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Christmas Events in Los Angeles Metro for 2023

Christmas Events in Los Angeles Metro for 2023

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Southern California! There may not be snow on the ground and it might be a perfect 75 degrees, but Christmas in Los Angeles is filled with fun!

There are so many special Christmas events in Los Angeles, Orange County, the Inland Empire, and the rest of the region as well. If you live here or are visiting, we hope you enjoy our guide to Southern California Christmas events which has been updated for the 2023 season!

Christmas in Southern California- Christmas Events in Los Angeles Metro

Holiday Boat Parades

Christmas in Los Angeles  events in Southern California include boat parades
Photo by: Flickr/Tony Webster

Over a million lights twinkle on cleverly decorated boats floating through harbors and canals up and down the Southern California coast. Bundle up your kids, breathe in the cool marine air, and enjoy one of the quintessential Christmas events in Los Angeles and elsewhere along the Southern California coast.

Be sure to find out where the parade starts so that you know the approximate time of when it will float by your location.

LA County

The Marina del Rey Boat Parade takes place December 19, 2023 at 6pm. There will be fireworks before the parade at 5:55 pm, so don’t be late! This year’s theme is “Holiday Spirit Around the World”.

Fisherman’s Village and Butron Chase Park are two great places to view the parade. Beginning at 10am, Burton Chase Park will also host festvisites which include enjoy great food, live music, shopping at the booths leading up to the boat parade.

Naples Long Beach Boat Parade is also on December 16, 2023. The parade begins at 6pm and the theme is “Christmas Around the World”. There will also be three groups of carolers singing holiday songs by the bridges. Many of the homes in Naples go all out as well, so take time to stroll the area.

Orange County

Dana Point Harbor hosts 48th Annual Boat Parade of Lights on December 8, 9, and 10, 2023 at 6:30pm. This year’s theme is “Candy Land”. Beginning Novmber 15, the annual holiday light display will be illuminated at the harbor as well featuring over 700,000 lights and the famous “Merry Kiss Me” arch.

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade– Now in its 115th year, this boat parade is a big one! This year’s parade will be held Wednesday through Sunday, December 13-17, 2023. The parade begins around 6:30pm each night. You can even purchase tickets to view the parade from aboard one of the lighted boats!

Huntington Harbour Boat Parade is December 9 – 10, 2023 at 6pm. This year is the 60th annual parade and the theme is “The Power of Music”.

Check out our complete guide to Christmas events in Orange County.

Ventura County

Channel Island’s Harbor Parade of Lights in Oxnard- This tradition takes place the second Saturday in December and this year it will be December 9, 2023. There will also be free pictures with Santa and 36 tons of snow! The parade starts at 7pm.

Ventura Harbor Parade of Lights- There will be fireworks following the boat parade which takes place December 15 – 16, 2023 from 6:30 – 8:00pm. The 2022 theme is “Out of This World”. For those who wish to see the colorfully-lit boats up close, Island Packers will be having Ventura Harbor Parade of Lights Cruises as well. Cruises depart at 5:45pm, 6:00pm, & 6:15pm.

Ventura Harbor will also be hosting a Santa Paddle on December 9th at 11am where folks can paddle alongside Santa on his paddleboard are encouraged to dress festively. If you don’t have your own you can rent kayak, SUP, or pedal boats from Ventura Boat Rentals.

San Diego County

Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights – This year’s event takes place December 9, 2023 at 7 pm. One of the best viewing spots is along the side of the Oceanside Harbor near the fishing dock and police station where you can actually see the parade twice!

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights– Celebrating in 2023, this boat parade will take place December 10 and 17 at 5:30pm. This parade draws 100,000 people along its route. Ideal viewing locations include Seaport Village, Shelter Island, the Ferry Landing on Coronado Island, and the pier at Cesar Chavez Park.

The Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights is a free event is highly anticipated by locals and tourists alike who line the bay near SeaWorld and Paradise Point Resort at great places such as Crown Point, the east side of Vacation Island, or the west side of Fiesta Island. This year’s parade will be December 9th at 5:30pm.

