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100 mostly free holiday celebrations, activities to do in Orange County in December

Orange County communities offer so many ways to get into the holiday spirit, here are just some of the events to choose from … and watch for more in coming weeks.

ALISO VIEJO

All is Bright Holiday Celebration: Usher in the holiday season with this annual event Dec. 1 from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Aliso Viejo Town Center Fountain & Amphitheater.  There will be train rides, ornament making, entertainment and snow will fall. Santa will also help light the 22-foot Christmas tree. Information: cityofalisoviejo.com

Hey Santa: The city will be helping kids reach Santa. Write the big guy a letter and mail or drop it off by Dec. 9 and the city will ensure children receive a response

ANAHEIM

Express fun: Muzeo Express, a holiday model train exhibit, will be open Dec. 3 through Jan. 22 at the Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center. The model trains travel through carefully detailed miniature scenes. Get schedules and tickets: muzeo.org

Holiday party: The lighting of a 50-foot Christmas tree will cap a day of free holiday fun Dec. 3 at Center Street Promenade in downtown Anaheim during the annual tree lighting and holiday village community event. Starting at noon, there will be pictures with Santa, shopping, a dog contest, entertainment and other activities for families. The tree lighting starts at 6 p.m. DowntownAnaheim.com

Family festival: The Anaheim Hills Festival shopping center is planning a free “holiday spectacular” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec. 17 with fun events for families such as photos with Santa Claus, train rides and face painting. Information: anaheimhillsfestival.com/events-and-promotions

On stage: The Chance Theater will stage the “Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas” musical Dec. 9-23, with photos and autographs before each performance. For showtimes and box office: ChanceTheater.com

Community brunch: The annual holiday brunch started by K&A Cafe and Catering returns to West Center Street Promenade in downtown Anaheim on Dec. 24. There will be a brunch to feed families and anyone who might need some extra help during the holidays. In addition to food, there will be activities for families, entertainment and a visit from Santa Claus with gifts. The brunch will last from 9 a.m. to noon. There are a variety of ways to help out. Information: Facebook.com/KAdowntowncafe

BREA

Holiday scholars: The Brea Glenbrook Women’s Club will raise money for its high school scholarship fund with its 51st annual craft bazaar Dec. 3. Crafts and gifts will be sold by numerous vendors from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; a $1 donation is requested at the gate, 1821 E. Greenbriar Lane, for the fundraiser.

Tree lighting: The annual tree lighting at the Civic & Cultural Center will occur at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 1. Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus will stop by to greet folks and take photos. Local schoolchildren will entertain. Admission is free, though photos with Santa will cost $5.  Information: ci.brea.ca.us

Christmas nightmare: The city will host a Movie Under the Stars night featuring a free screening of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” at 6 p.m. on Dec. 10 in the plaza of the Civic Center. Chairs and blankets are encouraged.

Live theater: The Curtis Theatre and STAGESthratre are presenting “It’s a Wonderful Life” as a live radio play from Dec. 15 to 18. Tickets are $23-$30. Information and tickets: CurtisTheatre.com

Attention, Santa: Children can drop a letter to Santa – with the expectation of getting a reply – at a special mailbox in the Community Center through Dec. 16. Include a self-addressed, stamped return envelope.

BUENA PARK

Candy Caneland and Craft Faire: This free, family-friendly winter celebration marks its 51st  year. The fair will run 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 3. Activities include a snow slide, a visit from Santa, entertainment, a petting zoo and more than 100 artisan craft booths at Ehlers Community Center, 8150 Knott Ave. Information: buenapark.com

Anna Lonetti takes a ride on the snow with her 2-year-old grandson, Liam Olds, during the Candy Caneland and Craft Faire in Buena Park on Saturday, December 4, 2021. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Sugar Plum: The annual Sugar Plum Festival runs Dec. 1-4 at Buena Park Downtown Mall. The festival offers an array of holiday-themed merchandise and edible delicacies for sale. For hours and more information, visit sugarplumfestivals.com.

