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Events Happening This Weekend in Orange County: December 4th – 6th

This weekend is jam-packed with local holiday celebrations. Take some time to enjoy the holiday season with your family. I can get so caught up in holiday preparations that I forget to make time to enjoy the festivities with my family. Time spent together will create lifelong memories for your kids. Enjoy your weekend!

Multi-Day Events / Museum Happenings

Aquarium of the Pacific (December 4 – 6)

100 Aquarium Way

Long Beach, CA  90802

Friday, December 4: Shark Lagoon Nights – The public is invited to get up close with the ocean’s ultimate predators at the Aquarium of the Pacific for FREE during Shark Lagoon Nights. Guests will have the opportunity to touch bamboo sharks and see large sharks such as sandtigers as well as rays in the Aquarium’s Shark Lagoon. Event runs 6:00pm – 9:00pm. Coffee, hot cocoa, beer, wine, desserts, and snacks are available for purchase. Please note that while it is almost every Friday, some Fridays are excluded. Please check the dates for availability. Shark Lagoon Nights are weather-dependent and can be canceled due to inclement weather. Only Shark Lagoon is open and available for guests during these free events. Please call for more information.

Saturday, December 5 and Sunday, December 6: Holiday Treats for the Animals – In celebration of the holiday season, Santa Diver will be delivering an ocean of gifts to the Aquarium of the Pacific for its animals, including penguins, sea otters, seals, sea lions, lorikeets, and fish. Guests can see Santa Diver with sharks and watch the Aquarium’s animals receive their special treats and enrichment gifts during the Holiday Treats for the Animals weekend. Families can enjoy holiday music, crafts, special presentations, unique photo opportunities, shopping, and more. The sea otters exhibit will be decked out for the “sea”son with their very own snowman. Guests can watch the sea otters savor candy cane-shaped ice treats and gourmet lobster tails. Throughout the day Aquarium staff will give special gift delicacies to other marine animals as well. Festival activities are free with general admission ($28.95 adult, $14.95 Child 3-11) and run 9:00am – 5:00pm.

Santa Ana Zoo Winter Zoobilation (December 1 – 31)

1801 E Chestnut Ave.

Santa Ana, CA 92701

Winter Zoobilation is our annual holiday family festival. The Zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland filled with beautiful, original, hand-crafted decorations by Board Member Rip Ribble, train and carrousel rides in their full holiday regale, mischievous monkeys, and festive weekend entertainment. Zoo hours are 10:00am – 4:00pm. Free with museum admission ($10/adult, $7 child).

Saturday, December 5: Holidays with the Critters – The Santa Ana Zoo’s “International Day with the Critters” will be held on Saturday, December 5th from 11 am – 2 pm, rain or shine. The annual event is included with the price of admission and FREE for Zoo members. Guests will take a “trip around the world” exploring and discovering international stations throughout the Zoo and getting their “passports” stamped. Each station will feature an animal from a different country around the world. Live entertainment, games, storytelling, special children’s crafts and educational activities will take place throughout the day.

Selfies with Santa (November 27 – December 24)

Irvine Spectrum Center (Carousel Court)

670 Spectrum Center Dr.

Irvine, CA 92618

Santa returns to Irvine Spectrum Center, Orange County style!  Clad in a Hawaiian shirt and board shorts, St. Nick will greet visitors in his Crystal Cove beach-inspired house decked out with iconic OC accents including surfboards and orange crates. Shoppers are invited to share holiday wishes and take complimentary Selfies with Santa.  Every visitor can take two complimentary photos with their cell phones or cameras.  A complimentary professional digital photo will also be available and emailed to you.  Hard copy photos can also be purchased upon request. 2015 SANTA HOUSE HOURS:

  • Monday – Saturday: Noon – 8pm
  • Sunday: 11am – 6pm


  • Black Friday/Opening Day (Friday, November 27): 11am – 8pm
  • December 21 – 23: Noon – 9pm
  • Christmas Eve (Wednesday, December 24): 10am – 6pm
  • Christmas Day (Thursday, December 25) : CLOSED – Santa flies back to the North Pole!

