Where to Celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas in Orange County

Christmas aboard the Queen Mary (photo by Mathew Martinez).

Get in the holiday spirit! Here are the best places to celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Orange County.

Edited by Whitney Lauren Han.


“Pirates Take Christmas!”
Dec. 2-24. Looking for some fun this holiday season? Bring the family to celebrate with Pirates Dinner Adventure. Laugh and cheer as the pirate crew tries to steal Christmas. Will they succeed? Will Santa escape? Will the season be saved? Find out at Pirate’s exciting Christmas spectacular. See website for showtimes and to make reservations. 7600 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, 866.439.2469. piratesdinneradventureca.com


Brunch with Santa
Dec. 14, 21. Back Bay Bistro welcomes guests to celebrate the holidays with family, friends, great food and Mr. Claus himself. Take photos with Santa between trips to the sprawling brunch buffet, food stations such as cooked-to-order omelets and pancakes and a dessert display. $28 adults, $13 children 10 and under; add $10 for bottomless Champagne and mimosas. backbaybistronb.com


Feast of the Seven Fishes
Dec. 21. Celebrate a traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner with Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse. The three-course prix-fixe menu includes items such as benvenuto with beet carpaccio, lump crab, crispy shallots and beet vinaigrette; antipasto with seafood croquette, shrimp, barramundi, oysters, spicy San Marzano tomatoes; farinaceo with tagliatelle, Nantucket Bay scallops and truffle butter; and piatto della vigilia with pan-seared halibut, crispy anchovies, broccoli rabe and bagna cauda. 5-10 p.m. $75. 18420 Von Karman Ave., Irvine, 949.477.4810. davios.com


Dec. 24-25. Savor a rustic Tuscan holiday prix fixe menu at the Resort at Pelican Hills’ Andrea restaurant on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Antipasti options include yellowfin tuna crudo, charcoal roasted beets and burrata; and artisanal salumi and cheeses. Primi options include farfalle, acquerello risotto and manicotti di mare. Secondi options include grilled branzino, oven-roasted duck breast, duo grass-fed beef and celery root “risotto.” 5-10 p.m. Noon-9 p.m. $145 adults, $205 with wine pairings. 22701 Pelican Hill Road S., Newport Coast, 888.507.6427. pelicanhill.com


Back Bay Bistro
Dec. 24. Enjoy a four-course Christmas Eve dinner with seasonal sides, three main-course options such as braised short ribs, and choice of red velvet cake or pumpkin spice crème brûlée for dessert. Celebrate the season in a festive waterfront location featuring sweeping views of the Back Bay illuminated with holiday lights. 4-8 p.m. 1131 Back Bay Drive, Newport Beach, 949.999.3170. backbaybistronb.com


Dec. 24. Come get festive and bright, and let Bayside do the holiday cooking and cleanup for you so you can simply enjoy merriment with friends, family and loved ones. Bayside is available for reservations during dinner service, with a special three-course prix fixe menu and select a la carte items available for the whole family. Live music will make the season bright. $64 for prix fixe. 900 Bayside Drive, Newport Beach, 949.721.1222. baysiderestaurant.com


Dec. 24. Elevate your Christmas Eve with three-course prix fixe dinner at Bistango. Menu highlights include Maine lobster salad stuffed avocado, spiced butternut squash soup, port wine-braised veal osso bucco with exotic mushroom risotto, Porcini mushroom-crusted Alaskan halibut and pumpkin panna cotta. In addition, a limited version of the dinner menu is available a la carte. Dinner 4-9 p.m., live music 6-10 p.m. Irvine Towers, 19100 Von Karman Ave., Irvine, 949.752.5222. bistango.com


The Loft
Dec. 24-25. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Loft offers a four-course Christmas Eve menu with options such as roasted carrot soup with applewood-smoked bacon, braised veal cheek, pan-roasted branzino, and gingerbread semifreddo. On Christmas Day, enjoy a three-course holiday tasting menu with live entertainment. Entree selections include herb and garlic-crusted prime rib, Duroc pork chop or pan-roasted branzino—all served with seasonal accompaniments. Both days: 5-10 p.m. Christmas Eve: $135 adults, children’s à la carte menu available; Christmas Day: $95 adults, $50 for children ages 4-12. Montage Laguna Beach, 30801 Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, 949.715.6420. montagehotels.com


Photo courtesy Fashion Island Hotel.