Christmas tree: Santa will be on hand for the city’s annual Christmas tree-lighting celebration at 6 p.m. Dec. 2 at City Hall, 6650 Beach Blvd. There will be entertainment, activities for kids and a photo area. Information: buenapark.com

Write to Santa: A special mailbox for letters to Santa is up at the Buena Park Community Center through Dec. 12. Kids can drop their letter there and expect a response. Include your mailing information so he can write back. Or email him at [email protected]

CORONA DEL MAR

Christmas Walk: The annual Christmas Walk in the Corona Del Mar Business District will feature entertainment by local bands, food, children’s activities, a beer and wine garden, unique vendor gifts and more from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Dec. 4. Information: cdmchamber.com

Lots of lights: The Sherman Library & Gardens hosts its annual Nights of 1,000 Lights festival from 6 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 9-11, 15-22. There are three entry times each night. The gardens will feature a variety of themes and photo opportunities to stroll through along with other holiday activities. Tickets are $35 general admission but must be purchased online and are expected to sell out. Information and tickets: thesherman.org

COSTA MESA

Doghouse: The city’s beloved Snoopy House display will be open from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. nightly Dec. 16-23 next to City Hall. Santa will make a special visit and take photographs with families starting at 6 p.m. each night. There will also be train rides and a lights display. On weekends there will be performances and sledding. Information: costamesaca.gov

Winter Fest OC: Activities include outdoor ice skating, ice tubing down Snowflake Summit, a snow play area, SoCal Dicken’s Village and winter wonderland with various entertainment and activities. The Festival of Lights has a stroll-through display. Tickets start at $19.95 and there are various passes available. Winter Fest is open through Jan. 1 at the OC Fair & Event Center. Information: winterfestoc.com.

‘A Christmas Carol’: South Coast Repertory will present the Charles Dickens’ classic holiday story for the 42nd year.SCR founding member Richard Doyle returns as Ebenezer Scrooge.   Various showtimes through Dec. 24. Tickets range from $35 to $101. Information: scr.org

CYPRESS

Holiday sing: The city will host a festive Holiday Sing and Tree Lighting event for the community at 6 p.m. on Dec. 6 at the Civic Center Green Corner, which is at Orange Avenue and Grindlay Street. There will be school performances, crafts and games, treats, train rides and a visit by Santa Claus. Chair and blankets are encouraged.

DANA POINT

Santa on the go: The city’s trolley will take Santa on a tour of the community on Dec. 3 to distribute pre-packaged treats to children 12 and younger. Children can also bring a letter for Santa that will be collected and if they include a mailing address, Santa will get back to them. Stops are half an hour at: 1:30 p.m., Sunset Park; 2:30 p.m., Dana Woods Park; 3:30 p.m., Sea Canyon Park; 4:30 p.m., La Plaza Park (for the city’s tree lighting event at 5:15 p.m.).

On Dec. 5, the Jolly Trolley will be arriving with Santa to hand out treats at 4:30 p.m. at Pines Park, which will be followed by a tree lighting there at 5:15 p.m.

Tree lighting: The city’s tree lighting will be 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 3. There will be carolers and treats, plus bring an unwrapped toy for the Spark of Love drive.  Santa arrives at 4:30 at La Plaza Park, 34111 La Plaza (Pacific Coast Highway, north of Golden Lantern).

Santa Paws: The Pet Project Foundation will be hosting its 10th annual Santa Paws event 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. Dec. 17 and 18. People are invited to bring their pets to the Clock Courtyard to have their photo taken with Santa for a donation to support the Pet Project Foundation, which supports the San Clemente-Dana Point Animal Shelter.

Boat Parade of Lights: The 47th annual Boat Parade of Lights will take place Dec. 9-11 through the harbor. This year’s theme is “Surfin’ USA.” The Boat Parade of Lights starts at 7 p.m. on Dec. 9 and 10 and 6 p.m. on Dec. 11. Information: danapointharbor.com

The harbor area is also decorated with its holiday light display consisting of more than 700,000 lights, including the popular “Merry Kiss Me” arch and giant whale.

