Christmas Events in Orange County 2020

Christmas Events in Orange County 2020

It’s a tradition to make this guide to Christmas in OC as a gift to all of my readers! Even though we are facing a health crisis, there are still ways to enjoy the holiday season safely. All of the events on this list are family-friendly Christmas Events in the OC and Southern California. So mark your calendars with your top choices, and get ready to make this holiday season, one that your family will always remember!

( Check back! More events will be added as they’re announced. Have an event you would like to include? Please email jillparkin {at}

Holiday Light Displays in the OC

List of Over 60 Christmas Light Displays in Orange County
• Nellie Gail Road in Laguna Hills
• Candy Cane Lane | El Corzo Street in Rancho Santa Margarita
• Birch Street in Brea
• Belquest Drive in Lake Forest

Capistrano Lights
December 3, 2020 – January 3, 2021 |  5:30 – 9:00pm  |  San Juan Capistrano Mission
Nightly tree lighting in the Ruins of the Great Stone Church on select evenings. Enjoy the Mission in lights, say a prayer or make a wish for peace and goodwill and sing along with the cheerful songs of the 30-foot Christmas tree. The Front Courtyard features a 10-foot wreath, perfect for a holiday photo op. Stroll through the Mission grounds and enjoy seeing our community Christmas trees, festively lit and themed for the occasion. Face masks and social distancing will be required and enforced.

Outlets of San Clemente World’s Tallest Tree
November 7, 2020 – January 4, 2021  |  Outlets of San Clemente
Celebrate the holiday season at Outlets at San Clemente with a photo under the World’s TALLEST fresh-cut Christmas tree…all the way from Mt. Shasta at 125ft tall!. FREE

Holidays at Fashion Island
November 20, 2020 – January 1, 2020 | Fashion Island Newport Beach
Beginning Friday, November 20, you are invited to take in the sights and smells of our signature live 90-ft fir tree and, of course, take photos! Keep an eye out for NEW Santa & Friends photo experiences throughout Fashion Island to take fun photos with our augmented reality holiday characters, activated by QR codes.

Holiday Photo Stations
In addition to multiple holiday photo stations placed throughout Fashion Island, bring your family to the Christmas tree in the Neiman Marcus – Bloomingdale’s Courtyard for complimentary photos. A digital copy of the photo will be emailed to you. 

Virtual Santa Experience Delight your children and family with a personal virtual visit from Santa Claus! It’s safe, convenient, and fun. Connect with Santa via a video call for only $25. Reservations required.

Holidays at the Irvine Spectrum Center
November 27 – December 24, 2020 | Irvine Spectrum Center
Irvine Spectrum Center’s beautifully-decorated 75-foot tree in Giant Wheel Court will come to life at night with a choreographed light show every 30 minutes in the evening.

Keep an eye out for NEW Santa & Friends photo experiences throughout Irvine Spectrum Center to take fun photos with our augmented reality holiday characters, activated by QR codes. Locations include Regal Court, Giant Wheel Court, and Apple Court. In addition to multiple holiday photo stations placed throughout Irvine Spectrum Center, bring your family to the holiday tree in Giant Wheel Court and the lighted ornaments near Regal Theatres for complimentary photos Nov. 27-29 (4pm – 9pm), Dec. 4-6, 11-13, 18-19 (4pm – 9pm), Dec. 20-23 (3pm – 8pm), and Dec. 24 (2pm – 6pm). A digital copy of the photo will be emailed to you.

Candy Cane Challenge Calling all scavenger hunt enthusiasts! Can you find all the candy canes at Irvine Spectrum Center? Grab a participation card from Guest Services, complete the quest, then get a sweet reward and be entered for a chance to win a prize!

Holidays at Kaleidoscope
December 2020 | Kaleidoscope, Mission Viejo
Will be announced soon

November 27, 2020 – January 10, 2021  | Tanaka Famrs
Join us for a celebration filled with joy and light! Literally translated, Hikari means shine in Japanese, and this holiday season we have really made Tanaka Farms shine with over a mile of twinkling lights! As you drive through our 30-acre farm, you will be dazzled by farm-themed lighting from trees, to scarecrows, tractors…even our sugarcane got the holiday light treatment! Plus, every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we have a very special visit from Santa, himself!

