Photography By: Cecily Breeding
Photography By: Cecily Breeding

Your 101 Guide to Holiday Happenings in Orange County This December

Get in the Spirit With These Holly Jolly OC Holiday Events 

‘Tis the season to be jolly…and to prep for some fun and festive holiday happenings in Orange County! While last year saw some silent nights, OC is pulling out all the stops this year to make up for lost time. So snuggle up in your coziest sweater and get ready for ice skating, a boat parade and other safe and merry winter holiday events that the whole family can enjoy. Happy Holidays! Holiday Events Orange County


Watch a Show, Then Let It Snow

What: Bella Terra Holiday Events

When: Various dates and times depending on the event

Where: Bella Terra, Huntington Beach

Why: Bella Terra isn’t just a shopping destination this holiday season—there’s a calendar full of fun, family-friendly events that’ll get you in the spirit in every way imaginable. Round up the kids to enjoy popular character meet-and-greets with the Grinch and Cindy Loo Who (Nov. 27-28), Skellington and Sally (Dec. 4-5), Buddy the Elf and Jovie (Dec. 11-12) and Holiday Heroes (Dec. 18-19). There will be live music on Fridays and Sundays until Dec. 19 and holiday carolers spreading cheer throughout the center on weekends. Bring your little ones to meet Mrs. Claus and participate in an interactive ballet class on Dec. 1, 8 and 15. And you can’t forget about family photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus!

Bella Terra Holiday Events


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Holiday Events Orange County

Jingle All the Bay

Photograph Provided By: Newport Beach & Co

What: Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

When: Dec. 15-19 (starting at 6:30 p.m.)

Where: Newport Bay, Newport Beach 

Why: Bundle up and head to Newport Harbor for the 113th Boat Parade, where you and your family can watch bedazzled boats float by. Additionally, enjoy the view from the Dine & Watch or the Dine & Walk areas. Don’t miss the fireworks on opening day (Dec. 15 at 6:30 p.m.) and closing day (Dec. 19 at 9 p.m.).

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

Holiday Events Orange County

Vestibule of Lights

What: Night of Lights  

When: Nov. 26-Jan. 2 (select time slots)

Where: OC Fair & Event Center, Costa Mesa

Why: You and your family can enjoy a dazzling display of lights from the safety of your own car. Drive through this enchanting winter wonderland made up of over one million lights, snow flurries, immersive shows, character meet-and-greets and more!

Night of Lights 



Not Naughty, Just Ice

Photography Provided By: Feld Entertainment

What: Dream Big – Disney On Ice

When: Dec. 8-12 (select times)

Where: Honda Center, Anaheim 

Why: What better way to feel the magic of the holiday than by watching a beautiful show by Disney on Ice? The Dream Big performance will feature all your kids’ favorite characters, including Mickey, Minnie, Olaf, Moana, Maui, Miguel and a whole carriage of princesses!

Dream Big – Disney On Ice

Holiday Events Orange County

Snow Much Fun

What: The Annual Oceanfront Ice Rink

When: Nov. 25-Jan. 2 (select times)

Where: Pasea Hotel & Spa, Huntington Beach 

Why: Oh the weather outside’s not frightful, but that ice rink is so delightful! Grab a friend and glide over to Pasea Hotel for the outdoor skating rink and enjoy other holiday treats like hot cocoa, s’mores and holiday movies playing on the big screen. Don’t miss special theme nights!

The Annual Oceanfront Ice Rink


Merry Mission

Photography Provided By: Val Westover Photography

What: Capistrano Lights

When: Dec. 4-30 (holiday programming from 4-6 p.m.)

Where: Mission San Juan Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano  

Why: Join the historic, beautifully illuminated Mission San Juan Capistrano in celebrating the reason for the season with caroling, a Nativity scene, selfies with Santa, kids’ crafts, sweet treats and a tree lighting performance at 5 p.m. The Serra Chapel will also be open after hours.

Capistrano Lights

Holiday Events Orange County

Head to the North Pole

What: Santa’s Village at Irvine Park

When: Open 7 days a week (4-9 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. weekends) 

Where: Irvine Park Railroad, Irvine 

Why: Santa’s Village at Irvine Park doesn’t require a pre-paid ticket to enter, so what are you waiting for? There will be cookie decorating, ice fishing and plenty of other fun activities. 