Disney Magical Holiday Lights (November 27, 2015 – January 3, 2016)

Irvine Spectrum Center

670 Spectrum Center Dr.

Irvine, CA 92618

In partnership with Disney, Irvine Spectrum Center proudly presents “Disney Magical Holiday Lights” which brings a touch of dazzle to our tree lighting tradition in the Edwards Courtyard. The lighting and music is a yuletide tribute to the holiday spectaculars that have become guest favorites at the Disneyland Resort. New sparkling effects and lighting “magic” will bring our tree to life this year, along with a delightful new holiday soundtrack. And of course, everyone enjoys hearing the voice of Mickey Mouse, who leads a holiday sing-along. It’s a sparkling moment of magic and wonder for the whole family to enjoy! Showtimes 5:30pm, 6:30pm, 7:30pm, 8:30pm and 9:30pm.

Irvine Park Railroad’s Christmas Train (November 27 – December 23)

Irvine Regional Park

1 Irvine Park Rd.

Orange, CA 92869

Come with family and friends and take this enchanting night ridethrough historic Irvine Regional Park to meet Santa Claus. The train will depart from the brightly-lit train station and drop passengers off at the North Pole. Children can share their wish list with Santa and have their photo taken with him too. After visiting with Santa, hop back aboard the train and enjoy the colorful Christmas lights and decorations, as well as the magical “Tunnel of Lights,” on the ride back to Santa’s Village. $12/person to ride the train. Children age 24 months and younger are free. Activity tickets are $5.00/ticket or purchase a book of activity tickets for $60.00 ($15.00 savings).

Free activities:

  • Story Time with Mrs. Claus
  • Christmas Coloring Corner
  • Picture stands

Cost activities:

  • Photos with Santa
  • Santa Bounce House Jumper
  • Cookie Decorating
  • Ice Fishing
  • Christmas Carnival games
  • Food for purchase

CHILL (November 20, 2015 – January 10, 2016)

Queen Mary

1126 Queens Hwy.

Long Beach, CA 90802

A deep freeze will take over the Queen Mary this holiday season as CHILL® returns in 2015 on Nov. 20- Nov. 29, Dec. 1-6, Dec. 8 – Jan. 3 & Jan. 7-10. Experience the frozen magic that will bring holiday celebration, wonderment and North Pole temperatures to families across sunny Southern California. Tickets start at $24.99/child and $34.99/adult on select dates. See website for ticket prices including a limited time offer of tickets for $18.99 on select dates.

Our giant dome – once home to the legendary Spruce Goose – will be frozen over and transformed into a giant igloo and home to The Ice Kingdom – an awe-inspiring 13,000 sq ft walk-thru exhibit featuring larger-than-life ice creations some towering over 2.5 stories tall and made using over two million pounds of ice. But don’t forget to grab a parka and gloves – temperatures drop to a numbing 9-degrees inside the Ice Kingdom.

In addition to the enchantment of The Ice Kingdom, CHILL will also feature Ice Tubing , Ice Skating*,  an all new Victorian Village, Swinging Sleigh Ride*, Giant Rocking Horse, Polar Paintball*, Illumination Candle Making Shoppe, an Enchanted Forest Hedge Maze, live music, holiday carolers and so much more!  Your CHILL ticket also gives you ship access and a complimentary screening in the brand new 4-D Theater!  *Additional costs apply.

Winter Fantasy (November 21 – December 20)

Sawdust Art Festival

935 Laguna Canyon Rd.

Laguna Beach, CA 92651

The Sawdust Festival celebrates the holiday season every weekend starting November 21 through December 20 (as well as Friday November 27). Our festival grounds will be transformed into a winter wonderland where 175 artists create, display and sell original creations over the course of five weekends. The Winter Fantasy is offers the most unique holiday shopping in all of Southern California. Art media includes jewelry, clothing, fused and blown glass, ceramics, woodwork, forged metals, painting, photography, sculpture, clothing and textiles.

Experience unique artwork by 175 artists, live holiday entertainment, great outdoor cafes, art classes and demonstrations, petting zoo, Santa and much, much more! With amazing art gifts, thousands of holiday decorations and picture-perfect moments, the Sawdust’s Winter Fantasy will become your family’s holiday tradition. Cost is $7 Adult and $4 Children 6-12. Hours are 10:00am – 6:00pm.

