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Where to Go, Eat and Be Entertained to Survive the Season

Photo by Richie Beckman

We are not stupid. We know that for most of December, you will be curled up in a ball in the corner of your domicile, humming “nehn-nehn-nehn” to drown out the unrelenting inner demons, negative headlines and family-obligation pleas. You know: holiday cheer. However, we also realize that you live vicariously through OC Weekly’s ripping Calendar and longer event previews. So for your utter enjoyment, we’ve compiled the best of our holiday-themed listings in one handy-dandy place. Should you choose to book a place at any of the following venues requiring reservations, but then fail to show up because you remain balled up ever tighter, please disclose that you were misled by fake news in the Orange County Register.

Holiday Time at Disneyland Resort
There’s no place like the House of the Mouse for the holidays. From the towering tree on Main Street to the bright-blue icicles dangling from Sleeping Beauty’s castle, Disneyland’s Christmastime conversion is always a stunning feat. The Haunted Mansion mashup of jack-o’-lanterns and Santa hats remains a most delightful nightmare carrying over from Halloween Time. It’s a Small World is just as shimmering with its season’s greetings décor inside as it is when the ride’s famed façade’s Christmas-colored bulbs light up at dusk. Add such decadent holiday treats as candy cane beignets and fun parades for kiddos to max the merriment. Remember to eat a gingerbread Christmas churro and thank a cast member! And good luck trying to find one of those Disney holiday-spirit jerseys while you’re there. 1313 Disneyland Dr., Anaheim; disneyland.disney.go.com [1]. Check website for hours. Through Jan. 6, 2019. $97-135.

Holiday lights at Disneyland. Photo by Gabriel San Román

Holiday Décor Workshop
If you’re perhaps over the same old Christmas decorations you’ve put up year after year, then perhaps it’s time to get creative and improvise with something new. Plus, this workshop’s organizers added mimosas and sweet treats into the mix! At this hands-on class at the Expo Arts Center, you’ll learn how to make a wooden Christmas tree that you can take home and display wherever you please. Best of all, donations will partly go toward Toys for Tots, so underserved kids in the community can have a great Christmas, too! Expo Arts Center, 4321 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach, (562) 595-0081; www.expoartscenter.org [2]. Dec. 8, 10 a.m. $45 (includes supplies, treats and booze).

Make & Take Workshops
San Clemente Art Supply hosts two classes at which you create or decorate, then take home what you’ve made—and gain the skills to keep on creating. The low fee includes everything you’ll need, or you can apply it to purchasing a kit at the end of the class. Space is limited in the lovely, historic studio, so register beforehand. The Collaged and Embellished Greeting Cards session includes three blank cards and envelopes to fashion personalized messages with paint, markers, collage materials and maybe some bedazzlement—tips and techniques you can use on any paper, anywhere, any time of year. The Glass and Paper Mache Ornaments class allows you to paint, marble and/or embellish two glass ornaments and one papier-mâché animal, such as a saddled camel or humble bear. Master Marabu’s easy drop-and-dip marbling and Lumiere acrylics, known for high shine, extreme opacity and durability; both are ideal for these dimensional surfaces. 1531 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente, (949) 369-6603; www.scartsupply.com [3]. Greeting Cards, Dec. 8, 10 a.m. $5; Ornaments, Dec. 15, 10 a.m. $8.

Dana Point Harbor Boat Parade of Lights
The theme for the 44th nautical caravan is a Western Wonderland, and if any of the vessels look as charming as the parade’s logo of a seahorse sporting a cowboy hat, it’s going to be a jolly spectacle indeed. Competitors vie for awards in Best Theme, Best Use of Lights, Best Animation, Most Colorful, Most Original, Best Sailboat, Best Powerboat, Judges’ Choice, and the Perpetual Trophy for the Yacht Club With the Most Entries. We prefer the dinghies and SUPs and kayaks, especially if dogs are aboard dressed as seahorse cowpokes. Use the route map on the website to pick your spot at this rodeo; if comfort is required, make restaurant reservations. It seems as if each year, the landlocked part of the harbor is decked out with ever more lights in strands and pinwheels and animated lobsters—you’d think there were a trophy for Best Dock. Maybe there should be! 34555 Golden Lantern, Dana Point, (949) 923-2255; danapointharbor.com/boat-parade/ [4]. Fri.-Sat., festivities, 4:30 p.m.; parade, 7:30 p.m. Through Dec. 15. Free; additional paid parking is available at Doheny State Beach, with a free trolley running 3:30-10:30 p.m.

