Get Your Holiday Groove On in Ontario, CA!

When it comes to the holidays, Southern California is the place to be. The weather is usually great, there is a plethora of things to do, and there are fantastic activities, shows, and shopping opportunities right in Ontario or within a short drive to tickle the fancy of any holiday reveler.

So, whether you live in Ontario or are just visiting friends and family during the holiday season, here are 18 suggestions for you to check out and get on the calendar while enjoying the mild Southern California winter.


Shows and Performances


Opportunities to Share

Safe Celebration


Families Together of Orange County Annual Christmas Together Toy Drive: This event gave away more than 7,000 toys to registered families last year. The event will be even bigger this season with 20,000 toys expected to be given away. Create an unforgettable experience for children on December 18. That experience—all for free—includes carnival rides, games, raffles, entertainment, pictures with Santa, COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, holiday meals, and a variety of food options. Attendees must provide proof of Orange County residency to participate. Quantity is limited, so register early. 

Santa Is Coming to Town: Get into the spirit of the season by decking the halls, exchanging some fa-la-la-la-las, and taking a portrait with jolly old St. Nick on November 21 at Elysium Studio in Garden Grove. It turns out Santa is coming to town for more than just to deliver presents. Never mind that it’s the busiest time of year for him; set up an appointment for a portrait. Your kids—eventually—will thank you.

The Great Holiday Feast: An air of mystery and fun will be afoot throughout this enchanted event. A magical evening of fun and feasting awaits, all based around a Harry Potter theme on November 28 at the Balboa Bay Resort. 

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade and Ring of Lights Cruise: Experience Newport Bay like never before as homeowners and businesses plug into the Ring of Lights competition. The contest is judged on December 15, but 75-minute cruises are available from December 3 to January 2.

Christmas at Calvary Church: This Christmas celebration features carols, candle lighting, and uplifting messages. Sunday services at Calvary Church in Santa Ana run throughout December, with a special service taking place on Christmas Eve. Make sure to reserve a spot if you’d like to attend, as seating is limited due to COVID.

Plaza Navideña: This tree lighting event takes place at Plaza Calle Cuatro in the heart of Downtown Santa Ana on November 20. The festivities are free and feature a tree-lighting ceremony, holiday entertainment, delicious food, beverages, and treats. Plaza Navidena runs from 5 to 8 p.m., so come and get your lights fixation turned on.

Snow Day with the Critters: This mid-December fete features winter activities and crafts for families, accompanied by holiday music and stories. Rumor has it that some cute animals will also be tasting winter treats. Who among us has the willpower to resist that? Santa Ana residents can enjoy free admission on December 16.

NYE at the Beach “Orange Country”: Lasso yourself a date and get in touch with your inner urban cowboy this New Year’s Eve by having a rip-snortin’ good time at this country music-themed howdy to 2022. There will be dining, dancing, and boot-scoot boogie-ing to the country music stylings of Redneck Rodeo, Scotty Mac Band, Timmy McKeever, and DJ David Bugenske. And it all comes with the beautiful backdrop of Huntington Beach. If that doesn’t put a little bounce in your giddyup, we’re not sure what will.

Shows and Performances

There is a plethora of holiday magic in Santa Ana this year, with some diverse performances scheduled to unfold. Concerts, circuses, cultural celebrations, and vocal performances will all brighten stages throughout Orange County. 

Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Christmas Eve and Other Stories”: Trans-Siberian Orchestra concerts truly have to be seen to be believed. Lasers, pyrotechnics, and incredible lighting meld perfectly with sincere narration, storytelling, and rocked-up classical-based music in one gigantic, mesmerizing feast for the senses. The band’s annual North American holiday trek was put on hold last year due to the pandemic, but things are back on track for live performances this winter. TSO will be coming to Toyota Arena for two shows on December 4 in a celebration of the 25th anniversary of “Christmas Eve and Other Stories.”

A Magical Cirque Christmas: The brave performers of A Magical Cirque Christmas will perform dazzling, high-flying feats with whimsical choreography. All performances feature live Christmas music, making it an exciting night out for the whole family.

Rend Collective’s Jolly Irish Christmas Extravaganza: Rend Collective will be putting on a celebratory concert on December 7 at Calvary Santa Ana. The band, hailing from a small town off the coast of Northern Ireland, is known for its electric, lively music. Be sure to tap into a little luck of the Irish this holiday season. For further information, visit

Concordia Christmas: Repeat the Sounding Joy!: Concordia University puts together a spectacular Christmas concert every year featuring vocals, instruments, and even handbells. This event is a popular Christmas tradition, and Concordia’s Christmas concert sells out every year, so don’t delay! Get your tickets soon!

