credit: Cruise of Lights)
Nestled along the Pacific Ocean, Orange County’s desirable climate helps provide an unforgettable holiday season. This year, take an ocean cruise and admire holiday lights, celebrate art, crafts and community at festive gatherings and have fun while learning about gingerbread – all in the OC.
55th Annual Cruise Of Lights
16889 Algonquin St.
Huntington Beach, CA 92649
Dates: December 15-18 & 21-23, 2017
Recognized as one of the most desirable locations to see Christmas lights, you won’t want to miss out on this special boat tour. If the thought of sailing on the harbor and seeing colorful lights adorning beautiful homes along the coast does not create enough appeal, then perhaps these pictures of past cruises will. The lights are a pleasing sight alone, but coupling the experience with vivid colorful light reflections off the Pacific Ocean adds another element of grandeur. Don’t forget to get your tickets ahead of time by visiting Cruise Of Lights.
Winter Fantasy – Sawdust Art & Craft Festival
935 Laguna Canyon Road
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Dates: November 18, 19, 24, 25, & 26 | December 2, 3, 9, 10, 11, 16 & 17, 2017
The Sawdust Art and Craft Festival is a large celebration with activities suitable for the entire family. This the festival’s 27th Annual Winter Fantasy at the Sawdust Art & Craft Festival. Open from 10am to 7pm, the event showcases the work of 175 artists with diverse talents including glass blowing, clothing design, photography, ceramics and painting. You can shop for unique holiday gifts or find items to spruce up your home decor. In addition to the various artistic mediums on display, you can spend time with Santa, enjoy the petting zoo on site and even take an art class.
Winter Fest 2017
88 Fair Dr.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Dates: December 21, 2017 – January 7, 2018
Winter Fest at the OC Fair & Event Center brings the spirit of the winter season to Southern California this holiday season. Go ice skating in front of a theater-sized screen playing holiday films, ice tube down a 130-foot slide, enjoy nightly snowfall, tree lighting, live entertainment, reindeer feedings, and more than 30 carnival rides and games. Enjoy seasonal foods, craft cocktails, and festive holiday décor (including the world’s largest ornament!) as well.
125 E. Wilshire Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92832
Date: December 2, 2017 at 12pm
Experience holiday cheer this year at Fullerton’s festive Winter Market. Kids can get complimentary photos with the big guy in red, get rid of extra energy in the bouncy house and have cool artwork drawn on their faces. Adults will also have a good time shopping, enjoying food and entertainment and sipping on a tasty brew or nice glass of wine. Additionally, there will be a toy drive hosted by the community’s firefighters.
Irvine Park Railroad Christmas Train
1 Irvine Park Road
Orange, CA 92869
Dates: December 1 – December 23, 2017
Irvine Park Railroad celebrates the 20th anniversary of their Christmas Train holiday event, and your family will fall in love with the old-fashioned fun offered at this Orange venue. Santa’s Village, located next to the train station, includes a story time with Mrs. Claus, Christmas cookie decorating, carnival games, ice fishing, and more. The train rides themselves, depart every 15 minutes and take guests to the “North Pole” where visitors can purchase coffee, hot chocolate, popcorn, and more while waiting to meet with Santa. The beautiful lights, including the “Tunnel of Lights” on the return trip round out a wonderful holiday evening.
Science Of Gingerbread
Discovery Science Center
2500 N. Main St.
Santa Ana, CA 92705
Date: November 24, 2017 – December 31, 2017
Back again for this holiday season, have fun while learning about the “Science of Gingerbread” at Discovery Science Center. In addition to creating and devouring holiday cookies, you can build your own edible vehicle and compete in the Gingerbread Derby event. Attendees will see the importance of using creativity in conjunction with scientific principles. If learning about gingerbread is not your thing, then maybe the special showcase that explores the science behind snow will be of interest.
Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade
Date: December 13, 2017 – December 17, 2017
Celebrate the 109th Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade and Ring of lights with over a million viewers! Watch beautifully decorated yachts, boats, kayaks and canoes sail along the harbor. The event is hosted by the Commodores Club of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce.
Anaheim Plaza – Holiday Event With Santa
510 N Euclid St
Anaheim, CA 92801
Date: December 16, 2017 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Head to Anaheim Plaza to visit with Santa! Make sure to bring your camera so you can take photos too! The event is perfect for the whole family and will include plenty of prizes and giveaways, as well as a balloon artist and more.
Nutcracker Craft Boutique
The Brea Community Center
695 Madison Way
Brea, CA 92821
Date: December 16, 2017 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Nutcracker Craft Boutique is the perfect place to buy gifts of all kinds for the holidays! Featuring hand crafted gifts from hundreds of vendors, you’re bound to find something for everyone on your list of people to buy for. There is a $2 admission, however proceeds go to the City of Brea’s Youth & Family Programs.
“A Christmas Carol”
South Coast Repertory
South Coast Plaza
655 Town Center Dr
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Date: November 24, 2017 – December 24, 2017
Enjoy this classic Christmas tale from Charles Dickens this holiday season. Set in Nineteenth century London, it’s perfect for the entire family. See Tiny Tim, the Fezziwigs, the Ghosts of Christmas past, present and Ebenezer Scrooge!
43rd Annual Dana Point Boat Parade
Dana Point Harbor
34624 Golden Lantern St.
Dana Point, CA 92629
Date: December 8, 9, 15 & 16, 2017
The 43rd Annual Dana Point Boat Parade will be held on two consecutive weekends this year! Visitors will enjoy family fun holiday activities throughout the Harbor starting at 4:30 and cheer before the boat parade. Then, in the evening, enjoy all the boats lit up in festive colors sailing the harbor!
Holidays at the Disneyland Resort
1313 Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, CA 92802
Dates: November 10, 2017 – January 07, 2018
Disneyland gets in the holiday spirit throughout the months of November and December each year. The park’s beautiful decorations, including an impressively decorated 60-foot Christmas tree, sparkling castle, and themed-décor, create an incredible backdrop for family fun. Don’t miss “it’s a small world –holiday,” the “Jingle Cruise,” or “Haunted Mansion Holiday,” all revamped and updated for the holiday season. A Christmas parade, holiday-themed “World of Color” light and water show, visits with Olaf (and fun snow play at Olaf’s Snow Fest!), fabulous holiday food desserts and offerings, Viva Navidad!, a celebration of the holiday traditions of Latin America, and visits with Santa Claus himself round out the holiday-themed fun. Downtown Disney joins in the holiday fun with a themed ice-skating rink; no park admission is required.
Knott’s Merry Farm
Knott’s Berry Farm
8039 Beach Blvd.
Buena Park, CA 90620
Dates: November 17, 2017 – January 7, 2018
Knott’s Berry Farm is very festive during the holiday season, boasting events that families won’t want to miss. Park guests can watch Snoopy and dozens of professional ice skaters hit the ice in the brand new “Merry Christmas, Snoopy” ice show. A Christmas Crafts Village takes over Ghost Town, giving families the chance to shop for unique gifts and merchandise while on property; come back when the sun sets to watch as snow falls to the sweet sound of holiday carols. The Wilderness Dance Hall will host Santa himself. Holiday delights like Santa’s homemade cookies, eggnog, winter wine, craft beer, and hot chocolate tastings are offered to increase the festive spirit. Live shows, including Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, O. Henry’s A Gift of the Magi, and “Christmas Time is Here, Charlie Brown,” are on stage daily throughout the season.
Stacy Brecht is a professional writer, dancer, marketer and model in the Los Angeles area. Brecht also enjoys traveling, wine, fitness training, volunteering, movies and trying new restaurants. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.