Irvine Park Railroad

A Whole Latke Fun

What: Chanukah Celebration 

When: Dec. 1 (5-7 p.m.)

Where: Merage Jewish Community Center of Orange County, Irvine

Why: Experience the joy of this holiday by spending it with family and friends at the Merage JCC. The event is open to the community and will feature plenty of delicious food for sale, games, entertainment, prayer and candle lighting! 

Chanukah Celebration

Holiday Events Orange County

Light the Way

What: Christmas Tree Lighting and Menorah Lighting

When: Nov. 19, 2021 – Jan. 1

Where: Fashion Island, Newport Beach 

Why: Take a break from all the holiday shopping and stop by the Neiman Marcus/Bloomingdale’s courtyard to enjoy Fashion Island’s dazzling, 90-foot fir tree that’s bedecked in 10,000 lights. Snap some cute family photos and enjoy the festive sights and smells!

Christmas Tree Lighting



Surf’s up, Santa!

What: Lido House Holiday Cottages 

When: Select dates and times

Where: Lido House, Newport Beach

Why: Spend the night in festive holiday luxury at the Lido House’s Balboa or Collins cottages. This overnight package includes a private two-hour dining experience, two 50-minute spa treatments (a peppermint spice sugar scrub and a yam and pumpkin facial), an exclusive keepsake and a special welcome drink at Topside Roof Deck.

Lido House Holiday Cottages 

Holiday Events Orange County

Holiday De-Light

Photography Provided By: Sherman Library & Gardens

What: Nights of 1,000 Lights 

When: Dec. 10-12 and 16-22 (6-9 p.m.)

Where: Sherman Library & Gardens, Corona del Mar  

Why: Enjoy this holiday season’s highlight at the Sherman Library & Gardens and tour the light tunnel, crystal disco, under-the-sea succulent garden and tropical conservatory. There will also be a gnome village and yummy s’mores, and don’t forget to make a special wish at the Wishing Tree! 

Nights of 1000 Lights


Make a Shopping List, Check It Twice

What: Celebration of Christmas

When: Open now (9 a.m.-6 p.m.)

Where: Roger’s Gardens, Corona del Mar

Why: Wreaths, garlands and ornaments, oh my! Explore new treasures, loads of festive decor and even order a fresh-cut Christmas tree (you can pre-order from Nov. 20 to Dec. 7). Browse whimsical ornaments and other beautiful gifts that will delight everyone on your list.

Celebration of Christmas

Holiday Events Orange County

Coffee, Tea or Evergreen Tree?

What: Holiday Tea

When: Nov. 29-Dec. 16 (2:30-3:30 p.m.)

Where: The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

Why: Pull up a chair to the Ritz’s Holiday Tea, where you can indulge in ocean views, savory canapes, sweet treats and seasonally inspired teas. There are also plenty of other fun holiday events you can enjoy, such as storytime, gingerbread decorating and dining experiences.

Holiday Tea



Harbor Holidays

What: Dana Point Harbor 46th Annual Boat Parade of Lights

When: Dec. 10-12 (10th-11th at 7:30 p.m., 12th at 6 p.m.)

Where: Dana Point Harbor, Dana Point 

Why: The annual festivities return, and this time, it’s with a fun fiesta theme! Gather around the harbor and enjoy watching boats decked out with lights parade around the water. You can also see if your favorite earns a prize!

Dana Point Harbor 46th Annual Boat Parade of Lights


Santa, Bay-by

What: Lighting of the Bay at Newport Dunes

When: Nov. 26-Dec. 31 (5 p.m.)

Where: Newport Bay, Newport Beach  

Why: Head to Newport Bay to watch the nightly lighting of over 40 LED trees and floats drifting on the water. Pour some hot cider in a to-go cup, cozy up with your boo and soak up the holiday spirit.

Lighting of the Bay at Newport Dunes

Writer | Website | + posts

Born and raised near the Pacific Coast, Jordan Nishkian is a California girl through and through. She graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a BA in Creative Writing and a BA in Anthropology, and her favorite place to be is curled up in a comfy chair with a book in her hand and a pen in her hair.


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