Skip to Content

The Best Christmas Events in Orange County, CA for 2022

The Best Christmas Events in Orange County, CA for 2022

While we may not have snow on the ground and lights in our palm trees, Christmas in Orange County is still something to get excited about! There are lots of great Christmas events in Orange County in 2022, from train rides to see Santa to boat parades and more! Use this guide to plan your perfect holiday seaosn.

You also won’t want to miss our guide to 30 fun things to do in Orange County with kids.

Christmas Events in Orange County 2022

Orange County Boat Parades

Christmas events in Orange County include holiday boat parades
Photo via Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

So much of life in Orange County revolves around its proxmity to the coast, and Christmas boat parades are an important tradition to those of us living in OC.

In South County, Dana Point Harbor plays host to the 47th Annual Fiesta Boat Parade of Lights on December 9, 10, and 11, 2022. The parade begins at 7pm on the 9th and 6pm on the 10th and 11th. This year’s theme is “Surfin’ USA”.

Beginning November 16, you also won’t want to miss the annual light display at Dana Point Harbor which features over 700,000 lights, including the popular “Merry Kiss Me” arch and a giant lighted whale sculpture.

Up in Huntington Beach, the 60th annual Huntington Harbour Boat Parade will take place December 10 and 11, 2022 at 6pm and this year’s theme is “Swinging to the Sounds”.

The granddaddy of them all is the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, now in its 114th year. The parade winds around Newport Harbor, and the parks and shoreline around Lido Park, Balboa Island, and the harbor side of Newport penninsula are always packed with people.

This year’s parade will be held Wednesday through Sunday, December 14-18, 2022 and begins around 6:30pm each night. You can purchase tickets to view the parade from aboard one of the lighted boats and even rent out an entire yacht if you want! There are several restaurants that offer “dine and watch” packages and reserved seating is available at Newport Sea Base.

Heading to LA? Don’t miss our complete guide to Christmas events in Los Angeles Metro. What about San Diego or Palm Springs? We have Christmas guides for those destinations as well!

Irvine Park Railroad Christmas Train

Irvine Park Railroad Orange County Christmas events
Photo via Irvine Park Railroad

If you have young children, the one Orange County Christmas event you won’t want to miss is the Irvine Park Railroad Christmas Train. This event sells out fast, so book your ticket early! It runs November 25, – December 23, 2022.

Families will board the train and take a ride to the “North Pole” where kids get off the train to tell Santa what they want for Christmas and take a photo. Then they will get back on the train and pass by Christmas lights and displays, as well as the tunnel of lights, until they make their way back to Santa’s Village.

At Santa’s Village there will be more lights to enjoy, as well as cookie decorating, ice fishing, moon bounce, carnival games, and Rudolph racers.

Lighting of the Bay at Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort

Newport Dunes LIghting of the Bay is one of the popular Orange County CHristmas Events
Photo via Newport Dunes

Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort hosts the 32nd annual Lighting of the Bay on Friday, November 25 from 4-9 pm. There will be live musical performances, stocking decorating, holiday photo booths, visits with Santa, an outdoor screening of the movie Elf, as well as 50 floating decorations and Christmas trees.

The resort’s nightly bay lighting will continue through New Year’s Day. Througout the season there will be fire pits, s’mores, and a holiday tree lot.

Winter Fest OC

Winter Fest Orange County Christmas Events
Winter Fest OC

Winter Fest OC & Night of Lights OC is back for another year at the Orange County Fair & Event Center from November 25, 2022 to January 1, 2023. Tickets should be purchase in advance online.

This year’s event features the all-new “North Pole Journey” immersive walk-through experience, ice skating, a nine-lane 150-foot-long ice tubing slide, ice bumper cars, carnival rides and games, character meetand greets, and seasonal food for purchase.

Sawdust Art Festival Winter Fantasy

Sawdust Art Festival Winter Fantasy
Photo via Visit Laguna Beach

A tradition in Laguna Beach year after year, the Sawdust Art Festival Winter Fantasy is an Orange County Christmas event that art lovers will not want to miss. This year it runs from November 19 – December 18, 2022 on weekends and select Fridays.

