It’s December, the merriest time of the year, and there are plenty of exciting events to help you spread some holiday cheer this season. From greetings with Santa Claus and fake snow to ice skating rinks and fun family winter events, it’s the perfect time to head out of the house and celebrate with friends and family. There are also plenty of crafty workshops, stage shows and productions, art exhibits, parades and theme parks to explore this month so, no matter what you do, remember the reason for the season and enjoy the company of whoever you choose to explore with.
December 1, 2017
Hospitality Night
City Hall, Laguna Beach

Kick off the holiday season in Orange County’s artist colony of Laguna Beach. Visitors can mingle and chat with neighbors, see Santa and watch the annual tree lighting ceremony in front of City Hall. There will also be carols and hot chocolate, and Laguna Presbyterian Church will host a local art show during the event.

December 1 – 13, 2017
Magic Christmas Tree Lot
OC Fair & Event Center, Costa Mesa

The annual Christmas tree lot is opening up shop at the OC Fair & Event Center. Pay a visit with the whole family to select the perfect tree as the month starts, then enjoy the fresh pine scent for the rest of the month as you stack your presents below the green branches.

December 1 – 18, 2017
Holiday Toy Drive
Renaissance Club Sport, Aliso Viejo

Take part in a special Toys for Tots toy drive through Dec. 18. The organization is asking for new and unwrapped toys that can then be distributed to children in need who may not be getting presents from anyone else this year.

December 1 – 23, 2017
Christmas Train
Irvine Park Railroad, Orange

Hop on this special train and take a ride to the “North Pole” to visit Santa. Share your wish list with him and snap some photos before heading back to the Christmas village, where visitors can ice fish, decorate cookies, play carnival games, make your way through a maze, enjoy story time and eat some holiday food.

December 2, 2017
 Every Orange County Event To Know About This December 2017

(Credit: OC Parks)

Merry Movie Night
Dana Point Harbor, Dana Point

This year marks the very first Merry Movie Night at the Dana Point Harbor, where locals can bring their chairs and blankets to cuddle up and watch a screening of “Elf.” A live elf will be on site to visit with guests and there will be food and hot chocolate available. After the movie, catch the lighting of the Ocean Institute’s tall ship, the Pilgrim.

December 2, 2017
Modern Artisan Marketplace Holiday Market
Lido Marina Village, Newport

Support small businesses when shopping for gifts this holiday season. The market will present more than 40 different brands that have something inspiring and creative to offer, including Skinesque and Melvian. In addition to shopping, take advantage of workshops and interactive experiences.

December 2, 2017
Gift of Art: Hawaiian Holiday
Lahaina Galleries, Newport Beach

Sip mai tais and listen to Hawaiian music as you peruse the new collections in the gallery and shop for the perfect holiday gifts. A variety of artists will be on site to greet guests, including Cheryl Kline, Steve Matson, Lori Wylie, Jack Storms, Caroline Zimmermann and Larissa Morais.

December 2, 2017
Mingle and Jingle
PetSmart, Santa Ana

Explore holiday deals for the smallest members of your family while mingling with the store’s animals. The Mingle and Jingle event will feature activities like holding reptiles, petting hamsters and feeding fish in addition to taking a peek at the cats that live on site.

December 2, 2017
Nutcracker Tree Lighting and Holiday Village
Center Street Promenade, Anaheim

Now in its 23rd year, guests at this annual tree lighting ceremony will also enjoy performances by local marching bands, dance troupes and choirs, photos with Santa, a snow play area, an international food fair, arts & crafts, train rides and a holiday artisan boutique.

December 2, 2017
Winter Market
Fullerton Downtown Plaza, Fullerton

Enjoy this open-air winter market in Fullerton, which features holiday entertainment, free photos with Santa, vendor booths for shopping, a beer and wine garden and food booths as well as face painting and a bounce house for kids. There will also be a Spark of Love toy drive with the Fullerton Firefighters.

