Discover the best places and events to celebrate the Christmas season in Southern California. Our list covers some of the most popular family attractions, including parades, Christmas lights, shows, train rides, festivals, and activities. Many events Postponed until 2021. We will post active events at the top of the list.
November 6 through December 30, 2020. 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.
Holidays in Your Car – Del Mar and Ventura California.
Tickets available from December 7 2020 through December 17. 22021. Christmas 2020 is turning into the year of the drive-through holiday event. CBF Productions is hosting two such events in Southern California. One at Ventura County Fairgrounds, the other at Del Mar Fairgrounds. Visitors will drive along a one-mile course featuring LED lights, Holograms, and projections of holiday scenes. Del Mar Tickets. Ventura tickets.
November 21, 2020 through January 10, 2021. GLOW is a visually stunning art installation that will transform the South Coast Botanic Garden’s lush botanic oasis into an oceanic experience for our Garden Lights & Ocean Waters theme using thousands of lights and set to a curated soundtrack featuring various musical genres. Palos Verdes Peninsula, California.
Santa’s Speedway Drive-Through Christmas Lights
November 25, 2020 through January 10 2021. Take a Christmas drive along an actual NASCAR track and come face to face with jaw dropping lighting displays including the World’s Largest Free Standing Light Tree from Mobile Illumination, the company responsible for the Grove, Universal Studios and Warner Brothers’ Christmas Extravaganzas. Tour lasts about forty minutes. Tickets are $59 per Car Load and can be purchased here.
December 3, 2020, through January 3, 2021. The Mission grounds are decked out in lights and feature a 10-foot wreath and community Christmas trees. Don’t miss out on the Mission at Night experience where history meets holiday. Mission Capistrano is located halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, close to the freeway and airport, and within walking distance from the train depot. Tickets & Info.
Wonderland Drive-thru Holiday Event Woodland Hills
November 30 -December 23, 2020. Yet another drive-thru event. This one is expensive at $70.00 per vehicle. 4;30 and 5:00 reservations are discounted $10.00. Cars with nine or more passengers are $90. That said, it looks like a fun event with millions of lights and lots of photo moments. The tour finishes with a visit with Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. Tickets can be purchased here.
Winter Fantasy has been postponed to 2021. Sawdust Winter Festival runs for five weekends: Mid-November through mid-December. Open the Friday after Thanksgiving. The Sawdust Art Festival Winter Fantasy is the perfect place for a relaxing afternoon or evening stroll with friends and family. Kids can play with real snow, create art and craft projects, or try a potters wheel. Adults can enjoy a glass of wine and listen to live entertainment and shop for some very unique holiday presents. Laguna Beach
Postponed to 2021. After a six-year run with Chill, the Queen Mary has moved its annual holiday on board the grand ship and renamed it a Queen Mary Christmas. Instead of the ice-themed Chill, the new “Queen Mary Christmas” will take place on the decks and inside the historic ship.
Postponed until 2021. The Newport Beach holiday lights boat parade has been a Southern California favorite holiday tradition for over 100 years. For the entire month of December through New Years, many of the homes and around Newport Bay are lit up with amazing displays of lights. Several tour operators offer harbor lights cruises to look at the holiday lights.
Postponed until the 2021-22 season. L.A. Zoo Lights is a nighttime light experience with glowing animals rendered in LED lights, lasers, 3 D projections, and interactive displays. Visitors will not see any of the zoo’s animals except for reindeer.
Postponed until the 2021-22 season. Moonlight Forest Lantern Art Festival at Los Angeles Arboretum is one of the most popular holiday light events in the Los Angeles area. Hundreds of colorful lanterns line a pathway that winds its way around the arboretum.
Postponed until the 2021-22 season. This year’s Chinese Lantern Festival returns with a brand new theme where you get to experience and be inspired by the stunning beauty of nature with the ‘Blooming Seasons’ theme.
Postponed until the 2021-22 season. Descanso Gardens becomes an Enchanted: Forest of Light. Trees, plants, and walkways are decorated with a seasonal light show. Visitors will stroll along a one-mile walk through the Gardens. Ten different areas with light displays, three of which will be interactive, allowing visitors to manipulate the lights and sounds—event hours mid-November to early January.
Dana Point Dana Point Harbor Christmas Light Parade runs two consecutive weekends during December. Boats large and small are lighted with thousands of twinkling lights as they cruise around the harbor.
Eighty plus craft booths are selling a variety of handmade crafts and fine art. BBQ and food vendors plus live music on the Bates Stage. Select weekends through Christmas. Open all week for holiday gifts and candies. Bates Nut Farm 15954 Woods Valley Road Valley Center, California.
Every year, America’s oldest theme park is magically transformed into Knott’s Merry Farm with seasonal entertainment, and spectacular decorations including a 65-foot tall Christmas tree, and a colorful Christmas parade featuring Peanuts. Knott’s Christmas Craft Fair is free Monday through Thursday. Friday through Sunday, park admission is required to visit the Christmas Craft Fair.
Winter Fest is Orange County’s answer to Chill in Long Beach. Billed as the World’s Biggest Walk-Thru Ornament, Winter Fest features the world’s most giant illuminated ornament, ice skating with holiday movie favorites projecting in the background, a substantial six-lane ice slide, nightly snow, and reindeer feedings. Also on hand will be carnival rides and games, music performances. We will have a full review after this holiday event opens.
Enjoy a pirate theme Christmas show featuring swashbuckling swordplay and dynamic duels. While reveling in “Pirates Take Christmas,” you’ll feast on excellent grub and grog. Bring the whole family and cheer on Santa as he saves Christmas from the wicked pirates who have captured him and Mrs. Claus.
Holiday music and entertainment along with thousands of lights decorating the grounds of the Living Zoo. Stroll under the Tunnel of Lights; kids can take a ride a train or carousel, see the massive model train track decorated with lights. Make this a day trip enjoy the zoo during the day and Wild Lights at night.
One of Southern California’s most popular holiday events. Kids and parents take an evening ride through the park to meet Santa Claus. The train depot is decorated for the holidays with hundreds of lights as passengers head off the North Pole to visit Santa.
Garden of Lights is truly a magical holiday experience for the whole family, so bring them down for an evening of Christmas fun at the gardens. San Diego Botanic Garden annual Garden of Lights activities include horse-drawn wagon rides, holiday crafts, marshmallow roasting, visits with Santa, live music, hot mulled wine and refreshments.
Riverside’s Mission Inn Holiday Event is rated as one of the best in the nation. Thousands of lights decorate the historic Mission in and the surrounding streets. Outdoor ice-skating rink on the Main Street pedestrian mall, holiday vendors, and family-friendly entertainment. Event hours mid-November to early January.