Local Holiday Events to Complement Your Disneyland Vacation – Part 2

| December 8, 2011 | Reply

In my last blog on local events, we talked about Central Los Angeles holiday activities for your family to do while vacationing at Disneyland.  I realize that those of you staying at the Disneyland Resort would like to find some of these holiday events a bit closer to your accommodations.  Therefore, in this blog we’ll delve into some of the southern holiday happenings in Orange County!

As in the last blog, click on the event name and a window will open with that event’s website.

One of the most popular Orange County holiday experiences is heading to the harbors to view parades of boats and yachts that are beautifully decorated with holiday lights.  Two of the longest running events are:

Cruise of Lights in Huntington Harbor

49th anniversary of the Cruise of Lights – proceeds go to the Philharmonic Society of Orange County – providing free music educational programs, such as in-school music experiences, to Orange County youth.

  • December 17-23, 2011 – 4 cruises/night first – 5:30pm, last 8:30pm
  • Tickets: $17- adult, $10- children 2-12


Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade of Lights

103rd Anniversary of lavishly decorated boats in the Newport Harbor Christmas Boat Parade.  Homes along the bay compete for top décor. The parade starts off Bay Island at 6:30 pm and finishes at the same site at approximately 9:00 pm each evening.

  • December 14-18, 2011. Fireworks on December 18, 2011 only.
  • Several companies offer sailings to see the sights.
    • Newport Cruises offers sailings where you are actually in the parade. Offered twice nightly at 5:45pm and 8:00pm for $36/adult $31/Junior (1.75hr cruise), as well as $17 (1 hour) pre and post parade cruises to see the regatta before and after it makes the trip.
    • Newport Landing provides 2 cruises each night of the parade and all of December.  Cruises during the parade travel in the parade and view both ships and estates in full décor. Offered twice nightly at 5:45pm and 8:00pm for $36/adult $31/Junior (1.75hr cruise)


Discovery Science Center – The Science of Gingerbread

Orange County’s favorite science center – located just a few exits south of Disneyland, off I-5 in Santa Ana – is hosting The 6th Annual Science of Gingerbread exhibit, centering on the creation of holiday gingerbread delights.  There will be hands-on kitchen science activities, cookie decorating, a Gingerbread Derby – to race the cookie cars you build, as well as a chance to see the amazing entries in their annual competition.  Santa is also on hand to oversee the festivities.

  • Now through January 1, 2012
  • Tickets: Adults: $14.95  Kids: $12.95


Orange County offers an opportunity to do some winter activities:

Holidays on Ice at the Irvine Spectrum

This popular Orange County Shopping venue, located 10 minutes south of Disneyland, opens a skating rink in its Giant Wheel Court.

  • Now through February 20, 2012
  • Tickets:
    • Adults and Children: Monday – Thursday $12.00  Friday – Sunday $14.00  Skate rental: $2.00
    • Toddlers: $12.00   Price includes skate rental.  Helmets free upon request.
    • Check website for hours.


While in Irvine, consider taking the family for a ride:

Irvine Park Railroad Christmas Train

This annual event at the Irvine Park Railroad takes passengers on a trip to the North Pole to visit Santa and then back to the village through a wonderland of lights and decorations.

  • Now through December 23, 2011
  • Tickets: $10.00 per person.  Age 24 months and under – Free
  • Check website for times and ticket purchases.

or indulge in a classic holiday performance.

Festival Ballet Theatre presents “The Nutcracker” at the Irvine Barclay Theater

Guest dancers from the American Ballet Theater, The Pacific Northwest Ballet, and The Joffrey Ballet join the Festival Ballet Theatre and 100 Southern California children in performing this classical holiday ballet.

  • Now through December 24, 2011
  • Check website for show times and ticket prices.


Other Orange County venues offering holiday theater and musicals are:

South Coast Repertory Theater presents “A Christmas Carol”

The players at the South Coast Repertory Theater are offering up the chance to see a live production of the Charles Dickens classic holiday play.

  • Now through December 24, 2011
  • Check website for show times and ticket pricing.
  • No children age 6 and under, per theater policy, (they may be frightened by the ghosts).


Sergerstrom Center for the Arts presents “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas – The Musical”

The national touring company brings this classic Bing Crosby/Bob Hope movie to life on stage at the Sergerstrom this holiday season.  This is a great venue for theater (and one of my favorite movies!

  • Now through January 1. 2012
  • Check website for show times.
  • Ticket prices start at $20.00


Hopefully these suggestions will help you round out a wonderful holiday vacation!

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