Can’t-Miss Events in Orange County This Month (December 2019)

Celtic Christmas, Winter Fest OC, and more
Photo credit: Courtesy of Sherman Library & Gardens

NIGHTS OF A THOUSAND LIGHTS
DEC. 6 THROUGH 22
This sixth-annual event features a unique take on the holiday season, with sections of the gardens devoted to Elvis Presley’s movie “Blue Christmas,” a tunnel made of sparkling lights, and a bonfire with a make-your-own-s’mores station. There’s also a giant gingerbread house, Santa’s workshop, a holiday photo booth, arts and crafts activities, and complimentary coffee and hot chocolate. Sherman Gardens, 2647 E. Coast Highway, Corona del Mar, 949-673-2261, slgardens.org

“IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE”
THROUGH DEC. 22
The classic Christmas film gets a fresh look in this production, which reimagines the tale as a live 1940s radio broadcast. A small ensemble cast brings to life the story of George Bailey, who considers ending it all one Christmas Eve until his guardian angel, Clarence, shows up. STAGESTheatre, 400 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, 714-525-4484, stagesoc.org

IRVINE PARK RAILROAD’S ANNUAL CHRISTMAS TRAIN
THROUGH DEC. 23
Children and their parents ride a train festooned with twinkly lights and pine garlands to the “North Pole,” where they meet Santa, share their holiday wish lists, and take photos before reboarding the train for the ride back to Santa’s Village. Once there, they jump in bounce houses, play carnival games, and enjoy story time with Mrs. Claus. 1 Irvine Park Road, Orange, 714-997-3968, irvineparkrailroad.com

“A CHRISTMAS CAROL”
THROUGH DEC. 24
Hal Landon Jr. makes his 40th and final appearance as Ebenezer Scrooge in South Coast Repertory’s annual production of the classic Charles Dickens tale. Landon has played the main character since the company’s very first staging of the show in 1979. South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, 714-708-5555, scr.org

ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL: MERRY TEXAS CHRISTMAS Y’ALL
DEC. 1
The eight-piece country music group from Austin, Texas, has made Western swing music since 1970. It has released more than 25 albums and earned nine Grammy Awards. In this concert, the musicians will play their own holiday tunes, such as “Christmas in Jail” and “Merry Texas Christmas Y’all,” along with other seasonal favorites. Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine, 949-854-4646, thebarclay.org

“PETER PAN AND TINKER BELL, A PIRATES CHRISTMAS”
DEC. 4 THROUGH 29
Performed in the style of a British panto—a traditional fairy tale infused with music, dancing, and audience participation—this production of the children’s classic features John O’Hurley, best known as J. Peterman on “Seinfeld,” as Captain Hook. The traditional story gets a holiday twist: Peter, Wendy, and Tinker Bell set out to foil the pirates’ plan to kidnap Peter as Captain Hook’s Christmas present. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, 949-497-2787, lagunaplayhouse.com

BEETHOVEN’S SEVENTH
DEC. 5 THROUGH 7
Pacific Symphony presents its take on the composer’s Symphony No. 7, which was embraced from the moment it was first performed in 1813. Rounding out the program are Vadym Kholodenko, winner of the 2013 Van Cliburn competition, playing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3, and the premiere of Academy Award-winning composer Elliot Goldenthal’s tribute to the symphony’s music director, Carl St.Clair. Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, 615 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, 714-755-5788, pacificsymphony.org

“A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS”
DEC. 6 THROUGH 29
This family-friendly production updates Charles M. Schulz’s much-loved story following Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, Sally, and the rest of the Peanuts gang as they attempt to stage their own Christmas play. The show features songs from Vince Guaraldi’s famous score for the original TV special, along with favorite holiday carols. Chance Theater, 5522 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, 714-777-3033, chancetheater.com

SANTA’S VILLAGE BY THE SEA
DEC. 7
The evening of holiday cheer kicks off with the holiday tree lighting at the San Clemente Community Center and continues with festivities at the Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens and along Avenida del Mar. Highlights include photos with Santa, live music from bands and choirs, a beer and wine garden, crafts for kids, and snow sledding. Various locations, San Clemente, 949-218-5378, san-clemente.org

CAPISTRANO LIGHTS OPENING NIGHT
DEC. 7
Mission San Juan Capistrano will kick off its 30-day celebration with a special event including cookie decorating, a visit from Mrs. Claus, an extra reading of “The First Christmas” story, tree lighting, and live music. A separate ticket is required for this event. Mission San Juan Capistrano, 26801 Ortega Highway, San Juan Capistrano, 949-234-1315, capistranolights.com

CELTIC CHRISTMAS
DEC. 8
Eric Rigler, best known as the piper from the “Outlander” TV series, joins guitarist Dirk Freymuth and vocalist and flute player Nuala Kennedy to perform traditional songs and Christmas music from the U.K. and Ireland. Rigler also played his Irish uilleann pipes and Scottish smallpipes on the soundtracks for “Braveheart” and “Titanic,” and the trio will present some of the best-known compositions from the films. Soka Performing Arts Center, 1 University Drive, Aliso Viejo, 949-480-4000, soka.edu

