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First look at Cambria Christmas Market ahead of opening night

The market is 25% bigger than last year
Posted: 6:10 AM, Nov 29, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-29 09:20:48-05
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Over two million lights sparkle and shine in the tiny town of Cambria at the eighth annual Cambria Christmas Market .

Light designer Kevin Ray says he never imagine this little project eight years ago would turn into the hugely-popular sensation it is today.

"It's a labor of love and a lot, a lot of time involved and it shows," Ray said. "Somebody came up and shook my hand and said 'Thank you,' and I go, 'That's what it's all about."

The light display and market began in 2011 by the Cambria Pines Lodge as a way to draw people to the coastal town during a historically quiet season.

Marketing coordinator for the Cambria Pines Lodge, Michael Arnold, says they sold tickets in 12 countries and 32 states last year.

"We sell tickets as far away as Australia, Japan, China, Germany," Arnold said.

The influx of visitors means an economic boon for Cambria's tourism-based economy.

"Shops are busy, every hotel room is filling up so it really is a huge impact," Ray said.

When most people are taking down Christmas decorations, Cambria Christmas Market designers are coming up with the next year's illuminated masterpieces.

"We start with labor in June," Ray said. "We start pulling the displays out, getting them ready and start designing the new ones."

This year, the display is comprised of about 10 miles of light strands. Arnold says the market is about 25 percent bigger than last year.

Arnold says visitors should allot about two hours to see and enjoy it all.

"If you do every single path form the Cambria Pines Lodge, down to the nursery and back, it's almost three miles," he said.

The biggest, new display is a tribute to Notre Dame.

"When I saw it burning this summer on the KSBY News, I said I've got to do something to honor that," said Ray. "So, we've done a replica of the cathedral so you can walk through and just be awe-inspired."

A new, free app helps visitors navigate all the Christmas magic and free shuttles from multiple locations around town make it easy to get to and from the market.

"The first shuttles start running at about 4:45 p.m. and the last shuttle to the event comes at about 8:30 p.m.," Arnold said.

There is free parking at the following locations where shuttles will pick-up and drop-off market-goers:
Coast Union High School 2950 Santa Rosa Creek Rd
Public Parking, East Village (Shuttle Pickup at Burton Dr. and Center St.)
Public Parking, West Village (Shuttle Pickup at Main St. and Arlington St.)
Hotels along Moonstone beach Dr.

Visitors are encouraged to spend time exploring the town of Cambria before heading over to the Cambria Pines Lodge & Nursery at dusk.

"Come early and watch the difference between sundown and lights up," Ray said. "It's like putting on a Broadway show."

Organizers say do not be scared off the rain. The market is open rain or shine but be sure to bundle up for chilly evening weather.

With more than ever to see this year, live music every night, plus local food, drink and art vendors, there's something to spark the joy of the holiday season in everyone.

"It's always something new when you come to the Christmas Market," Ray said.

Ticket prices range from $10-25 depending on the night. Tickets may be purchased online and often sell out.

Cambria Christmas Market opens Friday and runs through Dec. 23.