Christmas in California

California Gingerbread Displays

No Cookie Cutter Operation at These Gingerbread Festivals and Events

Gingerbread is the hot, new medium for artists to show what their made of. It's a field where half-baked ideas don't cut it. From the $500 admission Gingerbread City in San Diego, to  lavish displays such as the enormous 22 feet high by 23 feet wide Gingerbread House at Fairmont San Francisco (free to see), you'd never believe gingerbread could offer so much entertainment.

One of the grandest opportunities to view gingerbread art takes place each year in Sausalito where the month-long Sausalito Chamber Gingerbread House Tour of businesses throughout the city includes traditional to quirky, and even avant-garde. One window display in a couture shop last year included a body mannequin clad in a skirt made of a gingerbread house!

One of the most visited gingerbread displays each year provides "wow" at the famed Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. A place where Halloween and Christmas collide provides unexpected gingerbread surprise with attention to fine details you'd see in a work of art.

If you think that gingerbread is limited to the talents of adults, you need to check out Discovery Science Center contest entries during the annual Science of Gingerbread festival in Santa Ana and Los Angeles. Youngsters get a chance to cut their teeth with behind-the-scenes learning about what gingerbread is and how it comes into being. Some of the fantastic gingerbread designs make us wonder if parents might helped. Maybe, or maybe not.

ANAHEIM:  2019 Haunted Mansion Holiday 50th Anniversary Gingerbread House at Disneyland  September 6, 2019 - through holiday season.
It's no surprise that this monstrous dessert took six talented culinary Disneyland Resort Central Bakery team members 13 days to make. Standing at nearly 10-feet tall, the Haunted Mansion replica itself steals the hearts of all who lay eyes to it with its intricate details and some familiar faces. There are 15 spirited Haunted Mansion residents made of gingerbread cookies ranging from 24 to 30 inches tall. Over 30 pounds of gingerbread, 120 pounds of frosting and icing, 75 pounds of powdered sugar, 140 pounds of fondant …and more!   A tradition since 2001, the 19th season of creating this delectable dessert is more innovative every year! Tim Wollweber, associate art director for Disney Parks, who designed this year's house, explained that this was a challenge on a whole different level. "We tried to keep it as faithful to the Haunted Mansion itself so guests could immediately get that it's the mansion, and know that it's a heartfelt 'dead-ication' to it," said Wollweber. "We have lantern bits in there, doors where they generally would be found, green iron work in there…we've never really done that before."

ANAHEIM: Grand Californian Gingerbread Display
(714) 635-2300
Grand Gingerbread House throughout Holiday Season
A highlight at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel is the giant gingerbread replica of the hotel itself, complete with 25 Hidden Mickeys. Standing 7.5 feet tall and 12 feet wide, this delicious structure was created from more than 600 pounds of gingerbread, as well as 60 gallons of frosting and icing. Hungry guests may order gingerbread cookies and hot chocolate from the lobby's holiday cart.

ANAHEIM: Ralph Brennan Gingerbread Workshops December 8, 14, 15 & 21, 2019 usually sells out |
Jazz Kitchen
1590 South Disneyland Drive Downtown Disney
Anaheim, California
Gingerbread Workshops! 
$43  plus tax & online service fees

Gingerbread building, delicious eats, and holiday cheer start at 11 a.m. when guests enjoy a brunch buffet, including a very special holiday beignet bar, created by Executive Chef Darrin Finkel, who steps out of the kitchen and into the workshop, where he guides you step-by-step through the house building process.

DANA POINT: Gingerbread Extravaganza with theme inspired by Dr. Seuss November 24, 2019-January 2, 2020
The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel Lobby
One Ritz Carlton Drive
Dana Point, California 92629
Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel resort pastry team creates a spectacular gingerbread extravaganza each year,  fashioned out of homemade gingerbread, colorful candy, sweet treats, baked goods, and other delectable confections.  The resort's expert pastry team creates a spectacular 24 foot by 9 foot house made gingerbread extravaganza available on public display until the New Year. Developed by Executive Pastry Chef Sylvain Haage, this year's holiday-inspired gingerbread extravaganza theme "Twas The Night Before Christmas" depicts a magical evening when Santa Claus flies around the world to deliver presents. Chef Haage and team  spent more than 500 hours creating an incredible confectionary display highlighting significant monuments and landmarks from the U.S., Europe, Mexico, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Canada, South America, Australia, Antarctica, and Santa's workshop itself - the North Pole. Visitors are invited to see this festive, holiday attraction in the Lobby. 