December 2 and 3, 2017
Boat Rides with Santa
Dana Point Harbor, Dana Point

Enjoy a 20-minute cruise around the harbor with Santa and his helpers on board. While on the boat, operated by Dana Wharf Sportfishing, meet Santa and chat with him for a while—but don’t forget to snap a photo before the ride comes to an end.

December 2 and 3, 2017
Snow at the Mission
Mission San Juan Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano

In addition to real snow at the mission, kids can go sledding then warm up with hot chocolate before taking part in arts & crafts like panning for gold and making adobe bricks. There will also be holiday shopping for adults and live mariachi music for all to enjoy.

December 3, 2017
christmas walk cdm corona del mar chamber of commerce Every Orange County Event To Know About This December 2017

(Credit: Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce)

Christmas Walk
Village of Corona del Mar, Corona del Mar

Locals come together each year for this exciting holiday “walk,” which features promotions from many nearby businesses, performances from 12 different bands, grilled food cooked by local firefighters, photos with Santa, bungee jumping, a petting zoo, a vendor fair and a beer garden.

December 3, 2017
Holiday Wiener Winter Festival
Old World Village, Huntington Beach

A festival meant to honor the dachshund, visitors are encouraged to bring their own doxies or view the ones that are up for adoption at Old World. There will, of course, be dachshund races, both for traditional and small breeds, as well as chances to win a raffle basket and enjoy German food and beer.

December 3, 2017
Hometown Heroes Christmas Tree Dedication
Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace, Yorba Linda

Local military heroes will be honored at the Nixon Library as actor Jack Scalia presents the families of heroes who lost their lives in Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam with personally inscribed ornaments. There will also be a performance by the Band of the California Battalion.

December 3, 10 and 17, 2017
A Nutcracker Holiday
SoCo Collection, Costa Mesa

In addition to watching dancers from Festival Ballet Theatre and listening to live music, this event will feature a holiday-themed photo booth, visits with Santa, pop-up shops from popular brands and special activities for families, including cookie decorating with Susie Cakes on Dec. 10.

December 3 – 24, 2017
“Sugar Plum Fairy”
South Coast Repertory, Costa Mesa

Sandra Tsing Loh of NPR fame takes a look back at her childhood, specifically her desire for a coveted role in the Beverly Rosann School of Dance’s holiday production of “The Nutcracker.” The comedic show is recommended for older audiences, and details the ambition and teen-angst she faced during her quest to be in the play.

December 5, 2017
Bloomingdale’s L’Oreal Fragrance Master Class
Junior League of Orange County, Newport Beach

Learn what makes Viktor & Rolf fragrances unique with this special master class, and don’t forget to pick up a few of the gift sets for sale; a proceed of each sale made during the class will benefit the Junior League of Orange County.

December 6, 13, 17 and 20, 2017
Holiday Movie Nights
Pacific City, Huntington Beach

Enjoy screenings of special holiday films this December on the second level of Pacific City. Options include “Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas” (Dec. 6), the animated “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (Dec. 13), “Toy Story that Time Forgot” (Dec. 17) and “The Polar Express” (Dec. 20).

December 7, 2017
the broadway princess party segerstrom center for the arts Every Orange County Event To Know About This December 2017

(Credit: Segerstrom Center for the Arts)

“The Broadway Princess Party”
Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa

Join Broadway’s Cinderella, Laura Osnes, as she throws an on-stage princess party with some of her friends, including Broadway’s Belle and Jasmine. Enjoy the musical stylings of the princesses’ sweet voices as they reminisce on friends and fairytales.

December 7, 2017
Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony
Civic and Cultural Center, Brea

Live music and entertainment will thrill audiences of all ages at Brea’s annual tree lighting ceremony. Both Santa and Mrs. Claus will stop by for photo opportunities, filling children’s eyes with wonder, and cookies and hot chocolate will be served to guests as they watch the tree light up for the first time this holiday season.

December 7, 2017
Home for the Holidays Design & Home Tour
OC Fair & Event Center, Costa Mesa

Explore some of Costa Mesa’s most beautiful homes and holiday décor this December, with the fourth year of this design and home tour. In addition to styling tips and tricks from the pros, guests will gain access to musical performances, designer demonstrations from Pottery Barn and a holiday gift bazaar.

