10 Things To Look Forward to In 2017 In Orange County

The start of the year has brought plenty of thrills already: Newport’s annual restaurant week, the Chinese New Year, an epic Super Bowl game, and Valentine’s Day. But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t more fun to come in Orange County this year. Throughout 2017, keep an eye out for these 10 exciting events that are definitely worth looking forward to.
January 20 – June 18, 2017
(credit: Scott Brinegar/Disneyland)

(credit: Scott Brinegar/Disneyland)


The Return of Disneyland’s Main Street Electric Parade
Disneyland Resort
1313 Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, CA 92802
(714) 781-4565
www.disneyland.com

Through June 18, catch this Disney favorite as it makes its return to the Disneyland theme park. After a 20-year hiatus, the Main Street Electrical Parade, which made its debut back in the 1970s, is causing a stir in the local community—and it’s easy to see why. With half a million lights adorning not only the parade floats but also dancers and characters’ costumes, the show is a glittering spectacle that appeals to those of all ages. The upbeat electronic music drifts through the air as light-up versions of Pinocchio, Cinderella, Snow White, Alice in Wonderland and even Pete the Dragon traverse the parade route, running from Main Street to the It’s a Small World area.

2017
(credit: South Coast Plaza)

(credit: South Coast Plaza)


The 50th Anniversary of South Coast Plaza
South Coast Plaza
3333 Bristol Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(800) 782-8888
www.southcoastplaza.com

This year marks the 50th anniversary of South Coast Plaza, a shopping destination that has made a significant impact on Orange County’s fashion scene. Built on the site of a former lima bean farm by the Segerstrom family, the complex helped bring designer storefronts to the county. It has since become a travel hotspot for tourists from various countries around the world, and a leading source of fundraising for local non-profits. In celebration of 50 years, the mall will hold a historical exhibit within, introduce limited edition products created through partnerships with luxury brands, host fashion shows and other celebratory events, and debut a collectible book by Assouline that details the center’s history and significance.

Summer & Fall 2017
(Credit: Festival of Arts)

(Credit: Festival of Arts)


Laguna Beach Art Festivals
Various Locations
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

The artist community of Laguna Beach is the perfect place for summer art festivals—and the city never disappoints. It’s known for the fabulous Pageant of the Masters, a world-renowned show that includes people posing in famous life-size paintings. This summer’s event, which will also include the 85th anniversary of the Festival of Arts fine arts show and follows the theme of The Grand Tour, runs from July 7 to August 31. Other prominent summer art festivals include the Sawdust Art Festival, from June 30 to September 3, and the global Art-A-Fair. In the fall, art lovers can also check out the annual Plein Air Painting Invitational, where artists from Laguna Beach and beyond take to the outdoors to paint October seascapes and demonstrate their process to the general public.

March 5 – March 11, 2017
(Credit: OC Restaurant Association)

(Credit: OC Restaurant Association)


Orange County Restaurant Week
Various Locations
Orange County, CA
www.ocrestaurantweek.com

While Newport Beach’s annual restaurant week is a great celebration of local culinary masters, Orange County Restaurant Week takes it to another level, featuring some of the finest foods in the area. Over 100 restaurants will be participating, including Gratitude, The Ranch, SOCIAL Costa Mesa, The Winery, Bruno’s Italian Kitchen, Sushi Roku, the Bluewater Grill and many more. Throughout the week, local restaurants will offer special lunch menus for $10, $15 and $20 and dinner menus for $20, $30, $40 and $50. Additional $80 luxe dinner menus will be available at a few select restaurants, including Stonehill Tavern, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Selanne Steak Tavern. Whether you’re looking for a deal on a romantic dinner for two or simply trying to taste some of Orange County’s finest meals, this week is always something to look forward to.

2017
(Credit: Carol Rosegg)

(Credit: Carol Rosegg)


Broadway Shows Playing In Orange County
Segerstrom Center for the Arts
600 Town Center Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 556-2787
www.scfta.org

Once popular Broadway shows head out of New York City, they make stops in places like Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles. But with the luxurious Segerstrom Center for the Arts located in Orange County, we’re lucky enough to experience some of these shows as well. While the full year’s line-up of Broadway performances hasn’t been announced yet, there are a couple of specific shows to look forward to already, including “Finding Neverland,” “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder,” “An American in Paris,” “The Bodyguard,” “Fun Home” and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” Tickets for most of these shows start at $29.