The Dana Pride leads the 43rd annual Dana Point boat parade on Friday, Dec. 8. (Photo courtesy of Dana Point Harbor)
The Dana Pride leads the 43rd annual Dana Point boat parade on Friday, Dec. 8. (Photo courtesy of Dana Point Harbor)

FOUNTAIN VALLEY

Tree lighting: The city will celebrate the holidays with the lighting of its tree at the Fountain Valley Recreation Center on Dec. 3. The event is 4:30 to 8 p.m. and will feature family activities, pictures with Santa, live entertainment and the Hyundai Snow Zone. Information: fountainvalley.org

FULLERTON

Winter Market: The annual festival in Fullerton’s Downtown Plaza, which will take place from 2 to 6 p.m. on Dec. 3, with activities for kids and adults, with an array of artisan and unique vendors and food booths, entertainment and a beer and wine garden. Information: fullertonmuseum.com

“The Nutcracker”: The annual holiday production of “The Nutcracker” by the Nouveau Chamber Ballet, based in Fullerton, will be performed at 2 p.m. Dec. 17 at the Fullerton College Campus Theatre. The performance is especially made for children.  Reserved seating is $15-$25. Information and tickets: nouveauchamberballet.com

Holiday fun: The Muckenthaler Cultural Center’s annual Holiday Festival, which will take place from noon to 4 p.m. on Dec. 18, features family friendly activities, an arts and crafts fair and live performances. Santa will be in attendance. Admission is free. Information:  themuck.org

GARDEN GROVE

Tree lighting: Winter in the Grove on Dec. 3 will feature Snowtopia with nine slides, a holiday boutique, a visit by Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus and the lighting of the city’s holiday tree. It runs from 3 to 7 p.m. at Village Green Park. Free admission, snow slide is $5. Information: ggcity.org

Community celebration: The West Grove Jingle Jam will be held 5 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 9 at Eastgate Park. Enjoy performances, activities and a variety of foot trucks. Santa is expected to make an appearance. Information: Facebook.com/wggjinglejam

HUNTINGTON BEACH

Light a Light of Love: A family friendly event lighting up the pier with a children’s parade and lighting the giant snowflakes on the pier. The 3:30-6 p.m. event on Dec. 4 is free at the Huntington Beach Pier Plaza; sponsor a snowflake to benefit the Waymakers Huntington Beach Youth Shelter. Information: waymakersoc.org

“Nutcracker” ballet: Ballet Etudes’ cast of dancers will present the holiday classic at the Huntington Beach High School Theater. Performances are 2 p.m. Dec. 3, 4, 11 and 7 p.m. Dec. 4 and 11. Tickets start at $30. Information: balletetudes.com

Boat parade: The Huntington Harbour Boat Parade will shine bright for its 60th year on Dec. 10 and 11. Boats line up at 4:30 p.m. and the parade starts at 5:15 p.m. Public viewing from beaches only. The grand marshal is Michael Gates. Track the route and get more information at HHBoatParade.org.

Cruise of Lights: The Huntington Harbour Philharmonic Committee presents the Cruise of Lights, a 45-minute narrated harbor boat tour to see the holiday lights. Adults pay $26, children $12. Cruises depart hourly each evening at 5:30, 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 Dec.16-23. Information: cruiseoflights.org

Seasonal sounds: The Huntington Beach Union High School District’s Academy for the Performing Arts will present “Sounds of the Season” at 7 p.m. Dec. 8-10 in the Huntington Beach High School auditorium. Information/box office: hbapa.org/see.

Winter fun: The city is again hosting Surf City Winter Wonderland with an ice skating rink at the Pier Plaza. The rink will be open daily through Jan. 8, check online for hours. Cost is $22 a skater. Information: surfcitywinterwonderland.org

IRVINE

Tree lighting: The Civic Center will celebrate the holidays with a tree lighting celebration from 4 to 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 3. There will be visits with Santa, a winter-themed train route and entertainment at this free community event. Bring a toy donation. Snow is in the forecast. Information: cityofirvine.org

Dash with Santa: The Run for a Claus returns, featuring a 5K and a 1-mile kids run/walk, on Dec. 10 at the UC Irvine campus. Santa Claus is expected to join in the fun. Registration and information: runforaclaus.com

Park holiday: The Great Park has become a winterscape that will celebrate the season through Jan. 1. Holidayz at the Park features special decorations and family activities from dusk to 9:30 p.m. Stroll the decorated Palm Court and enjoy selfie stations at the Artists Studios. There is a Pajama Party Movie Night on Dec. 10 (registration is required ahead of time). Information and registration: ocgp.org/holidayz