Looking for a great gift for travel lovers? Check out these road trip gift ideas.

Christmas Shows and The Nutcracker for Kids

Chrismtas in Losa Angeles  events Southern California Nutcracker
Photo by: Flickr/KCBalletMedia

Panto Theater

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll sing – and then you’ll boo and hiss the evil queen! Sounds like a strange way to enjoy a holiday play but our friends in Great Britain have enjoyed the tradition of Panto for many years, and now thanks to the Lythgoe family, we can enjoy this family-friendly introduction to the theater here in Southern California.

Panto is basically an interactive musical theatre production using classic fairy tale stories with modern scripts and twisting in pop songs, dancing, and interaction with the audience, and then tying it up with a big red Christmas bow.

In the 2023 Christmas season, enjoy performances of “A Cinderella Christmas” at the Laguna Playhouse December 7-29, 2023. We attend these performances annually and they are great entertainment for all ages.

The Nutcracker and Musical Performances


Dancing Sugar Plum Fairies and sword battles with monkey kings will delight many children. However, it can be hard on kids who can’t sit still for long periods of time. If you have young boys like me who like to blurt out loud, “those tight pants look funny” in a quiet theater, you may enjoy one of these special Nutcracker performances for kids.

All ages will be enchanted by the children performers of the Red Chair Children’s Production of the Nutcracker at the Alex Theatre in Glendale December 8 and 10, 2023.

Also at the Alex Theatre, the World Ballet presentation of the Nutcracker will take place November 29-30,2023.

The Los Angeles Ballet will also be performing The Nutcracker at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, Royce Hall at UCLA, and the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, and the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. Check website for dates and times.

The LA Philharmonic will host a Holiday Sing-a-long on December 16th, Home Alone in Concert December 20 – 22nd, and Arturo Sandoval Swinging Holiday on December 23rd.

In Long Beach, the Long Beach Ballet’s The Nutcracker is definitely one you don’t want to miss. They have the normal ballet, along with a full orchestra, horse, flying sleigh and pyrotechnics! It will be performed December 16 – 23, 2023 and tickets can be purchased online.

The Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa will be performing the Nutcracker for kids on December 2, 2023. Regular performances of the American Ballet Theatre’s production of The Nutcracker will take place December 8 – 17, 2023.

The Festival Ballet Theatre will be performing Nutcracker shows at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. There is an abridged version designed with young kids in mind Friday, December 8, 2032 at 9:30am & 11:30am. The full version will be running December 9 – 24, 2023.

The San Diego Civic Youth Ballet presents The Nutcracker at the historic Casa Del Prado Theatre in Balboa Park. There are special dates for schools and scout groups. This year it will take place December 6 – 17, 2023.

Check for amazing deals on family-friendly hotels in California.

Christmas in Southern California- Special Teas and Hotel Experiences

Los Angeles Christmas events include special holiday teas
Photo by: Flickr/MarcoVerch

A good friend of mine loves taking her daughters to a special Christmas tea every year. They have become holiday treats for families across the Southland and a part of Christmas in Los Angeles. The Langham Huntington, Pasadena will hold their annual Teddy Bear Tea on select days in December. It includes a story time, photos with Santa, and a marionette puppet show.

At the Ritz Carlton – Laguna Niguel enjoy a relaxing afternoon at their Holiday Tea which will take place Monday through Thursday, November 27 to December 14, 2022. They have several other events and experiences included in their Christmas on the Coast seasonal celebration.

Make time to view the resort’s impressive gingerbread display. Visit on November 19, 2023 for their Open House and Tree Lighting Ceremony.

The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Coast is another wonderful place to visit during the holidays. It is always decked out in elegant holiday fashion. Book holiday high teas throughout the season at this resort, as well as a special Sparkling Princess Tea & Storytime on December 30, 2023.

At the Great Wolf Lodge of Anaheim, there are several special events and experiences taking place for 2023. Check out our guide to Christmas at Great Wolf Lodge for more information on this hotel and indoor waterpark. This is a perfect trip for those looking to venture out of town while celebrating Christmas in Los Angeles.

