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List of Southern California Christmas Activities

November & December activities (by category) to help you plan your holiday family fun!

Picture of Christmas decorations at the Glendale Galleria Mall

What's the Christmas holiday season FOR if not to celebrate with your loved ones? Forget the shopping awhile. Pust those "end of the year" sales quotas to the back of your mind. Finish up those term papers and final exams without dawdling. Whatever's keeping you from joining in on the fun...well, to use Santa's words, "You better think twice!" The Christmas holiday season doesn't last long, so enjoy it now!

There are 2 ways of finding Southern California holiday activities on this website.

One way is "by date." To choose your activity according to what days you have "penciled in for fun," you may see the So Cal Christmas Countdown page of this website. There, you can pick from a smorgasbord of family-oriented holiday happenings!

Or, you can seach for activities "by category." That's what THIS webpage is all about. If you're only interested in attending certain TYPES of activities, then this page is for you! See what you want...and skip the rest!

List of Christmas Boat Parades in Southern California

Christmas Boat Parades...nighttime spectacles of light and beauty!

Balboa/Newport Beach---The very popular Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade stages 5 nights of beautiful pageantry from Wednesday, December 14 thru Sunday, December 18, 2011. The parade begins each evening in Newport Harbor at 6:30 pm, and can be seen from many points along the waterfront. For further information, visit the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade website, which is Or, to see photos of beautifully lit and decorated boats from this event, please see the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade page of our website. Note: In the Google widget to your left, you see some other pictures of the Newport Beach Christmas boat parade which were taken by members of the Flickr photo website.

Dana Point---Come see the lovely annual Dana Point Boat Parade of Lights! This beautiful boat parade is an iconic Orange County Christmas tradition! Entrants will be vying hard for the one of the parade's prizes, which include cash, trophies and certificates! The Dana Point Harbor Visitor's Center address is 25001 Dana Point Harbor Dr, Dana Point, CA 92629. Here's a link to the Google Map to the Dana Point Harbor parade area for your convenience. Naturally, though, viewing of the parade can be done at many different points along the harbor. For further information about this year's parade dates and times, please use the following link to see the Dana Point Harbor's official website, where you'll find complete details.

Long Beach/Naples: the annual Naples Holiday Boat Parade will be held on Saturday, December 17, 2011. The Naples Boat Parade will start at 6 pm. More information about the Naples Christmas boat parade is posted on the Naples website, which includes an informative Question & Answer section.

Huntington Harbor--- Thursday, December 16, 2011 is this year's first night of the annual Huntington Harbor Cruise of Lights Boat Ride event! (Some people call it the Huntington Beach Cruise of Lights.) This annual holiday festival will run nightly through the evening of December 23, 2011. Unlike the Newport Beach Boat Parade...where guests SIT and the boats do the cruising, in Huntington Harbor it's the visitors who board the boats. Touring in 45 to 50 minute sessions, the visitors cruise around the canals of Huntington Harbor enjoying the specatularly decorated and lit-up homes that line the waterways. Cruising sessions begin each evening at 5:30 pm, 6:30 pm, 7:30 pm, or 8:30 pm. To purchase tickets ($15 to $17/adults and $10 ages 2-12) please visit the website.

Marina del Rey---A local holiday tradition, the Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade will be held on the evening of Saturday, December 10th, 2011. (There is no "Preview Night" this year.) On Dec 10th, the Marina del Rey Christmas boat parade kicks off with fireworks at 5:55 pm, then the parade itself begins at 6 pm & continues until 8 pm. Viewing points for the boat parade include Burton Chace Park (which is where you'll enjoy hearing a live commentary on the parade), Fisherman's Village, and the following restaurants: El Torito, Sapori Italian Restaurant, Shanghai Red's, The Angler's Choice, and the Marina del Rey Hotel. For further info, use the following link to the Marina del Rey Boat Parade's website. You may use the following address for the Burton Chace Park viewing area: 4701 Admiralty Way, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292. Here's a Google map to the Marina Del Rey boat parade area, centering around Burton Chace Park.

Newport Beach: Please see the entry for "Balboa/Newport Beach" above.

Oceanside---The stunning Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights is December 10, 2011 from 7 pm until 9 pm. Please contact 760/722-5751 for further information. Here's a Google map to the Oceanside boat parade area. Or, to see this event's listing with the city of Oceanside, visit the City of Oceanside website where you may check out the city's busy calendar of events for December. In the Google Gadget to your right, you see photos of Oceanside Harbor's Christmas boat parade which were taken by members of the Flickr photo-sharing website.

