Top Orange County Things to Do in December

Get into the holiday spirit and roll around in real snow at Winter Fest OC.

This month, Orange County brings you classic holiday performances, seasonal dining options, celebratory festivals and more. See our list of 50+ top Orange County things to do in December.

Edited by Whitney Lauren Han.

The WAVE Winter Jam
Dec. 1. The WAVE Winter Jam will feature performances by En Vogue, Blackstreet, Ginuwine, Midnight Star, Club Nouveau, Money B and Young Hump of Digital Underground, Whodini and J.J. Fad. 8 p.m. $31+. Honda Center, 2695 East Katella Ave., Anaheim, 800.745.3000.


Gem Faire
Dec. 1-3. With nearly 200 exhibitors from around the world, Gem Faire is one of the largest gem, jewelry and bead shows in the United States. Discover fine jewelry, precious and semi-precious gemstones, millions of beads, crystals, gold and silver, minerals and more. Free hourly door prizes. F noon-6 p.m.; Sa 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Su 10 a.m-5 p.m. $7 GA; free for children 12 and under; $8 parking. OC Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, 503.252.8300.


Winter Fantasy
Dec. 2-3, 9-10, 16-17. The Sawdust Art Festival grounds are transformed into a winter wonderland for the holiday season. Experience unique artwork by 175 artists, live holiday entertainment, great outdoor cafes, art classes and demonstrations, Santa Claus and more. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. 935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, 949.494.3030.


21st Annual Crystal Cove Tree Lighting
Dec. 2. Bring the family to the all-day annual tree lighting ceremony on the beach at Crystal Cove. Discover handcrafted treasures by local residents and artists as well as old-fashioned holiday decorations. Take family photos with Santa and watch the tree lighting ceremony at dusk with complimentary hot chocolate, apple cider and home-baked goodies provided by The Beachcomber Café. 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Crystal Cove State Park, 8471 N. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach.


Chicago Soul Legends
Dec. 2. Chicano Soul Legends is coming to The Theatre at Honda Center this December. Don’t miss The Midniters with Little Willie G, El Chicano, Malo, Joe Bataan, Tierra, Patti Drew, The Temprees and more. 7 p.m. $27+. Honda Center, 2695 East Katella Ave., Anaheim, 714.704.2500.


Learn how to make holiday pepper jelly at the OC Fair & Event Center.

Holiday Pepper Jelly
Dec. 2. OC Fair & Event Center’s culinary supervisor Pam Wnuck will demo how to make a holiday pepper jelly to enjoy later, give as a gift or to enter in the 2018 OC Fair competitions. Pre-registration is required. 9:30 a.m. $25 includes materials, but participants must bring three 8-ounce canning jars with lids and bands. OC Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, 714.708.1500.


House of Blues World Fabulous Drag Brunch: Holiday Blowout
Dec. 2. Get in the Christmas spirit with the House of Blues Holiday Blowout edition of Drag Brunch. Willam, actress, author, YouTuber and former RuPaul’s Drag Racer, will dazzle and entertain you with music, moves and comedy. Enjoy a delicious all-you-can-eat buffet of Southern-inspired brunch favorites and access to post-show meet-and-greet opportunity with drag stars. 18+. 11 a.m. House of Blues Anaheirn, 400 West Disney Way, Suite 337, Anaheim, 714.778.2583.


Merry Movie Night at Baby Beach
Dec. 2. Bring your beach chairs and blankets, sip hot cocoa and watch Buddy the elf in the classic holiday film, Elf. Jolly festivities including crafts, games, a visit from a live elf and the ceremonial lighting of the Ocean Institutes’ tall ship, the Pilgrim. Festivities 3:30 p.m., movie 5 p.m. Free. 34555 Street of the Golden Lantern, Dana Point, 949.923.2255.


Run for a Claus
Dec. 2. More than 2,500 participants donned in a variety of fun, colorful and crazy, holiday-themed costumes will descend upon the campus of the University of California, Irvine, for the 4th Annual “Run for a Claus” 5k and 1-Mile Kids’ Run/Walk. The event features a Holiday Expo with family-fun entertainment and free pictures with Santa Claus. All runners receive a Santa Hat and beard prior to the run and a medal and a mug for hot cocoa when they finish. 6:30-10 a.m. $10-$40. University of California Irvine, Ring Road near Aldrich Hall and Student Center, Irvine, 949.222.0456.


