Holiday Events in Southern California 2023

Ring in the most wonderful time of the year at one (or all!) of these festive, fun and Frosty-approved holiday events in Southern California. 

Nov. 17 to Jan. 1: Lightscape at San Diego Botanic Garden

San Diego

All is merry and bright as Lightscape at San Diego Botanic Garden takes place from Nov. 17 to Jan. 1. This year’s custom-designed one-mile walking trail will feature brand-new international artistic installations along with returning favorites, exploding with color, imagination and sound. Highlights include Floraison, a California poppy-inspired display; Liquid Sky, an illuminated laser sky; and Flow, a floral display inspired by the topography of San Diego Botanic Garden, which premieres in the US for the first time.
Cost: Starting at $26 for adults; $16 for children ages 3 to 12; and free for ages 2 and under. Parking is available in advance for $10 per vehicle or $20 on the day of the visit. Entry times are every 15 minutes.
For more information:

Nov. 17 to Jan. 5: 50 Days of Festive Fun

Newport Beach

Starting Nov. 17, Visit Newport Beach kicks off the nation’s longest-running holiday celebrations, 50 Days of Festive Fun. During this holly-jolly time, Newport Beach will transform into a magical winter wonderland for all ages, locals and visitors alike. The daily calendar is packed with captivating activities including the 115th Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade (Dec. 13 to Dec. 17); Night of 1,000 Lights at Sherman Library & Gardens (Dec. 6 to Dec. 22, select evenings); ice skating at the Newport Dunes’ Fire & Ice Festival (Nov. 24 to Jan. 1); and many other holiday events in California. And while you’re hopping from event to event, check out Visit Newport Beach’s curated holiday playlist, Jingle Jams, to be fully immersed in the spirit of the season.
Cost: Prices vary depending on event.
For more information:

Lightscape at San Diego Botanic Garden
Lightscape at San Diego Botanic Garden

Nov. 17 to Jan. 7: Hotel del Coronado


The legendary Hotel del Coronado (pictured at top of page), part of Curio Collection by Hilton, celebrates “A Twenties Holiday Affair” all season long. In addition to its jaw-dropping decor and two-story Christmas tree in the lobby, holiday experiences include Skating by the Sea; Frostbite Lounge for cozying up and sipping holiday drinks; a redesigned “All That Jazz” Dynamic Light Show (taking place nightly every 30 minutes, from 5 to 9 p.m.); Beachside Igloos dining experiences; Holiday Movies on the Beach (select dates, Dec. 9 to Dec. 31); photos with Santa; and oh-so much more. The Del will also partner once again with Make-A-Wish, donating a portion of proceeds from the Skating by the Sea to Make-A-Wish San Diego.
Cost: Varies depending on event.
For more information:

Nov. 18 to Dec. 24: Parkway Plaza

El Cajon

Arriving at Parkway Plaza on Saturday, Nov. 18, Santa and his elves will kick off the festivities at 11 a.m., with a tree-lighting ceremony planned for 5 p.m., with crafts, holiday characters, giveaways and more. (Plus the first 200 children in attendance will receive light-up wands.) That evening, guests can also take part in a Silent Disco event in partnership with Home of Guiding Hands, from 6 to 8 p.m. Parkway Plaza also hosts Santa Cares–Dec. 3, Dec. 10 and Dec. 17, from 8 to 10 a.m.–providing a special time for children with sensory needs to meet Santa before the crowds. Guests can also book a festive breakfast with Santa on Saturday, Dec. 9, from 9 to 11 a.m.
Cost: Varies depending on event. Registration for some events is required.
For more information:

One Paseo

Nov. 24 through December: One Paseo

Del Mar

One Paseo will be transformed into a charming holiday village all season long with a lineup of can’t-miss holiday events in Southern California. December Nights kicks off Nov. 24, during which the Del Mar center will glisten with holiday lights and magical snowfall cascading from the rooftops every Friday and Saturday throughout December (5 to 7 p.m.) The whole family will delight in the tree-lighting ceremony on Nov. 24 at 5 p.m. Plus, One Paseo is bringing back its beloved Moonlight Cinema for a special showing of The Grinch on The Lawn on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 5 p.m. Then Dec. 12, from 5 to 7 p.m., marks the Menorah Lighting Ceremony to celebrate the start Hanukkah. Pop by Dec. 17, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., to sip hot cocoa, nibble holiday treats and grab a selfie with Santa and his elves.
For more information:

Dec. 1 to Dec. 24: Lakehouse Resort’s Winter Wonderland

San Marcos

Kicking off Dec. 1, Lakehouse Resort’s enchanting lakeside Winter Wonderland is a unique and charming winter experience every weekend in December. Winter Wonderful features a 140-ft. holiday light tunnel, igloo dining with twinkle lights, delectable dessert boards and wine near the lake, nostalgic Polar Express-inspired hayrides, a European-style Holiday Market, holiday-themed Pontoon and Duffy boat cruises on the lake and more through Christmas Eve. And, of course, Santa Claus will also be on the property every Saturday for photo opps.
Cost: Entry tickets are $5 per person over 12. 
For more information:

Dec. 3 to Dec. 30, Weekends: Holly Jolly Festival


Every weekend through Dec. 30, from 4 to 8 p.m., families are invited to the Holly Jolly Festival at STC Anaheim GardenWalk. Bring the whole crew for pics with oversized custom backdrops and classic holiday characters like the Grinch, Queen Frostine and more. And hop aboard the Christmas train and step outside to race at the Giddy Up Raceway with ponies and unicorns. 
Cost: $10 to $20.
For more information:

lakehouse resort MattMarshall-Photos
Lakehouse Resort Photo credit: Matt Marshall

Dec. 16: Second-Annual SantaCon

San Diego

The second-annual SantaCon at Beach House, presented by Almost Nakey, is set for Dec. 16 from 1 to 10 p.m. This 21-and-over holiday event in Southern California will boast a main stage at Santa’s Village at Beach House made from LED walls and snow cannons, a second main stage inside Belmont Park, massive inflatable Santas and Grinches, life-sized snow globes, Club Penguin Igloo Silent Disco, photos with Santa and much more. Come dressed in your best Santa outfit and enter the costume contest for the chance to win early Christmas presents. A percentage of all ticket sales will support Toys for Tots.
Cost: Starting at $60 for general admission and $140 for VIP (perks include skipping the line to rides at Belmont Park, private bars and lounges, special entrances and more). All tickets include access to Belmont Park.
For more information:

Dec. 21: Cassara Carlsbad’s Holiday Night


It’s time to feel the magic of the season in true SoCal fashion with Cassara Carlsbad’s Holiday Night event, set for Dec. 21 from 5 to 7 p.m. The luxury Carlsbad resort invites families and friends to savor an evening of holiday cheer, including professional pics with Santa, arts and crafts, fire pits and hot cocoa, delish seasonal eats, a letter-writing station and much more.
Cost: This event is free and open to the public.
For more information:

Dec. 21 to Dec. 25: Jingle Belle Family Cruises

San Diego

All aboard the majestic William D. Evans sternwheeler for Jingle Belle Family Cruises! During this San Diego tradition on the waters of Mission Bay, guests can enjoy festive fun like carolers, photos with Santa, cookie decorating, a balloon artist, face painter, cocktails, holiday treats and more. From Dec. 21 to Dec. 25, cruises depart from the Bahia and Catamaran resorts. Reservations are required.
Cost: $45 per person, with a portion of proceeds benefiting Mama’s Kitchen, a San Diego nonprofit that provides medically tailored meals to individuals and families at risk of malnutrition due to critical illnesses.
For more information:

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