GRASS VALLEY  Gingerbread House Competition at the Country Christmas Faire Thanksgiving Weekend November 29-December 1, 2019
Nevada County Fairgrounds
11228 McCourtney Road
Grass Valley, CA
$2 to enter Gingerbread House contest | $5 fair admission
2018, 16th Annual Gingerbread House Competition results are in! With 48 entries received, the People's Choice/Best of Show winner was Kathy Kinney. Additional Best of Show ribbons were awarded to Leeam Eaton, Owen Strolle, Johanna Pease, and Joanne Perilman and Avery Lawson.

KINGSBURG: Santa Lucia Celebration Gingerbread House Contest December 7, 2019, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
The contest displays can be seen throughout the day at City Hall council chambers.

LOS ANGELES: Discovery Science Center Science of Gingerbread November 29, 2019-January 5, 2020
11800 Foothill Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
Similar event to its Orange County Discovery Science Center counterpart, there's an annual contest and displays that can be seen throughout the holiday season.

MONTEREY:  Doc Ricketts' Lab opens December 9, 2019, 6-6:30 p.m. On display through Christmas.
InterContinental the Clement Reading Room
A rustic wooden shed sandwiched between unnoticed amid the bright lights of Cannery Row. The former laboratory of marine biologist Ed Ricketts -- later fictionalized as Doc Ricketts in the John Steinbeck  novel  Cannery Row.  As part of its holiday tradition of honoring local history, InterContinental the Clement Monterey will unveil its 2019 gingerbread house creation that depicts the famous Pacific Biological Laboratories.  Created by gingerbread artist Michelle Lee, the sous chef and pastry chef for The C restaurant + bar is Lee's biggest project in five years of making gingerbread showpieces. It is 4-feet wide by 3-feet high, contains 30 pounds of flour and other ingredients and was designed with the help of the hotel engineering department to avoid any collapses during its two-week stint on display. 

NEWPORT BEACH Holiday Gingerbread Display:  Fashion Island of Misfit Toys December 1-29, 2019
690 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA
An annual tradition, pastry chef Andy de la Cruz shares his holiday vision with guests with a life-sized display made of real gingerbread. Cider and cookies served Saturdays and Sundays in December, from 2 to 4 p.m. Fashion Island of Misfit Toys takes its theme and inspiration from the classic movie,  Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and from the hotel's location at the shopping mecca Fashion Island. Pastry Chef Andy de la Cruz concoct characters such as Santa Claus, Yukon Cornelius, Hermey the Elf, as well as toys from the Island of Misfit Toys - all cleverly created from holiday confectionary elements. This sweet, one-of-a-kind display also gives a nod to not-so-subtle  high-end fashion with designer bags, boxes and accessories. Hot apple cider and cookies will be served on weekends. Guests are encouraged to bring unwrapped toys for the annual Toys for Tots drive.  Past events included Pastry Chef Andy de la Cruz and his amazing team unveiling their The Polar Express and Holiday Chocolate Factory, complete with oversized candy canes inspired by Willy Wonka! Island Hotel Chocolate Factory puts a modern twist on its traditional gingerbread house display. Inspired by Pastry Chef Andy's childhood dream of being just like Gene Wilder in the 1971 film, there are scents of chocolate infused all around it. In past years visitors were invited to Sail the S.S. Island with a life-sized gingerbread sailboat. Another season brought a fun classic beach cruiser and surfing themes.