Vera Thomson, 9, of Rancho Mission Viejo, center, enjoys the fake snow during the annual City of Irvine Christmas tree lighting event in Irvine on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Vera Thomson, 9, of Rancho Mission Viejo, center, enjoys the fake snow during the annual City of Irvine Christmas tree lighting event in Irvine on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

“The Nutcracker:” Enjoy this favorite holiday ballet performed by Orange County’s resident dance company, the Festival Ballet, with some special guest artists, at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. There are various performances Dec. 10-24. Information and tickets: festivalballet.org

Holiday village: Tanaka Farms’ Hikari — A Festival of Lights is open daily from 4:30 to 10 p.m. (gates close at 8 p.m.) through Dec. 30, except holidays.There is a holiday wagon ride and the farm is festively lit. Visit with the farm animals, get a photo with Santa and experience the 30-acre working farm. The farm also has a Christmas tree lot and holiday market. Tickets start at $20. Information and reservations: tanakafarms.com

Shelter Christmas: The Irvine Animal Care Center will host its 16th annual Home for the Holidays pet adoption fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 11. It will feature animals available for adoption. There will be pet-related vendors and more. Tickets are $5 per person 14 and older and are required. Information: irvineanimals.org

LADERA RANCH

Christmas miracle:  There will be holiday crafts, carnival games and more at the Miracle on Mercantile Way event and tree lighting on Dec. 3. Santa will make a visit and end the 2 to 5 p.m. event at the Town Green by lighting a 60-foot tree. Bring an unwrapped toy for the families of the community’s adopted Marine Battalion.  Information: LaderaLife.com

Festival of Lights: The Ladera Ranch Festival of Lights will celebrate the first night of Hanukkah from 4 to 6 p.m. on Dec. 18. There will be music, dancing, crafts and dreidels and the traditional menorah will be lit. Information: LaderaLife.com

LAGUNA BEACH

Hospitality Night:  The festivities begin in the Peppertree Lot (Lot 2), where Santa Claus will arrive to greet holiday revelers before the tree lighting. Begins at 5 p.m. on Dec. 2. Trolley service will run until 10 p.m. Information: lagunabeachcity.net.

Winter festival: The Sawdust Art & Craft Festival will host its Winter Fantasy from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends and select Fridays  through Dec. 18. Along with shopping there are holiday performances and more. General admission is $10. Sawdustartfestival.org

LAGUNA HILLS

Tree lighting: The city will host Herald in the Holidays from 6 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 8 at the Community Center. The South Orange County Holiday Brass and the Spirit Bells, a handbell choir from Concordia University, will perform, there will be crafts for kids to do, refreshments and the lighting of the city’s tree. Bring a toy for donation to Team Darkhorse to benefit children of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines.  Also, bring canned food to donate to South County Outreach. Warm dress is encouraged.

Breakfast with Santa: The Community Center will be hosting breakfast with Santa Claus at 9 a.m. on Dec. 10. Pre-Registration is required; cost is $10.00 for residents and $15.00 for non-residents. Information: lagunahillsca.gov.

Santa at night: Santa Claus will be taking photos at the Laguna Hills Community Center where a giant walkthrough holiday ornament will be created. The 6 to 8 p.m. event on Dec. 14 will also feature carolers, refreshments and activities for children. Bring a toy for donation to Team Darkhorse to benefit children of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines.  Also, bring canned food to donate to South County Outreach. Warm dress is encouraged.

LAGUNA NIGUEL

Holiday parade: The annual Laguna Niguel Holiday Parade will take place at 10 a.m. Dec. 10 on Crown Valley Parkway between Nueva Vista and Crown Valley Community Park. Information:  lagunaniguelparade.com

Tree time: Laguna Niguel’s annual Christmas tree lighting, will occur 5-8 p.m. Dec.3 at City Hall, 30111 Crown Valley Parkway. There will be entertainment, crafts and photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus.  Free shuttle services from Crown Valley Park from 4 to 9 p.m. Information: cityoflagunaniguel.org

LA HABRA

Tamales and fun: The popular annual Tamale Festival will fill the day Dec. 3. Tamale vendors will be selling their savory and sweet creations; there will also be other food for sale and performers on three different stages. The event runs 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Euclid Street between La Habra Boulevard and Bridenbecker Avenue. Information: lahabratamalefestival.com.

