Like all of Mill Valley’s landmark events, Winterfest, the 94941’s annual holiday celebration, will look a little bit different in 2020.

But much like our friends at the Mill Valley Film Festival, Marin Theatre Company, MV Memorial Day Parade and, well, every business and nonprofit organization in town, the COVID-19 crisis has made 2020 the year of the pivot. Through these months of #MaskUp and social distancing, we know the community has a pent-up desire for fun and creative inspiration – more than ever.


With that in mind, Winterfest is indeed happening in 2020!

In lieu of the event’s usual “live” slate – rides down a massive slide, a visit from Santa, a full day of live entertainment and music, children’s activities, amazing local food and Tree and Menorah Lighting ceremonies – this year will be both virtual and dispersed.

The festivities kick off Nov. 27 with the Winterfest Holiday Hunt, a three-week, scavenger hunt-style contest at more than 40 businesses throughout Mill Valley. The contest centers around Silver Stars, which business owners will place in storefront windows or inside their businesses. Kids accompanied by a parent will take photos of silver stars, as selfies in front of the stars they choose, in at least eight participating businesses, including some amazing local restaurants and retail shops.

The Holiday Hunt kicks off Nov. 27 and runs through Dec. 18. Holiday Hunters who find at least eight stars will be entered into a raffle contest for one of 20 $40 gift cards.

Rules for entry:
1. Kids, accompanied by a parent, must go to at least eight participating businesses and take photos of silver stars, as selfies in front of the stars if they choose.
2. Email a minimum of eight photos as attachments to Include the name, age and telephone # in the body of the email.
3. One gift card awarded per raffle winner.
4. The participant who takes and submits photos of the most silver stars at businesses around town will win one of the gift cards without being placed in the raffle.

Look for a series of clues about participating businesses for Holiday Hunters on the EMV Blog on Nov. 27.

The other half of this COVID-friendly Winterfest is a film that highlights the spirit of this landmark event, featuring local arts organizations, a pre-recorded tree lighting and, of course, appearances by Santa Claus at locations around town, including the Mill Valley Fire Department, as seen above. Marin filmmaker Norm Hunter, who has spearheaded our ongoing EMV Films series highlighting some of the myriad creative businesses, organizations and people in Mill Valley, is helming the Winterfest film.

We’ll be debuting this Winterfest film on the EMV Blog via YouTube on Sunday, Dec. 6, the usual arrival of Winterfest.

Perhaps the most important part: ​While kids and their parents scurry around town looking for the Silver Stars, we hope they’ll do plenty of #ShopMV holiday buying!

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