Oak Grill
Dec. 24-25. Experience chef Brittany Valles’ innovative five-course dinner menu on Christmas Eve, showcasing her best holiday fare with live entertainment. On Christmas, savor a traditional holiday-inspired buffet with a contemporary twist. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., stations offer brunch fare; from 3 to 7 p.m., the stations feature dinner choices such as prime rib. Additional highlights include a kids station at both buffets, desserts, live entertainment and a photo booth. Christmas Eve 5:30-9 p.m., Christmas 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Christmas Eve: $125 adults, $45 kids ages 5-12. Fashion Island, 690 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, 949.760.4920. oakgrillnb.com


The Ranch
Dec. 24. Crafted by executive chef Michael Rossi and brother pastry chef Dave Rossi, the four-course Christmas Eve menu features Robbins Island wagyu steak tartare, Anson Mills cornmeal fried Pacific oysters, Cape Grim Tasmanian grass-fed beef and Alaskan King crab leg, eggnog panna cotta and República del Cacao hot chocolate with vanilla bean bomboloni. 5-9 p.m. $95 per person. 1025 E. Ball Road, Anaheim, 714.817.4200. theranch.com


Dec. 24-25. Feast on chef-driven seasonal delights at Studio in Montage Laguna Beach. On Christmas Eve, indulge in a five-course tasting menu including lobster cavatelli; seared Maine scallops; blackened Superior Farms lamb loin with potato fondant and maitake mushrooms; and chestnut apple flan. On Christmas, two options are available, one of them an à la carte brunch with Hawaiian blue prawn ceviche, savoy spinach frittata, roasted Arctic char and other selections. In the evening, a chef’s five-course tasting menu includes Broken Arrow Ranch venison loin and chilled pear tatin with winter-spiced ice cream. Christmas Eve: 4-10 p.m., $160 adults, $50 children ages 4-12; Christmas Brunch: 10 a.m.-3 p.m., $160 adults, $50 children ages 4-12; Christmas Dinner: 5-9 p.m., $175 adults, $50 children ages 4-12. 30801 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, 949.715.6420. montagehotels.com


The Backyard
Dec. 25. Brunch comes to town in a big way on Christmas Day in the Backyard. The holiday fare ranges from lemon-ricotta pancakes to bouillabaisse halibut to garlic salt-crusted prime rib of beef. Sweets include Christmas Yule Log, German chocolate cake and Austrian apple strudel. Among additional highlights are photos with Santa, live music and lawn games. Seatings at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. $79 adults, $37 children ages 5-12 (advanced purchase recommended). Hotel Irvine, 17900 Jamboree Road, Irvine, 877.614.2137. hotelirvine.com


Ballroom Brunch at Pelican Hill
Dec. 25. Celebrate Christmas overlooking the Pacific Ocean with an unforgettable feast of traditional cuisine, accompanied by live entertainment. Children’s activities include Santa Claus photos, cookie decorating and children’s entertainment programs at noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Reservations recommended. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. $139 adults, $68 children under age 12. 22701 Pelican Hill Road S., Newport Coast, 888.507.6427. pelicanhill.com


Christmas at Montage Laguna Beach (photo courtesy the Montage.)

