-fun, built by the community Sunny Fields Park on Alamo Pintado Road with a Danish-themed wooden play structure, swings, rope bridge, picnic area, ball field and three brand new beach volleyball courts. For more details, visit http://www.solvangusa.com/things-to-do/outdoor-activities/

Fascinating Fauna!

So you’re driving east into Solvang on Highway 246, you glance over and see a rather surprising sight–dozens of ostriches grazing in a field! You’ll definitely want to pull over and visit OstrichLand USA, where a highlight is getting to feed the resident emus and ostriches. Did you know ostriches are the largest & fastest birds in the world and can weigh up to 350 pounds and live up to 75 years? If you think this place looks familiar, you may have seen it featured in the Oscar-winning movie Sideways as well as The Simpsons TV show and most recently, The Great Food Truck Race in 2016. Then, a bit further along Highway 246 is Flag Is Up Farms, home of Monty Roberts, the “Man Who Listens to Horses,” where you’re welcome to see the equine facilities and trainers in action. And for some FREE, total cute moments, Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-3:00 p.m., you can visit Quicksilver Miniature Horse Ranch over on Alamo Pintado Road, a fascinating breeding facility for 34-inch-and-under horses! Guaranteed family fun for kids of all ages. For more details and ideas, check out http://www.solvangusa.com/explore-solvang/what-to-do/family-fun/