Newport Dunes Lighting of the Bay 
November 27, 2020 – January 1, 2021  |  Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort
Join us in celebrating Newport Dune’s 30th annual Lighting of the Bay. Stroll the bay and savor the sights and sounds of the holidays. The Back Bay will glow from sunset to sunup with festive floating holiday lights. On Friday and Saturday nights, cocktails and food will be available from Moe B’s Munchies beachfront grill for family picnics. Roast s’mores around the fire as you experience the bay aglow and immerse yourself with the holiday spirit. Masks are required when physical distancing is not possible and for the ordering of food or entering any indoor spaces such as our market or restrooms. Due to COVID-19, we will not be able to host an opening celebration. FREE

Holiday Events at Bella Terra
November 20 – December 24  |  Bella Terra, Huntington Beach
Santa & Mrs. Claus will be dropping by Bella Terra on their sleigh to take social distanced photos with all the children. Drop off your letters for Santa in Santa’s Mailbox at Bella Terra and Santa & Mrs. Claus will read your letters live on Facebook the following Tuesday from 6-7pm. On select dates, classic Christmas Carolers or our favorite Holiday Characters will be roaming throughout Bella Terra and spreading holiday cheer.

Magical Snowfall – Every half and hour from November 27 – December 24 it will magically snow in 3 different locations throughout Bella Terra.

Holiday Music – Enjoy live holiday music on the Green every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night from 6:30 – 9:30 PM and Saturday and Sunday from 12 – 3 PM.

Hot Cocoa & Carols with Peet’s – On select dates, enjoy hot cocoa from Peet’s Coffee and listen to your favorite Holiday carols on the Green.

Holidays at South Coast Plaza
November 14 – December 24, 2020 |  South Coast Plaza
Celebrate the joys of the holiday season with us. From great gift ideas to memorable visits with Santa, it’s the most wonderful time of the year at South Coast Plaza.  

Pavilion of Holiday Trees – Experience a one-of-a-kind exhibit at South Coast Plaza this holiday season. Features over 35 beautifully decorated trees on view November 14-December 4. Specialty trees include those decorated by the American Dance Movement, American Friends of the Louvre, Lang Lang International Music Foundation, Mariinksy Theatre and PBS SoCal. The trees are available for purchase through an online auction to benefit Southern California, national and global arts organizations. The Pavilion of Holiday Trees exhibit is free and open to the public during shopping center hours. Park near the North parking structure and follows signs toward The Pavilion.

Santa’s Outdoor Wonderland – Join Santa at a safe distance for professional photos in the South Coast Plaza West Parking Structure. Although the holidays are different this year, Santa’s Outdoor Wonderland retains the spirit of the season with a rustic winter forest setting. Photos with Santa are by available on a first-come, first-served in person appointments. Text messaging will alert when your appointment time is ready. Appointments cannot be made in advance or over the phone. Photos with Santa are available weather permitting so please check our website for updates. Social distancing guidelines will be followed.

Around the World with Santa – Head over to South Coast Plaza Carousel Court and wave to Santa — seated on his sleigh behind protective glass — and delight in imaginative images of children and landmarks from around the globe that are sure to put you in the holiday spirit

Holidays at the Harbor
November 11, 2020 – January 3, 2021 | Dana Point Harbor
Dana Point Harbor Partners is spreading seasonal cheer with the annual holiday light display that will illuminate the Harbor. Each night throughout the holiday season, the Harbor’s magnificent light display will illuminate the evening sky for guests of all ages to enjoy. Themed light exhibits throughout the Harbor will include Candy Cane Lane, a “Merry Kiss Me” arch, lighted trees, and much more.

Holidayz at the Great Park
November 21, 2020 – January 3, 2021 | Orange County Great Park
‘Tis the season for family fun and holiday cheer at the Orange County Great Park, where the park will be transformed into a winterscape featuring holiday-themed art, music, and lights. Take a stroll through the Palm Court and visit Air Santa, our larger-than-life modern take on Santa’s transportation as he prepares to depart with his load of gifts and toys. Browse the Palm Court, Artist Studios, and Hangar 244 promenade for interactive displays, festive photo backdrops, and the best selfie stations you’ll find this season!

Holiday Art on a Sock – Create a stocking to hang by the chimney with care, as a local artist provides a step-by-step lesson to paint a fun and festive design. Class fee of $50 is per participant and includes supplies. Registration is required by 3 p.m. December 2.

Gingerbread House Decorating Workshop – Parent and child can decorate a gingerbread house together while receiving fun tips from staff. All decorations and supplies are provided, so you can enjoy this sweet traditional activity without any of the fuss and mess of cleanup yourself! Class fee of $55 is for one parent and child, and includes supplies for one gingerbread house. Space is limited and this class will fill, so register early.

Night of Lights
December 3, 2020 – January 3, 2021 |  OC Fair & Event Center
A magical interactive drive through a winter wonderland of lights. This one mile drive will include over one million lights, including animated lights to music, Christmas tree lighting spectacular, plus a winter wonderland drive-thru.

Holidays at the Ritz-Carlton
November 21 & 22, 2020 |  4 – 6 pm  |  Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel
Two social distanced Open House and Tree Lighting Ceremonies will take place with KTLA Channel 5 Host Wendy Burch as the MC. Festivities include holiday music, a special appearance from Santa Claus, hot cocoa, and light the spectacular 40-foot tree on the front drive. Donations of new toys, non-perishable food items, children’s books, and dog treats and toys will be collected for Miracles for Kids, Orange County Rescue Mission, and local dog shelters. Advance reservations required, limited capacity.