OLYMPIC VALLEY: Gingerbread Village featured annually at Resort at Squaw Creek Lake Tahoe November 29, 2019-Christmas
November 29, 2019, 3-10 p.m. is Grand Tree Lighting, Fireworks, and Gingerbread Display Opening
400 Squaw Creek Road
Olympic Valley, CA |
Indoor GINGERBREAD VILLAGE sets the stage for a holiday filled with snow sports and scenes visible through the large glass windows of the resort hotel that includes skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, fine dining, parties and more. 

OXNARD: 11th Annual Gingerbread Fest at Heritage Square, December 7-29, 2019 - 4 weekends Fridays 1-4 p.m., Saturdays 10-4 p.m. Sundays 1-4 p.m.
Heritage Square Hall
715 South A Street
Oxnard, CA
 Tours $5 per person. Evening and weekday Group Tours by appointment,
Come see the Square decorated at the best time of the year. Magnificent display of gingerbread creations at Heritage Square Hall. While visiting us, take a guided tour of the former houses' exteriors w/select interiors.
The holidays wouldn't be complete without sweet smelling gingerbread. Follow the scent to Heritage Square in Downtown Oxnard for the Heritage Square Holiday Tours and Annual Gingerbread Fest. Costumed docents lead tours of the historic houses exteriors and select interiors with tours offered on the weekends. The elaborate gingerbread houses are displayed at Heritage Square Hall. Gingerbread House Building Workshop December 7, 2019, 1-3 p.m. All supplies included in this fun workshop of building your own Gingerbread house. Pre-paid Reservations Required. $10 per kit/$5 per person.

PETALUMA: Hotel Petaluma Gingerbread House Contest  December 13-15, 2019. It's a holiday event for the whole community, featuring a gingerbread house showcase and competition. Enter your gingerbread creation for a chance to win! Showcase opens on Friday, festivities wrap on Sunday with a big bash! Location: Hotel Petaluma, 205 Kentucky Street, Petaluma, CA.  Free Admission, | posted on

SAN DIEGO: Gingerbread City December 3, 2019
Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego County has hosted an annual Gingerbread City gala for over 60 years. Tickets $500/person. The finest chefs in town come to create and compete in the gingerbread contest which, for many, is the highlight to the holiday season. Your ticket also helps the foundation's causes.

SAN FRANCISCO: Fairmont San Francisco Gingerbread House   November 30, 2019-January 1, 2020

SANTA ANA The Science of Gingerbread entries open November 23-December 8, 2019 | Exhibit November 29, 2019- January 5, 2020
$15-20 museum admission,
The sweeter the mix, the more irresistible the science! This holiday season, Discovery Science Center (DSC) presents the Annual Science of Gingerbread exhibit and competition with some sweet activities, cool experiments, and amazing gingerbread creations. Join Southern California's largest Gingerbread Competition and Display at the Cube, and check out amazing creations.
The Science of Gingerbread daily program includes:
Winter Sleighs - Design, build and zip your very own vehicle through the holiday skies.
The Elves Workshop - Tinker like an elf, and construct a toy contraption.
Climate Discovery - It's Winter somewhere, experiment with Fahrenheit in the So Cal winter temperatures
Daily Stage Show "Sweet Structures" - Learn the fundamentals of design and engineering in the kitchen
Plus, what's a holiday season, without Cookie Decorating? The bakeshop has a sweet treat!
Can You Build it? Show: Using only wooden building blocks, families are invited to build and compete together in a variety challenges.
Gingerbread Man Escape: Families and kids help the Gingerbread Man run, run as fast as he can by designing, building, and testing his escape vehicle.
Design a Food Model: Kids practice the engineering design process by inventing and designing their own food model.
Cookie Decorating: Kids learn about the primary and secondary colors as they mix their own colored frosting and decorate their own sugar cookies.
Tallest Tower Challenge: Families use only spaghetti and marshmallows to build the tallest tower. (Weekends only)

SAUSALITO: Gingerbread House Competition  December 1 - 31, 2019
Annual Gingerbread House Competition & Tour - Take the walking Tour of the houses on display throughout Sausalito during the month of December. Businesses throughout Sausalito create amazing Gingerbread Houses. Look for window signage indicating a Participant. 


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

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