HOLIDAYS HAVE A WAY... of creating other holidays in their wake or immediate neighborhood, over time. Halloween Eve -- that's Oct. 30, of course -- can be a second Halloween of sorts, when fans of the frightful occasion can squeeze in an extra party or haunted house or two. New Year's Second Day -- hello, Jan. 2 -- is when we often get our "stuff" done, from the store to laundry, since New Year's Day was given over to parades and game-watching and sleeping in. And what of the Friday after Thanksgiving, a day that's also known as Black Friday? It is very much associated with sales and stores and waking up before dawn to find the latest toy. But towns and hotels and destinations have also moved comfortably into the same day-long time frame, using the last Friday in November not for sales and blowouts but rather to get a joyful jump-start on Christmas lighting ceremonies. True, other places might wait for December to roll into view, but spots like Yountville in Napa Valley are all about revving the festiveness on that particular Friday.
FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS... is set to once again bulb-it-up, with panache and pinot, around the Napa Valley burg on Friday, Nov. 27. Of course, pinot won't be the only libation on the festival's tasting scene, but count on lots of local wineries adding to the rosy-cheeked convivialities of the day. There's a new tasting bracelet -- well, newish -- for those 21-and-over visitors who want to snack-and-sip, and there's the early afternoon arrival of Santa for the younger crowd. (Heck, everyone of every age loves to see The Kringle arrive, and in grand style, too, on top of a fire engine.) Carolers and dancers and carriage rides and "thousands of tiny (energy efficient) lights" lend some buoyancy to the day-after-Thanksgiving tradition. You say you'll have a house full of visitors for Turkey Day? And they'll be chomping to break out by Friday, for some sightseeing? There's a spot in wine country that may fit the festive bill. And who says Santa can't show in November? Word is he gets super busy come December, so we should wave him in whenever he has a chance to nip out of the North Pole and pay we mere 'n merry mortals a visit.
GOOD TO KNOW: This wine country Christmas kick-off is 27 this year. Twenty seven on Nov. 27th -- easy to remember, as easy as pumpkin pie.