Sand-sational Extravaganza – on November 21, the Ritz-Carlton will unveil of a new large-scale sand sculpture and sand vignettes in the lobby. This year’s theme highlights ocean inspirations, local surf culture, and our community partners including Surfers Healing and Canine Companions for Independence.  

Holiday Storytelling – on December 4, 5, 11, 12 at 5pm, Children and families are invited to enjoy a selection of holiday storytelling. Donations of new children’s books will be collected for Miracles for Kids. Limited capacity and complimentary to attend.

Gingerbread House and Holiday Cookie Decorating – On December 6 & 13, Gather with the family to decorate your very own large-scale gingerbread house and holiday cookies with tips and tricks provided by the resort’s expert pastry team. Complimentary hot cocoa served and other beverages available for purchase. Reserve your space by calling resort services at 949.240.2000.

Holidays at MainPlace Mall
November 24 – December 24, 2020 | MainPlace Mall
Announcement coming soon!!!!

Elf on a Shelf Magical Holiday Journey
November 12, 2020 – January 3, 2021 | Pomona Fairplex
Get ready for an all-new, one-of-a-kind immersive experience with The Elf on the Shelf’s Magical Holiday Journey, all from the safety of your own car! This year Christmas Spirit is running low, so during test flights Santa’s sleigh had to make an emergency landing at Fairplex in Pomona. Now the Scout Elves have assembled there, and they need your help! Join them on a drive-thru quest to build more Christmas Spirit, as you and your elf-loving crew magically shrink down to elf size and embark on a fun expedition to help repair Santa’s sleigh. Enjoy a dazzling light spectacle with toy-repair workshops, gingerbread villages, and all the sights and sounds of the holidays, blended with a touch of high-spirited fun that only Santa’s favorite Scout Elves can deliver. Assemble your family and friends and help save Christmas at The Elf on the Shelf’s Magical Holiday Journey!

Tree Lighting Ceremonies in Orange County

Dana Point Winter Festival and Tree Lighting
December 5, 2020  |  12:00 – 5:30pm  |  La Plaza, Dana Point
This annual event features Santa, entertainment, an artisan craft fair, sledding with real snow, carolers and food trucks! The tree lighting takes place at 5:15 pm with free hot chocolate and cookies.

Pines Park Tree Lighting
December 7, 2020  |  3 – 5:00pm  | Pines Park, Dana Point
This annual event features Santa, entertainment, an artisan craft fair, sledding with real snow, carolers and food trucks! The tree lighting takes place at 5:00 pm with free hot chocolate and cookies.

Brea Tree Lighting
December 3, 2020  |  6:30pm  |  Brea Civic & Cultural Center
Light up the holiday at the City of Brea’s annual tree lighting celebration. Live music and entertainment will put everyone in the holiday spirit. Watch the holiday tree light up the evening and see children’s eyes sparkle when Mr. and Mrs.Claus drop in for a visit. Pictures with Santa are available for a fee. Cookies and hot chocolate will be served. FREE

Buena Park Tree Lighting
December 4, 2020  |  5 – 8pm  |  Buena Park City Hall
Gather around the tree at this free event to enjoy the sights and sounds of holiday cheer. Tree lighting, music, and photo opportunities! Santa will make his grand entrance on an Orange County Fire Authority truck. In honor of this season of giving, the event is also host to a Toy Drive benefiting local charities. We encourage attendees to bring a new, unwrapped gift for children. FREE

Orange Tree Lighting Ceremony and Candlelight Procession VIRTUAL
December 6, 2020  |  5pm  |  Online
Due to State Health Guidelines we will be unable to gather for our traditional fall events this year. Please join us at 5pm on Sunday, December 6 as we present our virtual tree lighting ceremony on the city of orange website and across our social media platforms including facebook, nextdoor, youtube, instagram, and twitter. FREE

La Palma Tree Lighting VIRTUAL
December 10, 2020  |  6pm  | Online
Watch with your friends and family this annual holiday favorite, this year, brought to you virtually. Details coming soon. FREE

Ladera Ranch Tree Lighting
December TBD  |  5:00 – 8:30 p.m.  |  Town Green, Ladera Ranch
Christmas Tree Lighting & Santa at the Town Green, corner of Sienna Parkway & Mercantile Way (details to be announced closer to the event). FREE

Laguna Niguel Christmas Tree Lighting VIRTUAL
December 4, 2020  |  6pm  |  Online
A Celebrate the holidays with a virtual tree lighting event! Experience holiday magic from the comfort of your own home by joining City Council as they light the City’s Christmas tree. Head to the City of Laguna Niguel’s Facebook page @CityofLagunaNiguel to watch all the holiday cheer LIVE beginning at 6pm. FREE

