Orange County Holiday Traditions Return After Nearly 2-Year Hiatus

By Lynn Hackman
Lynn Hackman
Lynn Hackman
Lynn is a reporter for the Southern California edition of The Epoch Times, based in Orange County. She has enjoyed a 25-year career as a senior-level strategic public relations and contingency planning executive. An editor, blogger, and columnist, Lynn also has experience as a television and radio show producer and host. For six years, she was co-host of Sunday Brunch with Tom and Lynn on KOCI 101.5 FM. She is also active in the Newport Beach community, serving as chair emeritus of the Newport Beach City Arts Commission, among various positions with other local organizations.
November 23, 2021 Updated: November 25, 2021

After nearly two years of COVID-19 pandemic closures, many beloved holiday traditions, such as concerts, plays, and Christmas tree and menorah lightings, are back in abundance this holiday season in Southern California.

The Epoch Times has compiled a list of just a few of Orange County’s most iconic and traditional Christmastime favorites by city.

Anaheim

Anaheim Ballet and Symphony Irvine Perform Nutcracker at City National Grove

Clara’s woeful winter is transformed into a candyland feast by her nutcracker doll in the heartwarming classic “Nutcracker” performed by Anaheim Ballet and Symphony Irvine, on Nov. 27 at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm at the City National Grove of Anaheim. Purchase tickets online via Ticketmaster or at the door one hour prior to showtime.

A Charlie Brown Christmas at Chance Theater

When Charlie Brown complains about the overwhelming materialism he sees around him during the holiday season, Lucy suggests he become the director of the school Christmas play. Ultimately the whole Peanuts gang learns the true meaning of Christmas. Showing Dec. 3–19, at various times. Tickets are at www.chancetheater.com.

Magic of Lights at Angel Stadium of Anaheim

Running now through Jan. 2, 2022, Magic of Lights at Angel Stadium of Anaheim is a unique and dazzling drive-through holiday lights experience to celebrate the season. Pile everyone into the car and experience Magic of Lights from the safety and comfort of your own car as you wind through the sparkling path. At every turn, the magical route is overflowing with spectacular light displays that bring to life your favorite holiday scenes and characters of the season using the latest LED technology and digital animations.

Brea

It’s a Wonderful Life—A Live Radio Play

This beloved American holiday classic comes to captivating life as a live 1940’s radio broadcast. With the help of an ensemble of characters, the story of idealistic George Bailey unfolds as he considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve. Presented in partnership with STAGEStheatre and Curtis Theatre at the Brea Civic and Cultural Center from Dec. 9-19, 2021; Thursdays 8:00 pm, Fridays 8:00 pm, Saturdays 3:00 and 8:00 pm, and Sundays 3:00 pm.

Costa Mesa

Handel’s Messiah at Segerstrom Center for the Arts

A beloved holiday tradition, Handel’s celebrated oratorio, with its blazing trumpets, thundering timpani, and spectacular “Hallelujah!” chorus, provides a moment during the busy season to experience reflection, renewal, and joy. Performed by the Pacific Symphony and Pacific Chorale, Handel’s “Messiah” is one show only on Dec. 5, 2021 at 3:00p.m. at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. For tickets, visit www.scfta.org.

Nights of Lights OC

From Nov. 26, 2021 through Jan. 2, 2022, the Orange County Fair and Event Center will be transformed into a magical, interactive drive-through winter wonderland. Over one-million lights line the mile-long route that will thrill kids of all ages. Tickets at www.nightoflightsoc.com.

A Christmas Carol at South Coast Repertory

From the first “bah humbug” to the finale “wassail,” Orange County’s favorite yuletide tradition continues at South Coast Repertory. Starring SCR founding member Richard Doyle as everyone’s favorite curmudgeon Ebenezer Scrooge, this timeless Dickens’ classic is sure to rekindle the holiday spirit. Showing Nov. 27 through Dec. 26. For tickets log on to www.scr.org or call (714) 708-5555.

Dana Point

Holidays at the Harbor

Dana Point Harbor Partners is spreading seasonal cheer with Holidays at the Harbor, the annual holiday light display that will illuminate the harbor, from Nov. 11, 2021 through Jan. 2, 2022.

Each night throughout the holiday season, the harbor’s magnificent light display will illuminate the evening sky for guests of all ages to enjoy at no charge. Themed light exhibits throughout the Harbor will include Candy Cane Lane, a “Merry Kiss Me” arch, lighted trees, and much more.

Huntington Beach

20th Annual Live Nativity and International Celebration of Christmas

Old World Village will host its International Celebration bringing together a diverse group of churches, singers, dancers, and storytellers for a live nativity scene play that celebrates the true meaning of the holiday season on Sunday, Dec. 12 starting at 6:00 pm Free to the public.

