Christmas in Orange County
Orange County may seem like an unlikely place to celebrate an old-fashioned Christmas, but a heart of Norman Rockwell lurks beneath its sun, surf, and sand exterior, making this one of the best places in California to celebrate the holiday season.
Glory of Christmas
12141 Lewis St, Garden Grove
This annual presentation is a bit like an old-fashioned church Christmas pageant but with an orchestra accompaniment, live animals, elaborate sets, and flying angels.
The Glory of Christmas runs from Thanksgiving through the end of December. Tickets cost $30 to $40, except for $18 discount nights (Tuesday through Thursday).
Huntington Beach Cruise of Lights
Homeowners whose properties line Huntington Beach waterways go all out at Christmas, decorating not just their front yards but the backside of their homes facing the water. Locals take to the waterways in their own boats to see the display that includes dancing penguins, fabulous light displays, and star-spangled extravaganzas. For a week each December, the Huntington Harbor Philharmonic Committee offers narrated boat cruises so landlubbers can join the fun. This beautiful cruise is a holiday highlight and local favorite. The proceeds from ticket sales to the Cruise of Lights go to the nationally recognized youth music education programs that the Huntington Harbor Philharmonic supports.
Newport Beach Harbor Parade
Another local pleasure, the Newport Beach Harbor Parade is a chance for as many as 100 local boat owners to deck their watercraft out in lights and holiday themes and drive them around for everyone to see. It's a tradition that's been going on for almost a hundred years. You can view the parade for free anywhere along its route (which is described at their Web site), or reserve a table at a waterside restaurant and watch the show. The parade runs for a week in mid-December. Local boat charter companies offer visitors a chance to be in the parade instead of just watching.