Drive-by Christmas Tree Celebration Laguna Niguel
December 5, 2020  |  6 – 9pm  |  Laguna Niguel City Hall
Come take a scenic drive through our holiday wonderland! This year’s celebration will feature multiple displays that illuminate the holiday spirit, as you drive through sprinkling snow flakes and listen to the sounds of the season! There will be special guest appearances featuring Santa and his friends! Cars may begin to line-up at 5:45pm and the last car to go through will be at 9pm. FREE

South Coast Plaza Tree Lighting Ceremony VIRTUAL
November 21, 2020  | 6:30pm  |  Town Center, Costa Mesa
South Coast Plaza’s annual tree-lighting will be a virtual event for its 39th year, hosted by Misty Copeland, Principal Dancer of the American Ballet Theatre. The virtual show will feature performances by the Orange County School of the Arts and a special visit from Santa. FREE

Drive-in Movie on the Meadows | Santa Clause 3
December 4, 2020  |  5pm | Vista Hermosa Sports Park, San Clemente
The City of San Clemente is bringing SANTA CLAUSE 3 to the meadows at Vista Hermosa Sports Park! Register your vehicle, for only $15. Each parking spot will be marked in advance with have 6ft of distance on both sides. Listen through your radio with an FM transmitter. Restrooms will be provided with continuous cleaning and monitoring. Registration Required.

Drive-in Movie on the Meadows | The Grinch
December 18, 2020  |  5pm | Vista Hermosa Sports Park, San Clemente
The City of San Clemente is bringing THE GRINCH to the meadows at Vista Hermosa Sports Park! Register your vehicle, for only $15. Each parking spot will be marked in advance with have 6ft of distance on both sides. Listen through your radio with an FM transmitter. Restrooms will be provided with continuous cleaning and monitoring. Registration Required.

Winter in the Grove
December 5, 2020  | 5 – 9pm  | Village Green Park, Garden Grove
Load up the family car and come drive through out winter wonderland, complete with festive, holiday scenes, exotic cars, and enjoy treats and activities courtesy of local community groups! Kettle corn and other snacks will be available for purchase along the route, with your drive ending in a unique photo opportunity from the safety of your car with our holiday tree and Santa Claus.

Christmas at Franklin’s Escape Room
December 1 – February 1, 2020 | 10:00am – 10:00pm | Escape Room Era, Anaheim
Adrenaline courses through you as you have one hour to uncover clues, solve riddles and puzzles, and find the greatest toy ever invented to save Christmas for all the boys and girls in the world! You are immersed in Christmas at Franklin’s, one of the escape rooms of Escape Room Era, testing your wits, creativity, speed, and teamwork. Whether your team consists of coworkers, family, friends, or schoolmates, you’ll be bonded by your memorable experience at Escape Room Era.

Corona Del Mar Christmas Walk
Month of December |  Corona Del Mar Business District
The 2020 Christmas Walk has been “REIMAGINED” and will be celebrating and promoting the CdM village businesses for the entire month of December with various holiday promotions, activities, and contests for the entire community to enjoy! Festivitiees include Corona del Mar merchant promotions throughout the CdM Business District. A Holiday Lighting & Decor Contest featuring CdM businesses and Judged by Peoples Choice. Pop-up live entertainment featuring holiday music & local art displays, and tree lighting ceremony. FREE

Candy Caneland
December 5, 2020  |  11 am – 3pm | Ehlers Event Center, Buena Park
Get into the holiday spirit and join us for a Christmas drive-thru experience complete with holiday scenes and music. Kids will get a special wave from Santa and a treat! Reservations are required. FREE

Letters to Santa Laguna Niguel
November 14 – December 11, 2020  |  Laguna Niguel
Would you like to receive a letter from Santa? Santa has asked us to help him by collecting letters in our “North Pole” mailbox located in front of Crown Valley Community Center. The mailbox will be available from Saturday, November 14 through Friday, December 11. Santa will be able to write one return letter per family at one address in Laguna Niguel or write to children who include a self-addressed stamped envelope. FREE

Gnome Around Town
November 30 – December 18, 2020  |  Laguna Niguel
Follow our friendly holiday gnome on Instagram @CityofLagunaNiguel as he adventures throughout the City through the month of December! As he visits our local parks, restaurants, and businesses, follow him on his adventures, and guess where he is for a chance to win a prize! FREE

Where to Get Santa Photos or Christmas Photos in Orange County

Santa Claus is Coming to Pretend City
December 9, 12, 15 & 18, 2020  |  9:30am  |  Pretend City Children’s Museum
Santa Claus is coming to town! More specifically though Pretend City! Meet jolly ‘ol Saint Nick, tell him your holiday wishes, and pose for a photo! You don’t want to miss out on this exclusive holiday happening at our museum! Don’t forget to bring a camera!

