This weekend kicked off the Christmas season at Knott’s Berry Farm, hereafter referring to themselves as Knott’s Merry Farm for the duration of the seasonal event. Much like how Knott’s transforms all over for Knott’s Scary Farm and Knott’s Spooky Farm, right before Thanksgiving, Christmas hits Knott’s, and it hits it hard.
There’s a ton of ground to cover for all the things going on in the park. The buildings are all decorated. Existing shows gets a Christmas theme. New Christmas shows are scheduled all over the park. Exclusive seasonal merchandise and food are all over. Even the characters around the park are completely festive. Every thing that can be done for Christmas is done.
While we’re not even at Thanksgiving yet, it’s hard to believe that just a few scant weeks ago that the entire park was crawling with spiderwebs and skeletons. Instead you’ll find wreaths, holly, lights, and trees all around. On top of that, as has become a tradition, additional booths have been set up throughout Ghost Town selling all sorts of homemade goods. If you want some unique scarves, candles, or any other kind of gift, you generally can find that here. On top of that, next to the schoolhouse is one of the more popular temporary booths, the chainsaw wood carvers. You can even look at the carving station while they carve and create bears and other characters right before your very eyes, and buy it right there in the park.
And right in the middle of it, carolers can be found in Ghost Town spreading cheer. But that’s not the only entertainment. While Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies have set up a residence in the Bird Cage Theater, they share the first half of the day with a pair of alternating plays. Depending on what time you arrive, you’ll either be greeted with O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi or A Christmas Carol from Charles Dickens. These are performed live with actors and a live piano. But once the sun sets, Kirk and his buddies will be there to do their Christmas-themed set, chock-full of Christmas medleys and zany fun. We strongly recommend showing up early as all of these shows can regularly fill up, especially on busy weekends.
And not too far away is the Christmas Cabin, an event unto itself. It wouldn’t be a Christmas event in any theme park without a Santa Claus photo op, and here is where you’ll find Kris Kringle and his wonderfully decorated rustic cabin. Inside, there’s also a pretty gargantuan selection of food, featuring traditional eggnog, hot chocolate, roasted nuts, milk & warm cookies and even beef & chicken tamales. There’s also hand-dipped chocolate-covered cheesecake on a stick, popcorn, and more. It’s really just too much to list, which is a good thing. And the cups have a really wonderful Snoopy Christmas theme on them. You and the family will find something there to get filled up on.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s also the Knott’s Merry Farm holiday staple of their famous ice skating show, Merry Christmas Snoopy. While it skipped out on a show over the summer, it made a welcome return this winter. There’s a few new faces this year amongst the skaters, but the overall show remains exactly the same as the last few years. It’s a great show with a great surprise finale, but we would like to see the playlist refreshed a little. It’s also disappointing to see the performers taking less defying maneuvers that we had become accustomed to. Those little issues aside, it’s still a world-class show with stunning outfits, frequent costume changes, quick scene transitions and a top notch song selection. Personally, we consider it the most important thing to experience at Knott’s Merry Farm. You are sincerely missing out if you skip this. And much like the Krazy Kirk shows, these definitely require lining up early, too.
If you have kids with you, you’ve probably already spent time in Camp Snoopy, and over there there’s a Christmas show, as well. While ‘A Peanuts Guide to Christmas’ is fun, it’s decidedly aimed at children and may not hold the attention of older kids and adults. The original songs are a nice surprise and break from the usual twelve songs we hear over and over ad nauseam, however.
We’re still not done. There’s also the nightly tree lighting, featuring the familiar faces of Calico’s Ghost Town residents. Following quickly after that is another Christmas show, “It’s the Merriest Christmas Show Ever, Charlie Brown” on the main stage that feels like a perfect companion to the ice show. The center part of the show is about choreographed dancing bits, but it’s broken up with “Behind the scenes” intermissions about Charlie Brown hunting for Snoopy in a style that’s very reminiscent of The Muppet Show.
And once it’s sufficiently dark, three times a night, there’s a snow fall on the streets of Ghost Town, along with a light show involving all the buildings around you. The best spot to watch it from is the open area between the Blacksmith and the Ghost Town Grill. It really highlights how much work has gone into the park details over the last few years with the area music, lighting and tech.
This doesn’t even touch on all the existing entertainment at Knott’s with the other live bands, dark rides, roller coasters, and everything else that’s going on that the park with the new Hang Time coaster opening this summer. Their season passes are a great deal, too. The base pass is just $92 for all of 2018 including 1 visit in 2017, and has no blackout dates whatsoever. Because while Knott’s Merry Farm won’t last forever, the amazing Boysenberry Festival is just around the corner, followed by Ghost Town Alive and Knott’s Scary Farm. Plus next year, they’re debuting a new event, Peanuts Celebration, in late January. So there’s no excuse not to get a pass for Knott’s.
Finally, ending this article on a special note, I left a specific show for last. That’s the Calico Saloon show. This, as you can hopefully figure by now, is a Christmas version that plays a few times in the aforementioned saloon. It’s a light comedy show, stringing together a will-they-won’t-they couple preparing for holidays with relatives as a means to bridge classic Christmas songs together all with some can-can dancers in the mix and live music. The upstairs seating may not provide the perfect straight-on view of the show, but there’s a certain intimate feeling being able to peek into the live show from up above as you munch on a boysenberry churro. But what made it special on our day there was that it was the first day of performances for Rovin Jay portraying the lead of the show, Dakota Dan. And it was not only his first day, but he was also the first African-American to play the lead in that show. From our showing, everything went off without a hitch. We wouldn’t have known this without a small tip from a friend of IU, Sam, and we thank him for letting us have the chance to appreciate and document a moment of history at Knott’s.