Photography By: Cecily Breeding

21 Things to Do in Southern California This December

From Holiday Festivities to Outdoor Events, Head to One of These SoCal Happenings This Month

December in SoCal: a beautiful oxymoron. One of the few months of the year where Southern California locals trade in their beachwear and boardshorts for winter coats and cardigans. With sumptuous sunsets dipping behind luminous, light-laden palms, SoCal offers up a unique brand of holiday cheer—one that promises to be equal parts charming and cheerful. Whether it be a dazzling display of lights illuminating the crashing waves or an evening of ice skating under a sea of shimmering stars, we’ve assembled a list of our favorite SoCal holiday happenings that are sure to offer up a little magic as you celebrate the season. Southern California Fall Events

Southern California Fall Events

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

Dec. 15-19 | 6:30 p.m.

Photograph Provided By: Newport Beach & Co


One of the best light shows in all of Southern California, the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade features a whole host of yachts, sailboats and schooners decked bow to stern with lights, wreaths, tinsel and garland. Grab a cup of hot cocoa, take a seat on the seawall and let the Christmas spirit wash over you while taking part in this timeless Newport Beach tradition.

Location: Newport Harbor


Night of Lights OC

Nov. 26-Jan. 2 | 5-11 p.m.

Night of Lights is one of Orange County’s largest holiday light displays. With over one million lights to see, the shimmering tunnels allow guests to soak up the holiday cheer from the comfort of their own car. Keep your eyes peeled for special surprise sightings from all your favorite holiday heroes as well, for festive favorites like Rudolph and St. Nick have been known to make appearances at this dazzling display.

Location: OC Fair & Event Center


Sand-sational Extravaganza

Nov. 20-Jan. 2 | All Day

Photography Provided By: The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

Every year on Nov. 20, the beautiful beachfront Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel becomes home to an incredible, large-scale sand sculpture. The amazing artists at Archisand Professional Sand Sculptors are sure to incorporate lots of holiday cheer into their ever-impressive array of sculptures, blending the sunny California coast with the warmth and joy of the holidays—a sight that is well worth the trek.

Location: The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

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Holiday Afternoon Tea

Nov. 26-Dec. 23 | Noon-4 p.m.

Photography Provided By: Montage Laguna Beach

Elevate your brunch game this winter by imbuing it with a little bit of holiday charm, courtesy of the folks at the Montage Resort in the heart of Laguna Beach. Guests who reserve space will receive a world-class spread of savory treats and teas as well as several holiday-themed snacks and sandwiches, making it the perfect outing for those craving a little class to complement the busy holiday season.

Location: Montage Laguna Beach


The Living Desert Zoo WildLights

Nov. 24, 26, 27 and Dec. 3, 4, 10, 11, 17-24, 26-30 | 6-9 p.m.

A sprawling zoo by day and an enchanted winter wonderland by night, WildLights at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is a magical, annual experience where guests can explore the grounds of one of the best zoos in SoCal while basking in a sea of shimmering holiday lights. Featuring nightly shows, the ever popular tunnel of lights and a whole host of exhibits to explore, this event is an excellent escape from the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

Location: The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

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Nason’s Deck the Halls

Nov. 25-Jan. 2 | All Day

For those seeking a frothy craft brew to complement their festivities, Nason’s Beer Hall in sunny San Diego has you covered. Once a year, the rustic charm of this historic spot combines with the most outrageous display of decadent decor to turn Nason’s into a haven for the holidays. With new seasonal brews to sample as well as a wide array of themed cocktails, treats and games to indulge in, Nason’s is sure to bring a healthy dose of holiday cheer to San Diego’s nightlife this season. 

Location: Nason’s Beer Hall at Pendry San Diego


Dream Big Disney On Ice

Dec. 8-12 (Honda Center)
Dec. 16-19 (Staples Center)
Dec. 30-Jan. 2 (Long Beach Arena)

In stunning fashion, Disney On Ice is making its spectacular return to SoCal this holiday season with its timeless, award-winning show: Dream Big. Featuring special appearances from Aladdin, Moana, Anna, Elsa, and several other familiar Disney favorites, this annual showcase is sure to send hearts soaring this holiday season. Grab your tickets now before they sell out!

Locations: Various

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Winterlit on Third Street Promenade

Nov. 28- Dec. 24 | Nightly

@localemag##winterlit festival in ##santamonica on the ##promenade 11/19-12/24 ##hannukah ##christmas ##localemagazine 🎥: by Locale Social Contributor @ramseywild♬ All I Want for Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey

On select nights, the beautiful Third Street Promenade in downtown Santa Monica is home to one of our favorite holiday traditions—Winterlit. Third Street Promenade is transformed to an immersive, festival experience filled with holiday lights.

Location: Santa Monica


Skating by the Sea

Nov. 22-Jan. 2 | Times Vary

Nothing says winter in Southern California quite like ice skating with an ocean view. On select nights at the scenic Hotel Del Coronado, the resort offers the once-in-a-lifetime chance to ice skate mere feet from the sand of one of California’s most iconic coastlines. Whether you’re an expert or an amateur, this SoCal tradition is sure to leave you breathless, simultaneously soaking in the sun and the sheer cheer of the holiday season.