Make a reservation for the elegant high tea served in the beautiful Rose Garden Tea Room at The Huntington Library of Pasadena or The Tea House on Los Rios in historic San Juan Capistrano. No matter where you take tea, enjoy the sights and tastes of a relaxing and beautiful holiday season.

All tea events require reservations. Please see details on resort websites for ticket prices and reservations.

Experience Theme Park Fun

Southern California is known for its world-class theme parks. Each one celebrates the holidays in grand style with extensive decorations and special events.

Visiting these parks during the Christmas season can be twice as fun, extra special, and provide decorative backgrounds for really great photos of your kids!

Christmas in Los Angeles Events at Theme Parks, Zoos and Aquariums

Christmas events in Los Angeles include Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood is the place to be in Los Angeles for holiday-spirited them park fun! From the magic of Christmas at Hogwarts to Grinchmas, there is so much to get excited about.

We have a full guide to Universal Studios Hollywood Christmas  attractions and experiences. 

Six Flags Magic Mountain

Six Flags Magic Mountain is another LA County theme park you won’t want to miss this holiday season. Holiday in the Park runs November 23 – December 31, 2023.

This event features millions of twinkling lights, seasonal music favorites, and a visit by Santa and his elves. Holiday-themed food offerings include holiday turkey poutine, enchilada soup, and traditional tamales. This, in addition to the thrill rides that have made Magic Mountain for coaster enthusiasts for decades.

Looking for more things to do in LA? Check out this guide filled with 34 things to do in Los Angeles with kids.

Los Angeles Zoo

In Griffith Park, enjoy LA Zoo Lights. Prepare to be surrounded by glowing animals, a disco ball forest, sparkling snowflakes, and a tunnel filled with twinkling, swirling lights. Hot cocoa and treats are available for purchase. This year’s event takes place November 17, 2023 – January 7, 2024. Purchase your tickets in advance.

Aquarium of the Pacific

The Aquarium of the Pacific is embracing the spirit of the season with some fun holiday decor, Santa scuba divers, and festive seasonal treats for the resident critters. The fun will take place on weekends December 2 through 17.

Santa Diver will dive with the sharks and deliver festive treats to aquarium favorites like sea lions and sea otters during the Holiday Treats for the Animals weekend of December 2nd. There will also be holiday music, crafts, special presentations by the Elf Magician, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah storytelling, and photos with Santa.

Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood “Holidays Made Here” Tour

Warner Bros Studio Tour Holidays

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour is always a fun way to go behind the scenes of some of your favorite shows and movies but during the holidays, they kick it up a notch.

During their “Holidays Made Here” tour December 22, 2023 trough Jauary 1, 2024 will include the Gilmore Girls set up decorate for the holiday and go behind-the-scenes with stories about Christmas classics like Elf and National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. The Central Perk set from Friends will be decked out for the hoidays as well.

have the famed “Holiday Armadillo” costume from Friends on display as well as Papa Elf costume from Elf, The Jack Frost Snowman from Jack Frost, Puppets from A Miser Brothers’ Christmas, and more!

Orange County Christmas Events at Theme Parks

CHristmas at Knotts Berry Farm

Visitors to Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park experience Knott’s Merry Farm which runs November 17, 2023 through January , 2024.

This event celebrates with the “Home for the Holidays” musical revue, “Merry Christmas, Snoopy” ice show, “Snow and Glow” light show, plus parades, carolers and a special Christmas shopping village.

DIsneyland Resort

The Disneyland Resort is the place to be for a full-fledged holiday celebration. Disney knows how to make memories magical during the holidays with decor, attractions, shows, parades, and fireworks which are sure to get you in the Christmas spirit.

When things are back to normal, we continue to have a full guide to Christmas at Disneyland for 2023 as well as plenty of “can’t miss” Disneyland tips.

San Diego Christmas Events at Theme Parks

Christmas at Legoland

There are several exciting happenings at theme parks and zoos across San Diego County.


