Archives For Holiday Celebrations

Winter Fest Returning to the OC

Maruska —  December 22, 2017

Tickets were provided to us to preview this event and share our opinions.

Winter Fest is back in the OC now through January 7th, 2018 featuring unlimited ice tubing, snow play area with real snow, tree lighting ceremony, themed bounce houses and slides, live entertainment, model train exhibit, live character shows, meet and greets, toddler play area, petting zoo, snowboard simulator, and the festival of lights featuring a 2 million light walk-through. All included with your admission ticket!


The following activities are included with your admission ticket:

  • Unlimited ice tubing down Snowflake Summit’s 150-foot, 8 lane mountain of ice
  • Snow Play area with real snow blown in daily – expanded this year!
  • Festival of Lights two-million-light stroll-through holiday displays – 7 new lands!
  • Nightly tree lighting celebration with parade of Winter Fest characters, snow flurries, fireworks and flying Santa and his Reindeer until he returns to the North Pole
  • Winter Fest themed bounce houses and slides for kids
  • The world’s largest walk-through ornament and rocking horse
  • Craft making and games in Santa’s workshop
  • Daily entertainment including live bands, magic from Jimmy H, and strolling carolers
  • Character live shows and meet and greets from popular cartoons such as Thomas the Train, Sid the Science Kid, PJ Masks, and Buddy from Dinosaur Train
  • Little Elves (Toddler) play area
  • Santa’s petting zoo
  • Snowboard Simulator

Additional Attractions with a fee:

  • Ice Skating on a full outdoor rink
  • Candy Cane carnival with more than 30 rides, attractions and games
  • Pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus in their cabin
  • Other activities such as face painting, carousel, train rides, and bungee jumping.

Know Before you Go:

  • Kids must be 42″ or taller to go ice tubing. This is important since I feel that ice tubing is the main attraction. However, I saw many families sliding down with their little ones on their lap. So I am not sure what the rule is.
  • Carnival rides and carnival games are not included with your admission ticket. You can purchase tickets for the rides/games for $1-$6 depending on the attraction. You can also purchase an unlimited carnival ride wristband for $20 (online only). However, keep in mind that several rides have a 48″ height requirement (or more), so if you have a little one you might not be able to take advantage of the unlimited deal.
  • Ice skating is not included with your ticket. If you want to ice skate it is an additional $15 for 45 minutes (includes skate rental). The smallest skate size available is child’s size 8. The tool that helps the little ones skate is an additional $5. I have to say that this part of the event was very disorganized and I spent a good part of my 45 minutes standing in line to get the skates. So I am not sure it was worth it.
  • Crowded? It was crowded between 5pm and 8pm and then then it got much better. But yes, you should expect to wait in line for ice tubing. So that you know I had a fast pass and we still had to wait in line quite a bit. But the “regular” line was not moving at all so I am happy I had a fast past.
  • Worth it? I have to say, we had a blast, but I attended as media and everything was included. So if you can do all the activities, you can easily spend 5 fun hours ice tubing, enjoying carnival rides, and ice skating! If you are on a budget, I still think it is totally worth it especially if you can grab the Groupon deal for $10 which includes a fast pass! Basically, ice tubing will be your primary activity, and going ice tubing at the Winter Fest is actually cheaper than going to the mountains. It is also a lot closer…and a lot warmer. And you get to enjoy additional activities. So I think it is worth it!


Daily. December 21st, 2017 – January 7th, 2018.


Winter Fest
Orange County Fair & Event Center
88 Fair Dr., Costa Mesa, 92626


$12 online child admission (3 -12 years)
$17 online adult admission for adults 13+

Parking is $8.



Tickets are now sold on Groupon for $10 (child)/ $14 (adult) and include general admission AND fast pass. You can click here to see the Groupon deal (affiliate)–>


Residents of each city are invited to attend Winter Fest OC at a special discount of 50% off the purchase of their admission ticket at the box office on their city’s day.  Proof of residency is required at the box office when purchasing the admission ticket by showing a valid ID or a utility bill with a picture ID.

