For families living in, or traveling to, Orange County, California, there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate the holiday season. From festive lights, falling “snow,” and Christmas carols to gingerbread houses and visits from Santa, kids and adults will be delighted to make the season bright with these family-friendly holiday activities.
- Sawdust Art Festival Winter Fantasy: Laguna Beach’s popular Sawdust Festival takes on a winter theme with falling snow (bubbles), a decorative sleigh (perfect for holiday card photos!), Christmas art activities, a petting zoo, and Santa. With 175 artists’ booths selling items such as jewelry, ceramics and handblown glass, it’s the perfect place to buy gifts for friends and family. Weekends: November 21 to December 20, 2015; 10 am-6 pm. Admission: Adults $8.50; Seniors $7; Kids (6-12) $4
- The Nutcracker at Segerstrom Center for the Arts: The American Ballet Theatre’s performance of this classic Christmas ballet includes more than 100 dancers who tell the story of Clara and her love for the Nutcracker. Segerstrom Hall in Costa Mesa. Dec. 15-20. Afternoon and evening performances. Tickets start at $29.
- Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade: Hosted by the Commodores Club of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce, parade watchers will line the harbor to get a glimpse at the multi-million dollar yachts adorned with spectacular holiday lights, animated decorations, and festive music as they glide along a 14-mile route. Be sure to bundle up as the nights can get chilly. December 16-20, 2015. The parade starts off Bay Island at 6:30 pm and finishes at the same site at approximately 9:00 pm each evening.
- Gingerbread Spectacular at Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel: This year’s gingerbread “village” takes its cues from Star Wars. The holiday “Star-Cation” is a must-see. Executive Pastry Chef Daniel Dominguez, Assistant Pastry Chef Theresa Ebilane and their talented team of pastry droids boldly went where no pastry has gone before, showcasing Santa and his merry elves celebrating the season in a faraway galaxy. This cosmic creation took the team more than 1,500 hours with 15 pastry chefs working 6 days a week for a month and a half. They used 20 pounds of gingerbread, 120 pounds of powdered sugar, 60 pounds of assorted candy and confections and 70 pounds of assorted cereal and crackers. The “sand” is made with 50 pounds of graham cracker crumbs, 25 pounds of brown sugar and 3 pounds of pumpkin pie spice.On Display through January 4, 2016. Free admission.
- Winter Fest: Located at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, this winter wonderland if filled with a variety of attractions, such as ice tubing, carnival rides, reindeer feeding, ice skating, arts and crafts at the North Pole, and more. Dec. 18-Jan. 3, 11 am-10 pm. Admission: Adults $22.75; Kids (4-11) $12.25.
- A Snow White Christmas at Laguna Beach Playhouse: This interactive family musical stars Sirtis (Deanna Troi in “Star Trek”), Lindsay Pearce (Harmony on TV’s “Glee”), and a pre-filmed appearance by TV and film star Neil Patrick Harris as the Magic Mirror. December 2 – 27, 2015. Showtimes: 2 pm and 7:30 pm. Tickets: $20-$60.
- Ice Skating at Irvine Spectrum Center: The “OC Chill” outdoor ice skating rink at this popular shopping center is a fun way to celebrate winter and break up the holiday shopping excursion. Open through Feb. 15, 2016. Hours vary. Admission: Adults/Children $19, includes skate rental/ $15, bring your own skates.
- Nutcracker Tea Holiday Party at The Resort at Pelican Hill: Located in Newport Beach, this luxury resort welcomes families to a holiday tea party in the ballroom. Guests will dine on tea sandwiches, pastries and scones featuring while ballet dancers perform scenes from the Nutcracker. Adult supervision required. Sunday, December 20 at Noon. $90 per adult, $45 per child.
- Gingerbread House Academy at St. Regis Monarch Beach: Families will enjoy bonding over this gingerbread decorating class. Saturdays and Sundays throughout December. 10 am-12 pm and 1-3 pm. $85 per house, up to four people.
- Holiday Time at Disneyland: Celebrate the holidays with Mickey and his friends as Disneyland is transformed into a magical winter kingdom with “snow” falling on Main Street, a Christmas Fantasy Parade, “icicles” lighting up the Castle, a Nightmare Before Christmas in the Haunted Mansion, the Disneyland characters dressed in their holiday best, and more. Through Jan. 6. Admission: 10 and up: $99; 3-9 years: $93.
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