Hang with Santa: The Children’s Museum at La Habra will host Breakfast with Santa this year where children can take photos with the big guy and do activities. Sessions are 8:30 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. on Dec. 10 and Dec. 11. Registration required, check online for prices. Information: lhcm.org

Holiday decorating contest: The city’s Holiday Home Decorating Contest is accepting nominations from Dec. 1 through 12. Judges will view the homes the week of Dec. 12, and the winners will be announced Dec. 19 at a City Council meeting. Winners get a yard sign. Get information on how to email in nominations at lahabraca.gov.

LAKE FOREST

Tree lighting: The city’s second annual tree lighting ceremony at the Civic Center will be held at 4 p.m. on Dec. 3. There will be entertainment, family activities and food vendors. The night will end with the city’s tree lighting at dark (about 6 p.m.).

Wander Heritage Hill: Experience the historic Heritage Hill park decked out for the season. On Dec. 9-11 explore the park and its historic buildings during the Candlelight Walk from 5 to 9 p.m.  Twinkling lights will guide visitors on the pathways on Dec. 16-18, same hours. Both events are free at 25151 Serrano Road. Information: ocparks.com/heritagehill

LA PALMA

Tree lighting: The city’s annual holiday tree-lighting ceremony begins with visits with Santa Claus and crafts for kids at 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 7 at the Central Park Pavilion. The tree lighting will be at 5:30 p.m. Santa will be visiting and there will be crafts and activities for children. Rain would reschedule the event to Dec. 14. Information: cityoflapalma.org/treelighting

MISSION VIEJO

On ice: There will be ice skating in the Civic Center Plaza from Dec. 5 to 12. Rudolph’s Rink will feature 40 minute sessions starting each hour from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 2 to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Skate rentals are $12. Or enjoy a warm treat at the Christmas Cafe while you watch. Information: mvactivities.com

Light a candle: The Chabad of Mission Viejo will celebrate the Festival of Lights with the community from 3 to 5 p.m. on Dec. 18 at the Village Green, 24932 Veterans Way. Along with lighting the menorah, the event will feature music and entertainment, family activities and games. Latkes and sufganiyot, or jelly donuts, will be served.

Visit Santa: The Big Guy will be hanging out in Santa’s Workshop with Mrs. Claus and some elves for taking photos from 6 to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays Dec. 10-18  in the Mission Viejo Civic Center. Information: mvactivities.com

Show tradition: The “Feast of Lights” returns to Saddleback College’s McKinney Theatre with performances by the college’s Chamber singers and the Community Chorale and Symphony Orchestra. There will be an audience sing-along and student artists will have a boutique before the show. Shows are 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2 and 3, and 2 and 5 p.m. Dec. 4; general admission is $30. Information: saddleback.edu/fa/All-Arts-Events

Holiday play: Enjoy the production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”  Dec. 2-11 at Saddleback College’s Studio Theatre. General admission is $12 at saddleback.edu/fa/All-Arts-Events

Holiday concert: The Festival Singers of Orange County will perform “Holiday Harmonies” at 3 p.m. Dec. 11 at the Presbyterian Church of the Master, 26051 Marguerite Parkway. The performance will celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah and the winter solstice. Tickets are $20. Information: festivalsingers.net

Drive-Through Nativity at Mount of Olives Church: Drive through or walk to experience a live retelling of the Christmas story. Enjoy live actors, animals, music and narration via your car radio. Attendees are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items to donate at the very end of the living Nativity to support families and singles in need. The free event is open 6-10 p.m. Dec. 2 and 3 at Mount of Olives Church. Information: moochurch.org/christmas/drive-thru-nativity

NEWPORT BEACH

Vintage Christmas: Crystal Cove Conservancy will host its annual holiday bazaar from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 3; it will feature shopping from local artisans and the chance to meet Santa Claus (from noon to 4:30) among other activities. Information: crystalcove.org

Menorah lighting: The Chabad Center for Jewish Life-Newport Beach and Fashion Island will host a public menorah lighting ceremony Dec. 18. The event will start at 3 p.m. and will feature performances, festive traditions and treats. It will be in the Atrium Garden Court. Information: fashionisland.com

Island lighting: The Balboa Island Christmas tree will be having a lighting ceremony  Dec. 4 at the First Station at Marine and Park avenues. But first the island will have its holiday golf cart parade at 2 p.m. There will be a holiday program and activities for kids.

