Places to go in Southern California to get into the Holiday Spirit


Heather Haas

Disneyland goes all out for the holidays, including a Christmas tree adorned with colorful ornaments and lights.

Juliette Fournier, Photojournalist

It’s that time of year again! Now the complicated question: where to go? Heres a list of five different places to go to get into the holiday spirit. Any of these activities are perfect for making long-lasting memories with friends and family, and all are relatively close or in Orange County.

  1. Mission Inn Festival of Lights- Starting the day after Thanksgiving and lasting 6 weeks, this extravagant display of lights is a must for all those who love seeing Christmas decorations. It’s been named the “Best Public Lights Display in the Nation” by USA Today and is located in Riverside. The best part is that it’s free, so no need to ask your parents for money to go. Horse-drawn carriage rides, Christmas trees, snow, and “200 animated figures including angels, elves, and Dickens carolers” (
  2. Sawdust Winter Festival- For lovers of arts and crafts, the Sawdust Winter Festival is the perfect place to incorporate a holiday wonderland and art. Over 175 artists display and sell their creations which include photography, paintings, blown glass, clothing, and several others. It’s open on weekends from 10 AM- 7 PM starting from November 18th to December 17th. Located in Laguna Beach, the festival is approximately a 30-45 minute drive from Yorba Linda High School. It does cost $8 to get in, but it is definitely worth it.
  3. Disneyland- Every year, “The Happiest Place on Earth” is filled with holiday decorations from November 10 to January 7. All of the Disney characters are dressed for the holidays. During the fireworks, it even “snows.” The cost is about $130-180 for ages 10+. One of the only issues is that the park is most crowded at this time of year. Heather Haas (10) went to Disneyland on a Sunday and a Tuesday. “Main Street was decorated beautifully. It really got me into the Christmas spirit,” she describes. Surprisingly, it “wasn’t too crowded” and “well worth it” since she was able to go on almost all of the rides.
  4. Universal Studios Christmas- This year Universal Studios used The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to show an extravagant display of lights on Hogwarts as well as festive decorations throughout Hogsmeade. They are also celebrating Grinchmas complete with a fully decorated 60-foot Seussian tree. The entire park is also decorated with holiday lights up until January 7 at about $120.
  5. Winterfest OC- Located at the OC Fair and Event Center, Winterfest offers a variety of entertaining activities including but not limited to an outdoor ice-rink, a 150-ft ice slide, a snow park filled with actual snow, and a Festival of Lights walk-through holiday light show with over two million shimmering lights. Open between December 21 through January 7, tickets are only about $17. Keep in mind tickets do sell out, so planning to go in advance is recommended. Note that it is open Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.