10 (Mostly) Snow Free Holiday Traditions in Southern California

Have you ever wondered how we celebrate the holidays here at the beach? Wonder no more as we share our top 10 “must do” holiday traditions around Orange County. Some of them are simply wacky, some are breathtakingly beautiful, but all of them have a unique flair that is Southern California.

So, before the holiday season gets underway, we’ve compiled a list of our absolute favorite “gotta see” events happening in our neck of the woods. Even if you don’t live close enough to join in, we hope they inspire you to seek out unique events in your own community.


Skydiving Santa


1. Sky-Diving Santa, Pacific City, Huntington Beach

You’re invited to witness Santa’s official arrival in Surf City USA! Straight from the North Pole, Santa and two of his elves drop in from the sky and land on the beach in front of Pacific City! Special surprises are in store for all as Santa is escorted from the beach to Pacific City. Enjoy photo ops, holiday songs, and Santa hats and candy canes available while supplies last.

November 23, 2019 noon – 3:00 p.m.

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2. Crystal Cove Tree Lighting and Bazaar, Newport Beach

Every year the beach at Crystal Cove State Park is transformed into a holiday wonderland with vintage ornaments, twinkling lights, and a beautiful, majestic tree on the beach. There’s a half-mile walking trail down to the beach -or you can take a shuttle. The Annual Tree Lighting & Holiday Bazaar features Santa arriving “Baywatch” style on a lifeguard vehicle. Enjoy strolling carolers, complimentary hot chocolate, apple cider and home- baked goodies provided by The Beachcomber Café. The tree lighting ceremony begins at dusk.

December 7 10-5:30 

FREE

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Sawdust Festival


3. Laguna Beach Sawdust Festival “Winter Fantasy,” Laguna Beach

The most festive art festival of the year! Stroll through sawdust and enjoy booths featuring 180 artists and makers. Live music on 3 stages serenade visitors as they enjoy holiday-themed festival classes, ceramics, art demonstrations, outdoor cafes and a saloon. There are daily visits with Santa, carolers, a petting zoo, marionette shows, falling snow, and thousands of lights and decorations for your perfect festive photo ops. Open all day, exciting at night with lights!

Weekends, November 23 – December 22, 2019

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4. WinterFest OC, Costa Mesa

Time for some snow – California style! Fresh snow daily transforms the grounds into a winter wonderland! With face painting, carnival rides, a parade, and a winter themed kiddie playground that is designed for grandparents, parents and children of all ages! Lots of food and treats with a fireworks show every evening at 5:30. A special New Year’s Eve celebration with a count-down, balloon drop and fireworks. During the season there are special days with discounts or free admission for active military, veterans, first responders, nurses, and teachers.

December 10 – January 5

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5. Fashion Island’s Tree Lighting Ceremony, Newport Beach

A well-loved tradition at the Neiman Marcus/Bloomingdale’s Courtyard at Fashion Island. Enjoy a 25 minute live musical show by The Young Americans. The event also promises a visit from Santa, a magical snowfall and the highly-anticipated lighting of the beautiful and majestic Christmas tree. A popular event for locals many arrive as early at 7 am to reserve spots for this free event.

Nov 22— November 23 6 pm. 

FREE

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6. The Dana Point Parade of Lights, Dana Point Harbor

A local event starring the locals! Enjoy a unique parade of boats decorated by their owners. The theme this year is a Hawaiian inspired “Tiki Holiday.” Watch the parade from any of the waterfront restaurants, or bring comfy chairs and blankets (and a picnic basket) to sit on the grassy areas around the harbor. Prizes are given for the best decorations. Come and cheer on your favorites! To get up close, check out the chartered boats. They sell out early!

Dec. 6, 7 and 13, 14 7:30 pm 

FREE

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7. Tree Lighting at the Outlets of San Clemente, San Clemente

Celebrate the arrival of the holiday season at the Outlets at San Clemente’s Annual Tree Lighting Celebration. Hosted by Santa, the event features a live reindeer meet-and-greet, roaming Christmas carolers, hot cocoa, photo booth, crafts, face-painting, balloon animals and the Grand Finale – the lighting of the 80-foot fresh-cut tree as “snow” falls over San Clemente.

November 16, 2019 4:00 – 6:30 p.m. 

FREE

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8. Lighting of the Bay at Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort, Newport Beach

Gather at the shore for the countdown to the Lighting of the Bay featuring Santa Claus, who flips the giant switch to illuminate the bay. Pull out your phones as Santa skims the surf to come ashore on a wave runner for “Selfies with Santa.” Kids love the special activities, meeting Santa and rides on a special holiday train. This is a Newport Beach holiday tradition not to be missed.

November 30, 2019 3:00 – 8:00pm 

FREE

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Roger's Gardens Christmas


9. Enchanted Christmas Boutique, Roger’s Gardens, Newport Beach

Escape to an enchanted forest filled with sparkling toadstools and the scent of pine in the air. Twinkling lights mingle with seasonal greens and delicate hand-blown glass baubles shimmer in a joyful palette of colors. A local favorite nursery, Roger’s Gardens and Farmhouse is transformed into beautifully lit pathways, magical lights and décor. And, don’t be surprised to run into Santa! Enjoy shopping for unique Christmas décor and gifts as you listen to a quartet of strolling Christmas carolers.

October 4 – December 22, 2019. 

FREE

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10. Ugly Sweater Skate Night, Laguna Niguel Skate Park, Laguna Niguel

Love to skate? Dress warmly – in your best Ugly Holiday Sweater - and try this unusual holiday tradition. Skate to your heart’s content up until midnight and cheer on the winner of the best ugly sweater contest. Get set to enjoy tasty winter snacks, free gear and extended hours. Minors must come with their parent or a valid waiver. Nominal fee.

December 14, 2019 6:00pm – Midnight

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And, remember Orange County is also the home of Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm and California Adventure. These theme parks have “over the top” holiday themed activities and décor. So if you are headed this way for a vacation, and are looking to visit a theme park, all are decked out in their holiday finest.

But, wherever you are during the season, check out the local holiday flair in your community whether it’s a tree lighting, a parade, a concert or local carolers performing in the town square. Whether you revel in your own holiday traditions or start something new, we hope your holidays are filled with joy and fun!


Bye for now!

Kirsten, xx


P.S. Getting out and discovering new traditions is just one way to enjoy the holidays. Another is taking advantage of stress-free buying experiences that make your holidays easier. Take a moment to check out our line of beautifully packaged, gift-ready skin care that will delight everyone on your list. 

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