31 Christmas and holiday things to do in Southern California
- 01 December, 2017
- By Admin: Debbie West
- Comments: 00
Dust off your jingle bells and get ready for the parades, light displays and holiday happenings that only appear this time of the year.
We picked some of the biggest and best attractions and events in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties worth checking out whether you have out-of-towners coming to visit or need an idea to get the kids out of the house.
Our list is organized by county and then by date, starting with attractions that are already open for the season.
We know this is only scratching the surface on the dozens of holiday happenings in Southern California. Want more ideas? We can help!
Los Angeles County
1. Holiday in the Park: Six Flags Magic Mountain celebrates with tasty treats and family entertainment featuring Santa Claus and snow. 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, Sunday, Dec. 3, Saturday, Dec. 9, Sunday, Dec. 10, Saturday, Dec. 16 through Sunday, Dec. 24, Tuesday, Dec. 26 through Sunday, Dec. 31. 26101 Magic Mountain Parkway, Valencia. $59.99-$84.99. 661-255-4100 or sixflags.com.
2. Enchanted: Forest of Light: Descanso Gardens’ annual event has 10 new and returning displays that combine colorful light displays, sculptural installations and the Gardens’ own natural beauty.5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily through Jan. 7 (closed Dec. 4, 11, 24 and 25). 1418 Descanso Drive, La Canada Flintridge. $28-$30 for timed tickets and $23-$25 for members.enchantedla.com.
3. Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Universal Studios Hollywood has an all-new light projection spectacular, The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle. It’s also your chance to sip hot Butterbeer and buy the newest gear for the Harry Potter fans in your life. Hours vary; Open daily through Sunday, Jan. 7. 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City. $99-$116 one-day general admission; $179-$269 front-of-line passes + general admission; $129-$159 two-day general admission; VIP Experience starts at $329 per person. UniversalStudiosHollywood.com.
4. L.A. Zoo Lights: View holiday displays made up of thousands of LED lights, flurries of illuminated snowflakes, 3-D animation, glittering light tunnels and more at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. There’s also a special happy hour night on Dec. 7 and 14. 6-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 6-11 p.m. Friday-Sunday through Jan. 8. 5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles. $11-$18 (prices vary by day). 323-644-4200 or lazoo.org.
5. “The Nutcracker” by Miami City Ballet: The Music Center brings a world premiere production of George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker” to the stage after five years without this holiday tradition. Performances will feature a live orchestra and student dancers from both the Colburn School and The Gabriella Foundation’s “everybody dance!” program, along with live choral music from the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus. Various times Dec. 7-10. The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. $34-$160. musiccenter.org.
6. Hanukkah Festival: LA/LA: The Skirball Cultural Center will celebrate Hanukkah as well as the massive Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA project by focusing a celebration that looks at the “themes of Hanukkah through the traditions of Los Angeles’s rich and diverse Latin American communities,” according to the Skirball’s website. There will be music, dancing, art, storytelling and more. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 10. 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. $12 for adults; $9 for seniors, full-time students and children older than 12; $7 for kids 2-12. 310-440-4500 or www.skirball.org.
7. Chill: The annual event at the Queen Mary in Long Beach is getting a makeover this year. The 38,000-square-foot outdoor ice park that will include ice skating, ice sports, ice bars, world travel and a spectacular light show. Dec. 13 – Jan. 7. 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach. $29.99 for adults, $19.99 for kids ages 4-11. queenmary.com.
8. Chanukah at City Walk: Chabad of the Valley always throws a big shindig for Hanukkah at Universal CityWalk. This year is the 16th for the popular annual event and the free concert will feature Yoni Z, Kol Esperanza and Yehuda Glanz. 6-9 p.m. Dec. 17. 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City. Free. facebook.com/ChanukahCityWALK.
9. Knott’s Merry Farm: Knott’s Berry Farm transforms into a wintery scene with thousands of twinkling lights and holiday decorations throughout the park. There will be live entertainment, a Christmas crafts fair, carolers and nightly snowfall on the streets of Calico. There’s special food for the holidays and the popular milk and cookie shake is back. Through Jan.7. 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park. $45-$75. 714-220-5200 or knotts.com.
