author:Laura Eggers Underhill
There are plenty of reasons to head to the beach this December. Luckily, the weather in Southern California is pretty nice in the winter compared to most parts of the country. The following Christmas and holiday events should help get you in the spirit of the season, Southern California style.
On the first weekend in December, Balboa Park in San Diego celebrates the holidays with an annual event called December Nights.
You can sample foods from around the world at the International Cottage Christmas Festival at the House of Pacific Relations Cottages. In the Spanish Village, you can watch artisans work on their craft and find one of a kind Christmas gifts.
Several museums in the park will be open with no admission fee from 5-9 p.m. both nights. At the Spreckels Organ Pavilion Stage, you can enjoy holiday music, dance and theater performances.
A carnival will entertain the kids on the Palisades Midway. In addition, there will be a holiday marketplace and the Cabrillo Bridge Food Tasting.
December Nights goes from 5-10 p.m. on Friday December 2 and noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday December 3, 2005. For more information, call the Balboa Park Visitors Center at 619-239-0512.
The Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach presents an annual winter’s version called Winter Fantasy. This year, the arts and crafts festival will be held over four weekends from November 19 to December 11, 2005 on Saturdays and Sundays only.
The fine artists and artisans come from far and wide. Not only is it a unique place to do your Christmas shopping, but the kids will have fun too. There will be children’s art activities, a snow play area and Santa.
Live music and festive decorations will add to the holiday experience. Food and drink will also be available.
Admission fees are $5 for adults and $2 for kids age six to twelve. The Sawdust’s Winter Fantasy will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The festival grounds are located on Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach. For more information, call 949 494-3030.
The annual Newport Harbor Christmas Boat Parade happens this year from December 14 to 18, 2005. Boating enthusiasts go all out decorating their watercraft, from rowboats to magnificent yachts.
The more than 200 boat-long parade starts at Collins Island at 6:30 and sails around the bay on a 14 mile route, returning to the starting point around 8:30 or 9 p.m. Carolers and projected music accompany many of the boats as they cruise along.
This has been going on for 95 years and draws quite a crowd. Some of the places you can best view the boat parade include the Balboa Island beaches or boardwalks, the waterfront restaurants, or on a boat charter.
There is also aRing of Lights contest in which waterfront homes and businesses pull out all the stops to compete for prizes for the best decorations.
For more information on the Newport Harbor Christmas Boat Parade, call 949-729-4400.
In Huntington Beach, you can enjoy the annual Cruise of Lights Boat Tour from December 14 to December 23, 2005.
For between $8 and $14, you can take the Huntington Harbor Philharmonic Committee’s narrated boat tour throughout the festively lit Huntington Harbor. While cruising along, you can view the myriad of colored lights and decorations, which bedeck the waterfront homes, docks and boats.
The tours will leave at 6, 7 and 8 p.m. on Monday through Friday, and 5:30, 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 on Saturday and Sunday evenings.
Call 714-840-7542 for more information.
Up in Ventura County, Channel Islands Harbor will be holding its annual Parade of Lights on Saturday, December 10, 2005. The colorfully lit parade of boats starts around 7 p.m. You can view the parade form the harbor view restaurants, along Peninsula Park or at Hobie Beach.
If you come during the day, you can also enjoy the festival at the Channel Islands Harbor. Next to the Marine Emporium Landing at Harbor view Park there will be 25 tons of snow for kids to play in. Also there will be kid’s rides and games, horse drawn carriage rides, an arts & crafts boutique, carolers and water taxi boat rides.
Word has it that Santa Claus and his reindeer will fly across the sky in full view. For more information about the event, call the Channel Islands Harbor Visitors Center at 805-985-4852.
On Sunday December 11, from 3 to 7:30, the Santa Barbara waterfront will be celebrating the holidays with their own annual Santa Barbara Parade of Lights.
About 30 decorated boats will be on parade around the harbor. It should be starting around 5:30. You can view it from Stearns’ Wharf or at the breakwater in the harbor.
There will be a Santa’s Village with 12 tons of snow for children to frolic in. Carolers will grace the crowd with musical cheer. The festival will culminate in a fireworks display. For more information, call 805-897-1962.
These festive events will help light up the holidays. Who needs snow when you’ve got the Southern California beaches?