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The BEST Family Friendly Holiday Events in Orange County 2019

11/23/2019
Team Urban Tykes

While the rest of the country is covered in snow-white beauty this time of year, Southern California boasts warm weather, cool ocean breezes, and our very own evergreen trees – the palm tree!  Whether you’re a local looking for something festive to do on a holiday staycation or a snowbird escaping south for the holidays there’s something for everyone here in Orange County!

Below are our top 10 family-friendly seasonal events in Orange County.  Some are holiday-themed, some are just great outdoor activities to take advantage of during this fabulous fall and winter weather. Check them out–we’ve even highlighted some free events if you’re thinking about what to do in Orange County in November and December.

 

Live Music Thursdays

Photo: The Source, yelp.com

10. Live Music Thursdays! Live Music in Buena Park happens every Thursday night in November and December.  Head on over to get your groove on, family-style!

FREE EVENT!
Every Thursday
6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Main Plaza at The Source
6940 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90621

 

 

 

Wild Tales at Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve

Photo: via Khamkhor via Pixabay via Red Tricycle

9. Wild Tales at Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve. Fall events in Newport Bay can be extra magical, especially on the gorgeous Newport Bay Nature Preserve!  Bring your little wild ones to learn about nature and enjoy the outdoors with storytelling, a guided nature walk, and arts and crafts. The hike is free but there is a $5/child cash fee to join in the craft making.

FREE EVENT!*
November 22, 2019
10:30am-11:30am
Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve
2301 University Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660
*Bring $5 cash per child if they wish to participate in the craft

 

 

La Posadas Festival at the Bowers Museum

Photo: Bowers Museum

8. La Posadas Festival at The Bowers Museum. Experience a traditional Mexican Christmas re-enactment of the story of Mary and Joseph as they seek shelter for the birth of the Baby Jesus at an inn (posada). Join in for face painting, art projects, and Mexican hot chocolate and pan dulce. Performances by Rhythmo Mariachi Kids, Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center, and Folklorico RaÍces de Mexico.

FREE EVENT!
December 15, 2019
4:00pm-7:00pm
Bowers Museum
2002 North Main Street, Santa Ana, CA 92706

 

 

Photo: Shannon Ng

Photo: Shannon Ng

7. Free Family Art Day in Orange County! Bring the whole family to the Orange County Museum of Art for a free day of art, creativity, and play. With hands-on art projects, family-friendly tours of the exhibitions, and storytime in the galleries, OCMA’s Family Day is a fun way to explore the museum and make art together as a family.

FREE EVENT!
Dec 7, 2019
11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Orange County Museum of Art
1661 W Sunflower Ave, Santa Ana, CA 92704

 

 

shop-local-farmers-markets

Photo: Irvine Regional Farmers Market, Yelp.com

6. Shop Local Farmers’ Markets. With fresh from the farm produce, eggs, and meats as well as food trucks and outdoor fun, check out our two favorite farmers’ markets!  One is on a Tuesday and the other on a Saturday, so you’ll be sure to find one that fits in your busy schedule.

FREE EVENTS!
November 26 & December 3, 10 & 17, 2019
9:00 AM – 1: 00 PM
Irvine Regional Park Farmers Market
1 Irvine Park Road, Orange, CA 92869

November 23 & December 7, 14, 21 & 28, 2019
8:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Orange County Farm Bureau Farmers’ Market
5001 Newport Coast Drive, Irvine, CA 92603 (Mariners Church Parking Lot)
(Other locations throughout OC during the week)

 

Photo: www.visitnewportbeach.com

Photo: www.visitnewportbeach.com

5. Holiday Tree Lightings. The holiday season is about cooler weather, snuggling up with the ones you love, and celebrating all the gifts we have while witnessing beautiful twinkle lights all around.  Here are some of our favorite upcoming tree lighting ceremonies in Orange County where you can get your twinkle on this year!