Wine Pairing Dinner at Vue Restaurant
Dec. 2. Delight in premier Napa Valley wines from Duckhorn Winery. Enjoy a night hosted by executive chef Salvatore Giuliano and Duckhorn’s own Advanced Sommelier as they guide you through an expertly paired five-course meal. 6-9 p.m. $95/pp (tax and gratuity not included). Laguna Cliffs Resort and Spa, 25135 Park Lantern, Dana Point, 949.487.7577. Reservations


Jack & Jack at The Observatory OC
Dec. 3. Pop duo Jack & Jack kick off their headlining US tour that will hit 31 cities. Singer Olivia O’Brien and boy band PRETTYMUCH are set to open on select dates. VIP Ticketless Upgrades are available that will include a meet-and-greet and photo with Jack & Jack, green screen music video experience, early entry, a signed lithograph and more. Doors open at 7 p.m., concert starts at 8 p.m. $25. The Observatory OC, 3503 South Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, 714.957.0600. Tickets


Mannheim Steamroller Christmas
Dec. 3. The spirit of the season comes alive in this joyous holiday show that includes dazzling multimedia effects performed in an intimate setting. Grammy award-winner Chip Davis has created a show that features Mannheim Steamroller Christmas classics along with a selection of compositions from his groundbreaking Fresh Aire series. 7 p.m. $59. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, 714.556-2787.


Sugar Plum Fairy
Dec. 3-24. With signature irreverence, NPR superstar Sandra Tsing Loh recounts her own childhood desire for a highly coveted role in the Beverly Rosann School of Dance’s production of The Nutcracker. Filled with ambition, rivalry and pre-teen angst, this hilarious tale of life’s crushing blows has been praised as “a comic assault on holiday sentiment.” $67+. South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, 714.708.5555.

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Nobu Newport Beach
Starting Dec. 4. Launching just in time for the holiday season, Nobu Newport Beach’s new lunch menu provides holiday shoppers with the perfect way to get their Nobu fix at the luxe Lido Marina Village. With additional off-the-menu dishes on the horizon, guests will also have the opportunity to experience the latest chef creations alongside signature dishes like Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño and Black Cod with Miso. Daily noon-5:30 p.m. 3450 Via Oporto Suite 101, Newport Beach, 949.429.4440.


‘Christmas Fantasia’
Dec. 5. This holiday season, Vanguard University’s award-winning music department will celebrate the 21st anniversary of its Christmas Fantasia concert. Enjoy favorite carols and breathtaking masterpieces performed by the 200-member choir and orchestra in the elegance and acoustical perfection of two stunning venues. 8 p.m. $25+. Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, 714.966.5441.


Holiday Gingerbread Workshop
Dec. 6. Invite your friends, sip on your favorite beverage and enjoy step-by-step instruction of the creation and decoration of your very own gingerbread house by executive chef Darrin Finkel. This 21+ inaugural event adds a new twist to a Jazz Kitchen tradition! Perfect for team building, a girls night out, date night or creating memories with your friends and family this holiday season. 21+. 6:30-8:30 p.m. $48. 1590 S. Disneyland Drive, Anaheim, 714.776.5200.


Ruby’s Diner Celebrates 35 Years
Dec. 7. Ruby’s Diner celebrates 35 years of America’s favorite burgers, fries and shakes. On the milestone date, Ruby’s Diner will offer the classic RubyBurger with French fries for just $2.99 while supplies last. Proceeds from each sale will directly benefit The Ruby Dooby Foundation and Spark of Love. All Ruby’s Diner locations.


American Ballet Theatre’s ‘The Nutcracker’
Dec. 7-10, 13-17. One of the great joys of the holiday season, American Ballet Theatre returns with its critically acclaimed production of The Nutcracker. Travel with curious Clara and her handsome prince as they journey through a kingdom filled with colorful characters and pure holiday magic. See website for showtimes. $29+. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, 714.556.2787.


‘Aladdin and His Winter Wish’
Dec. 7-31. An updated version of the classic Arabian Nights tale, in the style of a traditional British family Panto, Aladdin and His Winter Wish is a singing, swinging and soaring adventure that features family-friendly magic, with a comedic twist, dancing, contemporary music and more. See website for showtimes. $20+. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, 949.497.2787.


Don’t miss the 43rd Annual Boat Parade of Lights at Dana Point Harbor.

43rd Annual Boat Parade of Lights
Dec. 8-9, 15-16. Enjoy four nights of holiday cheer as boaters light up the harbor with decorations based on the theme “A Superhero Holiday.” OC Parks will host free family activities throughout Dana Point Harbor including games, crafts, photos and selfies with Santa, superhero encounters and live entertainment. Festivities 4:30 p.m., boat parade 7:30 p.m. $29 adults, $19 children. Dana Point Harbor Dr., 949.496.5794.