December 7 – 17, 2017
“Holidays Around the World”
Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa

Celebrate the holidays by learning about other’s traditions and honoring your own. Join friends and family on the Path of Traditions to share your own stories, decorate cookies and visit the hot cocoa bar. There will also be snowfall each night as well as live performances and chances to give back to those in need this holiday season.

December 8 and 9, 2017
Nights of 1000 Lights
Sherman Library and Gardens, Newport Beach

Now in its fourth year, this holiday celebration features an expanded light tunnel, light orbs, light tubes and programmable lights in addition to a 20-foot Christmas tree. This year, guests can also enjoy a red sparkle ceiling in the Fern Grotto and a tropical visit with Santa, surrounded by poinsettias and flamingos.

December 8 – 16, 2017
 Every Orange County Event To Know About This December 2017

(Credit: OC Parks)

A Superhero Holiday
Dana Point Harbor, Dana Point

Now in its 43rd year, the Parade of Lights features four nights of decorated boats that are sure to delight visitors of all ages. This year, the theme features designs inspired by superheroes. During the event, guests will also find strolling carolers, games, arts & crafts and photos with Santa.

December 9, 2017
Celebration of Winter
Roger’s Gardens, Corona del Mar

Learn all about holiday decorating with Eric Cortina, the gardens’ creative director, who will detail ways to create fresh flower arrangements, wreaths and garlands as well as how to prepare for holiday dinner parties this December.

December 9, 2017
Gingerbread House Workshop
Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach

Gather at this museum that focuses on California art from 2 to 4 p.m. for a special decorating class. Guests will design their own gingerbread houses, complete with frosting and decorations that are included in the $10 workshop fee.

December 9, 2017
Holiday Parade
Crown Valley Parkway, Laguna Niguel

A combination of marching bands, auto clubs, military members, equestrian units, athletes and youth groups come together for the Laguna Niguel Holiday Parade. Grand marshals for the 2017 parade include Kira Kosarin, Trinitee Stokes and Hanna Eyra.

December 9 and 10, 2017
Huntington Harbour Boat Parade
Huntington Harbour, Huntington Beach

Before the Cruise of Lights takes place in the harbor, this boat parade kicks off the holiday light celebration. This year’s theme is “Musical Kicks on Route 66,” and will feature a variety of traditional as well as new and unique entries.

December 9 and 16, 2017
Make It and Take It: Winter Wreaths Class
OC Fair & Event Center, Costa Mesa

All materials will be provided in this workshop that guides guests through the creation of special holiday wreaths. Master gardener Nancy Claxton will lead the class, helping with instructions and design tips so that your wreath is ready to hang when you head home to decorate.

December 9 – 17, 2017
“A Snow White Christmas”
Ebell Society of Santa Ana Theater, Santa Ana

Award-winning playwright John Blaylock has done it again with “A Snow White Christmas,” a tale of good versus evil starring Snow White, Rose Red, seven elves and a polar bear. A twist on the classic fairytale performed by a youth cast, this holiday-inspired version is sure to entertain.

December 9 – 24, 2017
“The Nutcracker”
Irvine Barclay Theatre, Irvine

Join Clara, her nutcracker, the Sugar Plum Fairy and more as you take in the dazzling holiday costumes and scenery, with dances set to Tchaikovsky’s iconic score. Put on by the Festival Ballet Theatre, the performances are sure to impress. Some dates feature a special pre-show Nutcracker Tea Party with champagne, finger sandwiches and tea for the kids.

December 10, 2017
Second Sundays Restoration Program
Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve, Newport Beach

Help preserve the local ecosystem for the wildlife that call the Upper Newport Bay their home. During the two-and-a-half-hour event, participants will help with trash removal, non-native plant removal and the planting of native flora as well as watering and gardening maintenance. The event is free and all water and tools are provided.