Lighting of the Bay: Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort will celebrate the season by lighting up its bay nightly with floating holiday decorations. It offers a variety of activities, look online for prices and times.

Boat Parade of Lights: Hundreds of decorated boats will sail around Bay Island and Newport Harbor during the 114th annual event. The parade runs nightly Dec. 14-18, starting about 6:30 p.m. It starts and ends at Tip of Lido Isle. There will be fireworks at 6:15 on Dec. 14 to open the parade and at 9 p.m. on Dec. 18 to mark its end.  Information and map: christmasboatparade.com

ORANGE

Christmas village: Irvine Park Railroad’s Santa’s Village and Christmas Train are open daily through Dec. 23. Children can visit Santa and experience a ride through the Tunnel of Lights. There are other activities, such as carnival games, blizzard ball and a moon bounce. Costs for activities vary, some are free. Information: irvineparkrailroad.com

Tree lighting: The annual tree-lighting ceremony and candlelight choir procession will be Dec. 4, starting at 3:30 p.m. with activities for families in the Old Towne Orange Plaza. At 5:15, the city will light the tree, and the choir candlelight procession will begin. The event is free and open to the public. Information: cityoforange.com

Hanukkah celebration: Temple Beth Sholom will host a Hanukkah menorah lighting at 6 p.m. nightly in the traffic circle of the Orange Plaza from Dec. 18 to 25. Each night of Hanukkah a ceremony to light another candle will be held and there will be jelly donut holes for the community. Temple Beth Sholom serves a large population in Orange. Information: 714-628-4600

Holiday music: Chapman University’s Musco Center is hosting the always popular Holiday Wassail Concert for the 58th year. It will take place at 8 p.m. Dec. 9 and 10 and feature Chapman’s orchestra and choirs performing holiday music. General admission is $25.

On Dec. 21-22, Nochebuena: Christmas Eve in Mexico will feature Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles and Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuéllar performing at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $25.

Information and tickets at tickets.chapman.edu.

Library visits: Santa Claus will stop by Orange library branches to visit with children. Parents are encouraged to bring cameras to get photos of their children with Santa during the free event and kids can write Santa a letter. He will visit the Orange Public Library & History Center from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 6; the El Modena Branch from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Dec. 12; and the Taft Branch from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 14. Information: orangepubliclibrary.org

Holiday music: St. John’s Lutheran Church of Orange’s “The Sounds of Christmas” concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9, and 2 and 5 p.m. Dec. 10. It will feature The Jubilate Choir, Cathedral Bells and the Festival Orchestra. There is no admission, but a freewill offering will be accepted. Child care is available. St. John’s is at 185 S. Center St. Information: stjohnsorange.org

Zoo celebration: Even the animals at the zoo celebrate the holidays. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 10, guests are invited to meet Santa Claus, do holiday activities and watch the zoo animals get delicious holiday treats. Admission is $2 per person; parking is $5 per vehicle. Information: ocparks.com/zoo

PLACENTIA

Tamale Festival: The city will present the always popular Tamale Festival from 4 to 10 p.m. Dec. 8 on the 100-200 block of Santa Fe Street  and the south side of Bradford Avenue in Old Town Placentia. A variety of tamales may be purchased from downtown restaurants and there will be live entertainment, a visit by Santa Claus and a craft beer garden.

Tamales are the main event at Placentia's annual Tamale Festival. (Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Tamales are the main event at Placentia’s annual Tamale Festival. (Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Tree lighting: The Placentia Community Holiday Festival and Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Civic Center Plaza, 401 E. Chapman Ave. Get into the spirit with holiday performances and a special visit from Santa Claus. Information: placentia.org

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA

Dine with Santa: The RSM Cares Bell Tower Foundation hosts its annual Breakfast with Santa on Dec. 3 at the community center. There are two sessions, 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., tickets are $6 for kids and $16 for adults and $25 for a prepaid photo package.. Enjoy breakfast, storytime and crafts. Information and tickets: rsmcares.org

SAN CLEMENTE

Santa’s Village by the Sea: Ring in the season in downtown San Clemente on Dec. 3, beginning at 4 p.m. The evening brings together the Holly Jolly Hoopla and the Glitz on Del Mar events. From 4 to 8 p.m. there will be games, entertainment, snow to play in and activities (there is a small cost for some) and at 5 p.m. the Community Center tree lighting. Information: san-clemente.org

Photo op: Santa Claus will be hanging out on the San Clemente Pier from 3 to 5 p.m. Dec. 10-11 and 17. Take photos with him in front of the tree and there will also be holiday music.

