Solvang “Julefest” Honors Nielsen Family as 2016 Grand Marshals

On November 15, 2016, Tracy Farhad, Executive Director of the Solvang Conference & Visitors Bureau, coordinator of the annual Solvang Julefest (Christmas Fest) month-long celebration, announced that the multi-generation Nielsen family, Solvang residents, community volunteers and owners of Nielsen’s Market, are being honored as the 2016 Julefest Grand Marshals.

Farhad stated, “The Solvang Julefest committee is honoring this incredible Danish-American family that embodies this year’s theme of ‘Celebrate Together’. The Nielsen family’s embrace of this community and service since its founding in 1911 is outstanding. We are proud to recognize their many contributions this Julefest.”

Members of the Nielsen family will be introduced at the Community Tree Lighting in Solvang Park at 5:00 PM on Friday, December 2, 2016 and “flip the switch” to light the new LED “drought-tolerant” Julefest tree as well as lead the Julefest parade on Saturday, December 3, 2016 at 11:00 AM, through the village streets of Solvang.

2016 Danish Maid - Natalya Nielsen
2016 Danish Maid, Natalya Nielsen {Photo Credit: Mike Mesikep}
One member of the Nielsen family is Natalya Nielsen (pictured at left) a fourth-generation native Solvang resident who is the 2016 Danish Maid and a senior at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School. Her great-great grandparents Marcus and Andrea Nielsen were some of Solvang’s founding immigrants hailing from Mors, Denmark. Natalya’s great-grandfather Axel Nielsen inaugurated the first Danish Days celebration in September 1936 and began the event’s popular aebleskiver breakfasts — a tradition carried on by her grandfather Roger Nielsen and her father Rodney Nielsen who all have been involved with the charitable Danish Days Foundation for decades among many other volunteer contributions. The family’s Nielsen’s Market, at 608 Alamo Pintado Road, celebrated its 105th anniversary this year.

Solvang, named one of Time Magazine’s “Most Christmas-y Towns in America”, sparkles during the 2016 annual Julefest (pronounced Yule-Fest) from December 1, 2016 through January 6, 2017. Solvang Julefest festivities include the Julefest Holiday Wine & Beer Walk (December 10 & 11) as well as the traditional Nativity Pageant (December 11) and “Shop, Mingle & Jingle” retail specials running December 2-4 and December 9-11, and it concludes with the Annual Christmas Tree Burn on January 6, 2017. Additional activities are continually updated at