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 20,000 toys to registered families last year, and this year’s event aims to do the same. Create an unforgettable experience for children on Sunday, December 18. That experience—all for free—includes carnival rides, games, raffles, entertainment, pictures with Santa, 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 19 at American Legion Post 716 in Los Alamitos. 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.

Christmas Eve Brunch: Start your holiday weekend with some seasonal favorites and signature dishes at Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach on Saturday, December 24. The menu includes lobster, cranberry Chilean sea bass, and clams Rockefeller, or prime rib and rosemary glazed pork tenderloin if you’re in the mood for some nonoceanic options. Live music and strolling carolers will also be on hand to usher in the holiday season by the water.

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 December 2–31.

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.

Winter Village Grand Opening and Tree Lighting: Head to Santa Ana on Saturday, December 10, for the grand opening of the second annual Winter Village, featuring holiday vendors, food by Northgate Market, and some performances from the Anaheim Ducks. Reservations for the outdoor ice-skating rink can be made online, and an official tree-lighting ceremony will be held at 5:00 p.m. that evening.

New Year’s Eve 2023 Huntington Beach NYE Bar Crawl: Pace yourself for this multiple-stop all-night New Year’s Eve celebration in Huntington Beach on Saturday, December 31. Tickets include admission to all participating venues, as well as access to exclusive drink specials. Check-in is between 8:00 and 10:00 PM, and participants are invited to dress to impress to ring in 2023.

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. 

The Ghosts of Christmas Eve – The Best of TSO and More: 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. There are two shows to ring in the season at Toyota Arena on December 3.

A Magical Cirque Christmas: The brave performers of A Magical Cirque Christmas will perform dazzling, high-flying feats with whimsical choreography at the Dolby Theatre on November 25–27. All performances feature live Christmas music, making it an exciting night out for the whole family.

Phil Wickham: Behold Christmas Nights Tour: RIAA Gold-certified artist Phil Wickham is making a stop in nearby Anaheim as part of his acclaimed Christmas tour on Saturday, December 10. Usher in the season with him and singer/songwriter Anne Wilson through corporate worship.

Concordia Christmas: The Thrill of Hope!: 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!

Tis the Season! at Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall: An Orange County tradition, the annual event is taking place this year on December 18 and 19. Featuring Pacific Chorale offering both holiday favorites and delightful surprises, this is a concert the entire family can enjoy.


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: Happening December 1–4, 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. Open the day after Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve, shoppers can choose from a wide selection of fresh-cut trees featuring 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.

Festival of Winter: Head to nearby Fontana on Saturday, December 10 to enjoy this free community event featuring 30 vendors touting unique gifts. The event also offers train rides, live entertainment, photos with Santa, and something we don’t see in California very often: more than 40 tons of fresh snow!

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 19,000 toys and gifts, bringing happiness and hope to our most vulnerable children in Orange County who wouldn’t have otherwise had much at all.

An XZBT Xmas Toy Drive: Hosted by Hands Up Gallery, guests are invited to party for a cause at the art and fashion gallery XZBT in Fullerton on December 17, where pop-up vendors, live performances, and a gallery featuring artists from all over Los Angeles will be on display. Admission is $10 or a toy of the same value, all of which will go toward providing a happy holiday for youth in the area.

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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