Monterey Events in November: 2023 Festivals, Tree Lighting Ceremonies and Thanksgiving Day

Jill on a windy day at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

Updated: November 5, 2023

Monterey events in November 2023 include a variety of fun holiday activities including tree lighting ceremonies, parades, and festivals for your entire family. Top picks include the Cannery Row tree lighting, the Big Sur Wine & Food Festival, and TaylorMade Pebble Beach Invitational.

You will also find some great recommendations for Thanksgiving Day dinner.

Read on for the best of what's happening this month around the bay!

Monterey Events in November

Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.

Big Sur Food & Wine Festival

Dates: 11/2 - 11/4

Location: Several locations throughout Big Sur

This annual event showcases amazing wines from dozens of local wineries. In addition to wine, you can also sample the tasty culinary treats from top chefs from Big Sur, Monterey, and San Francisco.

You can be sure to taste only the best wines as world class sommeliers will make sure your palate is pleased beyond anything you can imagine. There will be classic wineries that you love and some new ones that you will be glad you sampled before everyone else.

This is one of the incredibly sought after Monterey events in November, and I suggest you buy your tickets as early as possible. Some of my favorite events include, "The Sommelier Dinner" (limited to 40 seats) and "Bubbles & Brushes in the Redwoods" where you will enjoy breakfast and bubbly among the redwoods.

The Big Sur Food & Wine Festival ends with "Wine & Swine" which focuses on all thing pork, wine, and beer. 

>> Big Sur Wine Festival

Monterey Bay Half Marathon

Dates: 11/10 - 11/12

Location and Time: Starts at 610 Del Monte Avenue in downtown Monterey at 7 AM

Registration: On their Official Site

This popular half-marathon starts and finishes in Monterey. During this race, you will run along the beautiful waterfront, Cannery Row, as well as in downtown Monterey.

This USATF event is mostly flat as there is only about 100 feet of gain and loss, so not matter your level, this is a perfect run for all levels. This is also a great race if your friends or family want to cheer you along as there are numerous viewing spots, ranging from the start of the race to Cannery Row to Pacific Grove and others.

If you really need another reason to experience this incredible marathon, you can also win the grand prize trip to the sister-city of Dubrovnik, Croatia. It would be the perfect way to celebrate one of the best half-marathons in one of the most beautiful locations in the world.

Make sure to register as soon as possible as this race, the Pacific Grove Lighthouse 5k, and the Ocean View Challenge, which includes both the 5k on Saturday and the half-marathon on Sunday, all sell out very quickly. It's one of the Monterey events in November you do not want to miss!

Additional Ideas for Your Monterey Bay Vacation

In addition to these top Monterey events in November, you will also find several fun things to do all month long. Here are just a few of my top recommendations.

Visit the Monterey Aquarium: This if a fun activity all year long. This amazing space includes a kelp forest, penguins, and jellyfish. My favorite is the Open Sea exhibit, which is their largest, where you can see water creatures of all sizes interacting. 

Old Monterey Walking Food Tour: Foodies will love the chance to check out some of the top dishes around Old Monterey. This small group tour will take you downtown and to Alvarado Street to find some wonderful places that appeal to the locals. This 3-hour tour runs most Thursdays and Saturdays. Find tickets to upcoming tours.

Half-Day Whale Watching Tour: Monterey is one of the best places to go whale watching in the area. There are several spots where the whales like to feed as they migrate south for the winter months. This 3.5 to 4 hour tours runs most days in November starting at 9am. Find ticketing information for this fun activity.

TaylorMade Pebble Beach Invitational

Dates: 11/14 - 11/19

Location: Three Golf Courses in Pebble Beach

Admission: The Public is Welcome All Days Free of Charge

This Pro-Am Tournament is held at three Pebble Beach Courses: Del Monte Golf Course, Spyglass Hill Golf Course, and the Pebble Beach Golf Links. The event is known as one of the best golfing tournaments in not only the USA, but the world, as the top players compete on teams with four amateur players each day.

This golfing tournament is also beloved since it is the only event in the world that allows for PGA, LPGA, Champions and the Tour players to go against each other and prove who is the best of the best.

Some of the players who have attended the Taylormade Pebble Beach Invitational include Annika Sorenstam, Bubba Watson, Natalie Gulbis, Rickie Fowler, and others. One of the truly wonderful benefits of seeing this event is the chance to meet some of the most famous musicians, Hollywood celebrities and other leaders of industry from around the world.

