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Best Places in Orange County to See Holiday Lights

southern california christmas lights

One of the most magical times of year is here –  experiencing holiday light tours! If you’re in the Orange County area, you’re in luck: there are plenty of fun holiday light displays and events to check out. From a Christmas classic Snoopy House to a family fun Santa firetruck parade, these festive vents will surely get you in the holiday spirit.

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

Celebrating 115 years, the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade is a must-visit event in Orange County. Run by the Commodores Club of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce, this event features decorated yachts, kayaks, and canoes as they make their way toward the Tip of Lido Isle. Running from December 13th through 17th, the event starts at 6:30 PM each night. Be sure to get there early; parking is limited at the Marina Park!

Snoopy House 2023

Snoopy House (hoasted at Costa Mesa City Hall) is a classic Christmas experience perfect for the whole family. Children of all ages can take photos with Santa, write wish lists for the Jolly Old Elf himself, attend stage performances, and enjoy plenty of seasonal snacks, too. There’s also a Snoopy House light display that you won’t want to miss out on. On top of this, there’s a sensory-friendly event for families of kids who get easily overwhelmed by the holiday hubbub so everyone can enjoy the magic of the season at their speed.

Irvine Park Railroad Christmas Train

All aboard the Irvine Park Railroad Christmas Train! Who doesn’t want to experience a magical holiday train ride to the North Pole, complete with pictures with Santa? This fantastic holiday experience includes a trip through the Tunnel of Lights on the way back to Santa’s Village, allowing you to appreciate the season’s magic. Reserve your ticket for this magical train rider early, as tickets sell out fast and seats are limited.

Christmas at the OC Zoo

Who said animals can’t take part in Christmas? Certainly not Santa and Mrs. Claus! Christmas at the OC Zoo brings plenty of fun activities for the zoo’s furry friends, as well as humans of all ages. Enjoy craft time with Mrs. Claus, fun games and activities, and even see zoo animals get their Christmas gifts early in the form of delightful treats wrapped up in presents. Activities are free with park admission.

Santa Tour by Fire Engine

Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, driving down the fire lane? Villa Park Community Services Foundation got a hold of Santa during his busy season and even offered to let him drive a local fire engine around town. How cool is that? The Santa Tour by Fire Engine is fun for kids of all ages. Santa makes stops all around town and offers to pose for pictures, as well as hands out treats with elves that look suspiciously like city council members. To find out Santa’s new route, check out their website and plan for home-grown holiday fun.

Capistrano Lights: Mission in Lights

Capistrano Lights: Mission in Lights takes place from December 2nd to 23rd. The event includes tree lighting, Dickens-era carolers, a life-sized full-scale nativity scene, and incredible light features that will stun and wow. Not only does a ticket allow you to enter the Mission, but it also includes visits to three separate light features and garden areas, allowing you to take in the holiday spirit at this gorgeous venue. There’s also an audio tour of the Mission, complete with a reading of the Gospel and the Night Before Christmas. Be sure to pick up your tickets in advance!

Knott’s Merry Farm

Knott’s Berry Farm celebrates the holidays by transforming into Knott’s Merry Farm for the season. From November 17th to January 7th, celebrate the holidays at one of California’s premiere entertainment attractions. Not only is the park decked with holiday decor and spectacular lights, but there are plenty of seasonal activities to enjoy while you visit. For example, parkgoers can enjoy live shows, including an ice skating group and beloved Peanuts characters. If you’re looking for the perfect Christmas gift, why not check out the Christmas Crafts Village at the farm for some of the most unique present options around? Be sure to get your tickets soon; this fun event is sure to sell out fast!

Candycane Land and Craft Fair

Buena Park puts on the Candycane Land Craft Fair during the holidays. If you’re in the mood for free games, fun, food, and raffles, you’re in the right place! Plus, you can take advantage of the synthetic ice rink to enjoy some holiday fun in the California sun (who would have thought). With over 100 artisans selling at the fair, you can choose a homemade present for your loved one or get yourself some stocking stuffers. Who knows, you might even catch Santa doing his own Christmas shopping at this event. Admission to the event is completely free but be prepared for a parking struggle unless you show up early.


Now that you have an idea of some of the fun events in Orange County, why not round off your holiday fun with a tour from Best Coast Tours? Our tours take you all over Southern California, so you can enjoy sights and sounds like you’ve never seen them before. Plus, with custom pickup and drop off locations, you can easily head out from your hotel room. To find out more or to schedule a tour, check out our tour options in the menu at the top of the page.