Christmas Family Photos in Laguna Niguel
December 6 – 8, 2020  |  5 – 8pm  |  Laguna Niguel City Hall
This holiday season, we are offering the opportunity for you and your family to take photos by our beautifully decorated Christmas tree located at City Hall. Reservations required. 10-minute time slots will be available between 5-8pm to take photos in front of three holiday scenes. Please register your family, including your furry friends. Registration will be available starting Tuesday, December 1 at 9am. 8 persons max per group. One time slot per family.

• Fashion Island Santa Hours.
• MainPlace Mall Santa Hours
• Brea Mall Santa Hours
• The Shops at Mission Viejo Santa Hours
• Irvine Spectrum Santa Hours

Pet Photos with Santa in Orange County

Santa Paws Photos
December 4 & 5, 2020  | 10am – 3pm | Dana Point Harbor
Pet Project Foundation will host the 9th Annual Santa Paws. The cost is only $15 for a picture. Start a family tradition with these keepsake photos of your beloved pets. All proceeds benefit the homeless animals at the San Clemente – Dana Point Animal Shelter.

Home For the Holidays Pet Adoption Event
December 1 – 15, 2020 | Irvine Animal Care Center
This year, the 14th annual Home for the Holidays Pet Adoption Fair is going digital! While we can’t gather in person, we can still come together to help animals from all over find new adoptive homes. Join the Irvine Animal Care Center online and on social media to find your newest furry family member this holiday season. You can also learn about other participating shelters and rescue groups with available animals for adoption, and how to support pet-related vendors the center’s life-saving programs. 

Amusement Park Christmas Events in Orange County

Knott’s Taste of Merry Farm
November 20, 2020 – January 3, 2021
Knott’s Berry Farm is excited to announce a new seasonal food and retail event, this time celebrating the merriest season of all, with Knott’s Taste of Merry Farm. While the theme park remains closed, Christmas spirit still shines bright this year with holiday charm brimming out of every corner of the park, as Knott’s wondrously transforms with enchanted décor, thousands of twinkling lights, miles of festive garland, and a variety of picturesque holiday settings, all serving as a backdrop to the tastiest holiday foods around.

With over 60 unique food and drink items offered on the tasting card, guests can choose from popular flavors of the season like Fully Loaded Turkey Dinner Tater Tots and Comet’s Cinnamon Bun with a Maple Glaze and Candied Pecans, plus options for all dietary preferences. Guests can take care of their holiday shopping at Knott’s one-of-a-kind stores filled with exclusive Knott’s specialty items or discover rare, handmade, and personalized gifts from over 23 artisan local crafters, including Knott’s famous glassblower and chainsaw carver.

Holidays at Downtown Disney & Buena Vista Street Disney California Adventure
November 19, 2020 – January 5, 2021
A variety of shopping and dining experiences has begun to reopen at the Downtown Disney District, including the World of Disney store and, starting on November 19, 2020, an expansion onto Buena Vista Street.

Holidays at Legoland
November 20, 2020 – December 31, 2021
It’s time for Holidays at LEGOLAND®, where the Resort is bursting with holiday cheer and festive décor! Your favorite holiday characters Santa and the Toy Solider are back and ready for socially distanced meet-and-greets. Head over to Fun Town where there’s a 30-foot, fully decorated LEGO® Christmas tree with over 400 LEGO ornaments. And as the day winds down, the tree gets a-twinklin’ to holiday tunes at the Holiday Light Show. Hop on a sleigh with a life-size LEGO Santa that’s pulled by his trusted reindeer. Along with the holiday fun, seasonal treats and live music performances, walk around a newly themed Miniland U.S.A and enjoy building LEGO ornaments among other building activities. Get ready to shop at the largest LEGO retail store on the West Coast, with LEGO sets and other items available at The Big Shop.

Christmas Train Events in Orange County

Irvine Park Railroad Christmas Train to Santa
November 27 – December 23, 2020  | Irvine Park Railroad
‘Tis the season for Irvine Park Railroad’s annual Christmas Train. Come with family and friends and take this enchanting night ride through historic Irvine Regional Park. The train will depart from the brightly-lit train station and stop at the North Pole. This year, passengers will remain seated on the train at the North Pole. Santa and Mrs. Clause will greet passengers from a safe distance as passengers remain seated. There will be no photos with Santa (including sitting on his lap). This is for the safety of our visitors as well as Santa, Mrs. Claus, and our staff. TICKETS SELL OUT FAST, PURCHASE NOW.