10. Disneyland Resort: Disneyland will will have A Christmas Fantasy Parade, Haunted Mansion Holiday, Santa’s Holiday Visit and the “Believe in Holiday Magic” fireworks show among other holiday attractions. See prancing reindeer, marching toy soldiers, dancing gingerbread cookies and more. One thing you won’t see this year is the Jingle Cruise. Disney California Adventure has the Festival of Holidays, with food from around the world. Through Jan. 7. 1313 Disneyland Drive, Anaheim. 714-781-4565 or disneyland.disney.go.
11. Dana Point Harbor Boat Parade: At the 43rd annual Boat Parade of Lights, guests are invited to meet Santa and enjoy festive crafts and holiday games. Dec. 8-9 and 15-16. 34555 Street of the Golden Lantern, Dana Point. Free. 949-923-2255 or danapointharbor.com.
12. Hooray for Chanukah: Pretend City Children’s Museum in Irvine has a full schedule of art, music, stories and more for the little ones. Among the highlights are a menorah handprint craft on Dec. 14 and a Gelt scavenger hunt on Dec. 16. 3:30 p.m. daily Dec. 12-20. 29 Hubble, Irvine. $12.50. 949-428-3900 or pretendcity.org.
13. Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade: Hundreds of decorated boats will sail around Bay Island and Newport Harbor during the 107th annual event. The parade runs nightly Dec. 13-17. 6:30-9 p.m. 303 Palm St., Newport Beach. Free. 949-675-0551 orchristmasparadeboats.com.
14. Winter Fest OC: Activities include outdoor ice skating, ice tubing down Snowflake Summit, a snow play area, snow flurries, fireworks and a Santa fly-in. The Festival of Lights stroll-through display and a nightly tree lighting ceremony with parade are highlights of the fest. Dec. 21-Jan. 7. OC Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa. Tickets start at $10. 949-438-1104 or winterfestoc.com.
15. Celebrate the Holidays with Seth MacFarlane: Academy Award-nominated and Grammy-nominated writer, singer, actor, producer and director Seth MacFarlane makes his Orange County debut performing holiday classics. Dec. 22-23. 8 p.m. 615 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. Tickets start at $45. 714-755-5788 or pacificsymphony.org.
16. Festival of Lights: An extravagant display of millions of lights at the Mission Inn is the centerpiece of this celebration with live entertainment, visits with Santa, horse-drawn carriage rides and an art market. And seriously, here’s everything you need to know about the 2017 Festival of Lights. Through Jan. 6. Main Street and Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside. Free. 951-784-0300 or riversideca.gov/fol.
17. Christmas at the Ranch: This event, at equestrian area Galway Downs just outside of Temecula, has an ice skating rink and other activities on tap, including movie nights and photos with Santa. Through Jan. 7. Price varies on activities. 951-401-0901 or christmasontheranch.com.
18. Holiday Traditions at Tom’s Farms: The only time you can ride the train at night at this Corona area spot is during the holiday season. According to Tom’s Farms, there are more than a million lights up around the property. Night rides happen beginning at 5:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday through Dec. 15 and then become daily through Dec. 23. The lights don’t go on if it’s raining. Santa also visits on weekends from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and then he is there daily from Dec. 16-23. 23900 Temescal Canyon Road, Corona. Train tickets are $3 for children and $4 for adults. 951-277-4422 or tomsfarms.com.
19. Temecula on Ice: This ice skating rink in front of the Temecula Civic Center has its own radio station playing music to glide by. 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, and 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec.15-Jan. 8. 41000 Main St., Temecula. $10 entry; $6 skate rental. temeculaca.gov.
20. “David Allan’s Nutcracker”: A Riverside holiday tradition, the show features students of Riverside Ballet Arts as well as Boston Ballet soloists Roddy Doble and Dalay Parrondo. 1 and 7 p.m. Dec 16-17. Landis Performing Arts Center, 4800 Magnolia Ave., Riverside. $18-$40. brava-arts.org/riverside-nutcracker.
21. Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas Rocks!: The former Stray Cats frontman gives his back catalog and holiday classics the big band treatment with tour stops at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio and Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula. Friday, Dec. 22, Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84-245 Indio Springs Drive, Indio. $39-$69. 760-342-5000, fantasyspringsresort.com. 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 23, Pechanga Resort & Casino, 45000 Pechanga Parkway, Temecula. $69.50-99.50. 877-711-2946 or pechanga.com. Setzer also stops at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Dec. 16. 8 p.m.