In case you were wondering if this is all fun and games, it is not as the total prize money stands at $9,000,000 for 2023. The winner gets to take home $1,620,000. It's your chance to experience one of the top Monterey events in November.

Salinas Holiday Parade of Lights

Date: 11/26

Location: Downtown Salinas

Time: 6 pm to 9 pm

Cost: The Parade is free for all to enjoy

Stop by downtown Salinas for their Annual Holiday Parade of Lights event. This fun, local parade offers dozens of floats, kids, and many other participants. The parade starts at 6 pm but families arrive hours before to set up blankets, chairs, and enjoy the festivities before it begins.

You and your whole family will love this Christmas parade as you will see over 70 lighted entries moving down the street in the dark. There are also bands, huge floats, lots of special guests, and many other fun events going on during the parade.

Holiday Parade of Lights

Date: 11/30

Location: Lighthouse Avenue, Pacific Grove

Time: 6 pm to 8 pm

Cost: Free for all to attend

At this annual downtown parade in Pacific Grove, you will see local marching bands, holiday floats, equestrian groups, dance teams, and Santa Claus! Stay after the parade to get some great holiday deals from local merchants as well as wagon rides and photos with Santa for the little ones.

This event will happen rain or shine and is always one of the top Monterey events in November.

More Fun Events Nearby

Pacific Grove Tree Lighting Ceremony

Date: 11/27

Location: Jewell Park in Pacific Grove

Time: 5:30 pm to 8 pm

Cost: Free to all ages

Festivities take place from 5:30 pm to 8 pm and include live performances by school bands and choruses, as well as caroling and refreshments at Chautauqua Hall. And, since the holiday season really starts to get into action, you and your kids can enjoy meeting Santa at the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History!

The tree lighting will also take place during this event, so you will want to get there early for the best views. Pacific Grove is about a 10-minute drive from downtown Monterey, so I include this as one of the best Monterey events in November.

Del Monte Shopping Center Tree Lighting

Date: 11/18

Location: Del Monte Shopping Center at 1410 Del Monte Center

Time: 5 pm to 7 pm

Cost: Free for all to attend

A fun event for kids of all ages, the Del Monte Shopping Center is proud to be one of the first to kick off the holiday season with their tree lighting celebration. Since it is an all ages event, there will be free drinks for everyone and kids will be given their own set of reindeer antlers to help them get into the holiday season early!

There'll also be a giveaway that you can take part in. Simply bring 3 cans of food for the Food Bank of Monterey County and you could win 1 of 3 $100 Del Monte Shopping Center Merchant Gift Cards.

Last but not least, Mr. and Mrs. Claus will show up and entertain everyone that loves Christmas as they spread their holiday cheer.

Where to Stay Around the Bay

Monterey: You will find the largest selection of hotels in and around Monterey. Higher end picks include the Spindrift Inn and Portola Hotel and Spa. You will also find some more budget friendly options if you move a few additional blocks away from the waterfront. Find my top picks for all budgets here.

Carmel-By-The-Sea: This seaside town is a bit smaller, but still offers plenty of accommodations. You will find some great luxury hotels as well as several quaint bed and breakfasts. Here are my top picks for Carmel-By-The-Sea.

Pacific Grove: This small community sits just to the north west of Monterey. They offer several great places to stay including a couple of great bed and breakfast and some budget-friendly options. Find my top 5 picks here.

Are you ready to book? Make sure to check out the great options below.

TripAdvisor: Compare prices, read recent guest reviews and find a wide selection of options.

VRBO: Another option is to rent an apartment, house, or a room around Monterey through VRBO.

Upcoming Events at the Golden State Theater

The Golden State Theatre attracts internationally recognized names from around the world to perform. It's one of the best places to catch a concert, comedy show, or other fun shows.

Here are some of the top Monterey events in November 2021.

Cannery Row Tree Lighting

Date: November 24, tree will stay up through the holidays

Location: Steinbeck Plaza and the Plaza in front of Bubba Gump's on Cannery Row

Time: 5 - 7 pm

Cost: Free for all to attend

This annual tree lighting ceremony is usually the day after Thanksgiving. This free event lasts from 5 pm to 7 pm. Stop by for family festivities and to get into the holiday spirit.