Muzeo Express
November 15, 2020 – January 26, 2021 |  Muzeo
This year, our team of dedicated model train experts are bringing winter joy to one and all. Displays feature annual favorites as well as some new scenes featuring Thomas the Tank Engine, the Polar Express, Radiator Springs, and more! Special additions are featured throughout the galleries, including educational videos about the STEM of the railroads, railroad-inspired photography, and readings of our favorite train-inspired children’s books.

Muzeo Express Opening Weekend – Enjoy the all new train exhibits and socially-distanced VIP access to this year’s whimsical STEM-filled installation. On your way out, enjoy hot cocoa and cookies in the Muzeo plaza. Complete the exhibition scavenger hunt and take home a free train-inspired craft kit from Child Creativity Lab! Access to the exhibition will be given to family groups at your ticketed time to ensure proper social distancing. Masks are required for all guests over the age of 2.

Christmas Zoo & Aquarium Events
Holiday Zoobilation at the Santa Ana Zoo
TBD  |  Santa Ana Zoo
A version of Snow Days will be held if we are allowed. Keep posted.

Holiday Toy Drive at Zoomars
November 9 – December 4, 2020  |  Zoomars
Bring a toy to help a child in need. You will receive a FREE child’s admission ticket when you donate an unwrapped children’s toy (minimum $10 toy donation)!

Holiday Treats with the Animals
December 5 & 6, 2020  |  Aquarium of the Pacific
The Holiday Treats for the Animals festival kicks off Aquarium Holidays. Santa Diver will be delivering an ocean of gifts to the Aquarium of the Pacific for its animals, including penguins, sea otters, seals, sea lions, lorikeets, and fish. Aquarium Holidays (December 5-23) features special holiday décor, holiday shopping, snowfall in the Great Hall, and appearances by Santa Diver and the Aquarium characters in their holiday outfits. On weekends the Aquarium will have a snow play area, photos with Santa, and Hanukkah storytelling with opportunities to play dreidel.

Christmas with the Critters
December 6, 2020   |  11:00am – 3:00pm  |   Ranchos Las Lomas

Seaworld Christmas Celebration
November 13, 2020 – January 4, 2021  |  Seaworld San Diego
Meet furry and festive characters with physical distancing, including Santa himself! Enjoy classic shows, from our Dolphin Island Christmas presentation to the sea lion hilarity of Clyde & Seamore’s Christmas Special. Discover photo-perfect moments throughout several beautifully decorated areas of the park, including a towering sea-themed Christmas tree and a holiday music-activated tunnel of lights. It’s all waiting for your family, with seasonal food and drinks, amazing animals, delightful shopping, and other splashes of a SeaWorld Christmas!

Jungle Bells
November 27 – 29, December 4-6, 11-13, 18-23, 25 – January 3, 2021  |  San Diego Zoo
Jungle Bells is full of joy for the whole family, from Dr. Zoolittle’s animal-themed version of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas (“…not a creature was stirring, not even a ‘roo.”) to the Northern Frontier Holiday Forest aglow with stunning, specially decorated and lit trees. Throughout the Zoo, the sounds of the season fill the air with an interactive jingly, jazzy carol session, the sweet harmonies of an a capella group, and a strolling musician. Even though it is the darkest time of year, the grounds are filled with colorful lights in the form of light sculptures of animals, “dancing light” experiences set to holiday music, and Aurora: an exquisite end-of-evening spectacular filled with light, sound, and 3-D projections.

Orange County Christmas Boat Parades and more!

Newport Beach Boat Parade
December 16 – 20, 2020  |  6:30pm  | Newport Harbor
The 112th Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade moves its way through the Newport Harbor this December. Watch beautifully decorated yachts, boats, kayaks and canoes sail along the harbor. FREE

Dana Point Harbor Boat Parade & Festive Family Activities
December 4, 5, 11 & 12, 2020  |  Dana Point Harbor
Join Dana Point Harbor to set sail with the “fiesta” themed 46th Annual Boat Parade of Lights. Families are invited to safely enjoy outdoor fiesta-themed entertainment, special holiday restaurant offerings, and the dazzling parade of local decorated boats. Festivities begin at 4:30 p.m. each night with the Boat Parade of Lights taking off at 7:30 p.m. The Boat Parade of Lights is subject to change based on public health restrictions and recommendations. FREE

Boat Rides with Santa
December 5, 2020  | 10am – 2pm |  Dana Wharf
Take a boat ride with Santa this holiday season around Dana Point Harbor! Tickets are $5 per person and all proceeds will benefit the Soroptimist of Capistrano Bay. Reservations are required & there is 6 person per reservation limit.