Location: Hotel del Coronado


Pigeon’s Pop-Up Roller Rink

Now-Dec. 31 | Times Vary

Photography Provided By: 2nd & PCH

Looking for something a little more spontaneous? Then head on over to the Pigeon’s Pop-Up Roller Rink in downtown Long Beach. The rink offers classes and party reservations, as well as several holiday-themed events to partake in this season. So lace up your skates and come shred at this roaming attraction.

Location: 2nd & PCH, Long Beach


Snow N Glow Holiday Festival

Dec. 4-Jan. 2 (select nights) | 4-10 p.m.

Starting Dec. 4, the Del Mar Fairgrounds is home to one of SoCal’s most spectacular winter wonderlands. With exciting attractions like a brilliant light display, a massive snow hill where guests can tube and play and a shimmering tunnel of lights for guests to enjoy from the safety of their vehicles, the Snow N Glow Holiday Festival is sure to provide endless holiday fun for the whole family.

Location: Del Mar Fairgrounds


Holidays at Westfield UTC

Photography Provided By: Westfield UTC

Head to La Jolla’s premier shopping destination for some holiday cheer! Westfield UTC is eager to make your season merry and bright with a packed calendar of holiday events. From Photos With Santa (Nov. 18 through Dec. 24) to the center’s Winter Nights celebration taking place on Dec. 3, 4, 10 and 11, from 5-8 p.m., you and your crew are sure to love all of the holiday magic Westfield UTC has in store. And for those in need of some gifts, this one-stop shopping destination does not disappoint with its variety of name-brand stores and local boutiques. Don’t miss out on the center’s Holiday Hub gift wrap station located across from Zara. Here, elves from Rady Children’s Hospital can wrap all your purchases, and on top of it all, the proceeds will benefit the hospital!

Location: La Jolla


Vision Electric Boat Rental

Daily | 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

Photograph Provided By: Vision Electric Boat Rental

If you are looking for some family fun while everyone is in town for the Thanksgiving holiday, we suggest renting a boat from Vision Electric Boat Rental. Not only will you get to rejoice in quality time with your loved ones, you’ll also get to soak up some sunshine while taking in stunning views of Newport Beach. Spend the day on the water while showing off the incredible place you get to call home. 

Vision Electric Boat Rental
3424 Via Oporto
Newport Beach, CA 92663

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Southern California Fall Events

Pasea Hotel & Spa Oceanfront Ice Rink

Nov. 25-Jan. 2 

Only in Huntington Beach are you able to ice skate on the coast. This secluded skating experience is complete with holiday-inspired cocktails, tasty bites and entertaining theme nights (imagine skating at sunset to Mariah Carey’s Christmas album!). If skating isn’t your style, their luxury fire pits make the perfect place to cozy up with a cup of spiked cider. 

Pasea Hotel and Spa
21080 Pacific Coast Hwy
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

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“The Immersive Nutcracker” at Beverly Center

Nov. 26-Dec. 31

Photography Provided By: The Beverly Center

This event is a new family-friendly fairytale experience combining the best in theatre, VR and projection from the producers of the Russian Ballet Theatre. From glittering and magical Christmas trees to the magnificent Kingdom of Sweets, this production is sure to put you in the holiday spirit. The show consists of four different dreamlike rooms and celebrates the legendary holiday tradition by showcasing the beloved ballets and stories from “The Nutcracker.”

Beverly Center
8500 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048


Magic of Lights at Angel Stadium

Nov. 19-Dec. 26 | 5-10 p.m. 

Photography Provided By: Magic of Lights

For the first time ever, Magic of Lights is setting up its sparkling spectacle at Angel Stadium! This dazzling drive-thru experience is a safe way to celebrate the holiday season with the entire family (even animals are welcome). At every turn, the magical route is overflowing with spectacular light displays that bring your favorite holiday themes and characters to life. Note: tickets for this event are only available online.

Angel Stadium
2000 E Gene Autry Way
Anaheim, CA 92806

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Desert Air

Dec. 10-11

Rounding out our list is a unique change of pace from your typical, run-of-the-mill music festival. Situated in the heart of the Mojave desert, Desert Air is a unique electronic music festival that is sure to send hearts racing this December. Featuring a stellar lineup of world-class DJs and artists, this venue, drenched in history and surrounded by iconic aircrafts, is one of the most unique in California, providing a concert experience unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

Location: Palm Springs Air Museum

Southern California Fall Events

Helen J Gallery Exhibit

Nov. 13- Jan. 22

Admire the work of New York-based artist, Sung Won Yun, at her (in)visible traces exhibition. Yun’s series of paintings and drawings is inspired by the various stages of plant growth. From the sprouting of a seed to the flourishing of stems and leaves, this exhibit showcases her ability to interpret personal growth through her illustrations.

Helen J Gallery
929 Cole Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Southern California Fall Events

Palm Springs Drag Brunch

Date: Every Sunday

A drag show with a side of champagne and dim sum? Yes, please! Featuring California’s most glamorous drag queens, this brunch at Roly China Fusion is the ultimate way to spend your Sunday funday!

Location: Palm Springs

Southern California Fall Events

Palm Springs Villagefest

Date: Every Thursday (year-round)

Every Thursday night, Palm Canyon Dr in downtown Palm Springs shuts down and transforms into a lively street fair, complete with vendors, artists, musicians, fresh fruit and flowers!

Location: Palm Springs




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