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Pre-holiday merriment

November 06, 2005|Patricia Connell

San Diego

Dec. 2-3: Balboa Park December Nights is the city's largest annual community festival, attracting more than 100,000 visitors. Many of the 1,200-acre park's museums open their doors for free both evenings. Six stages of entertainment will offer holiday music, dance performances and multicultural celebrations, and multiethnic food will be available at $1 to $2 per sample.

Balboa Park, San Diego; (619) 239-0512, 5-10 p.m. Dec. 2; noon-10 p.m. Dec. 3. Admission free.

Santa Fe, N.M.

Dec. 3-4: As the holiday shopping season gets into full swing, the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art obliges with its 17th annual Winter Spanish Market, two blocks north of the city's main plaza. Buyers and browsers can immerse themselves in traditional handcrafts by about 100 local Hispanic artists; music, art demonstrations and regional foods spice up the Southwestern vibe.

Sweeney Convention Center, 201 W. Marcy St., Santa Fe; (505) 982-2226, Dec. 3, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Dec. 4, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Free admission.

Walla Walla, Wash.

Dec. 3-4: The Walla Walla Valley in southeastern Washington state is earning ever wider renown for its wines. Visitors can find out why at its Holiday Barrel Tasting, during which 52 wineries will provide samples. Downtown Walla Walla also will host special events, including a Christmas open house (Dec. 4, 1-4 p.m.) at the Kirkman House Museum, a restored circa-1880 home.

Tastings, free-$8 depending on the winery. Most tasting fees are waived for holders of a Backstage Pass ($35). To order passes and for more about the barrel tasting, contact the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, (509) 526-3117, Kirkman House Museum, 214 N. Colville St.; (509) 529-4373,

-- Patricia Connell

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