December 12 – 20, 2017
Hanukkah Feast
The Resort at Pelican Hill, Newport Beach

Traditional Hanukkah dishes will be served at Pelican Hill’s Coliseum Pool & Grill, including braised brisket, latkes and baked kugel, with reservations. This is a great way to celebrate the Festival of Lights for either lunch or dinner. Note that food is not kosher.

December 13 – 17, 2017
Christmas Boat Parade
Newport Harbor, Newport Beach

View a stunning display of holiday lights as decorated boats float through the Newport Harbor. Complete with music and inflatable décor, it’s an impressive sight that draws visitors from all over the country. In addition, houses on Balboa Island will also be decorated and fireworks shows will delight guests on opening and closing nights.

December 13 – January 7, 2018
chill the queen mary Every Orange County Event To Know About This December 2017

(Credit: The Queen Mary)

The Queen Mary, Long Beach

An all-new event this year will feature a massive ice-filled adventure park, which includes ice skating, sledding and on-ice tricycles. In addition to the wintertime fun, enjoy food and drinks from various regions of the world: Germany, China, Russia, Holand, Switzerland and, of course, America’s North Pole. From Mistletoe Gin Fizz cocktails to Swiss meatballs, there will be an endless array of treats and cultural activities.

December 14, 2017
Gadbois Jewelry Trunk Show
Roger’s Gardens, Corona del Mar

Jewelry designer Frances Gadbois has partnered with daughter Charlotte to create a fresh line of elegant jewelry perfect for Christmas gifts. From gold stylings to colorful jewels, there are options for all occasions at this trunk show that will be held at Roger’s Gardens for one day.

December 14 – 16, 2017
“The Broadway Princess Party”
Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa

Join Broadway’s Cinderella, Laura Osnes, as she throws an on-stage princess party with some of her friends, including Broadway’s Belle and Jasmine. Enjoy the musical stylings of the princesses’ sweet voices as they reminisce on friends and fairytales.

December 14 – 16, 2017
Santa Comes to Northgate
Northgate Market, Anaheim

For one day only, stop by Northgate Market to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what you want for Christmas. The event runs from 1 to 4 p.m., and the jolly man in red will be giving away toys as long as supplies last.

December 15 – 23, 2017
Cruise of Lights
Huntington Harbour, Huntington Beach

Homes, boats, decks and docks are decorated in the spirit of Christmas each December, and the Huntington Harbour Philharmonic takes guests to see all of the adornment by boat. As you float through the harbor, spot all of the decorations up close and admire the lights and animated displays that are placed throughout the area.

December 16, 2017
Christmas at the OC Zoo
OC Zoo, Orange

Another fun holiday activity is celebrating Christmastime at the zoo. Meet with Santa to tell him about everything on your wish list and join Mrs. Claus for a story. There will also be crafts and games, and the animals at the zoo will be given treats hidden inside Christmas trees in celebration of the holiday.

December 16, 2017
Renegade Santa Run
Hicks Canyon Elementary School, Irvine

Whether you participate in the 10K, 5K or kid’s fun run, this is a great way to get some exercise while celebrating the spirit of the season. Costumes are encouraged and prizes will be awarded for best running Santa, best non-Santa costume and best kid’s holiday costume. There will also be photo opportunities with Santa after the run.

December 16, 2017
Holiday Celebration with Santa
Anaheim Plaza, Anaheim

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., head to Anaheim Plaza for a face-to-face Santa experience. In addition to meeting the man in the red suit (and taking selfies with Santa), visitors can enjoy music from a kid-friendly DJ, a balloon artist, raffle prizes and giveaways for the first 100 attendees.

December 17, 2017
holiday festival at the muck muckenthaler cultural center Every Orange County Event To Know About This December 2017

(Credit: Muckenthaler Cultural Center)

Holiday Festival
Muckenthaler Cultural Center, Fullerton

Those looking for fun gifts for the holiday season can visit the arts & crafts fair at The Muck. There will be additional art workshops for children as well as a play area, and live stage performances and craft beer for adults to savor. Santa Claus will also make an appearance.