San Bernardino County
22. Magic of Lights: Plenty of people drive around to see Christmas lights, but you can drive through the lights at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. The 1.5 mile-long course has 400 light displays. Driving through the installation takes 20-30 minutes. 5:30-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 5:30-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday through Dec. 31. Auto Club Speedway, 9300 Cherry Ave., Fontana. $20 per car advance purchase; $25 at the gate; Dash Pass for front of line, $40 in advance, $45 at the gate; $40-$45 for RVs, buses and limos. 800-944-7223,magicoflights.com, autoclubspeedway.com.
23. SkyPark at Santa’s Village: The beloved revival of Santa’s Village opened last year and has expanded for 2017. The ice skating rink is back at the 153-acre park. Among the new things are a kids’ play area, a climbing tower and a zipline. Daily through Jan. 7. 28950 Highway 18, Skyforest. Tickets are $65 at the gate and $59 online. Cost for children 4-13 is $10 less. Parking is $10. skyparksantasvillage.com.
24. Christmas on Euclid: A dozen nativity scenes depicting the life of Jesus are among the highlights at the Ontario attraction. The tree lighting will happen Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 has a bunch of family activities, including carriage rides. Throughout the month there are events, music, activities and more, including a menorah parade on Dec. 14. The nativity scenes are on display until Jan. 2. Euclid Avenue, from B Street through F Street, Ontario. Free. christmasoneuclid.com.
25. Feast of Lights: For 70 years, the University of Redlands has held this service that tells the story of the birth of Jesus. The performance includes spoken word, tableaux and music, with every service ending with the Ceremony of Candles. 8 p.m. Dec. 1, 2 and 4, and 4 p.m. Dec. 3. University of Redlands’ Memorial Chapel, 1200 E. Colton Ave., Redlands. $10-$25. www.redlands.edu/events/feastoflights.
26. Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Rock operas meet yuletide greetings when the annual tour returns to Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario. 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2. 4000 E. Ontario Center Parkway, Ontario. $35-75. 909-244-5500 or cbbankarena.com.
27. Inland Pacific Ballet: More than 80 dancers from Inland Pacific Ballet’s professional company and affiliated academy will bring “The Nutcracker” story to life in Claremont, Rancho Cucamonga and Riverside. The production includes a growing Christmas tree, snowfall, a real sleigh and a 40-foot dragon. 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9, 16 and 23, 2 p.m. Dec. 10 and 17, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 and 22. Bridges Auditorium, 450. N. College Way, Claremont (Dec. 9-10); 12505 Cultural Center Drive, Rancho Cucamonga (Dec. 15-17); Fox Performing Arts Center, 3801 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside (Dec. 22-23). $23-$59. ipballet.org.
San Diego County
28. Global Winter Wonderland: San Diego hosts this multicultural holiday festival with traditional illuminated Chinese lanterns, live acrobatic performances, rides, carnival games, international cuisine and more. $19-$49. SDCCU Stadium, 9449 Friars Road. 4:30-10 p.m. Through Jan. 7. globalwonderland.com.
29. Holidays at Legoland: The Carlsbad amusement park has a 30-foot tall Christmas tree made out of more than 245,000 green Duplo bricks, and has more than 400 Lego ornaments and 11,000-plus lights. There’s also a Lego Friends holiday show, snow, music and Lego Santa, among other attractions. Activities are included with regular admission. Daily through Jan. 1. 1 Legoland Drive, Carlsbad. $95 for adults; $85 for kids 12 and younger. legoland.com/california/.
30. SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration: There’s plenty of music, food and a new nativity show, “O Wondrous Night.” You can also meet Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and friends and see Santa Claus. Regular park admission includes the holiday attractions. Through Jan. 6. 500 Sea World Drive, San Diego. $69.99 online in advance; $89.99 at the gate. seaworld.com.
31. Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo: See animal light sculptures, watch performances from elves on trampolines and jazzy carol singers and eat festive foods at this popular event. Regular zoo admission or a membership gets you into most of the Jungle Bells events and activities. Daily Dec. 8-Jan. 1, but not on Dec. 24. $52 for everyone older than 12; $42 for kids 3-11. 2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego. zoo.sandiegozoo.org/junglebells