The Beautiful Day: Kurt Elling Sings Christmas: Jazz your Christmas routine up a bit this year with a performance by Grammy-winning performer Kurt Elling. His holiday concert consists of a mix of traditional and contemporary Christmas songs. Whatever traditions and beliefs you hold about the holiday season, you’ll undoubtedly feel the magic and peace of this special time of year by checking out Elling’s performance.


For many, the holiday season means covering the house from roof to floor with tinsel, Christmas trees, lights, and a host of other decorations. Then, of course, there are presents: Is there anything better than seeing a loved one’s face light up as they open a holiday gift you picked out for them? Whether you’re looking for unique seasonal decorations or a special gift to show someone how much you care, Santa Ana is the perfect place to be!

Huntington Beach Winter Wonderland: Visitors get the opportunity to craft their own holiday decorations at this unique event, which also sells holiday accessories, decor, clothing, and jewelry. Gourmet foods and candy are also in large supply. Don’t miss the chance to shop for some truly unique gifts—and maybe even make some of your own!
Pumpkin City’s Christmas Trees: It’s all fir one and one fir all at Pumpkin City’s Christmas Trees near Santa Ana. A wide selection of fresh-cut trees features the following types: noble fir, grand fir, Douglas fir, Nordmann fir, and Fraser fir. In addition to trees, Pumpkin City also sells Christmas decorations and wreaths.
Sugar Plum Holiday Festival: This vintage market’s offerings will dance—if not outright take up residence—in your head. Over 165 exhibitors will be selling a mix of vintage, upcycled, chic, and handmade gifts and decorations.

Opportunities to Share

Receiving gifts is great, but the true meaning of the holiday season is giving to others. If you have the means or the time during this special time of year, consider giving to those less fortunate so they too can feel the joy of this winter season. Here are some great volunteer opportunities in Santa Ana:

Operation Santa Claus: Unfortunately, thousands of children in Orange County won’t be having a very merry Christmas without our help. This holiday season, donate toys and gifts to children and families in need. Last year, Operation Santa Claus distributed over 39,000 toys and gifts, bringing happiness and hope to our most vulnerable children in Orange County who wouldn’t have otherwise had much at all.

Univision Toy Drive: The Spirit of Giving: A toy drive will be held on December 4 at Huntington Park. Talk about stocking stuffers—children will be able to receive a toy, and attendees will have access to health screenings, COVID-19 vaccines, haircuts, and additional resources and information. Further kids activities also will be happening. The event is free and open to all families.

Volunteer with The Salvation Army: Have you ever had a secret desire to play a musical instrument so exuberantly that fans felt compelled to empty their pockets of excess coinage into a festive nearby container? If so, the Salvation Army has the perfect gig for you. OK, so that instrument is a bell and the fans are harried shoppers, but the basic premise remains the same. If performing in this manner isn’t in your wheelhouse, how about helping pick out gifts for kids or serving as a personal shopper for a needy family?

Safe Celebration

We all want our home to smell fantastic for the holidays. And the mixed aromas of a fresh tree along with a batch of the latest holiday baking experiment wafting from the kitchen are pure nirvana this time of year. Scented candles are extremely popular during the holidays. If you plan on firing up that favorite cinnamon candle—or any other scent—this year, please remember that up to 7,500 fires are started each year because of household candles. So show extra caution when lighting candles in your apartment, especially in your bedroom. Consider using battery-powered candles or scented spray instead to address all your aromatic needs while avoiding any inherent dangers of an open flame. And if you do decide to use candles, please, don’t leave them unattended.

Naturally, live Christmas trees can also create another fire hazard. If bringing a real tree into your apartment is part of your plan this year, take every precaution to keep it watered so it doesn’t dry out. Take care to keep all open flames, such as candles, away from the branches, and make sure you turn all lights off when you’re not at home. Stay safe and enjoy the holidays!

Ontario and the surrounding areas are packed with holiday cheer. Enjoy the activities, shopping, performances, and opportunities to give back and stay safe.

We’d love to see your holiday fun! If you decorate for the holidays or try out one of the activities above, post a photo on social media, tag us, and use #TisTheSeasonAtAMC.

From all of us at West Fifth Apartments in Ontario,
Happy Holidays!

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