December 17, 2017
Breakfast with Santa
Renaissance Club Sport, Aliso Viejo

Enjoy a special breakfast with Santa, either at 9 or 11:30 a.m. These two breakfasts will each feature fresh baked breads, sliced fruit, cold cereals, scrambled eggs, potatoes and veggies, waggles, omelets, French toast and sausage as well as coffee, hot chocolate, fresh juices and sparkling wine. Kids can also visit with Santa and give him letters they’ve written for him.

December 17, 2017
Gingerbread House and Holiday Cookie Decorating
Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, Dana Point

Decorating gingerbread houses is one of the most popular activities for the holiday season, and the high-quality houses at the Ritz-Carlton are perfect for designing in your own style. Complimentary hot chocolate will be served during the event, which lasts from 2 to 4 p.m.

December 17, 2017
International Celebration of Christmas
Old World Village, Huntington Beach

This year marks the 17th for this annual live nativity play that takes place for one night only at Old World. Various church groups, singers and dancers come together to put on the production, the goal of which is to honor the birth of Jesus.

December 17, 2017
Through December 17, 2017
Sawdust Winter Fantasy
Sawdust Festival Grounds, Laguna Beach

Sawdust’s annual Winter Fantasy is the most unique spot in Orange County for winter gifts, which can be purchased straight from the artists themselves. Whether you purchase clothing and jewelry or more unique art like woodwork, blown glass, ceramics, metals or sculptures, you’re sure to impress whomever you’re buying for. The festival also features art demonstrations, visits with Santa, holiday décor and more.

December 18 – 21, 2017
Share Our Selves Annual Adopt-A-Family Program
OC Fair & Event Center, Costa Mesa

For the last 48 years, Share Our Selves has put on the Adopt-A-Family program, which matches families in need with members of the community who are capable of helping. Sign up with the organization to help one of 1,500 families in need with food and gifts for the holiday season.

December 19 – 22, 2017
Santa is Coming to Town
Bowers Kidseum, Santa Ana

Stop by Bowers Museum as Santa comes to town, where he will arrive by motorcycle for four days to greet the children gathered outside at 1 p.m. Sit on Santa’s lap in his red wagon or fly around the world in the Green Screen Time Machine.

December 20 – 24, 2017
disney on ice disneyfeld entertainment Every Orange County Event To Know About This December 2017

(Credit: Disney/Feld Entertainment)

Disney on Ice’s “Follow Your Heart”
Honda Center, Anaheim

The latest installment of Disney on Ice focuses on characters that make unforgettable memories—with each other and with audiences—by following their hearts. Notable scenes include those with “Finding Dory”’s Dory and Hank, the emotions from “Inside Out,” Arendelle’s finest from “Frozen,” Mickey, Minnie, the Toy Story gang and more.

December 21, 2017
fiesta navidad armstrong international cultural foundationreese zoellner Every Orange County Event To Know About This December 2017

(Credit: Armstrong International Cultural Foundation/Reese Zoellner)

Fiesta Navidad
Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa

Part of the prominent “Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA,” which celebrates Latin American art here in California, the award-winning Mariachi Los Camperos returns to the Southern California stage to honor Mexican holiday traditions through festive music and dance. Whether your family enjoys these traditions or simply wants to learn about them, it’s a great event for all ages.

December 21 – January 7, 2018
winter fest winter fest Every Orange County Event To Know About This December 2017

(Credit: Winter Fest)

Winter Fest
OC Fair & Event Center, Costa Mesa

It’s not often that we get to celebrate winter with snow in Orange County, but Winter Fest has changed that. With nightly snowfall, a snow play area, tubing, ice skating, a flying Santa, fireworks and a nightly tree-lighting ceremony, there is plenty to see and do. Winter Fest also features a stroll-through themed light display with two million Christmas lights.

Through December 24, 2017
“A Christmas Carol”
South Coast Repertory, Costa Mesa

This timeless Dickens story returns to the South Coast Repertory stage this December with performances that feature the ghosts of Christmases past, present and yet to come as well as Ebenezer Scrooge (of course!). Guests must be at least six to watch the two-hour show.

