The Grinch, in the form of a Christmastime permitting dispute, may have stolen the Santa Barbara Night Market from the downtown Macy’s building. But in its place has grown the Twilight Holiday Market at De la Guerra Plaza.
The 18-day event, which kicked off December 6 and runs ’til December 23, is hosting many of the Night Market’s 70 vendors who were left out in the cold after the cancellation. “One person should not have the power to affect so many people,” said Twilight Market coordinator Vashti Wilson of the previous organizer. “It was a community event, and now the community is moving it forward.”
While in the Air Force, Wilson traveled all over Europe, and that gave her the idea to move the affair outdoors. “With their lights and treats and music, open-air European markets are just so cozy and inviting,” she said. “I wanted to recreate that here. Plus, De la Guerra Plaza is so underutilized. It was the perfect spot.”
Now spread over the plaza’s lawn is a 4,000-square-foot tent provided by Town and Country Event Rentals, who wanted to help out and provided it at a significant discount. Underneath sits Santa Claus on his throne, a few dozen booths full of clothing, leather goods, health and wellness items, games, art, and jewelry, a Kids Zone, and lots of warmth and cheer. There’s also live music, a beer and wine garden nearby, and food favorites like Kaptain’s BBQ Shack, the Juice Ranch, Hippie Pop popcorn, and McConnell’s Ice Cream. Thirty daytime vendors are operating in Casa de la Guerra across the street. They’ll rotate every day.
Wilson herself is a local entrepreneur and owns Dino Explorerz, a company that sells handcrafted replicas of dinosaur eggs. They were featured in the last Jurassic Park movie, she said, and sold out at last year’s market. Wilson made sure to thank Assistant City Manager Nina Johnson for making the market a reality under a tight deadline and some tricky city rules. “Every step of the way, she has been there to guide and help,” said Wilson. “She presses. She gets stuff done. I’d never seen anything like it.” Wilson also expressed gratitude for the hard work of Katie Hershelt with Cultivate Events. “She’s another dynamic force,” Wilson said.
When the market ends later this month, Wilson plans to keep supporting local artisans and entrepreneurs by selling their merchandise through her online marketplace, SantaBarbaraTradingPost.com. “It’s Etsy for Santa Barbara,” Wilson said. “Local vendors will essentially have their store on the site.”
The Twilight Holiday Market will be open Monday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Wilson noted it’s the longest event held at De la Guerra Plaza after Fiesta Mercado during the Old Spanish Days celebration.