Oxnard (Ventura County)---On Saturday, December 10, 2011, you'll be able to witness the festive Channel Islands Harbor Christmas Boat Parade, named the "Parade of Lights." The parade itself starts at 7 pm...but it's just the culmination of a full day of family festivities! You may head to the all-day seasonal event beginning at 10 am & stay clear through until the boat parade if you'd like to enjoy the many fun family activities to celebrate the holiday season! Call the Channel Islands Harbor Visitor's Center phone number at (805) 985-4852 for further info, or use the following link to view the Channel Islands Harbor's official website. The Channel Islands Harbor address is 3900 Pelican Way, Oxnard, CA 93035; here's a Google map to the Channel Islands Harbor to help you find your way.

Perris---If you didn't think that Perris, California was an oceanside're right! But the plucky residents of Perris won't let that stop them from having a Christmas Boat Parade! On Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 5:00 pm, the Lake Perris SRA hosts the 12th Annual "Lights on the Lake" holiday boat parade! The Lake Perris SRA address is 17801 Lake Perris Dr. Perris, CA 92571; here's a Google Map to the Lake Perris boat parade, if you're unfamiliar with this area. There is a modest admission fee to enter this California state park. You may call 951-940-5600 for further information. Or, you may view the Lake Perris website (which is actually a part of the California State Parks website.)

Redondo Beach---The Redondo Beach/King Harbor Annual Christmas Boat Parade awaits you! You'll want to chart a course for Redondo's King Harbor on Saturday, December 10, 2011, from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm in order to enjoy this stunning and specatcular procession. This year's theme, "A Storybook Christmas" sounds intriguing...and you'll find great viewing all along the waterfront. For further information, you may call (310) 376-2459. To see this event listed on the King Harbor Yacht Club's Calendar of Events, see the The King Harbor address is 231 Yacht Club Way, Redondo Beach, CA 90277; here's a Google map to the Redondo Beach Christmas Boat Parade to get you on your way.

San Diego---Head to San Diego's Big Bay for 2 days of Christmas boat parade fun! The San Diego Bay Holiday Boat Parade of Lights will be held on 2 consecutive Sunday evenings. The first night is Sunday, December 11, 2011 and the 2nd is Sunday, December 18, 2011. The boat parade starts at 5:30 pm at Shelter Island following a fireworks kick-off display. The boat parade then heads next to Harbor Island, where it's scheduled to pass at 6 pm. Next, it's on to the San Diego Embarcadero, where it should pass the Maritime Museum around 6:30 pm, and reach Seaport Village by 7 pm. To finish up the parade, the line of decorated yachts will head to the Coronado Ferry Landing, where onlookers may start viewing the parade at 7:30 pm. The parade may last as late as 9 pm, depending on your viewing point. For further details about this unforgettable Christmas boat parade, please consult the the official website.

Santa Barbara---On Sunday, December 11, 2011, your family can enjoy the Santa Barbara Harbor Boat Parade of Lights! You may head to the harbor at 5:30 pm to enjoy the parade...OR you may come early to get in on some family holiday activities at "Santa's Village" (beginning at 3 pm.) It's a fun-filled day of family Christmas events! You may call 805/897-1962 for further details of these events. Or, view the City of Santa Barbara's events page.

List of Southern California holiday ice skating rinks

Temporary outdoor ice rinks spring up every Christmas season for extra family fun!

* Alpine---Ice Skating at the Viejas Casino and Outlet Mall is running from November 5, 2011 through January 8, 2012. Just the mountains east of San Diego, you'll find the largest outdoor seasonal ice rink in Southern California. (And you can grab some bargains at the factory outlet stores while you're there!) The crisp mountain air will help you get into the holiday spirit! To discover details about the rink's prices and ice skating session times, here's the Viejas Outlet Mall's ice skating page for you to view.

* Irvine---Ice skating at the Irvine Spectrum Center(in Orange County) will take place by this open-air mall's Giant Wheel ride daily. This special temporary ice rink is offering skating from November 1, 2011 through February 20, 2012. Come enjoy one of the most popular seasonal ice rinks in Southern California! For further details, including prices, dates and opening/closing times, please see the Irvine Spectrum ice rink's website. Or, to discover stores and restaurants you might enjoy while visiting this lovely shopping mall, visit the Irvine Spectrum Center Mall page of this website.