December 25, 2017
Christmas Day Dining
Laguna Cliffs Resort & Spa, Dana Point

Enjoy a four-course meal on Christmas Day. While there’s no snow in Orange County, the ocean view will make up for it. The menu includes things like Oven Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, Charred Radicchio and Arugula Salad, Grilled Swordfish, Herb Crusted Breast Chicken and Sea Salted Chocolate Panna Cotta.

December 26 – January 1, 2018
Festival of Kwanzaa Celebration
Pretend City, Irvine

Once Christmas is over, celebrate another holiday with Pretend City’s Kwanzaa celebration. Children can learn about the true meaning of the holiday through various Kwanzaa-related stories and art & craft projects.

December 28, 2017
Fitness Hike
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Laguna Beach

Get your heart pumping with this fast-paced fitness hike. Guests will meet at 8:30 a.m. for the free, volunteer-led hike that will venture through uneven territory in the Laguna Canyon. With an elevation gain of 571 feet and a distance of 5.5 miles, this hike isn’t for beginners but it’s a wonderful way to get some exercise and stay in shape after those holiday cookies and pies.

December 30 and 31, 2017
Resolution NYE
OC Fair & Event Center, Costa Mesa

Ring in the New Year with Resolution NYE, a festive two-day celebration for those 21 and up that features music from acts like Young The Giant, Dirty Heads, Seven Lions, Illenium, Slander and more. This extravaganza is the perfect place to dance the night away—twice—before 2018 arrives.

Through December 31, 2017
“Pivotal: Highlights from the Collection”
Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach

Through the end of the year, check out this collection of artwork that features pieces that are part of OCMA’s permanent collection. These include dynamic pieces by innovative and groundbreaking artists who were showcased at OCMA during pivotal times in their careers.

Through January 7, 2018
muzeo express robert duron Every Orange County Event To Know About This December 2017

(Credit: Robert Duron)

“Muzeo Express: Holiday Model Trains”
Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center, Anaheim

View a stunning display of holiday lights as decorated boats float through the Newport Harbor. Complete with music and inflatable décor, it’s an impressive sight that draws visitors from all over the country. In addition, houses on Balboa Island will also be decorated and fireworks shows will delight guests on opening and closing nights.

Through January 7, 2018
holidays at disneyland resort 4 christian thompsondisneyland resort1 Every Orange County Event To Know About This December 2017

(credit: Christian Thompson/Disneyland Resort)

Holidays at the Disneyland Resort
Disneyland Resort, Anaheim

The park is decorated for Christmas time, and it’s even more magical than usual. But the fun doesn’t stop there. World of Color takes on a new look too, with “Season of Light” and the A Christmas Fantasy parade features Santa as well as some Disney favorites. Don’t forget to check out the holiday fireworks show, the Haunted Mansion Holiday or it’s a small world Holiday.

Through January 7, 2018
Ice Skating at the Ice Rink
Irvine Spectrum Center, Irvine

Skate circles around your friends and family at the Irvine Spectrum rink, which is set under the Giant Wheel and offers skate and helmet rentals. Visit on a themed Thursday for music from a DJ and prizes. December themes include Reindeer & Red Noses (Dec. 7), Christmas Jammies (Dec. 14), Jingle Bells & Santa’s Helpers (Dec. 21) and New Years Sparkle (Dec. 28).

Through January 7, 2018
knotts merry farm1 Every Orange County Event To Know About This December 2017

(credit: Knotts Berry Farm)

Knott’s Merry Farm
Knott’s Berry Farm. Buena Park

Enjoy the holiday season at one of the region’s most popular theme parks. Skip the rides in favor of the many holiday shows, including a new ice show and the Calico Saloon show. Santa’s Christmas Cabin is another fabulous place, with holiday treats like eggnog, peppermint and chocolate-covered cheesecake, roasted nuts, cookies and milk and more.

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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