Ballet Etudes’ The Nutcracker

Travel with young Clara through a magical world of life-size dolls, toy soldiers, colossal mice, and delicate snowflakes to the fabulous Land of Sweets, home of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier. The Nutcracker will be presented by Ballet Etudes, a non-profit youth ballet company on Saturday, Dec. 4 and Sunday, Dec. 5 at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm at the Huntington Beach High School Historic Theater. More information is at www.balletetudes.com.

The Nutcracker by Ballet Repertory Theatre

Enjoy Ballet Repertory Theatre’s cherished 45-year-old tradition of bringing beloved holiday music to life with nearly 300 performers in dazzling costumes. Exuberant French, Spanish, Arabian, Russian, and Chinese dancers await you, along with twirling candy canes and waltzing flowers. Orange County’s longest-running Nutcracker is held at Golden West College Theater.

Tickets are at www.gwctheater.com or by calling (714) 895-8150.

Irvine

Holidayz at the Park

‘Tis the season for family fun and holiday cheer as Great Park transforms into a winterscape featuring holiday-themed art, music, and decorations. Enjoy festive lights, photo ops, and family activities November 20, 2021–January 2, 2022, at the park. There’s something for everybody:

Take a stroll through the Palm Court adorned with holiday decorations and “Air Santa,” a larger-than-life airplane paying homage to Saint Nick’s travels and the park’s military roots.

Visit the Artist Studios to enjoy interactive displays and festive photo backdrops for the best holiday selfie stations you’ll find this season.

Come seek and find mini elf homes hidden within the holiday decor at the Palm Court Arts Complex, celebrating the City’s 50th anniversary.

Sign up at yourirvine.org for seasonally themed programs, where kids and families can decorate a gingerbread house, learn to draw The Grinch, and enjoy a drive-in screening of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) during a holiday pajama party.

Visit www.yourgreatpark.org/holidayz for a list of all activities. For more information, call 949-724-6247.

Holiday Tree Lighting

Celebrate the season as “snow” falls over the Irvine Civic Center and the community gathers for the annual Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony on Saturday, December 4, 4–6:30 p.m. Join an evening of holiday cheer at this free event, which will include visits with Santa Claus, live holiday music, and a winter-themed train route. For more information, www.cityofirvine.org/specialevents or call 949-724-6606.

Hooray for Hanukkah

Spin the dreidel and light the menorah! Celebrate Hanukah at Pretend City where little ones can learn about this holiday through fun activities, traditions, games, music, and art. Cost is included with museum admission. Sunday, Nov. 28 through Sunday Dec. 5. More information at www.pretendcity.org.

Tanaka Farms Hikari

Loosely translated, Hikari means shine in Japanese, and the family-owned and run Tanaka Farms will be shining bright this year with over a million twinkling holiday lights!

Holiday Wagon Ride and Gingerbread Forest

Enjoy a cozy, family-friendly tractor-pulled wagon ride around the festively lit farm which will take visitors to the “Land of a Thousand Lanterns.” Wander through the breathtaking light displays, with photo opportunities throughout to a Gingerbread Forest where there will be live music, food, arts and crafts, barnyard animals and of course, Santa! Nov. 26 through Dec. 30. Tickets are at www.tanakafarms.com.

Laguna Beach

Sawdust Winter Fantasy

An annual tradition in Laguna Beach, the Sawdust Winter Fantasy offers holiday shoppers a chance to purchase unique artisan crafts by local artists, as well as live entertainment, hands-on art projects, and food stalls. Open weekends from Nov. 20 to Dec. 18. Ticket information is at www.sawdustartfestival.org or by calling (949) 494-3030.

Sister’s Christmas Catechism at Laguna Playhouse

For two nights, Dec. 20 and 21, this holiday mystery extravaganza is essentially a “CSI: Bethlehem” where Sister takes on the mystery that has intrigued historians throughout the ages: whatever happened to the Magi’s gold? Retelling the story of the nativity, as only she can, this hilarious holiday production has been vaccinated, masked and ready to take on Christmas. Ticket information can be found by calling (949) 497-ARTS (2787) or visiting www.lagunaplayhouse.com.

Laguna Hills

A Visit with Santa and a String Quartet

Santa Claus is coming to town! On Dec. 10 from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Santa is making a stop at the Laguna Hills Community Center and will be available for pictures inside our giant walkthrough Holiday Ornament. A string quartet will perform Holiday music during Santa’s visit. Refreshments will be provided by the OC Sheriff’s Department. Kids crafts will be available during this event including an opportunity to write a letter to Santa Claus. More information is at www.ci.laguna-hills.ca.us.