Breakfast with Santa Events in Orange County

Breakfast with Santa at Downtown Disney
December 5 – 24, 2020 | 8:00am – noon | Catal Restaurant in Downtown Disney
Join jolly old Saint Nick and his merry band of elves throughout the holiday season at Catal Restaurant’s Breakfast with Santa experience. Guests are invited to feast on a decadent family-style spread of menu offerings like M&M pancakes, crispy bacon, and farm fresh eggs. Adults are welcome to sip on bottomless mimosas while little ones enjoy hot cocoa with their favorite toppings. Make your reservation today to enjoy this beloved yuletide tradition that is sure to put a smile on every child’s face and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Gingerbread House Events in Orange County

Candy Cane Making Demonstrations
Logan’s Candies in Ontario
Visit this old fashion candy store and see candy canes made right in front of you. Also get a chance to shape one yourself! Check website or Facebook page for events and time. Reservations required.

Gingerbread Extravaganza
November 21, 2020 – January 1, 2021 | Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel
The pastry team presents the annual Gingerbread Extravaganza made of of gingerbread, candy, and other sweet confections displayed in the lobby.

Museum & Library Fun

The Science of Gingerbread VIRTUAL
November – January 1, 2021 | Discovery Science Center
Who’s ready for some sweet science adventures? Explore tasty treats, festive feats, and the science of gingerbread on Discovery Cube Connect.

Baby Steps Through Pretend City Christmas Fun
December 6, 2020  |  8:00 – 9:30am  |  Pretend City
Happy Holidays, Little Elf!  We’re celebrating the holiday season for this month’s Baby Steps! Babies will enjoy holiday activities like decorating ornaments for the Christmas tree! Your little one will bounce with joy when they get to meet and take pictures with Santa himself! Specifically for: Infant (0-18 months), grownups. For the comfort of our infant guests, no older siblings, please. 

Christmas Arts, Music & Theater Events in Orange County

Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” Live Stream Event
November 28 – January 3, 2021 | South Coast Repertory
Enjoy a special filmed version of Charles Dicken’ beloved holiday classic “A Christmas Carol”. The timeless tale of Ebenezer Scrooge comes to thrilling new life as Tony Award winner Jefferson Mays plays over 50 roles in a virtuosic master class of a performance that must be seen to be believed. This theatrical achievement comes from the haunting vision of one of Broadway’s most imaginative directors, Michael Arden (Tony-winning Best Revival – Once on This Island). Staged exclusively for this production and captured live with breathtaking clarity, this must-watch streaming event conjures the powerful spirits of Christmas and brings all the magic of live theatre home for the holidays.

‘Tis the season for giving – when you stream this production, you’re also helping to sustain your local theatre community through these extraordinary times.

Nutcracker Performances in Orange County

Nutcracker Short & Sweet
December 19, 20, 22 & 23, 2020 |  Irvine Barclay Theatre
Festival Ballet Theatre invites you to a fun and safe way to celebrate the cherished holiday tradition of The Nutcracker. This bite-size version of the beloved ballet features many of your favorite characters portraying the full Nutcracker story on an outdoor stage adjacent to the Barclay. Enjoy this family-friendly event under an open-air audience tent. Each party will have a reserved pod that includes seating for up to five people, and will be socially distanced from other groups. All health regulations will be followed to ensure attendee safety. This 1-hour family-friendly production will be presented without an intermission.  

Christmas Boutiques in Orange County

Sawdust Art Festival’s Annual Winter Fantasy
Beginning November 2020 | All day | Laguna Beach Sawdust
Sawdust Art Festival’s Winter Fantasy is a one-of-a-kind holiday art and craft festival that offers a festive shopping experience. The festival is highlighted by original artwork handcrafted by 180 international artists who create, showcase and sell their unique gifts of art in an enchanting winter wonderland that has been transformed with thousands of lights and decorations, and falling snow. An annual community tree lighting ceremony kicks off the holiday season with a jolly selection of holiday music and live entertainment, including community performers, Christmas carolers, puppeteers, and daily visits with Santa Claus. 

Holiday Faire
November 14, 2020 |  9am – 4pm  |   Orange County Great Park
The Irvine Fine Arts Center invites the community to its 38th annual Holiday Faire on Saturday, November 14, held this year entirely outdoors at the Orange County Great Park with advance tickets required, to better ensure a safe, socially distanced environment for the public. This year’s event will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Great Park’s Palm Court and features 50 local artists displaying and selling their unique handmade gifts for purchase including holiday decorations, hand-blown glass, ceramics, jewelry, folk crafts, clothing, and more. The Palm Court provides ample space for both vendors and attendees to help the community come together to shop for the holidays and support local artists in a safe, responsible manner. New safety protocols in place during the Holiday Faire include: pre-registration to limit on-site attendance, facial coverings worn by all vendors and attendees, hand sanitizing stations available through the event, and health screenings and temperature checks for all. 