FREE EVENTS*
38th Annual South Coast Plaza Tree Lighting
November 21, 2019
6:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Town Center Park
686 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Fashion Island Tree Lighting
November 22 & 23, 2019
6:00 PM
Fashion Island Mall (Neiman Marcus/Bloomingdale’s Courtyard)
401 Newport Center Dr., Newport, CA 92660

Crystal Cove Tree Lighting
December 7, 2019
10:00 AM – 5:30 PM (See website for the full list of events and activities)
Crossroads are Pacific Coast Highway & Los Trancos, Newport Beach, CA 92657
*Parking is $5/hour max $15/day

Irvine Tree Lighting
December 7, 2019
4:00 PM – 6:30 PM
1 Civic Center Plaza, Irvine, CA 92606

Hospitality Night
December 6, 2019
4:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Downtown Laguna Beach
Activities include Tree lighting, live music, parade, food and gift vendors, and a street party with Santa.
Peppertree Parking Lot located between Ocean and Forest, across from Second
Street (check Laguna Beach website hyperlinked above for details on parking and shuttles)

 

 

Photo: Serge Attal/Flash 90 via chabad.org

Photo: Serge Attal/Flash 90 via chabad.org

4. Hanukkah Celebrations! Celebrate the Festival of Lights in Orange County this holiday season with dreidels, menorahs, and traditional fried foods.

Hooray for Hanukkah!
December 22 – 30, 2019
10:00 AM -4:00 PM
Pretend City Play Museum
29 Hubble, Irvine, CA 92618
Adults & Children over 12 months: $13.95
Infants under 12 months: Free

Menorah Lighting
Fashion Island
Garden Courtyard (Hosted by Chabad Center for Jewish Life)
December 2, 2019
3:30 – 4:30 PM
401 Newport Center Dr.
Newport, CA 92660

Irvine Spectrum
Carousel Area near Target
December 26, 2019
3:00 – 4:00 pm
670 Spectrum Center Dr.
Irvine, CA 92618

 

Photo: Pretend City

Photo: Pretend City

3. Kwanzaa 2019! Bring out your kinara and learn about some of the principles and traditions that celebrate and honor African-American culture and heritage!

Kwanzaa Celebration!
December 26, 2019
11:30 AM
Pretend City
29 Hubble
Irvine, CA 92618
Adults & Children over 12 months: $13.95
Infants under 12 months: Free

 

Photo: www.irvineparkrailroad.com

Photo: www.irvineparkrailroad.com

2. The Irvine Regional Park Christmas Train. One of Orange County’s most popular holiday traditions is the Irvine Park Railroad’s annual Christmas Train.  Take a ride through a winter wonderland complete with a Tunnel of Lights, visit Santa and let your child read their wishlist to the jolly old man and take their picture with your camera (aka your phone) or purchase a photo package there. Tickets are limited and sell out fast so hurry to the website to pre-purchase yours today!  If tickets are already gone, you can still go to the train station 7 days a week and visit Santa’s Village complete with Rudolph Racers and Ice Fishing for the kiddos! (There is a fee for activities.)

The Christmas Train & Santas Village
November 29 – December 23, 2019
11:00 AM – 8:00 PM daily
Irvine Regional Park
1 Irvine Park Road
Orange, CA 92869

 

Santa Claus in the OC Irvine Spectrum Center

Photo: www.irvinespectrumcenter.com

1. Santa Claus in the OC! Whether you’re a SoCal local on staycation or a snowbird fleeing the cold, no holiday season would be complete without a visit with dear old St. Nick!  And here in Orange County Santa gives us lots of choices for a visit with this very jolly man. Here are our top Santas in Orange County!

South Coast Plaza
Carousel Court
November 22 – December 24, 2019
Hours vary, open during mall hours
(Prices vary, see link for details.)
333 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Irvine Spectrum
Palm Court
November 29 – December 24, 2019
Mon-Sat 12:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Sun 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
(Prices vary, see link for details.)
670 Spectrum Center Dr.
Irvine, CA 92618

 

Photo: Toru via yelp.com

Photo: Toru via yelp.com

Bonus event: Newport Beach Boat Parade & Ring of Lights Competition! We love this event so much we felt it deserved a spot on the list, even though it puts us over our top 10!  In its 111th year, the Newport Boat Christmas Parade of Lights has it all. With bayfront estates adorned with lights for the annual Ring of Lights Competition and hundreds of decorated ships of all sizes, this is the one event you just have to see!

Newport Beach Boat Parade
December 18 – December 22, 2019
5:30 PM – 9:30 PM daily
Check out their website for information on cruises and viewing locations

Newport Beach Ring of Lights Competition
December 1 – 17 & 23-31, 2019
5:30 PM – 9:30 PM daily
For information on cruises and viewing locations click here

 

Do you have a favorite holiday event you want to share with the community? Share the information in the comments below!

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One thought on “The BEST Family Friendly Holiday Events in Orange County 2019

  • Shannon
    on 12/03/2019

    I love this holiday guide! I’ve been looking for new things to do with my LO this holiday season and I love the variety of options! Our go to’s are always the Christmas Train and Santa’s Village at South Coast Plaza. 🙂

    Reply

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