LEGO Santa, his reindeer, and elves are waiting at LEGOLAND California this holiday season for pictures and greetings! The LEGO Christmas tree will be lit each night and twinkling to holiday music. The tree is 30 feet tall and has 400 LEGO ornaments. 

Santa, the Toy Solider, and the Gingerbread Man will all be around for pictures. Don’t miss the sleigh with a life-sized LEGO Santa. There will also be a new show to enjoy, Santa’s Top Elf. Holidays at LEGOLAND take place November 18, 2023 through January 7, 2024.

Make a weekend out of it! Book your stay at the LEGOLAND Hotel

We have plenty of great LEGOLAND tips as well as a guide to finding LEGOLAND discounts.

Also, don’t miss the annual Kids’ New Year’s Eve! There are kids’ bands, party favors, fireworks and a 6pm giant brick drop!

SeaWorld San Diego

Santa is friends with the sea life of SeaWorld! At SeaWorld’s Christmas celebration families can still experience holiday fun in a safe and fun way!

Classic shows such as the Dolphin Island Christmas show and Clyde and Seamore’s Christmas Special are back for another year. There will also be holiday music-activated Tunnel of Lights, a sea-themed Christmas tree, lots of seasonal food and treats, and, of course, lots of sea life to enjoy.

This event runs on select dates from Nov 17, 2023- January 7, 2024.

Sesame Place San Diego

A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place takes place November 10, 2023 through January 7, 2024. In addition to the normal rides there will be Elmo’s Christmas Wish theater show, a parade, A Very Merry Sesame Street Sing-Along, and the Furry Friends Christmas Dance Party.

Kids will also enjoy the Christmas Tree Maze, Spot-the-Gift-Scavenger Hunt, and lots of opportunties to take photos with their favorite Sesame Street characters, including Cookie Claus!

San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo gets into the holiday spirit during Jungle Bells, Hop aboard the Twinkle Light Trolley to see lighted animal sculptures throughout the zoo.

This year’s will take place December 9 – 31, 2023 as well as January 1, 2024. During this special event the zoo is open until 8PM.

Meet Santa or enjoy Dr. Zoolittle’s fun version of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Watch acrobatic trampoline elves, walk through a lit up forest of winter-loving animals, stop to take pics with Santa at his igloo, and enjoy so many more fun holiday activities.

Read more about San Diego holiday events. We have a full guide to the fun!

Santa’s Village

Santa's Village in Southern Calfiornia

Santa’s Village in the San Bernardino Mountains near Lake Arrowhead is a dream destination for Southern California families look to enjoy a wintry Christmas experience.

Of course, Santa lives at Santa’s Village so there will be opportunities to meet Santa, visit his workshop and paint your own toy, decorate cookies, and more. There will also be puppet and magic shows and plenty of holiday treats to go around.

At 4pm head to the Village Tree to meet characters like Princess Sugar Plum, Frosty, Snap and Crumblesbefore the Village Tree Lighting Parade.

Every night after sunset, Village Lights Spectacular will happen as the village twinkles with lights and sings with festive Christmas music.

There is also ice skating Floki’s Frozen Falls Climbing Tower, Princess Evergreen’s Archery Range, King Celwyn’s Ax Challenge and much more.

Santa’s Village is open year round, but the special Christmas offerings are from November 16, 2023 through January 7, 2024.

Holidays at the Cube at Discovery Cube Los Angeles and Orange County

Dsocvery Cube Holiday Events

Holidays at the Cube is a brand-new seasonal event happening at Discovery Cube, a hands-on children’s science museum with locations in LA and OC.

In Los Angeles (Sylmar) and Orange County they will have The Science of Gingerbread through December 31, 2023. Locals are invited to test their baking and crafting skills and submit their most festive Gingerbread creation at this year’s Science of Gingerbread. The event also includes several holiday activities like a cookie decorating station, a holiday building block station, weekend visits with Santa, holiday photo stations, and more.