April – August, 2017
(Credit: John Cheng/USA Gymnastics)

(Credit: John Cheng/USA Gymnastics)


Sports Tournaments with Olympic Stars
Various Locations
Orange County, CA

A variety of sports tournaments and championships will breeze through Orange County this year, giving locals a chance to see various Olympic stars up close. In April, an AVP beach volleyball tournament will take place in Huntington Beach, presenting athletes like Kerry Walsh Jennings, April Ross, Phil Dalhausser, Nick Lucena, Casey Jennings, Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson. Stars on Ice will skate through the area for one night in May. The show, which takes place on the ice at the Honda Center, showcases skates by various Olympic and national champions set to popular music. Expect to see names like Ashley Wagner, Gracie Gold and ice dancing pair Meryl Davis and Charlie White. Then, in August, the P&G Gymnastics Championships will take place for four days in Anaheim. Also held at the Honda Center, the U.S. championships will feature Olympic gymnasts like Newport Beach native Sam Mikulak (pictured).

Throughout 2017
(credit: Mark Girardeau)

(credit: Mark Girardeau)


Whale Migration
Along the Coastline
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 673-1434
www.daveyslocker.com

Living along the coast allows for plenty of seaside restaurants, coastal shopping and vibrant West Coast sunsets. But it also offers a chance for some spectacular marine life viewing, especially near Newport Beach, where the healthy offshore ecosystem draws in large animals like whales and dolphins. With whale watching excursions leaving every day, you can look forward to seeing various species throughout the year. In spring, check out the migration of the giant gray whales, a baleen whale that migrates between breeding and feeding grounds. In the summer and fall, you’ll find a high concentration of humpback whales, who feed in polar areas like Alaska but pass by California on their way to Hawaii to breed and give birth in tropical waters, as well as the immense fin and blue whales.

Throughout 2017
(Credit: Christina Craig/The Observatory)

(Credit: Christina Craig/The Observatory)


Local Music Festivals
Various Locations
Orange County, CA

Southern California is home to a plethora of music festivals, many of which haven’t happened yet this year. While massive festivals like Coachella and Stagecoach are only a quick drive away, Orange County plays host to many smaller experiences. Travis Barker presents his annual Musink Music and Tattoo Festival in March at the O.C. Fair & Event Center, including artists like The Used, Pennywise, Bad Religion and NOFX. On April 1, Huntington Beach will turn country with the Coastal Country Jam, a beachside concert featuring Jake Owen. In addition, the Observatory recently announced an April 8 festival called When We Were Young, a two-day event that is set to include Morrissey, Taking Back Sunday, AFI, Streetlight Manifesto and more. The Queen Mary will be host to ShipKicker, another country event scheduled to take place in May. Don’t forget to also check out the music at events like the Doheny Blues Festival or the Newport Beach Jazz Festival as well as various cultural festivals all year long.

July 14 – August 13, 2017
(Credit: OC Fair)

(Credit: OC Fair)


Orange County Fair
OC Fair & Event Center
88 Fair Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 708-1500
www.ocfair.com

While the theme hasn’t been set for the Orange County Fair, the dates have. This summertime event is one that everyone in O.C. looks forward to each year. The giant Ferris wheel is the main staple, but there are plenty of other rides to excite those of all ages. Aside from the rides, the OC Fair offers live entertainment from local artists as well as some epic concerts at the fair’s Pacific Amphitheater. There are also a variety of exhibits that showcase artwork and photography from local students and adults alike, as well as baking contests. Don’t forget to check out the delicious (albeit not so healthy) fair food. Your trip won’t be complete until you get a taste of that funnel cake.

May 20 – 21, 2017
(Credit: Muckenthaler Cultural Center)

(Credit: Muckenthaler Cultural Center)


Annual Muckenthaler Motorcar Festival
1201 W Malvern Ave
Fullerton, CA 92833
(714) 738-6595
www.themuck.org

The popular The Muckenthaler Cultural Center presents its annual Motorcar Festival again this year during the summer months featuring beautiful cars from the past. Visit this Festival and enjoy looking at hot rods, vintage rides and more on over 8 acres of land. It’s the oldest and top car show in Orange County, too!

Ashley Ryan is an Orange County native that loves traveling, live music and photography. She blogs at Pure Wander and freelances for a variety of publications including Newport Beach Magazine and Laguna Beach Magazine.

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