California Christmas


California Christmas Celebrations!

Theme Parks

Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, Universal Studios Hollywood, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Legoland California, SeaWorld San Diego, California's Great America, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and Gilroy Gardens are among the theme parks featuring Christmas-themed events and attractions. It's a magic act to produce the glittering lights, decor and sparkling holiday shows on the heels of Halloween haunts, but California's theme parks do it right!

Boat Parades

If there's water and boats in California, there's usually a parade or party of some sort. California Boat Parades are highlights, annual traditions, and attractions in cities such as Newport Beach, San Diego and Marina del Rey. Look for your favorite parade at some bay or harbor during the holidays. 

imgs  Christmas Parades

Held usually on weekends, these events are held over 65% of the time after dark. The night time holiday parade includes lights displays using strings of Christmas lights to decorate floats, tractors and other vehicles. The centerpiece of these events both day and night is the arrival of Santa Claus, often on a shiny fire engine.  Sometimes Mrs. Claus is with him. Parades may be held in association with festivals.

Tree Lighting Ceremonies

These events are hosted by municipalities (cities), communities, associations such as a Chamber of Commerce or Visitors Bureau, a Business Improvement District (BID) or a mall or shopping center.  The tree lighting ceremony includes either cut trees or artificial trees decorated with lights. Dignitaries' speeches, children's choirs, Santa Claus and turning on the electricity, are the normal procedures for these events.


Gingerbread house displays are the best known attractions in this category during the holidays. However, kids' museums have discovered the science behind gingerbread is a great hands-on learning opportunity.

Ice Skating Rinks

The weather may be sunny and 70 degrees but on the ice its frosty, reminding fair-weathered Californians how lucky they are to be living in a paradise. Check out seasonal ice rinks spanning the state from San Diego to San Francisco and beyond. Ice skating is really fun!

  Nutcracker Ballets

Over 90% of ballet schools and companies in California produce an annual Nutcracker ballet. The production surrounds the classical music of Tchaikovsky and story from E.T.A. Hoffman who wrote a book in German about the Nutcracker and the Mouseking. Ballet productions often include guest performers in key roles and spectacular costumes.

California Missions

As a religious holiday Christmas was introduced to indigenous populations during the California mission era (1700s-1800s.) Today there are concerts, Las Posadas multi-day ceremonies and special events such as tamales sales and a candlelight wine walk.


range from living nativities to statuary. They are not limited to church displays. However, churches are the prominent producers of these inspirational events!


Holiday train experiences range from scenic rides along the countryside to


California zoos make use of their untamed settings for awesome light displays, reindeer days, snow & snow leopard day (Santa Barbara,) and other fun holiday special events & attractions.

California Christmas is one of the most welcome seasons for holiday celebration and isn't just an industry unto itself providing jobs and revenue, it also brings joy, happiness, and hope to millions of Californians and visitors seeking to share the magical feeling of palm trees and tropical drinks served out on a patio as you wear your flip flops and sunglasses. 

The beaches and beach destinations are certainly the biggest holiday attraction, while California's Sierra mountains also share the joy with hotel bookings at capacity for those seeking to experience a white Christmas holiday. The "most wonderful time of the year" includes traditions played out in cities and communities throughout the state.

Events are not guaranteed. It is your responsibility to confirm before going.

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