The City Days schedule is as follows:

Thursday, Dec. 21st – Opening Night – Costa Mesa, Irvine & Tustin
Friday, Dec. 22nd – Newport Beach, Santa Ana & Huntington Beach
Tuesday, Dec. 26th – Seal Beach, Fullerton, La Habra & Laguna
Wednesday, Dec. 27th – Lake Forest, Rancho Santa Margarita, Placentia & Garden Grove
Thursday, Dec. 28th – Westminster, Laguna Woods & Laguna Hills
Friday, Dec. 29th – Dana Point, San Clemente & San Juan Capistrano
Sunday, Dec. 31st – Las Alamitos, Cypress & La Palma
Tuesday, Jan. 2nd – Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo & Aliso Viejo
Wednesday, Jan. 3rd – Ladera Ranch, Stanton & Yorba Linda
Thursday, Jan. 4th – Villa Park, Fountain Valley & Anaheim
Friday, Jan. 5th – Buena Park, Orange & Brea

festival-of-lightsPrepare to be dazzled by thousands of lights at the Mission Inn Hotel and Spa in Riverside. Now through January 6th, you can stroll around the shops and hotel to help you get in the Christmas spirit. Kids will love Napoleon and Josephine, the hotel’s talking Macaw parrots, the Gingerbread village in the hotel, and the giant mistletoe surrounded by lights in the courtyard.

There are a variety of restaurants to choose from in the hotel or you can eat at one of the fair-like stands just outside of the hotel. Additionally you will find outdoor performers, a carousel, a century (Ferris) wheel, trackless train rides, and toy stands throughout the village.

We arrived at 3:45 on a weekday to avoid parking problems, walked through the hotel and talked to the parrots while it was still light out, and had an early dinner right before the lights turned on. Then, at 5 PM the lights turned on and we loved walking through the courtyard before it got too busy.

Check their website here for more information before going. NOTE: this year, you can explore the inside of the hotel ONLY if you have a dinner reservation at one of the hotel’s restaurants.


3649 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA


Now through December 23rd: 

Monday-Thursday: 5-10 PM
Friday: 5-11 PM
Saturday: 3-11 PM
Sunday: 3-10 PM

Christmas Eve: 3-9 PM

Christmas: Closed

December 26th-January 6th: Daily: 3- 11 PM

The trains are back at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda this holiday season. Now through January 7th you can witness some of the Nixon family’s favorite traditions while they were in the White House. Even better, attend a Candlelight Evening on Wednesday December 20th or 27th at 6:00 PM and enjoy all of the exhibits plus:

  • A visit with Santa (complimentary picture included)
  • A hot cocoa bar
  • Decorating cookies
  • Ornament decorating
  • Write a letter to the military thanking them for their service
  • Soup and bread from Polly’s Pie
  • Hosted champagne
  • Entertainment and sing-a-long with carolers
  • Candlelight tours of the grounds (guided or self-guided)


Tickets for the Candlelight Evenings are available online here, in person, or for a discounted rate on Goldstar here.


18001 Yorba Linda Blvd.
Yorba Linda, CA 92886


The Nixon Library is open from 10 AM-5 PM Monday-Saturday and 11 AM- 5 PM Sundays but the Candlelight Evenings occur December 20th and 27th, only, beginning at 6 PM.


Candlelight Evening Prices:
Adults: $29
Children (5-11): $16
Children under 5 are free

Goldstar Prices:
Adults: $10-16 plus service fee
Children (5-11): $5-$8 plus service fee
Children under 5 are free 

Kelly Rafter, Blog Contributor
About the Author
Kelly and her husband have two boys, ages 5 and 7. She loves taking her boys on adventures around Southern California that focus on learning, getting their wiggles out, and having fun! When she isn’t fulfilling her mommy duties she teaches at a local elementary school and community college.