Ice Rink at the Irvine Spectrum (October 2, 2015 – February 15, 2016)

71 Fortune Dr.

Irvine, CA 92618

Outdoor skating rink at the Irvine Spectrum. Skating season runs October 2, 2015 – February 15, 2016. See website for skate schedules and pricing. Located in Giant Wheel Court adjacent to Nordstrom and Macy’s. Tickets can be purchased at the Ice Rink Box Office in Giant Wheel Court. Cash and Credit Cards (Visa/Mastercard) accepted.

Children’s Museum at La Habra

301 South Euclid St.

La Habra, CA 90631

Our mission
is to encourage enthusiasm about learning in a hands-on environment that opens the world even to the youngest child. Our museum features 7 galleries and 14 different hands on exhibits, many of which remain unique to the field today. In addition to these exhibits, an outdoor dinosaur topiary and historic 1942 caboose, the Museum features an exhibit which changes 3 times a year. The Children’s Museum welcomes local, national and international visitors. Children can ride a kid-size carousel, take a walk in T-Rex’s footprints, pet an Arctic fox, pump gas, drive a bus, dress up and perform, and dig for fossils all in one afternoon! Admission: Kids and Adults $8, La Habra residents $7, Kids Under 2 Free). The museum is closed on Mondays.

Construction Zone exhibit – Frank Lloyd Wright has nothing on the next generation of young architects! This immersive exhibit will give them the building blocks to success. Busy hands and minds are encouraged to build, create, and innovate as they learn what goes into the making of a city. From driving bulldozers in construction sites to designing blueprints of shiny new skyscrapers, there’s a job for everyone! So grab your hard hat and your imagination and get ready to build your own city! Exhibit runs through March 6, 2016.

Friday, December 4: Free Art Fridays – Anything goes today! An array of art supplies are available to create your masterpiece today! Activity available 11:00am – 3:00pm in the Family Art Center. Free with museum admission.

Saturday, December 5: Breakfast with Santa – A time honored classic for Christmas at the Museum – this morning includes a continental breakfast of yummy treats, a colorful craft for each child, the classic photo with Santa Claus and free admission into the Museum! Don’t miss your chance to spend some quality family time together and also greet Santa before he starts his busy schedule. Reservations are required for this event. Seating Times: 8:30 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 11 a.m. Kids $10, Adults $12.

Sunday, December 6: Breakfast with Santa – A time honored classic for Christmas at the Museum – this morning includes a continental breakfast of yummy treats, a colorful craft for each child, the classic photo with Santa Claus and free admission into the Museum! Don’t miss your chance to spend some quality family time together and also greet Santa before he starts his busy schedule. Reservations are required for this event. Seating Times: 8:30 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 11 a.m. Kids $10, Adults $12.

Sunday, December 6: Target Free Day – Festivals of Lights – Celebrate international festivals of lights including Diwali, Hanukkah and Las Posadas. A limited number of hand stamps are given for Museum entrance for 1:00 p.m. & 3:15 p.m time slots on the day of the event and are subject to availability.

Discovery Cube Orange County

2500 N Main St.

Santa Ana, CA  92705

We INSPIRE and EDUCATE young minds through engaging SCIENCE-BASED programs and exhibits to create a meaningful IMPACT on the COMMUNITIES we serve. Our mission to inspire, educate, and impact is brought to life through the cornerstones of our core initiatives (STEM Proficiency, Early Learning, Healthy Living, and Environmental Stewardship. Explore over 100 hands-on, interactive exhibits as you adventure throughout Discovery Cube’s first and second floors. All of our exhibits teach science concepts using fun and engaging activities.

Visit the Healthy Kitchen and enjoy demonstrations from a professional chef to learn some tips and tricks of the trade. Demonstrations feature healthy, delicious, and kid approved recipes that are quick, easy, and fun to make for family and friends. Learn about food science and pick up some safety tips to help keep your little ones safe in the kitchen. No food demonstration is complete without samples and participants have the opportunity try every dish featured during the demonstration! The Healthy Kitchen offers demonstrations every weekend, at the following times:


  • 12:00pm-12:30pm
  • 1:30pm-2:00pm
  • 3:00pm-3:30pm


  • 1:30pm-2:00pm
  • 3:00pm-3:30pm

Admission is $16.95 for Adults, $12.95 for Children 3-14, and Free for Children 2 and Under. Memberships also available. Check website for details.