The Los Angeles location will also have a Noon Year’s Eve celebration on December 31, 2023. Little ones can ring in 2024 with an apple juice or ginger ale toast and a mega balloon drop at the strike of NOON and 3pm. There will be a live DJ to keep thigns festive.

In Orange County, the Winter Lights Holiday Show and Festival will take place select dates between December 15, 2023 – January 7, 2024. The winter-themed festival celebrates the science of the season with the sparkle of a million lights, interactive exhibits, and Jean Luc’s Snowbulb Workshop where you can make and take home your own light bulb snow globe. The holiday musical has original songs and plenty of holiday spirit.

Outdoor Ice Skating

Hotel del Coronado ice skating
Photo by: Hotel del Coronado

Gliding over the ice, or rather, inching along with your clinging son at your side, can be a great event that creates memories through laughter and exercise. Ice skating outside is twice as fun with sparkling holiday lights and music.

If you are celebrating Christmas in Los Angeles, don’t miss ice skating by the beach at Ice at Santa Monica. You will also enjoy skating under the lights of Holiday Ice at L.A. LIVE. Event runs November 1, 2023 – January 15, 2024.

Pershing Square ice rink in Downtown LA is another rink you don’t want to miss.

n 2023, two outdoor ice rinks will be located in Huntington Beach- Oceanfront Ice Rink at Pasea Hotel & Spa and Surf City Ice Rink. Pasea’s Oceanfront Ice Rink features special holiday cocktails, s’mores kits, and even VIP firepits. It will be open December 14, 2023 through Janaury 2, 2024. Tickets can be purchase in advance.

This year the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort is hosting the Fire and Ice Festival November 24, 2023 – January 1, 2024. They will host one of the largest outdoor skating rinks in all of Orange County, have an Igloo-style bar serving festive drinks, fire dancers on Friday and Saturday nights,live entertainment, and fire tables and S’mores kits available daily.

Ice skate under the stars and the lights of the Giant Wheel at the Irvine Spectrum Center in Orange County. This year the rink will be open November 3, 2023 through January 7, 2024.

For families in San Diego, what could be a more beautiful picture of winter in California than ice skating next to the beach at the picturesque Hotel Del Coronado with its red peaked roofs and white sandy beach. Skating by the Sea will take place November 17, 2023 through January 7, 2024.

Explore more places to ice skate in Southern California.

Special Christmas Light Displays in Southern California

holiday events in Southern California include the lights at the Mission Inn
Photo by: Flickr/LaraFarhadi

All during December, I hear my little ones shouting in the back seat of the car, “Christmas Lights!!!” at the top of their lungs, just to make sure I see any and all of the twinkling lights that delight them.

We often enjoy driving around neighborhoods with hot chocolate or walking the streets with sticky candy canes to enjoy the lights of the season. Here are some extra special light displays to visit this year:

Inland Empire

The Festival of Lights is held at the Mission Inn Hotel and Spa in Riverside. It is the most popular Christmas attraction in the Inland Empire.

It is free and open to the public nightly from November 18, 2023 – January 6, 2024. Enjoy thousands of lights and decorations, visits to Santa, carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides, live reindeer, and more!

Lake Elsinore’s Downtown Main Street will host 2022 Winterfest on Saturday, December 2, 2023 from 3-9 p.m. There will be a Christmas Parade, food and craft vendors, a tree lighting, as well as visits with Santa at Santa’s Village.

In Temecula, head to Ronald Reagan Sports Park to experience Chilled in the Park. This holiday festival will have an ugly sweater contest, a kids zone, food, entertainment, and fireworks. Date to be determined.

Los Angeles County

Don’t miss Christmas Tree Lane in Altadena. It has been recognized as the oldest large-scale outdoor Christmas display in the world. The trees on Santa Rosa Avenue, have been lighted annually since 1920. It is a Christmas in Los Angeles tradition.

In Griffith Park, enjoy LA Zoo Lights. Prepare to be surrounded by glowing animals, a disco ball forest, sparkling snowflakes, and a tunnel filled with twinkling, swirling lights. Hot cocoa and treats are available for purchase. This year’s event takes place November 17, 2023 – January 7, 2024.