There are lots of different events for you and your kiddies to enjoy during this 2-hour celebration of the winter season and holidays. The tree lighting ceremony starts promptly at 5:45 pm and ends at 6 pm, so you will want to make sure to get there a bit early to get the best views for you and everyone attending this event with you.

Santa will also be available for pictures. 

You can also take pictures with Santa every weekend starting November 26 through December 18. He will be at the plaza between 12 pm and 3 pm those days.

Thanksgiving Day Dinner Recommendations

Date: 11/23

You will find several places open for Thanksgiving Day Dinner. Most offer traditional cuisine while others offer a twist to this year's feast. Here are a few ideas on where to find that perfect meal this Thanksgiving Day in and near Monterey.

I also recommend making a reservation as soon as your plans are finalized.

Sardine Factory: 701 Wave Street, Monterey; 12 pm - 8 pm, $59.95/person

California Market at Pacific's Edge: 120 Highlands Drive, Carmel; 10:30 am-2:30 pm, $75/person

Portola Hotel & Spa: Two Portola Plaza, Monterey; Dinner 1 pm-9 pm, $89.95+/person

Here are a few additional places open on Thanksgiving Day.

Casanova Restaurant Carmel: Italian, 5th Avenue between Mission and Carlos, Carmel

El Torito: Mexican, 600 Cannery Row, Monterey

Flaherty's Seafood Grill & Oyster Bar: Seafood, 6th Avenue between Dolores and San Carlos, Carmel

Carmel Art Walk

Date: Second Saturday every month; 11/11

Location: Starts at Dolores between 5th & 6th at Su Vecino Courtyard, Carmel

Time: 4 pm to 7 pm

Cost: Free for all attendees. $10 donation benefitting the Peter Figge Memorial Scholarship Fund if you'd like to wine taste.

Get ready to be amazed at this one of the best Monterey events in November located in the gorgeous town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. You will be able to visit 14 different artists.

A little fun history about this gorgeous town is that in 1910, over 60% of houses in Carmel were populated by artists, so you know that this is the place to be if you are an art lover. Now, over 100 years later, you get to experience these artist owned galleries live and in person, as you walk around the area and meet the artists and see their magnificent works of art.

It covers about 5-10 blocks in total, so you will have plenty of places to visit. You can also stop along the way for an appetizer or a nice dinner.

Homecrafter's Annual Marketplace

Date: 11/18

Location: Sunset Center on San Carlos between 8th and 9th

Times: 9 am to 3 pm

Cost: Free for all to attend

Another of Carmel's can't miss events in November is the annual Homecrafter's Marketplace. Every year, more than 50 vendors come from all over this area, including Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Benito counties to show and sell their best crafts.

And you can be sure to see the finest works of art as they have all been chosen by a jury panel. This also ensures that there will be a wide variety of crafts and artwork, so you will have lots to choose from and peruse, and if you like something, buy it and take it home.

Some of the choices you will have range from food like toffee, nuts, and other foods. Some of the art choices include jewelry, ceramics, textiles, and many more.

This event will be held rain or shine and many of the artists have tents, so their wares will not be affected by the weather.

Ice Skating in Monterey

Dates: 11/24 - 12/31

Location: Custom House Plaza

Times: Monday through Saturday: 11 am to 10 pm; Sunday 12 pm to 8 pm (hours include Holidays)

Cost: Adults are $15; Children 12 and under are $13; Skate rental fee: $5. Season passes are $225 for the entire season, but this does not include skate rental.

What would the winter and holiday season be without some fun ice skating? Even if it almost never snows or ices over in Monterey, if you ask me, it just wouldn't be right not to slide around the rink.

So, make sure to bring your jackets, gloves and skates (or rent them) and come on down to the ice rink at the Custom House Plaza during one of the most popular Monterey events in November.

Being that the rink is located right behind the Portola Hotel & Spa you can also have a drink or two and maybe spend some time inside the spa working out those possible bumps and bruises if you fall down.

>> More place to go ice skating around the Bay Area

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?

I would love for you to join me in my private Facebook group

It's a great place to interact with me and others who know the area well.

You can ask questions, get advice for your upcoming stay, and then share your photos and advice with others when you return home. It's a great community and the fastest way to get answers to those nagging questions about your visit!

Come join the fun here!

Monterey Events November Pin

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