Photo credit: Courtesy of Musco Center


NOCHEBUENA: CHRISTMAS EVE IN MEXICO

DEC. 11
Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles and Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuéllar headline this Christmas-themed show focused on the traditions of Mexico, including the children’s posada processions and the parties and ceremonies held on Nochebuena, or Christmas Eve. Musco Center for the Arts, 1 University Drive, Orange. 844-626-8726, muscocenter.org

CANDLELIGHT WALK AT HERITAGE HILL
DEC. 13
Luminarias light the paths and holiday lights and decorations adorn Heritage Hill’s historic buildings at this annual event. While strolling through the park, visitors can enjoy music from Victorian carolers, learn about the history of the buildings from docents, and listen to seasonal tales told by OC Libraries storytellers. Heritage Hill Historical Park, 25151 Serrano Road, Lake Forest, 949-923-2230, ocparks.com/historic/heritage

AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE’S “THE NUTCRACKER”
DEC. 13 THROUGH 22
More than 100 performers spin and leap across the stage in this version of the holiday ballet, choreographed by ABT artist-in-residence Alexei Ratmansky. Clara’s dreamscape of toy soldiers, dancing snowflakes, fairies, and royal mice features sets and costumes by Richard Hudson, who won a Tony Award for his work on “The Lion King.” Segerstrom Hall, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, 714-556-2787, scfta.org

CAROLS BY CANDLELIGHT
DEC. 14
Illuminated by candles, a chamber choir of singers from the Pacific Chorale, accompanied by a pianist and organist, ushers in the season with a selection of Christmas carols. The audience is invited to sing along with selected songs. Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church, 2100 Mar Vista Drive, Newport Beach, 714-662-2345, pacificchorale.org

SNOW DAYS WITH THE CRITTERS
DEC. 14 AND 15
Special exhibits, demonstrations, seasonal decorations, and festive music set the scene for this winter-themed festival. Visitors can play games, make crafts, enjoy performances by storytellers, and observe the zoo’s resident animals as they savor icy treats. Santa Ana Zoo, 1801 E. Chestnut Ave., Santa Ana, 714-836-4000, santaanazoo.org

MARK O’CONNOR’S “AN APPALACHIAN CHRISTMAS”
DEC. 17
O’Connor, an acclaimed fiddler with three Grammy Awards, joins his band to perform music from “An Appalachian Christmas” at this concert. Influenced by Appalachian folklore, the traditional holiday songs blend bluegrass, Americana, jazz, classical, and indie folk music. Musco Center for the Arts, 1 University Drive, Orange, 844-626-8726, muscocenter.org

111TH NEWPORT BEACH CHRISTMAS BOAT PARADE
DEC. 18 THROUGH 22
Adorned with thousands of lights, seasonal decorations, and even special effects, the boats in this annual nautical parade cast a festive mood over the spectators along the waterways and the people on board. Homeowners along the parade route also get in the spirit, festooning their houses with extravagant decorations. Starting and ending at the tip of Lido Isle, Newport Beach, christmasboatparade.com

WINTER FEST OC
DEC. 19 THROUGH JAN. 5
The carnival features a nightly tree lighting celebration, snow flurries, fireworks, and a bounty of holiday performers. Visitors can ride on the Ferris wheel and carousel, glide across the outdoor ice rink, play in the snow, ice tube down an eight-lane, 150-foot “mountain,” and indulge in seasonal treats. OC Fair and Event Center, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, 714-708-1500, winterfestoc.com

DISNEY ON ICE PRESENTS “MICKEY’S SEARCH PARTY”
DEC. 19 THROUGH 23
The new ice skating show features characters from “Coco,” “Frozen,” “Moana,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” “Toy Story,” and “The Little Mermaid.” Daring stunts and acrobatics bring the action closer than ever to the seats. Honda Center, 2695 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim, 714-704-2500, hondacenter.com

SPANISH HARLEM ORCHESTRA: SALSA NAVIDAD
DEC. 21
This Grammy-winning salsa and Latin jazz band makes its debut at the Segerstrom Center with a holiday performance that will make you want to stand up and dance. Band leader Oscar Hernández grew up near Spanish Harlem, a primary influence in his music. The group aims to keep the legacy of hard salsa alive. Samueli Theater, 615 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, 714-556-2787, scfta.org

HOLIDAY FESTIVAL
DEC. 22
Free art workshops for kids, arts and crafts for sale, live music, and a special appearance by Santa Claus provide the highlights at this annual family-friendly event. Food and craft beer will be for sale. Muckenthaler Cultural Center, 1201 W. Malvern Ave., Fullerton, 714-738-6595, themuck.org

THERE’S MORE!
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