September 19, 2015 – January 3, 2016: Hot Wheels: Race to Win – This new family exhibit will get you revved up with immersive activities for three generations of Hot Wheels® fans. There’s something for mom, dad, grandparents, and children! Visit this exhibit to become part of a race team working together to build and test the fastest speed machines on the planet! Here’s a peak at what you’ll see:

  • Take a behind-the-scenes look at the thrilling world of racing, including the scientific process for designing fast cars
  • Compete in the Pit Stop Challenge, by racing against the clock to change tires and refuel your race car
  • Test theories regarding the science of racing by experimenting with a six lane downhill speed track, booster power track, adjustable angles track, and timing track
  • See and learn about real race car parts, authentic artifacts, and captivating memorabilia

Don’t miss this opportunity to push the limits of your imagination and learn about the world of racing in this all-new exhibit!

November 27, 2015 – January 3, 2016: Science of Gingerbread – Inside the kitchen, much more is going on than pouring and mixing – it’s science at work! Our holiday festival is filled with great hands-on activities designed to bring families together this holiday season.

Activities include:

  • Gingerbread Derby Competition (11am, 1pm, & 3pm)
  • Kitchen Chemistry Learning Station
  • Gingerbread Spices Learning Station
  • Build a House Learning Station
  • Hall of Traditions
  • 3D Printing of a gingerbread house
  • Do You Want To Build A Snowman? Science of Snow Stage Show (on select dates only – please see schedule below)
  • Cookie Decorating in the Healthy Kitchen (on select dates only – please see website for schedule)
  • Santa Meet & Greet (on select dates only – please see schedule below)

o   Friday, 11/27/2015 – Sunday, 11/29/2015

o   Saturday, 12/5/2015 – Sunday, 12/6/2015

o   Saturday, 12/12/2015 – Sunday, 12/13/2015

o   Saturday, 12/19/2015 – Thursday, 12/24/2015

Heritage Museum of Orange County

3101 W Harvard St.

Santa Ana, CA 92704

Heritage Museum of Orange County is a cultural and natural history center in Southern California. The centerpiece of the museum, which covers nearly 12 acres in all, is an historic plaza featuring several buildings from the 1890s set amid extensive floral gardens and citrus groves. Among these is the Kellogg House, familiar to teachers and students throughout Orange County as a favorite field trip destination for over 25 years.

Our regular public visiting hours are:

  • Friday 1pm-5pm
  • Saturday 10am-2pm
  • Sunday 11am-3pm

Prices and Amenities

  • Adults: $5
  • Seniors/Children: $4
  • Free parking
  • Free use of grounds for individuals and families during public hours
  • AAA/Access Member Discounts
  • Special for Santa Ana Residents Only: Free Admission & Tour on the first Sunday of every month.

Kidseum (art-based children’s museum operated by the Bowers Museum)

1802 N Main St.

Santa Ana, CA 92706

The newly renovated Kidseum is high-tech and interactive with a focus on its new mission, “Igniting imagination through exploration,” stressing the excitement of art and archaeology. Be sure to check out the new “Glow Cave” with its fun art making activities, ride the magical Wells Fargo stagecoach through time in the “Green Screen Time Machine,” and explore archaeology like never before in our new Archaeology Lab. There will be a lot of visual stimulation and engaging education with new smart tables, smart boards and computers.

Special Weekend Programs for children and adults! (included with admission). Admission is $6 for Ages 2 and Up, Under 2/Members are Free. Adult free admission with current Bowers Museum ticket stub.