Laguna Niguel

Laguna Niguel Holiday Parade

Join the community fun at this year’s “Jingle All the Way” themed parade complete with beautiful equestrian units, patriotic military tributes, world-class athletes, spirit-filled youth groups, classic auto clubs, marching bands and so much more on Saturday, Dec. 11 at 10:00 am on Crown Valley Parkway between Nueva Vista and Crown Valley Community Park.

Holiday Tea at the Ritz Carlton

Celebrate the timeless tradition of Afternoon Tea with elegant ocean views and breathtaking holiday decor. Prepare your palate to enjoy holiday inspired teas, savory canapés, sweet bites, and a glass of champagne, Monday through Thursday, Nov. 29 through Dec. 16. Call to reserve at 949-240-2000 or visit www.ritzcarlton.com.

Newport Beach

113th Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade & Ring of Lights

Proudly hosted each year by the Commodores Club of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce, watch beautifully decorated yachts, boats, kayaks and canoes sail along the harbor in the 113th Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. This year’s parade is themed “Jingle on the Waves!” and will be held Wednesday through Sunday, Dec. 15-19. More information is at www.christmasboatparade.com.

Balboa Peninsula Lights Cruise

Newport Landing provides 3 cruises each night of the parade and all of December to view the amazing light displays. Cruises during the parade will travel within the parade and view both ships and estates in full décor. The Holiday Lights Cruises view all of the amazing light displays of bay front estates and landscapes and even some ships from the boat parade. For tickets visit www.christmasparadeboats.com.

Lighting of the Bay at Newport Dunes

The 31st annual Lighting of the Bay will begin at dusk on Friday, Nov. 26 and continues through New Year’s Day. The glasslike waters of Newport’s Back Bay will be transformed into a floating winter wonderland with 50 lighted Christmas trees and holiday decorations. Tickets are at www.newportdunes.com.

Newport Dunes Christmas Tree Lot

Pick out the perfect tree starting Saturday, Nov. 20 through Dec. 21 from 10 am to 9 pm (closed Thanksgiving Day) While supplies last, visitors can select from a variety of fresh handpicked trees including Noble, Nordman, Grand and Douglas pines delivered from Salem, Oregon within 16 hours of being cut. Also available will be fresh wreaths and garland, Christmas ornaments and gifts. Visit www.newportdunes.com or call (949) 729-3863.

Orange

A Southern California Christmas at Musco Center

On Sunday, Dec. 19 at 7:00 pm, join Orange Community Master Chorale, Southern California Brass Consortium, Anaheim Ballet, and conductor Michael Short and the Musco Center family for the 4th Annual A Southern California Christmas.

This holiday spectacular features more than 150 musicians, singers, and dancers from across the Southland as they lead the audience in a program packed with some of the world’s favorite carols. From the triumphal tones of a brass fanfare to the thrilling sound of a chorus in full voice and sugarplum dreams woven by dancers’ feet, there’s something for all ages in this merry delight. Tickets and more information are at www.muscocenter.org.

San Clemente

Casa Lumina: Holiday Garden Walk

Experience the wonder of the holiday season during “Casa Lumina Holiday Walk” on select evenings from December 1st through the 21st at Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens. Over 1,000 twinkling lights illuminate Casa Romantica’s exquisitely decorated home and gardens with holiday themes. More information is at www.casaromantica.org or by calling (949) 498-2139.

Santa’s Village by the Sea

On Saturday, Dec. 4 from 4:00 – 8:00 pm, the City of San Clemente and the Downtown Business Association presents, Santa’s Village by the Sea! One holiday event that brings the Holly Jolly Hoopla and the Glitz on Del Mar together for a festive tree lighting and a night of music, food, hot chocolate, popcorn, games, and snow to San Clemente…one big event for the entire family to enjoy! More information by calling (949) 218-5378 or visiting www.san-clemente.org.

San Juan Capistrano

Capistrano Lights

Capistrano Lights will be held Dec. 4 – 30 at the San Juan Capistrano Mission, Orange County’s only Mission. Create memories with family photos under a 10’ wreath and experience the Christmas tree lighting and music program of a grand 30’ tree. Guests can make a prayer for peace by placing a candle near the nativity in the Ruins of the Great Stone Church. Enjoy performances by Dickens era Carolers and selfies with Santa. Visit the Serra Chapel, open after hours, California’s most historic chapel. More information at www.missionsjc.com.

Lynn Hackman
Lynn is a reporter for the Southern California edition of The Epoch Times, based in Orange County. She has enjoyed a 25-year career as a senior-level strategic public relations and contingency planning executive. An editor, blogger, and columnist, Lynn also has experience as a television and radio show producer and host. For six years, she was co-host of Sunday Brunch with Tom and Lynn on KOCI 101.5 FM. She is also active in the Newport Beach community, serving as chair emeritus of the Newport Beach City Arts Commission, among various positions with other local organizations.