32nd Annual Candlelight Walk
Dec. 8-10. Strolling carolers and musicians will fill the air with music as hundreds of luminaries light the park’s pathway. Children can visit with Santa in the Arbor, enjoy crafts with Mrs. Claus and puppet shows in the Wagon Wheel Corral and sit at a school desk while storytellers spin holiday tales in the one-room El Toro Grammar School. Hot chocolate, apple cider and homemade cookies will be available for purchase. 5:30-8:30 p.m. $5 GA, free for children 3 and under. Heritage Hill Historical Park, 25151 Serrano Road, Lake Forest, 949.923.2230.


‘The Eight: Reindeer Monologues’
Dec. 8-23. Written by Jeff Goode and directed by resident artist James McHale, Chance Theater presents its 14th annual production of the irreverent, raunchy holiday satire, The Eight: Reindeer Monologues. Not suitable for children. See website for showtimes. $35. Chance Theater @ Bette Aitken theater arts Center, 5522 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, 888.455.4212.


6th Annual Brew Ho Ho! Holiday Ale Festival
Dec. 9. Don’t miss the annual Brew Ho Ho! festival with over 90 craft beers from the finest breweries in Southern California and beyond. Guests will have a chance to pair their craft beer with bites from food vendors like the Viking Truck, MEAT UP BBQ, Fiesta Gourmet and more. Towne Park Brew Co., Bootleggers Brewing Company, Bottle Logic, Ale Smith Brewing Company and Pizza Port San Clemente are only a handful of the artisans who will be sampling their satisfying brews. 21+. Noon-4 p.m. $55 online, $65 at the door; $20 for parking at The Honda Center. Anaheim Phoenix Club, 1340 S. Sanderson Ave., Anaheim.


Alfredo Rodriguez Trio
Dec. 9. Cuban jazz composer and pianist Alfredo Rodriguez makes his Segerstrom Center for the Arts debut with two concerts in Samueli Theater. Rodriguez will be joined by bassist Munir Hossn and drummer Michael Olivera. 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. $64+. Samueli Theater, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, 714.556.2787.


Barks of Love Bash at Ways & Means Oyster House
Dec. 9. Bring your pup to Ways & Means’ outdoor patio for an afternoon of fun benefiting Barks of Love Bash. There will be dog-friendly activities, drinks, appetizers and fun offerings from other Pacific City vendors, including Pop Bar (serving PUP-SICLES) and Top Dog Boutique. 3-5 p.m. $20. 21022 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, 714.960.4300.


Come see David Rosales and special guest Blake Flattley at Back Bay Bistro.

David Rosales
Dec. 9. Enjoy an evening of feel-good, acoustic music hits by local favorite David Rosales. Along with special guest Blake Flattley, the concert will feature songs from David’s newest album, Brave Ones. Arrive early to enjoy dinner courtesy of Back Bay Bistro’s new executive chef Daniel Jimenez or cocktails at the bar with a panoramic view of the Back Bay. Doors 5 p.m., concert 6 p.m. Free. Back Bay Bistro, 1131 Back Bay Drive, Newport Beach, 949.729.1144.


Lemon Grove Holiday Market
Dec. 9. Looking for holiday gifts? Lemon Grove Market, the newest specialty market will have 40 specialty makers and unique specialty items including small batch natural bath and body products, fine leather goods, home accessories, clothing boutiques, jewelry and holiday succulent arrangements. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Woodbury Town Center, 6200 Irvine Blvd., Irvine.


Little Lido Holly Days
Dec. 9. Bring the little ones to Lido Marina Village for the Little Lido Kids Club Holly Days event. The afternoon will include designing a special ornament, enjoying a special Grinch performance by the Clifton Dance Project, pictures with the dancers after, face painting, glitter tattoos and twisted balloon animals. 1-3 p.m. Free, RSVP required. Lido Marina Village, 3434 Via Lido, Newport Beach.


‘Thierry Mugler: Alien to Angel’ Exhibit
Dec. 9. Celebrate the opening of petite exhibition Thierry Mugler: Alien to Angel with a luncheon and talk about French fashion and fragrance designer, Thierry Mugler. The exhibition explores the unconventional and otherworldly work of Mugler and will include garments, sketches, runway photography and perfume bottles, painting a holistic picture of this provocative fashion icon. 12:30-4 p.m. $95. FIDM Orange County Campus, 17590 Gillette Ave., Irvine. Tickets


Festival Ballet Theater’s ‘The Nutcracker’
Dec. 9-24. A cherished holiday classic, Orange County’s premier ballet company, Festival Ballet Theatre presents the traditional full-length production of The Nutcracker. Children, adults and the young at heart will enjoy The Nutcracker’s colorful scenery, magnificent costumes and sensational dancing. See website for showtimes. $42+. Irvine Barclay Theater, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine, 949.854.4646.