Rock Out
Just because the end of the month is dedicated to Jesus’s birthday doesn’t mean metalheads should sit out the rest of December. And for those who favor chaos over caroling, there’s plenty of headbanging at Garden Amp’s winter edition of Rock Out. The fire and fury of Metallica, AC/DC, and Guns N’ Roses come courtesy of the tribute bands who can match the real bands lick for lick—at a fraction of the price (a mere $15 for all the shredding you can stomach). That leaves plenty of extra money for your true holiday shopping essentials: weed and whiskey. Garden Amp, 12762 Main St., Garden Grove, (949) 415-8544; gardenamp.com [5]. Dec. 8, 5 p.m. $15. All ages.

Photo courtesy of the Sawdust Art Festival

Sawdust Winter Fantasy
Fifteen decorated trees have transformed the Sawdust Festival grounds into an enchanting forest where a balloon diva and magicians roam. In the 182 artists’ booths, work will be handcrafted in leather, ceramic, mosaic, mixed media, photography and painting right in front of you. Be sure to stay until dark to see the glassblowers make some molten magic. But don’t just watch at this winter fantasy; do: Try your hand at the pottery wheel; the greenware you throw is free to take home, or make pots to be glazed and shipped wherever you like for $25. Snow will be falling on the Towne Square for the best possible photo op with Mr. Kris Kringle—though be forewarned, Santa takes a break between 1 and 2 p.m. That’s the perfect hour to watch a marionette show or take a complimentary arts-and-crafts class. Or find a merry and bright spot near one of the three stages for live music while sipping something alcoholic from the Sawdust Saloon and snacking on popcorn or a taco. Then ride that buzz as you finish off your holiday shopping. 935 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-3030; sawdustartfestival.org/festivals/winter-fantasy/ [6]. Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Through Dec. 16. $4-$8; kids younger than 5 and military (plus three family members), free.

Winter Moon Market
If you’ve not yet been to Makara Center for the Arts, this holiday boutique is a great introduction to the nonprofit lending library where arts and culture are celebrated with warmth and a touch of surrealism. Book clubs, science talks, art shows, performances and parties with beautiful cakes keep minds open and curiosity fed. The Winter Moon Market comes at the end of a yearlong celebration of the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and provides a peek into Makara’s 2019 programs. Shop for original art, jewelry, vinyl and vintage clothing; get your tarot read; and take in a presentation by Angela Mary Magick. The ritual expert and tarot reader is a force for good who claims “magic is your birthright, and everything’s a spell.” 811 N. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 465-1190; www.makaracenterarts.org [7]. Dec. 9, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Free. All ages.

 

Blanca Nieves’ Christmas
The stage isn’t just for Charles Dickens adaptations come Christmastime. Breath of Fire Latina Theatre Ensemble brings the Chicana holiday tale Blanca Nieves’ Christmas, written by local playwright Yolanda Mendiveles and directed by Diana Burbano. Set in East Los Angeles during the 1950s, the story of Blanca, a recently widowed mother of six facing hardships for the holidays, is based on Mendiveles’ own upbringing. With an eviction and many mouths to feed, Blanca perseveres with the help of neighbors and extended familia in making Christmas a wondrous day despite the odds. As with Pancho Claus’ sleigh ride, the play is one night only, so don’t miss it! Grand Central Art Center, 125 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, (714) 567-7233; www.grandcentralartcenter.com [8]. Dec. 9, 6 p.m. $10.

Photo by Richie Beckman

Johnny Mathis Christmas Concert
Sure, there’s the crackle of wood in the fireplace and the rip of wrapping paper being sliced by scissors, but the sounds of Christmas aren’t complete without the velvety voice of Johnny Mathis. The legendary crooner became known as “Mr. Christmas” after the release of Merry Christmas 60 years ago. Like his hero Nat King Cole, Mathis mastered holiday classics such as “The Christmas Song” and “O Holy Night.” Thankfully, the 83-year-old singer still brings yuletide cheer to audiences, including a stop in Costa Mesa. Find an ugly Christmas sweater to wear and let Mathis serve as musical guide through a winter wonderland of song! Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 556-2787; www.scfta.org [9]. Dec. 9, 7 p.m. $79.