At King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas you will want to visit Holiday Road, a 2/3 mile long walking trail featuring larger than life holiday displays, thousands of lights, Mrs. Claus, Santa, and his elves. Food trucks will be onsite as well as a Holiday Bar serving seasonal cocktails. The event runs November 24 – December 27, 2023 and advance, timed tickets are required.

Lightscape is a beautiful event being held at the LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden. There will be one million holiday lights, tunnels, fire, sculptures and artistic installations. This is a traveling exhibition that has been features in London, Chicago, and New York in the past and has always sold out, so book your tickets early! Advance purchase tickets are required. It runs November 17, 2023 – January 2, 2024.

Kids will love to dance across lily pads of lights at the Enchanted Forest of Light at Descanso Gardens from Nov 19, 2023 – Jan 7, 2024. Buy your timed ticket in advance. 

Orange County

Winter Fest Orange County
Winter Fest OC

A towering LED-lit Christmas tree near the Giant Wheel of the Irvine Spectrum in Orange County will come alive with a choreographed light and music show every 30 minutes, from 5 pm until 11 pm throughout the Christmas season.

Winter Fest OC is back for another year at the Orange County Fair & Event Center from November 24, 2023 to January 7, 2024. Tickets should be purchased in advance online.

Winter Fest OC is home to the only outdoor ice skating trail in Orange County, nine lanes of ice tubing slides, a snow play area, ice bumper cars, carnival rides and games, character meet and greets, and seasonal food for purchase.

There will also be seasonal cocktails, wine, and beer in the all-new holiday lounge, a holiday market, live performances, a nightly tree lighting with snow flurries, and plenty of festive photo opportunities throughout the light-filled experience. 

Tanaka Farms in Irvine is hosting an after-dark wagon ride and walk-through event called Hikari: A Festival of Lights, November 24 – December 30, 2023. This farm is well known for its u-pick vegggies and pumpkin patch, but come Christmas, they have set up a trail of lanterns and lightsto explore.

There will be crafts, games, a petting zoo, a produce stand, a holiday market, and plenty of photo opps. Ticket prices vary by time selected, and military (active duty or retired) are admitted for free.

San Diego County

Christmas Events in Los Angeles Metro for 2023 2
Balboa Park December Nights via Flickr

Enjoy touring the San Diego Botanic Gardens for Lightscape in the Garden event from November 17, 2023 through January 7, 2024.

There will be one million holiday lights, tunnels, fire, sculptures and artistic installations. This is a traveling exhibition that has been features in London, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York in the past and has always sold out, so book your tickets early! Advance purchase tickets are required.

Seasonal festivities for the whole family along with beautiful lighting makes Balboa Park shine at December Nights. There are several vendors and plenty of entertainment at this wildly popular event. Most of the park’s museums open their doors for free during the evening. The event is hosted on December 1 & 2, 2023.

Holiday Arts and Culture

Sawdust Festival Holiday art
Photo by: Sawdust Festival

Los Angeles is a culturally diverse community and there are many ways to celebrate the holidays with kids.

Las Posadas, a nightly tradition of acting out the journey of Mary and Joseph through the streets of Nazareth takes place at Olvera Street in Los Angeles nightly from Dec 16-24. Live music begins at 5:30, the procession at 7pm, along with piñatas for children, free sweet bread, and live entertainment.

“Christmas Around the World “ is a great exhibit at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library . It features 26 decorated Christmas trees representing the 26 countries President Reagan visiting while in office. This year’s event will be held November 11, 2023 – January 8, 2024.

Other cultural events occur at the Skirball Cultural Center’s Hanukkah Family Festival and the Japanese American National Museum’s Oshogatsu Family Festival celebrating the Japanese New Year.

Last December we attended the Sawdust Art Festival Winter Fantasy (November 17 – December 17, 2023) in Laguna Beach after enjoying the annual summer festival.

There are fun crafts, art demonstrations, and beautiful displays that kids and parents enjoy, but what we enjoyed the most was getting to throw clay on a pottery wheel and watch the glass blowing demonstrations.

