Santa, song and festive cheer scheduled for Holidays at Empire Mine |

Santa, song and festive cheer scheduled for Holidays at Empire Mine

Yuletide music from times past will be performed by Celtic Joy on the old Clubhouse porch. Celtic Joy members are also docents at Empire Mine State Historic Park.
Submitted Photo by Michael McCartea |

Know and Go

Event: Holidays at Empire Mine

When: Nov. 24-25

Where: Empire Mine State Historic Park, 10791 E. Empire St., Grass Valley

Times: Special activities from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day

Cost: $7 for adults 17 & over; $3 ages 6-16; FREE admission for children under 6. Parking is free

Details: Phone the Visitor Center (530) 273-8522 or visit

Need to get that list to Santa? Holidays at Empire Mine may be the event you’re looking for.

“When you’ve got a gift request, my theory is that the sooner Santa knows about it, the better your chances,” said Event Chair Troy Hammer, “and Holidays at Empire Mine is the perfect way to share those wishes early. Of course, I’m not offering guarantees, but I can promise a truly festive, magical experience for the whole family to share.”

Over the years, this event has become a popular tradition, and last year over 2,000 visitors came to celebrate.

“For many, it’s a chance to introduce visiting family and friends to our magnificent Park,” Hammer said.

“Thanksgiving’s over, and many of us wonder how to keep everyone entertained. Each year we add new activities for extra appeal. For example, this year, while Santa and Mrs. Claus take their break from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., engaging juggler/storyteller Izzi Tooinsky will present his show, A Toymaker’s Journey through the Gold Rush. Izzi’s performed all over the world, and his show combines vaudeville with gold-mine history.”

Tooinsky is scheduled for Friday on the Clubhouse porch. On Saturday local band Celtic Joy will perform traditional music from Ireland, the British Isles and Europe. Nearby, local food-and-drinks vendors will have hot dogs, sandwiches, pastries, and hot-and-cold drinks for sale, including Brew Bakers’ exclusive “24-Karrat Cakes,” only available at Empire Mine events.

Colorful Ray-Ray the Clown will also be on hand with balloons and smiles. Children can also enjoy face painting. Magician Peter Franchino will share a few magicians’ secrets. For traditional caroling, visitors can sing along with the Lambs Children’s Choir on Friday and the Sierra Gold Chorus on Saturday.

Other highlights include appearances by one-man-band Gary Hinze both days in the Mineyard. Harpist Kurtis Bershaw will fill Empire Cottage with seasonal music on Friday and singer/guitarist Heather MacAdam on Saturday. Complimentary Christmas cookies will be served.

“Both the Clubhouse and Empire Cottage will be lavishly decorated,” Hammer said, “and many say it’s like stepping into an old-fashioned, early 1900s’ Christmas card.”

Chestnuts will be roasting in the Mineyard, and Living History docents will be dressed up as they portray the characters who shaped our glittering gold-mine past.

Highly recommended is a visit to the busy Blacksmith Shop. With forges blazing, here’s where visitors can learn what life was like when Empire was in its heydays — and ranked as one of the largest, oldest and most prosperous hard-rock gold mines in North America.

Another “must” is the Gift Shop, where hand-crafted items from the Blacksmith Shop are sold as well as jewelry, geological artifacts, books and mementoes for all ages and budgets.

Holidays at Empire Mine is hosted by Empire Mine Park Association, the organization dedicated to supporting Empire Mine State Historic Park.

“It’s a wonderful way to start the Holidays and help keep our park an international attraction,” Hammer said. “Each year we welcome around 100,000 visitors from all over America and all over the world, including children on school tours. “

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