Five Crowns Holiday Menu and Caroling
Even if you can only afford apps and drinks at the adjacent SideDoor bar, the Corona del Mar landmark is a must-see family holiday destination. Modeled after one of England’s oldest inns, the Victorian-themed restaurant actually gives off a Christmas vibe year-round, but that’s amped up nightly through Dec. 30 with the additions of holiday décor, twinkling lights and wood crackling in the fireplaces. The costumed Mixed Company handbell carolers continue a tradition that stretches back 29 years by performing holiday classics while roaming through Five Crowns and SideDoor. A December-only menu of holiday gastronomy classics includes roasted goose, beef steak Neptune, Jidori chicken and the Lawry group restaurant’s signature prime rib. Junior portions of signature entrées and a Royal Feast children’s menu are available, as are bookings of events for hundreds of guests or private rooms for more intimate gatherings. Early dinners through Dec. 23 start at 4:30 p.m., and reservations are being taken for seatings all day on Christmas Eve. Five Crowns, 3801 E. Coast Hwy., Corona del Mar, (949) 760-0331; www.thefivecrowns.com [10]. Open Sun.-Thurs., 4:30-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 4:30-10 p.m. through Dec. 23; Dec. 24, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Dec. 26-30, opens at 5 p.m. Parties of five or fewer guests can make online reservations. Call for parties larger than five or holiday to-go orders. Small plates, $16-$29; entrées, $26-$60. Full bar. Valet parking is available. All ages, but minors must be accompanied by adults.

A Very Merry Unscripted Christmas
No matter how much work you put into it, the holiday season never seems to go as expected. Not even in those sappy movies that run on the Hallmark Channel. But the Modjeska Unscripted Theater cast allow you an attempt at having some say in the ensuing chaos with its improvised-nightly A Very Merry Unscripted Christmas at the Modjeska Playhouse. For the third year, this talented ensemble take audience suggestions and turn them into an original production better than what you’ll find on cable. Ditch the couch, bottle of wine and box of tissues, and give your anxiety a night off by embracing the magic of improv. Modjeska Playhouse, 21084 Bake Pkwy., Ste. 104, Lake Forest, (949) 445-3674; www.mphstage.org [11]. Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m. Through Dec. 22. $23-$28.

Snoopy House Holiday Display
More than 50 years ago, Jim Jordan took some plywood and created a holiday display for his family’s Costa Mesa home. Characters from Charles Schulz’s beloved Peanuts comic strip were large as life, enjoying the season. The spectacle grew to include moving scenes and even a nightly visit from Santa himself! Kids excitedly lined up, hot cider in hand, to tell the big man himself what they wanted and score a free candy cane and photo. The tradition was endangered by financial struggles in 2011, but the city helped to keep Charlie Brown in the game, moving him, his faithful beagle Snoopy and his pals to the lawn between City Hall and the Police Department. Community nonprofit groups vie for booth space to sell baked goods and hot chocolate, while a stage offers live music and entertainment. A mini train ride keeps youngsters happy, while soapy “snow” falls around them. And don’t miss the themed trees decorated by city departments in front of City Hall. 77 Fair Dr., Costa Mesa; www.costamesaca.gov/residents/annual-events/snoopy-house-holiday-display [12]. Dec. 14-23, 5:30-9 p.m. Free.

Holiday Celebration and Holiday Bazaar at OC Market Place
The longtime open-air mall at the Orange County Fairgrounds has two different two-day events at which photos can be taken with Santa Claus. First, it’s a weekend Holiday Celebration with Santa photo-ops, special concession stands and free face-painting on both days, as well as Sunday-only holiday-themed puppet shows. The Thursday and Friday after bring a Holiday Bazaar with more posing with Santa, specialty food and drinks, kids’ activities, and shopping for gifts from local stores and businesses. Buy your ticket in advance online for a free hot chocolate or at the gate for discounted admission to Winter Fest OC (tubing, snow play and more). OC Market Place, 88 Fair Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 557-0420; www.ocmarketplace.com [13]. Holiday Celebration, Dec. 16-17, 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. $2, but free for military members with ID and children 12 and younger. Free parking through Gates 2 and 10; Holiday Bazaar, Dec. 20-21, 2-8 p.m. $5. All ages.

Courtesy of the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade
The history of this annual holiday extravaganza dates back to 1907, when gondolier John Scarpa took a group of passengers from Pasadena across the bay. Newport Harbor’s first lighted boat parade took place a year later with Scarpa’s gondola and eight other small boats. It’s generally grown ever since, and for this year’s 109th run, more than 1 million people on shore and aboard vessels are expected to see lit-up tubs, ships, yachts, party boats, and shoreline homes and buildings. Bundle up and be careful, as some participants are pretty well lit also. Newport Harbor, Balboa Peninsula; parking is limited, so arrive early at the structure next to Newport Landing, 309 Palm St., Ste. A, Newport Beach, (949) 675-0551; christmasparadeboats.com [14]. There is also the pay lot next to Balboa Pier (1 Balboa Pier, Newport Beach) and valet parking at Balboa Pavilion (400 Main St., Newport Beach). Dec. 19-23, 5:30-9:30 p.m. Free, but there are various paid options for guaranteed seating along the shore or aboard cruises. All ages.