Grand Ballroom Masterpiece 
Dec. 25. Montage Laguna Beach’s Christmas Celebration is a favorite holiday event at the hotel. It includes a bounteous multi-station buffet with selections including lobster salad, smoked sturgeon deviled eggs,omelets prepared to order, cheese and charcuterie, ricotta blintzes and desserts galore. Additional highlights include live music, a champagne toast and complimentary family photographs. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. $180 adults, $50 kids ages 4-12, free for children under four. 30801 Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, 949.715.6420. montagehotels.com


Heirloom Farmhouse Kitchen
Dec. 25.
Indulge this Christmas Day and enjoy an array of organic and seasonal items with a three-course prix-fixe menu. For the first course, enjoy a wedge salad and roasted cauliflower soup, followed by prime rib for the second course. Top off the night with chocolate crème brulee and tiramisu for dessert. Noon-8 p.m. $59. 7905 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine, 949.759.0200. heirloomfarmhousekitchen.com


Orange Hill
Dec. 25. ‘Tis the season to gather with family and friends at Orange Hill for its champagne buffet. Menu highlights include breakfast favorites, herb-crusted prime rib, holiday ham, slow-roasted turkey, leg of lamb, crab legs and sushi. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. $80 adults, $35 children ages 5-12. 6410 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, 714.997.2910. theorangehillrestaurant.com


Pacific Hideaway
Dec. 25. Eat, drink and be merry at Pacific Hideaway. The Huntington Beach favorite serves a prix fixe Christmas menu, as well as the regular brunch and dinner menus, all day. Prix fixe starter options are butternut squash soup or farmers field greens; entree options are smoked 12-ounce prime rib, pan-seared Chilean sea bass or crispy tofu; and dessert options include Tahitian vanilla creme brulee and warm chocolate bread pudding with sour cream ice cream. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. $75 adults, $30 children ages 5-12. 500 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, 714.965.4448. pacifichideawayhb.com


Dec. 25. Savor a three-course prix fixe lunch or dinner menu and expansive ocean views at Splashes. Entree choices include seared scallops, filet mignon Wellington, Colorado lamb lion, sauteed Arctic char and winter truffle risotto. Call for reservations. Lunch: noon-4 p.m., dinner: 4-8 p.m. lunch: $90; dinner $130; additional $50 for wine pairings. Surf & Sand Resort, 1555 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, 888.281.3502. surfandsandresort.com


Marketplace Seasonal Offerings
Through Dec. 25. Bring the little ones to the Marketplace at Hotel Irvine and visit the holiday candy station to purchase filled bags of holiday candy or fill up their own candy bag with a selection of holiday treats ($4 each). Also offered through January 15 are festive drinks for purchase including peppermint mocha, caramel brulee latte, hot chocolate and chestnut praline latte. Hotel Irvine, 17900 Jamboree Road, Irvine, 949.225.6757. hotelirvine.com


Queen Mary Christmas
Through Jan. 1. Enjoy the holiday spirit aboard the historic Queen Mary as it transforms into an epic adventure-filled wonderland. Highlights include live entertainment, festive libations, strolling performers, sweet treats, light shows, gingerbread and stocking decorating, ice-skating, and shopping. There’s also a meet-and-greet with Ol’ Saint Nick in the Captain’s Quarters. See website for schedule and ticket prices. $20 on-site parking. Queen Mary, 1126 Queens Hwy., Long Beach, 800.437.2934. queenmary.com


Capistrano Lights
Through Jan. 6. Mission San Juan Capistrano’s annual holiday event Capistrano Lights is an all-ages family event where guests can experience the festive spirit of the season. The event includes a nightly musical tree lighting and decorative light displays through January 6. $10 adults, $9 seniors ages 60+, $7 children ages 4-11. 26801 Ortega Hwy., San Juan Capistrano, 949.234.1300. missionsjc.com


SeaLegs Greetings
Through Jan. 22. The Prjkt Restaurant Group launches its first holiday beachfront experience, SeaLegs Greetings. The family-friendly venue features waterfront carnival rides, festive bounce houses, live music, crafts, a Christmas tree lot, holiday food and adult beverages. Open daily through January 5. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Free admission; fees vary for activities, food and beverage. 17851 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach. sealegsgreetings.com


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