The All-American Boys Chorus presents ‘Sounds of Christmas’
Dec. 10. It wouldn’t be Christmas without beautiful singing and lots of fun, and the All-American Boys Chorus can serve both in generous holiday style helpings. 4 p.m. $27+. Soka University, 1 University Drive, Aliso Viejo, 949.480.4000.


Champagne Holiday Brunch
Dec. 10. Montage’s Champagne Holiday Brunch on the Studio Lawn features Piper Heidsieck champagnes and unobstructed views of the Pacific. Enjoy live musical entertainment, chef-attended buffet stations, a raw seafood tower and oyster bar, bottomless Piper Heidsieck champagne as well as an opportunity to sample the exclusive Piper Heidsieck Rare 2002. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. $125+/pp. Montage Laguna Beach, 30801 Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach.


Victor and Tatiana Kasatsky’s ‘The Nutcracker’
Dec. 10. Set to Tchaikovsky’s timeless score, Victor and Tatiana Kasatsky’s The Nutcracker features more than 50 local dancers for this magical holiday production. 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. $25 adults, $20 children and seniors. Plummer Auditorium, 201 E. Chapman Ave., Fullerton, 949.215.1553.


Spend your evening at Lido Marina Village to watch the 109th Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade.

Lido Marina Village Boat Parade Viewing
Dec. 13-16. Come watch the 109th Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade at Lido Marina Village’s waterfront Main Deck. Enjoy a marvelous view of Newport’s favorite holiday tradition and come early to dine at restaurants or shop for friends and family at their boutiques. Lido Marina Village will provide delicious hot cocoa and cider, plus a live DJ to groove to while viewing the parade. 6:30-8:30 p.m. Free. 3434 Via Lido, Newport Beach.


The Queen Mary’s All-New CHILL
Dec. 13-Jan. 7. Embark on an international holiday expedition this winter as the world-famous Queen Mary introduces an all-new CHILL. Featuring the first-ever Ice Adventure Park in the U.S., the 38,000-square foot ice park offers an ice skating track, ice bumper cars, ice tricycles, a zip line, ice shuffleboard, a two story, 100-foot-long ice tubing slide and many more festive winter activities. See website for hours. $29.99 adults, $19.99 for kids ages 4-11. The Queen Mary, 1126 Queens Hwy., Long Beach, 877.342.0738.


The Balvenie Whisky Dinner
Dec. 14.
Balvenie ambassador David Laird will guide guests through a flight of The Balvenie’s single malt scotch whiskies, paired with a four-course menu from Loft’s chef Michael Campbell. Balvenie 12 single malt, Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask, Balvenie 17 DoubleWood and Balvenie 21 Portwood will be featured. 6 p.m. reception, 7 p.m. dinner. $125+/pp. Reservations are required, call 949.715.6420. The Loft in Montage Laguna Beach, 30801 Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach.


Cruise of Lights
Dec. 15-18, 21-23. Watch thousands of lights and animated displays on brightly decorated homes, docks, decks and boats at the Huntington Harbour Philharmonic Cruise of Lights. Narrated boat tours will be offered through the waterways of Huntington Harbour. See website for hours and ticket prices. 16889 Algonquin St., Huntington Beach, 714.840.7542.


Cheese and Wine Tasting on The Loft Patio
Dec. 16. Discover the finest wine and cheese from around the world with resident fromager Thomas Espino as your guide. Example pairings include Sancerre with creamy goat cheese and a taste of Stilton with rich port. 3-5 p.m. $45/pp. Reservations are required, call 949.715.6420. Montage Laguna Beach, 30801 Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach.


Family Gingerbread Decorating
Dec. 16. Gather the entire family and show off your creative side during Montage’s gingerbread house decorating class with their executive pastry team. Attendees will leave with their gingerbread house, a Montage apron and cookie recipe to relive the magic in their kitchen at home. There will be light bites, hot chocolate, cider and additional beverages provided. 1-3 p.m. $45 adults, $35 children. Reservations are required, call 949.715.6420. Montage Laguna Beach, 30801 Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach.


Holiday Pop-Up Shop at the Hood Market
Dec. 18-19. Let Valenza Chocolatier and master chocolatier Amy Jo make your holiday gifting season memorable with their authentic Holiday Collection. Each chocolate or confection has its own unique Italian history while capturing the holiday spirit with ingredients such as amaretto, cinnamon, clove, candied orange peel, hazelnuts, limoncello, pecans, nutmeg and more. Noon-7 p.m. 350 Clinton Suite A, Costa Mesa, 714.549.2430.