Snowy Night Paint & Sip Event
Leave your holiday worries at the door of the cozy Bistro St. Germain and put your creativity to work, as the Paint Sesh’s boss lady Chelz Franzer leads you through the steps toward painting your own version of a Van Gogh-esque Christmas scene titled Snowy Night. Take advantage of the French restaurant’s happy hour specials, sip on a soothing cocktail, and feel your stress melt away with each brushstroke. Now those are some happy little trees! Bistro St. Germain, 302 Main St., Seal Beach; thepaintsesh.com/public-sesh/paint-night-seal-beach-ca-snowy-night/ [15]. Dec. 19, 7 p.m. $35 (does not include food or beverages). 21+.

The Nutcracker From Coast City Ballet
The recent Nutcracker and The Four Realms may have taken some extreme liberties with the original E.T.A. Hoffman tale “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” for modern audiences, but sometimes it’s great to go back to a classic version. Under the direction of Clara D’Autilia, Coast City Ballet offers a traditional production with adult and children performers that is appropriate for the whole family. As the story goes, enchanted by Herr Drosselmeyer’s gift of a soldier-like nutcracker, a young girl named Clara develops a close relationship that twists into a magical friendship when the toy comes alive late Christmas Eve. After the Nutcracker and his army fight off the dreaded Mouse King, he becomes a prince and ships off with Clara to the Land of Sweets, where they are celebrated with performances by the Sugar Plum Fairy and representatives of sweets from around the world. Featuring the iconic compositions of Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky (which, frankly, the overall holiday season wouldn’t feel the same without), this is one transcendent Christmas production that will uplift audiences with its timeless beauty and memorable delights. Huntington Beach High School Historical Theatre, 1905 Main St., Huntington Beach; www.coastcityballet.com [16]. Dec. 21-22, 7 p.m. $23-$25.

Long Beach Record Swap. Photo by Annie Theby

Long Beach Record Swap
After you’ve scraped together the cash from all those returned presents, the sight of this bimonthly record swap at Alex’s Bar will seem almost too good to be true. Dozens of local record shops and private dealers meet with hundreds of vinyl-thirsty collectors to make our holidays happy (and loud). Let’s face it: You were bound to end up at a bar over the holidays anyway. We suggest getting a double shot of joy by getting your hands on the best selection of records in Long Beach inside a place that more resembles Satan’s workshop than Santa’s. Start the new year with a fresh collection of old sounds and memorabilia that spans the sonic stratosphere from punk to ska to hip-hop to metal to latin and everything in between. Alex’s Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 434-8292; www.alexsbar.com [17]. Dec. 30, 1-6 p.m. Free. 21+.

Sega Genecide NYE Show
Though the Wayfarer is usually a solid destination to see a live cover band on holidays like Halloween and Christmas, it knows that on New Year’s Eve, it has to bring out the big guns. The kind of guns that eat, breathe and shit ’90s songs. When OC band the Gromble started their spin-off band Sega Genecide in 2010, they figured it would be a fun way to knock out some nostalgic tunes on a Friday night—but it turned out to be much more than that. After only a few gigs, they’d already built a following. By the time New Year’s Eve 2011 rolled around, that following was rabid. Today, not much has changed; though the songs of Nirvana, Smash Mouth and Eminem seem to get older with time, the punchy panache of Sega Genecide conintue to make them timeless all the way to midnight. The Wayfarer, 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 764-0039; www.wayfarercm.com [18]. Dec. 31, 9 p.m. $15-$20. 21+.

TIME Nightclub NYE ’19 Party
Hopefully, one of the DJs spinning at this New Year’s Eve ball has an EDM version of “Auld Lang Syne” handy because we’re feeling extremely glad to kiss 2018 goodbye! Come dance your toils, troubles and obstacles of this long, long year away by reveling in TIME Nightclub’s vibrant party atmosphere. A rotating lineup of DJs will spin Top 40, hip-hop and rap songs mashed together, while the countdown from New York’s Times Square will be broadcast on television screens throughout the venue. The immersive lighting displays and interior design of the club look to be exciting, and all guests will receive a complimentary glass of Champagne to toast with at midnight. If you want to take your dance experience to the next level, VIP packages are offered that include table and bottle service and a lounge seating area for your group. Take this opportunity to (responsibly) honor your survival of yet another year, and may your good energy and vibes cross over into 2019! 1875 Newport Blvd., Ste. B245, Costa Mesa, (714) 548-5062; timenightclub.com [19]. Dec. 31, 9 p.m. $54-$3,005.