Enjoy thousands of lights and decorations, purchase handcrafted gifts designed by over 100 artists, listen to live music and carolers, enjoy puppet shows and visits with Santa.

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

Capistrano Lights

Mission San Juan Capistrano hosts Capistrano Lights
Photo via Mission San Juan Capistrano

Mission San Juan Capistrano will host Capistrano Lights on select days December 3- 30, 2022. There will be perfomances by carolers, visits and pictures with Santa, community Christmas trees throughout the grounds, and extended evening hours to enjoy the mission bathed in lights.

At 5:05pm there will be a nightly Christmas tree lighting and music program featuring three new songs. Tickets can be booked online.

Heritage Hill

Candlelight Walk in Heritage Hill Historical Park Lake Forest
Photo via Orange County Parks

Christmas comes to Heritage Hill Historical Park in Lake Forest with the annual Candlelight Walk December 9 – 11, 2022 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! 

Holiday Lights will also take place at Heritage Hill December 16 – 18, 2022 from 5 – 9pm. This is an opportunity to wander throught the lights and take holiday photos. Well-behaved, leashed dogs are welcome.

Hikari- A Festival of Lights at Tanaka Farms

Tanaka Farms has one of the best Orange County Christmas Events
Photo via Tanaka Farms

Tanaka Farms in Irvine is hosting an after-dark wagon ride and walk-through event called Hikari: A Festival of Lights, November 25 – December 30, 2022. This farm is well known for its u-pick strawberries, melons, veggies and pumpkins throughtout the year, but come Christmas, they have set up a trail of lanterns and lights to explore.

There will be crafts, games, a petting zoo, a produce stand, a holiday market, and plenty of photo opps. They also have a Christmas tree stand. The Tanaka Grill will be open as well if you would like to grab dinner and there will be live music on the weekends.

Ticket prices vary by time selected, and military (active duty or retired) are admitted for free. Tanaka Farms made our list of the best pumpkin patches in Orange County.

Holidayz at the Great Park

The Best Christmas Events in Orange County, CA for 2022 1
Photo via City of Irvine

The Great Park in Irvine was slow to come into its own, but in the past couple years it has become a great Orange County destination for families. This year it will host Holidayz at the Park from November 19, 2022 to January 1, 2023.

There will be holiday-themed events, displays, and lights. Palm Court will be a great place to take holiday photos complete with holiday lights and an airplane taken over by the Grinch, a nod to El Toro Marine Base which previously occupied the space.

The Artist Studio will be a pop-up museum with various winter themed backdrops perfect for picture taking. It is open Fridays from 5 – 9pm and weekends from 12 – 8pm.

There will also be various holiday-themed class to sign up for, and a pajama party drive-in movie night on December 10, 2022. 

Holidays at Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens in San Clemente

Casa Lumins Holiday Walk

Throughout November and December, Casa Romantica, the home of the founder of the city of San Clemente, has several activities and experiences for all ages, and plenty of marvelous ocean views.

The season will kick off with a screening of It’s a Wonderful Life November 22nd from 6-8pm. Casa Nutcracker will be performed December 8th and 9th by the Orange County Ballet Theater. It is an abridged version with a runtime of one hour and twenty minutes, making it great for children.

Casa Lumina Holiday Walk will take place on select nights December 1 – 22, 2022. Explore the historic home and gardens after dark with beautiful lights and holiday displays. There will be live musical performances and holiday activities. Tickets for all of these events can be purchased online.

Orange County Christmas Events at Theme Parks

Christmas at the Disneyland Resort
Photo via Disneyland Resort

Disneyland Resort

Chistmas at the Disneyland Resort is probably the largest of all Orange County Christmas events. From fabulous seasonal food to vibrant holiday decor and spectacular shows, it simply can’t be beat. The official Disneyland Christmas 2022 season runs November 11- January 8. 

More than 126,000 sparkling lights drip down Sleeping Beauty’s Castle like icicles, and vibrant holiday decorations trim nearly every nook and cranny of the park. The ever-popular “Christmas Fantasy” Parade starring Santa Claus puts us all in the Christmas spirit. Disney traditions continue with Disneyland’s “Believe… in Holiday Magic” fireworks show which is capped off with a snowfall finale.