Feast of the Seven Fishes
Dec. 18-24. Traditionally held on Christmas Eve, the Feast of the Seven Fishes joins Italians around the dinner table, where they indulge in seven courses of pescatarian goodness. CUCINA’s play on this holiday ritual showcases seven different fish specials that will be offered in rotation during the seven days leading up to Christmas Eve. The Irvine and Newport Beach locations will feature two to three specials per day, giving diners a taste of the sea alongside the regular menu. See website for hours. CUCINA enoteca Irvine, 532 Spectrum Center Dr., Irvine. CUCINA enoteca Newport Beach, 951 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach.


‘Motown The Musical’
Dec. 19-24. Featuring more than 40 classic hits such as “My Girl” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” Motown The Musical tells the story behind the hits as Diana, Smokey, Berry and the whole Motown family fight against the odds to create the soundtrack of change in America. See website for showtimes. $29+. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center, Costa Mesa, 714.556.2787.


Beer & Chocolate Pairing
Dec. 20. Join Valenza Chocolatiera for a decadent night of chocolate and beer in the Bruery Terreux Tasting Room. The evening will include a specially-curated flight of Bruery Terreux and The Bruery beers paired with five authentic Italian-inspired artisan chocolates. 5:30-9:30 p.m. $12 for 5-beer flight, $12 for 5-piece chocolate flight. Bruery Terreux Tasting Room, 1174 N. Grove St., Anaheim, 714.996.6258.


Disney on Ice – ‘Follow Your Heart’
Dec. 20-24. Disney On Ice presents Follow Your Heart featuring the beloved stories and characters from the smash hit animated movies Disney•Pixar’s Finding Dory and Inside Out for the first time in a live production. See website for showtimes. $20+. Honda Center, 2695 East Katella Ave., Anaheim, 714.704.2500.


Winter Fest OC
Dec. 21-Jan. 7.
More than 20 wintry activities are back by popular demand, including outdoor ice skating, ice tubing down Snowflake Summit, a snow play area with real snow, Festival of Lights two-million-light stroll-through display, a nightly tree lighting ceremony with parade, snow flurries, fireworks, flying Santa and much more. See website for schedule and prices. OC Fair & Event Center, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, 657.333.2520.


Watch the classic children’s book, ‘The Secret Garden,’ come to life on stage at Chance Theater.

‘The Secret Garden’
Through Dec. 23. Based on the popular children’s book of the same name, The Secret Garden follows the story of a 11-year-old British girl born and raised in colonial India and a young gardener as they bring life to a neglected garden. Filled with amazing music, elegant choreography, and a heartwarming story of forgiveness and renewal, The Secret Garden is the quintessential holiday musical for all ages. $20+. Chance Theater @ Bette Aitken theater arts Center, 5522 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, 888.455.4212.


‘A Christmas Carol’
Through Dec. 24. Capture the spirit of an old-fashioned Christmas with this timeless Dickens classic and all your favorite characters—Tiny Tim and the Cratchit family, the Fezziwigs, the Ghosts of Christmas past, present and yet-to-come—and, as always, Hal Landon Jr. as everyone’s favorite curmudgeon, Ebenezer Scrooge. See website for schedule. $61+. South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, 714.708.5555.


Miguel’s Jr. Seasonal Tamales
Through Dec. 31. Miguel’s Jr. is rolling out its famous holiday tamales, the perfect gift to unwrap before Christmas. Handmade using 100 percent stone ground corn, the tamales are available in two varieties—California Chile or Chile Rojo Pork. Order them while you can, because they are only available while supplies last. All Miguel Jr. locations.


The Queen Mary’s New Year’s Eve Bash
Dec. 31. Toast to 2018 aboard the majestic Queen Mary and ring in the New Year. Guests will voyage throughout the ship’s decks, ballrooms, and salons for one night of multiple celebrations with delicious food, spectacular drinks, live music performances, multiple DJs, dueling pianos and more. 21+. 8 p.m.-1 a.m. $119. 1126 Queens Hwy., Long Beach, 877.342.0738.


Rita Rudner: ‘Laugh, Drink and Leave’
Dec. 31. Grab your friends and enjoy a few laughs at this comedy show featuring Rita Rudner. As one of America’s top comedians, Rudner is also a New York Times bestselling author, as well as an award-winning television personality, screenwriter, playwright, Broadway dancer and actress. Rudner will be joined by special guests Molly Bergman and Sidney Bowen. 7 p.m. $99-$125. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, 949.497.2787.

‘The Secret Garden’ photo by Doug Catiller.



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