  • Face painting all day
  • Drop in Art Studio all day
  • Live Storytelling in the Story Room – 11:00am – 11:30am and 1:30pam – 2:00pm (Saturdays & Sundays)
  • Glow Cave Paintings – 11:30am – 12:00pm and 2:00pm – 2:30pm (Saturdays & Sundays)
  • Archaeology Lab Coin Impressions – 1:00pm – 1:30pm and 2:30pm – 3:00pm (Saturdays & Sundays)

Sunday, December 6: Winter Solstice Festival – Free family festival takes place at the Bowers Museum (2002 N Main St.) 10:00am – 4:00pm. Details TBA.

Laguna Art Museum

307 Cliff Dr.

Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Laguna Art Museum is a museum of California art. It collects, cares for, and exhibits works of art that were created by California artists or represent the life and history of the state. Unlike any other museum in the state, it collects California art and only California art, and ranges across all periods and styles, nineteenth-century to present-day. Walk-in tours led by experienced docents feature highlights from the museum’s current exhibitions. These tours begin at 11:00 a.m. in the museum lobby on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays beginning one week after an exhibition opens. No reservations are necessary, but please notify the tour program coordinator if you are bringing a group of ten or more. Tours are free for museum members and free for non-member with museum admission.

The museum is open Monday – Tuesday, Friday – Sunday 11:00am – 5:00pm, Thursday 11:00am – 9:00pm, Closed Wednesday. Admission is $7 adult, Free for children under 12. The museum is free for all visitors the first Thursday of every month from 5:00pm – 9:00pm. Metered parking is available surrounding the museum on Cliff Drive and Pacific Coast Highway. The meters take quarters and credit cards only.  Additional street parking is available in the residential area east of the museum, across Pacific Coast Highway. The museum does not have a parking lot. There is a free trolley service available for visitors on weekends in the spring and daily during the summer months.

Mission San Juan Capistrano

26801 Ortega Hwy.

San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

Mission San Juan Capistrano, historic landmark and museum, is the Birthplace of Orange County. It was founded more than two hundred years ago as the 7th of 21 missions statewide and features a chapel still standing where Fr. Serra once celebrated Mass. Today, it is a monument to California’s multi-cultural history, embracing its Native American, Spanish, Mexican and European heritage. Originally built as a self sufficient community by Spanish Padres and Native Americans, the Mission was a center for agriculture, industry, education and religion.

Admission: Adults $9 (includes free audio tour), Seniors (60+) $8 (includes free audio tour), Children (4-11) $6 (includes free audio tour), and Children under 3 are free. Admission tickets are stold at the Gate House or online. The mission is open daily 9:00am – 5:00pm. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Closed at noon Good Friday and Christmas Eve.

Activities and tours are offered daily. Curiosity Carts are out 10:00am – 12:00pm every Tuesday and Thursday. Garden tours are offered every Wednesday at 10:00am and 10:30am. Gold Panning, Adobe Brick Making, and Arrowhead Necklace are offered every Saturday and Sunday, 11:00am – 3:00pm. $5 non-members, $1 members.

Saturday, December 5: Christmas at the Mission – Celebrate the holidays with Mission San Juan Capistrano! Christmas at the Mission features local musical performance groups, crafts for kids and food. Bring the whole family to this fun, festive event that follows the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony in downtown San Juan Capistrano.

Christmas at the Mission features:

  • Ringing of the historic bells
  • An exhibition of local music performance groups throughout the Mission
  • “Santa’s Workshop” with cookie and ornament decorating for kids (free while supplies last!)
  • Food Vendors serving tamales, burgers, coffee, hot cider, hot cocoa, sweets and more

The beautiful historic Mission festively lit up for this special after-hours event, and more! Event runs 5:30pm – 8:00pm and costs $5/adult and $3/child 4-11.


241 S Anaheim Blvd.

Anaheim, CA 92805

The MUZEO engages the community by exploring and celebrating our diverse heritage, culture and arts through creative programming. The MUZEO hosts three traveling exhibitions per year which would otherwise not be displayed in the region. Every exhibit is enhanced with special programs, events and activities. You don’t want to miss a moment of them. Admission fees: Adults $10 and children $6. Parking is available in the structure on the corner of Center Street Promenade and South Lemon Street. Museum is closed on Mondays.

