Fun family events for the holidaysIf you're looking for a White Christmas, don't look in Southern California -- except maybe at Big Bear and a few high-altitude destinations -- but what you will find in SoCal is an interesting mix of special events that offer a healthy dose of holiday spirit. Here's a partial list of some of the more spectacular ways to enjoy the Christmas holidays in Southern California:
Mission Inn Festival of LightsIf you've been to the Mission Inn, you know the Festival of Lights is one of the most regal hotels in the state -- in fact, it has hosted past presidents of the United States -- and the Festival of Lights is in keeping with that classic tradition.
A good way to start is to just walk through the hotel where you can enjoy the many original decorations. Take the kids with you and take their pictures with Santa or enjoy the small ice skating rink outside the hotel. All of this is combined with great holiday food and an ornate hotel that is one of the most picturesque in the country.
Chill Ice Kingdom at the Queen MaryIf ice sculptures are your thing, you'll find tons of them at Chill, in the dome next to the Queen Mary. Imagine taking the kids through a display of ice sculptures that include animals, a walk-through ice castle and 24-foot replica of the Queen Mary. As you might expect it's not exactly warm in the Ice Kingdom -- seven degrees to be exact -- so dress accordingly. Outside there is ice skating and tubing, so the atmosphere is definitely Christmassy.
Ice Skating in L.A. or San DiegoThe Pershing Square Ice Rink is right in the middle of Los Angeles and is now in its 15th season of providing a fun Christmas atmosphere in a city that is almost always warm and sunny. There are special events, including Christmas concerts and you can skate for just $6 an hour. Down in San Diego there is a rink at the famous Hotel Del Coronado. Nothing like going to the beach to ice skate.
Newport Boat ParadeThis is held December 17 through 21 and is known as one of the best Christmas events in the country. People with money spend that money decorating their yachts for the season and then parade the boats for everyone to see and be dazzled. It's not uncommon for a yacht-owner to spend $50,000 to decorate a boat.
A Solvang ChristmasDecades ago, the residents of Solvang got together and decided to remodel their storefronts to reflect the town's Danish heritage -- way back before theme towns were even cool. The result is a fun, historic town that pulls out all the stops at Christmas time. It's also easy to do a Solvang Christmas because it's just a three-hour drive north from Los Angeles.
Robolights in Palm SpringsRobolights is a walk-through light adventure that has become a tradition in the Palm Springs area. Kenny Irwin Jr. has put together a huge exhibit of various art pieces that will be on display in the Movie Colony East neighborhood in Palm Springs, starting on Thanksgiving. The event is free to the public and continues through January 6.
Painted sculptures adorned with Christmas lights will be on display at 1077 E. Granvia Valmonte. There are hundreds of sculptures including Candy Cane Palace, Pathan Gingerbread Man (a Pakistani version of the traditional gingerbread figure), Alien Gingerbread Lady, Tower of Presents, Peppermint Block Bot, Peppermint Skull Store, Peppermint Climbing Tower of Robots (with an encapsulated living palm tree), Dovemaster and Clown Bot.
PHOTO CREDITS: Courtesy of The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa
RECOMMENDED LODGING: Recommended L.A. lodging
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