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO

San Juan Tree Lighting: The city’s tree lighting celebration at Historic Town Center Park will feature festivities and entertainment starting at 4 p.m. with the tree being lit at 5:45 p.m. on Dec. 3. Families can enjoy holiday activities after the ceremony  in the Los Rios Historic District including photos with Santa Claus, a train ride and more. Free shuttles will run on a loop  from Junipero Serra Road at  JSerra Catholic High to a trolley stop at Stonehill Drive and Del Obispo Street from 3 to 10 p.m. Information: sanjuancapistrano.org

Capistrano Lights: The Mission San Juan Capistrano’s tree lighting and music program returns on select nights from Dec. 3 to 30. The evening spectacular begins at 4 p.m. but tickets are valid for all day admission. There will be a large-scale nativity, Dickens-era carolers and the lighting of the tree, among other features. General admission is $20. Information and tickets: missionsjc.com

SANTA ANA

Winter wonderland: The city will be hosting its second annual Winter Village from Dec. 8 through Jan. 8 at the Civic Center’s Plaza of Flags. Skate in the outdoor rink, enjoy family activities, shop holiday vendors, enjoy entertainment and so much more. There will also be food trucks for dining. Santa Claus will visit on select days. There will be a grand opening celebration from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Dec. 10 with the tree lighting at 5 p.m. Information: santa-ana.org/winter-village

SEAL BEACH

Festive parade: The city will host its annual holiday parade at 7 p.m. on Dec. 2 down Main Street. This year’s theme is “Merry Christmas Under the Sea.”

Dine with Santa: The city will host a free Breakfast with Santa from 9 to 11 a.m. on Dec. 10 at the Marina Community Center. The pancakes are being served by the Seal Beach Lions Club and there will be crafts and entertainment. Bring an unwrapped toy for donation.

STANTON

Holiday tree: The city is hosting a holiday celebration from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 1. Before the lighting of the city’s tree, there will be musical entertainment and arts and crafts. Santa is expected to visit. Activities are at Stanton City Hall. Information: ci.stanton.ca.us

TUSTIN

Tree lighting: The city’s tree lighting ceremony and activities will be held at 6 p.m. Dec. 9 in the Tustin Library Courtyard. Also, the Tustin Host Lions Club will hold its annual holiday boutique. Information: tustinca.org

District holiday: The District at Tustin Legacy hosts Wonderfest of Lights from Dec. 2 to Jan. 1.

There will be a dancing lights experience hourly form 6 to 9 p.m. From noon to 2 p.m. on Dec. 3 and 10 there will be family activities, entertainment and photos with Santa. From noon to 2 p.m. on Dec. 17 there will be a similar event that pets are also invited too. Photos and activities have a cost, which benefit local charities. Information and reservations: thedistricttl.com

VILLA PARK

Santa’s tour: Santa Claus is coming to Villa Park for his annual sweep of the city Dec. 3 – and as usual for the city, he won’t be riding a sleigh but a fire engine. Each year for Santa’s tour, the fire engine makes stops all throughout the city so Santa can meet with residents and their children. A tour route and full schedule of stops is available at vpcsfoundation.org.

In the evening, Santa will hangout with families at the Winter Wonderland party in the Villa Park Town Center. The free event from 4 to 8 p.m. will have ice skating, snowballs and more. Information: villapark.org.

Boat parade: The beloved Dry Land Boat Parade will return to Villa Park on Dec. 11 this year with a “The Yachts Are Coming To Town” theme. Each year, residents decorate their trailered boats – and just about anything else with wheels – to join in a citywide display of holiday cheer. A parade route and schedule is available at vpcsfoundation.org.

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