* Los Angeles---In the city's downtown area, you may enjoy the "Downtown on Ice" seasonal rink Pershing Square! Skating sessions begin frequently throughout the day, and cost $8/session (which lasts 1 hour.) Skating season begins November 17, 2011 and last thru January 16, 2012. The Pershing Square ice skating rink will be OPEN on all the major holidays, including Christmas Day and New Year's Day! The Pershing Square address is 532 S Olive St, Los Angeles. Call (213) 847-4970 for further info, including dates and hours of operation; or read the Pershing Square website, part of the Los Angeles Parks website. You can see pictures of LA's Pershing Square ice skating rink in the slide show to your left---taken by members of the Flickr photo website.

* San Diego/Coronado---"Skating by the Sea," opened at the Hotel del Coronado on November 23, 2011 and will remain open for your ice skating pleasure through January 1, 2012. This is Southern California's only ice rink that boasts an ocean view! No, you do NOT have to be a hotel guest to enjoy this popular ice skating rink. Fees for the 3 hour sessions (either 2 pm to 5 pm; or 6 pm through 9 pm) are $25/adults or $20/kids age 10 and under. 2-hour "matinee" sessions are available on some dates and cost $20/adults and $15/kids. Skate rental is included in the price of your session. For more info, call 619/522-8815, or view the Hotel del Coronado's official website.

* San Diego/Downtown---Sycuan's "Fantasy on Ice" public skating rink awaits you at Horton Plaza! This temporary ice rink opens on November 17, 2011 and remain open for your holiday enjoyment through January 8, 2012. Hours are 10 am to 10 pm daily, with ice skating sessions beginning every few hours throughout the day and evening. For the dates the rink will close during the holidays, and for prices, please consult the Horton Plaza ice skating rink's official website. Pictures of the Horton Plaza ice rink are showing in the Google Gadget to your right. Members of the Flickr website took these images.

* Thousand Oaks---Come skating at The Lakes! This elegant shopping center makes a lovely place to take a spin over the ice. The Lakes' seasonal ice skating rink opens on November 16, 2011 and continues for your holiday enjoyment through January 16, 2012. For prices and session times, please refer to The Lakes official website.

Holiday Activities for Train Lovers

Railroad Museums steam ahead with family fun events!

Picture:Miniature train engine at Travel Town in Griffith Park, Los Angeles *Campo (Imperial County)---After selling out in every year in the recent past, The North Pole Express at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in Campo (Imperial County), has added an extra train car on each day of the event! As of this update (November 12, 2011) there are still seats available...but not on every run of the train. Hurry to reserve your spot if you'd like to take part in this fun, family-friendly Christmas event! For information, use the following link to view their official website at This year, trains begin on Friday, November 25th. The other event dates are November 26th, plus December 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 and 17, 2011.

*Goleta (Santa Barbara County)---Beginning November 25, 2011, and running on selected dates thru December 24th, you'll be able to ride the Candy Cane Train at the South Coast Railroad Museum in Goleta! If you attend this charming holiday event, you'll ride on a festively decorated miniature train. Each child will receive a candy cane and holiday surprise bag. Next, it's on into the museum itself to view the seasonal exhibit, "Toy Trains & Teddy Bears!" Admission cost is $4/person, whether adult or child. The South Coast Railroad Museum address is 300 North Los Carneros Road, Goleta, California 93117. Call the South Coast Railroad Museum phone number at 805/964-3540 for further information, or view the museum's official website at

*Los Angeles---The Travel Town Museum in Griffith Park will play host to the "Train Ride to Santa" annual Christmas activity. This event will be held on selected dates beginning November 26, 2011 thru December 23rd. Train rides begin (on scheduled evenings) at 5 pm; the last train embarks on its trip to see Santa Claus at 8 pm. Tickets are $7 each; ages 18 months and under are free. The Travel Town address is 5200 Zoo Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027. (Although the train rides are being held at Travel Town, they are being operated by the company who holds the miniature train ride franchise at Griffith Park.) The Griffith Park Miniature Train ride phone number is 323-662-9678. To see photos of this cute event, visit the "Griffith Park Christmas Activities" page of our website.

*Perris---On four dates...December 3rd, 4th, 10th and 11th, may ride a train with Santa Claus! Where? In Perris, California, at the Orange Empire Railway Museum! To round out the festivities, you'll hear holiday music, tour the museum, and partake of refreshments. It's a train lover's ideal Christmas celebration! Hours are 11 am to 4 pm. The Orange Empire Railway Museum address is 2201 S. "A" St, Perris, CA. The Orange Empire Railway Museum phone number is (951) 943-3020. And, the museum's official website is

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