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Christmas is coming and holiday events abound in Orange County! From seeing Gingerbread Houses at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, to attending a Nutcracker performance at the Irvine Barclay Theatre, to strolling through luminaria-lit paths at Heritage Hill Historical Park’s Candlelight Walk in Lake Forest, there is a special holiday event for everyone.
So here is a list of 100+ Unique Holiday Events in Orange County just for you! Merry Christmas!
Holiday Boat Parades in Orange County
Dana Point Harbor Boat Parade of Lights, Dana Point (Dec. 8, 9, 15 & 16) ~ FREE
Boat parade by water’s edge at 7:30 pm. 100 boaters compete in the categories of style, intricacy and outlandishness. Past years’ entries have featured towering light displays and inflatable snowmen riding motorcycles and planes. In 2008, one boater even outfitted his craft with rotating wooden attachments that gave the appearance of dolphins swimming alongside.
Huntington Harbor Boat Parade, Huntington Beach (Dec. 9-10) ~ FREE
‘Symphony of Lights’ is this year’s theme which means decorators will have a wide list of motifs to choose from. There are certainly many different forms and traditions of music from different cultures. Pick your favorite and ‘run with it.’ Beside the fun and excitement, they have 16 trophies to award in categories ranging from ‘Most Religious’ to ‘Best Commercial Entry’.
Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, Newport Beach (Dec. 13-17) ~ FREE
- Discount Tickets for Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade with Newport Landing Cruises
- Discount Tickets for Newport Beach Light Displays with Newport Landing Cruises
- Discount Tickets for Holiday Lights Cruises with Davey’s Locker Ships
The Christmas Boat Parade is one of the oldest and most popular holiday traditions in southern California and even the nation. In 1908, a gondola and eight canoes decked out in Japanese lanterns started the tradition, which has grown into a spectacle expected to draw more than a million viewers over its five nights. The parade starts at 6:30 p.m. with boats leaving from Bay Island, making their way around the harbor, and returning at 9 p.m. In all there are just under registered 100 boats taking part in the contests.
Holiday Shows in Orange County
A Christmas Carol @ South Coast Repertory, Costa Mesa (Nov. 24 – Dec. 24)
Nineteenth-century London comes to life when your family joins the SCR family for the holidays. Recapture the spirit of an old-fashioned Christmas with this timeless Dickens classic and all your favorite characters—Tiny Tim and the Cratchit family, the Fezziwigs, the Ghosts of Christmas past, present and yet-to-come—and, as always, Hal Landon Jr. as everyone’s favorite curmudgeon, Ebenezer Scrooge. Ticketed.
Join Santa Claus & His Tap-Dancing Elves in GEM Theater’s Holiday Revue, Garden Grove (Nov. 24 – Dec. 17)
Featuring live music, stunning costumes and a whimsical set, GEM Theater’s delightful holiday revue begins with a journey to the magical world of Christmas Fantasy Land, where you’ll enjoy beloved standards and contemporary holiday favorites such as “Winter Wonderland,” “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and “Sleigh Ride” — and a special appearance by Santa Claus and his tap-dancing elves. The magical fun continues when the second act curtain opens to reveal a breathtaking scene that evokes Victorian England from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Dressed elegantly in ball gowns and top hats and tails, the cast brings to life the traditional songs of the season including “White Christmas,” “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and “Silent Night.” Lighthearted, fun and entertaining, The Holiday GEM is a dazzling holiday treat for the whole family. Ticketed.
Nutcracker For Kids @ Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Costa Mesa (Dec. 2)
Visions of sugarplums and beautiful ballerinas will dance in your head after seeing Tchaikovsky’s delightful Christmas ballet, performed in a condensed version created just for kids. This annual favorite finishes with a grand finale sing-along and a jolly visit from Santa himself! Designed for kids ages 5-11. Join in the fun at the interactive Musical Carnival in the concert hall lobby at 9 a.m. (for 10 a.m. concertgoers) and 12:15 p.m. (for 11:30 concertgoers), where kids can test drive a musical instrument, meet the performers, and enjoy musical arts and crafts activities themed to the morning’s concert. Ticketed.