King Tut: “Wonderful Things” from the Pharaoh’s Tomb – ten years in the making, this dazzling collection of 131 replicas of Tutankhamun’s legendary treasures recreates the richest archaeological find of all time. Carefully recreated by the artisans of the Pharaonic Village in Giza, Egypt and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this collection is larger and more complete than any previous exhibition of original artifacts. Displayed in open glass cases, King Tut includes replicas of the pharaoh’s sacred and personal possessions along with associated artifacts from the period surrounding Tutankhamen’s reign.

Docent tours start in the box office and last approximately 45 minutes. Tours are complimentary with admission to King Tut: “Wonderful Things” from the Pharaoh’s Tomb. Schedule subject to change. Exhibit runs November 8, 2015 – January 24, 2016.

Orange County Museum of Art

850 San Clemente Dr.

Newport Beach, CA 92660

OCMA’s mission is to enrich the lives of a diverse and changing community through modern and contemporary art. The museum offers free admission every Friday. Hours are 11:00am – 8:00pm. A public tour is offered at 1:00pm.

Sunday, December 6: Free Family Day – Enjoy a fun-filled day at the museum with performances by student musical and vocal ensembles, unique hands-on art activities designed by exhibiting artist Olga Lah, and special gallery tours for families. Food truck onsite for dining options. All for free. Event runs 11:00am – 5:00pm.

Pretend City

29 Hubble

Irvine, CA 92618

Pretend City Children’s Museum features a small, interconnected city designed to “build better brains” through purposeful play, hands-on learning experiences, role playing, and educational programming. As a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization serving all children, it depends on community-based funding and guest support. Through 17 interactive exhibits and activities guided by a highly trained professional staff, children learn foundational math, reading and science skills, while fostering curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, organization, teamwork, self-confidence and socialization. The museum is a unique community resource offering developmental screenings and tools for families, educators and community agencies working to ensure that each child gains the experiences needed to discover their potential and build toward a productive and fulfilling future.

Admission is as follows: Infant to 12 months: FREE, Children: $12.50, Adult: $12.50, Military and Family Members: $9.50. Pretend City’s Art Studio has new art projects daily! See the Art Calendar for details. Pretend City’s Real Café is located between the Home and Construction Site. Our vending Machines contain healthy choices like sandwiches, salads, fruit snacks, milk, bottle water, and other healthier snack options for your family. Take a break in our Real Cafe seating area while you fill up on much-needed fuel before going back on the floor for more play!  We ask that all eating be in the Real Café seating area, or on the outside tables to side the building (next to the Front Entrance). Pretend City Children’s Museum is a nut-free facility.

Sunday, December 6: December 14: Hooray for Chanukah! – Happy Chanukah! Celebrate Chanukah at Pretend City. Your child will love these rich and diverse activities about the Hanukkah miracle and the importance of many of the traditions of the holiday. We’ll have fun learning about this wonderful holiday through games, finger play rhymes, art projects and activities.

Featured activities include:

  • Sunday, December 6  Menorah
  • Monday, December 7  Dreidel, Dreidel
  • Tuesday, December 8  Star of David
  • Wednesday, December 9 Chanukah Art
  • Thursday, December 10 Tzedakah Box
  • Friday, December 11 Chanukah Story Tim
  • Saturday, December 12 Sunrise-Sunset Song
  • Sunday, December 13 Gelt Scavenger hunt
  • Monday, December 14 Pretend Honey and spice cookies

Event runs each day 10:00am – 5:00pm. RSVP not required. Free with museum admission.

Sunday, December 6: Visit from Snow White from Lythgoe Family Productions – Be enchanted this holiday season with Lythgoe Family Productions’ A Snow White Christmas at The Laguna Playhouse, December 2-27.  In the style of traditional British Panto, this updated holiday version of the classic fairytale will include your favorite pop hits, magic, comedy and more! Today, Snow White will be visiting Pretend City to take pictures, read a book, and sing songs in the Orange Plaza. She will be promoting her show by passing out information flyers and signing autographs for the children. Buy 4 tickets for $99 today!  Visit and select “Family Pack” pricing.  (Restrictions may apply.  Valid on balcony seating only.) Event runs 10:00am – 12:30pm with a special Storytime and Sons at 11:00am. RSVP not required. Free with museum admission.

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