Nutcracker Craft Boutique
November 20 & 21, 2020  |  9:00am – 6:00pm  | Brea Community Center
Shop from 280 vendors that display one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted holiday gifts, decorations, food, and collectibles. Shoppers can also pick up a quick snack or beverage in Food Alley. Sorry, no strollers are allowed inside the Boutique. Kidwatch baby sitting services will be available for $2.50 per hour per child. Admission is $3 (children 12 years old and younger may enter for free). Parking is free.

Home for the Holidays Christmas Boutique
October 9 – December 25, 2020 | Rogers Gardens
Love, laughter, a cheer or two…food, family, fireside chats – these are the memories home evokes. Our Home for the Holidays Christmas Boutique will transport you there. Experience a moment of wonder and amazement as you walk into our Christmas Boutique. The traditional palette of red, green and white with sparkling metallic accents draw you into the world of Christmas. Discover curated collections of hand-painted glass ornaments from Europe, charming nutcrackers and whimsical Santas that sit alongside our beautifully designed signature garlands and wreaths. Traditional themes, contemporary elements, and a touch of Roger’s Gardens magic meet to create charming collections that elevate and inspire. Join us as we celebrate the joy and wonder of the season here at Roger’s Gardens, your home away from home.

Indoor Ice Skating Rinks in Orange County
• Aliso Viejo Ice Palace

Special Needs Friendly Christmas Events in Orange County

Sensitive Santa Visit & Sensory Holiday Celebration
December 17, 2020  |  5:00 – 7:30pm  |  Pretend City Children’s Museum
Santa is coming to Pretend City Children’s Museum for Autism Night! Join us for this great opportunity to meet and tell Santa your holiday wish. Our “Sensitive Santa” visit and photo opportunity provides a sensory sensitive experience with low Christmas carols, dim lights, and trained Santa to ease some of the anxieties that may come with visiting Santa. This is a wonderful opportunity for grown-ups to capture photos of their child with Santa that might not be possible at a busy mall or crowded event. Don’t forget to bring a camera!  Pre-register online.

More Christmas Things to Do In Orange County

Want to see the Best Christmas Lights in Orange County?!!!

Check it out here:

Best Christmas Light Displays in Orange County

Holiday Gift Guide for Teens!!!!


(updated 2020) I officially declare it holiday season here in Orange County. Believe it or not, Christmas events are already popping up around Southern California!  So, here’s a list of Christmas Events in Orange County 2020, including Christmas things to do in Orange County, winter celebrations and tree lightings.


  1. carey b says

    This is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Jennifer says

    Christmas lights in brea are my very favorite!!!

  3. April orozco says

    What a great list!

  4. Lisa G says

    Great round up. I need to get moving on this list 🙂

  5. Surbhi K. says

    Very informative, thanks for the list

  6. Margo Gallagher says

    Thanks for the great list!

  7. Gianna Salcito says

    Wonderful information! Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together and share. Merry Christmas!

  8. Debby says

    FYI- some of the events say Friday, December 1st, but December 1st isn’t a Friday ( Cookies with Santa & Irvine Spectrum). Does it start Saturday or the following Friday?

  9. Wow such a comprehensive list, thanks for sharing. Here are some more Holiday Events in the OC you may have missed!

  10. Jennifer says

    Thank you for sharing this. I check your list every year 🙂

  11. Amanda Deno says

    Wonderful round up! Thank you!!

  12. So much fun stuff!!

  13. Does anyone know if there is an exhibit featuring mangers from all over the world. I’ve been to this display before at a latter day saints church and wanted to know if there is one this year and where and when???

    • elise says

      Fri, Dec 1, 5:00 PM – Sun, Dec 3, 9:00 PM
      17500 Bushard St
      17500 Bushard Street, Fountain Valley, CA
      Nativities from around the world.
      Live Nativity every 30 minutes
      Music by local artists
      Free Refreshments

      17500 Bushard st. Fountain Valley – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
      (next door to Fountain Valley High School)
      Open house for the public. Great family event for the Christmas Season. Walk through and enjoy the Christmas feeling.

  14. Christina Wilmer says

    Thank so for this. So many options!

  15. Patricia Villagomez says

    Holiday Puppet Extravaganza: Professional puppeteers will perform a show about Eli the energetic elf at Yorba Linda Public Library. 6:30-7:30 p.m. Dec. 17. Free. 18181 Imperial Highway. 714-777-2837 or

  16. Kathy Grubbs says

    Just wanted to mention East Lake Shores as one of the most beautiful holiday areas I’ve seen. 191 homes along the lake are decorated so that reflections off the water double the visual experience. (Yorba Linda Blvd to Village Center Drive to Vista Laguna). Walk around the lake – one mile. Walk or drive up and down each canal – two miles. View the lake from the Club House deck – magnificent. In addition, there is a boat parade the second Saturday and Sunday of each December. Sit along the banks and enjoy the parade. East Lake is lit from Thanksgiving till Jan 10. Come by and check it out. 5325 Village Center Drive. Yorba Linda 92886


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