How Southern California Celebrates the Holidays

Dreaming of a white Christmas? In Southern California, we wish for a little snowfall to make the holidays just a little more special. Since it’s not that common for us to get snow though, we find other great ways to make the holidays unique. We have compiled a list of our favorite holiday traditions and events to take part in in Southern California.

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration

Holiday spectacular at SeaWorld San Diego


San Diego, CA

My favorite part of this fun limited-time celebration is the Artic Plaza where you can experience 6,500 feet of snow where you can play with snowballs and build snowmen. There is also sledding which for us So Cal kids is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. A tradition since 1969, SeaWorld’s Christmas Tree of Lights lights up Southern California’s largest Christmas tree every night. New this year is the Reindeer Training Academy where visitors can get up close and personal with Santa’s reindeers-in-training.

Tournament of Roses Parade

Collage of floats at the Rose Parade

Source: Instagram, @gbeleno

Pasadena, CA
Since 1890, the Tournament of Roses Parade has been viewed by millions of viewers all over the world. The parade was actually started before the Rose Bowl that came along 12 years later which was founded to help fund the parade. The parade, which is a fantastic part of “America’s New Year Celebration,” includes marching bands, festival flower-covered floats, and tons of entertainment.

The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa Festival of Lights

Dancing lights to honor the holiday spirit in Riverside, CA


Riverside, CA
This is a magical place to enjoy the holiday season. This is a gift from the owners of the hotel to the community and what a gift it is! There are over 4 million lights, the world’s largest manmade mistletoe, horse-drawn carriages, and more. In Riverside, the community loved the festive lights so much that they decided to decorate the entire town.


Disneyland decked out for the holiday season

Source: Instagram, @nattee18

Anaheim, CA
Disney has a way of making the happiest season even happier. You can visit the iconic Haunted Mansion for Haunted Mansion Holiday where Jack Skellington transforms the attraction into a one-of-a-kind holiday thrill. For me, I love to see Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle. The castle is decked out in snow and sparkling lights and seeing the joy on visitors’ faces is priceless.

L.A. County Holiday Celebration

Dancer’s help us to get in the holiday spirit in Los Angeles


Los Angeles, CA
Since 1959, the Art Commission has planned a fabulous and free celebration held on December 24 each year for all families. There are amazing dance troupes and talented choirs. The three-hour performance represents and shares the stories of the various holidays that are represented in the Los Angeles area.

If football is your sport than make sure to check out these two awesome games that happen in San Diego:

    • Holiday Bowl

      University of Southern California Trojans vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers

      • Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
      • When: Saturday, December 27, at 8:00 p.m. ET
    • Poinsettia Bowl

      San Diego State Aztecs vs. Navy Midshipmen

      • Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
      • When: Tuesday, December 23, at 9:30 p.m. ET

What are your holiday traditions that you celebrate? Share your stories with us on our Facebook page.