Enjoy Historic Christmas Events

Holiday events Southern California Mission
Photo by: Flickr/Chris Jepsen

Celebrate the holidays at historical sites in SoCal and let an old-fashioned Christmas come alive for your family.

Yuetide Cinemaland will take place December 15 – 23, 2023 in Heritage Square in Montecito Heights. It will involve Victorian home tours, a light tunnel, piano sing-alongs, and outdoor holiday movie showings twice a night. There wil lalso be food trucks and alcoholic drinks for purchase. Check the schedule to see which movie is playing but expect classics like Elf and Home Alone.

Beginning December 3rd, Mission San Juan Capistrano will host Capistrano Lights.It involves a nightly tree lighting and live musical program. Reserve tickets online for this event which runs through December 30, 2023 on select days.

Christmas comes to Heritage Hill Historical Park in Lake Forest with the annual Candlelight Walk December 8 – 10, 2023 from 5 – 9pm. There will be more than 1,000 luminarias lighting the park’s pathways. Strolling carolers and musicians help set the holiday scene. There will also be holiday crafts for kids and a visit with Santa Claus! 

The Holiday in the Village, A La Mesa Tradition transforms the historic downtown streets of La Mesa into a holiday wonderland. There are Victorian decorations and special events on December 2, 2023. There will be live music, craft vendors, food, fires to warm up around, a kids’ area, and photo opportunities with Santa.

Train Rides to Visit Santa

Irvine Christmas Train Orange County Christmas Events
Photo by: Irvine Park Railroad

Visiting Santa is often at the top of most family’s checklist for the season. How much more fun to visit him on a farm or at the end of a train ride!

Take a Polar Express ride to visit Santa Claus and then enjoy live entertainment, crafts, games, and more. Hop aboard the Christmas Train on the Irvine Park Railroad to visit Santa from Nov 24 – Dec 23, 2023.

Kids will be delighted to find Santa at the North Pole after their nighttime ride on the train through the park. This event will sell out early!

in Perris, take The Polar Express from the Southern California Railway Museum. Advance purchase is required and reservations are limited. Passengers are served hot chocolate and a treat by dancing chefs, read the classic book by Chris Van Allsburg, and enjoy caroling and fun activities onboard.

Santa will still board the train to greet passengers and present The First Gift of Christmas. The Polar Express will depart on select dates November 19 – December 30, 2023

Down south in Campo, reserve a ticket on the Santa Train North Pole Limited and bring kids dressed in jammies for a trip to see Santa at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum. This will take place on Fridays and Saturdays November 24 – December 16, 2023. It will sell out so book early!

Make reservations for a train ride to Santa today as many of these events book up in advance.

Experience the a Holiday Parade

Holiday events in Southern California Rose Parade
Photo by: Flickr/Prayitno

Los Angeles kicks off the holiday season with the Hollywood Christmas Parade. Those of us who grew up in the area have fond memories of watching this parade on tv, but why not see it in person? There will be plenty of floats, balloons, bands, equestrians and, of course, celebrities to keep you entertained. The parade is November 26, 2023 at 6pm.

The biggest holiday event in all of Southern California is the world-famous Tournament of Roses Parade. It is held every January 1 in Pasadena.

Every year that I watch the parade and see the sun shining down on the beautiful floats covered with flowers, I am reminded of the blessing of living in sunny SoCal.

Our family hasn’t been able to make the commitment of spending the night on the street, yet. We did drive down Colorado Blvd. two days before New Years and our kids were fascinated with the preparations for the grand parade.

Take you family to the Showcase of Floats at the end of the parade to see the amazing structures up close.

Special thanks to Michelle McCoy who wrote the original version of this article.


Find more Christmas events near you! Trekaroo has guides for dozens of cities across the country.

Lead image by: Michelle McCoy

Pin this to bookmark all the holiday fun; we update it yearly:

Christmas Events in Los Angeles Metro for 2023 3
Sharlene Earnshaw