Several attractions get holiday makeovers like “it’s a small world” Holiday, Haunted Mansion Holiday, Mater’s Jingle Jamboree, and Luigi’s Joy to the Whirl. World of Color-Season of Light as well as Disney California Adventure’s Festival of Holidays are seasonal experiences you won’t want to miss either.

Read our comprehensive guide to Christmas at Disneyland Resort for all the details.

Knott’s Merry Farm

Knotts Merry Farm

Orange County’s original theme park is Knott’s Berry Farm. This theme park hosts Knott’s Merry Farm November 18, 2022 – January 8, 2023.

The entire park is transformed into a classic holiday festival, with thousands of twinkling lights, seasonal cuisine and treats, and plenty of holiday entertainment.

There is a Christmas Crafts Village, Santa’s Christmas Cabin, a light show in Camp Snoopy and a nightly tree lighting ceremony.

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

Orange County Holiday Shows

“A Wonderful Winter of OZ” at the Laguna Playhouse

Laguna Playhouse Holiday Panto

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

In the 2022 Christmas season, enjoy performances of “A Wonderful Winter of OZ” at the Laguna Playhouse December 8-29, 2022. My daughter and I attend a Panto performance at the Laguna Playhouse every year and have always enjoyed every moment. It is perfect for kids of all ages.

Golden Tickets can be added any child’s ticket for an additional $50 each. This will give children a special onstage sing-along experience during the performance and a gift bag.


Nutcracker Ballet

Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa will be hosting American Ballet Theatre’s production of The Nutcracker which will take place December 9-18, 2022. There will also be a special performance of Nutcracker for kids on December 3, 2022. All of these shows are popular and will sell out, so book your tickets early.

The Festival Ballet Theatre will also be performing Nutcracker shows at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. There will an abridged version designed with young kids in mind Friday, December 9, 2022 at 9:30am & 11:30am. The full version will be running December 10 – 24, 2022.

There is also a special Nutcracker Tea Party which takes place before the show. Show tickets can be purchased with the tea party add-on for an additional fee. There will be finger sandwiches, sweet treats, tea, lemonade, and champagne. Children will be gathered to listen to the story of The Nutcracker and visited by some of the characters from the ballet. There will be plenty of great photo opps as well.

Outdoor Ice Skating

The Best Christmas Events in Orange County, CA for 2022 2
Photo via Pasea Hotel

In 2022, 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 November 25 – December 31, 2022. Tickets can be purchase in advance.

Ever dreamed of ice skating on the beach? The Surf City Rink will be at Plaza Pier at the bease of the Huntington Beach Pier. The rink will be open November 26th – January 2nd and tickets can be purchase in advance.

The outdoor ice rink at Irvine Spectrum Center will return for another year. It is located next to the Ferris Wheel and giant Christmas tree. This year the rink will be open November 4, 2022 through January 1, 2023.

Speaking of the giant Christmas tree, it will come alive with a choreographed light and music show every 30 minutes, from 5 pm until 11 pm throughout the Christmas season.

Christmas at Orange County Resorts

Ritza Carlton Laguna Niguel Christmas tree
Photo via Visit Dana Point

Orange County is a major vacation destination and our resorts tend to go all out for the holidays.

Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel hosts a tree lighting ceremony on November 20, at 4pm to kick off their seasonal Christmas on the Coast festivities. Their lobby is fully decorated for the Christmas season with several trees and an impressive gingerbread display.

They have holiday teas Monday through Thursday at 2:30pm November 28 through December 15, 2022 at RAYA. These are very popular and should be reserved in advance. They also host gingerbread building, teddy bear tea, and holiday storytelling.

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. They have a Christmas tree lighting on December 3rd followed by special entertainment. There will be storytime with Santa by the outdoor tree on Saturdays in December. A menorah lighting will take place on December 18th.

You can also book holiday teas throughout the season at this resort, as well as a special Sparkling Princess Tea & Storytime on December 17, 2022. There are several special experiences schedule throughout the season including ornament making, wreath making, chocolate tastings, painting class, cookie decorating, and Nutcracker tutu school.

At the Great Wolf Lodge of Anaheim, there are several special events and experiences taking place for 2022. Check out our guide to Christmas at Great Wolf Lodge for more information.