Orange County Choices : A Wish List of Holiday Diversions

D ream on, Bing. Orange County isn’t going to have anything close to a White Christmas. But what we may lack in glistening treetops and sleigh bells in the snow, we make up for with a string of holiday shows and concerts that’s longer than you-know-who’s gift list. Whether it’s an elaborate cast-of-thousands extravaganza you want, or just a simple children’s skit with bathrobe-clad shepherds, there’s a happening sure to lift your spirits.


Violinist Isabella Lippi and the UCI Symphony Chamber Orchestra perform Arcangelo Corelli’s Christmas Concerto, along with Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 and Wagner’s “Siegfried Idyll,” tonight in the UCI Fine Arts Concert Hall (Campus and University drives, Irvine). The music starts at 8 p.m.; tickets are $6-$7. Call (714) 856-5000.

Through Sunday, the Evangelical Free Church of Yorba Linda (5320 Richfield Road) presents “Ring in the Season,” featuring children’s and adult choirs in a retelling of the Christmas story. Shows are 7 p.m. daily. Admission is free, but reservations are recommended. (714) 524-1744.


For wassail and winsome wenches, join the Fullerton College Chamber Singers at their Madrigal Feast on Dec. 10, an evening of dining, singing, dancing and merrymaking in the tradition of medieval England (321 E. Chapman Ave., Fullerton). 7 p.m.; reserved tickets are $25. (714) 992-7000.

The sanctuary, childrens’ and hand-bell choirs of First United Methodist Church in Seal Beach (10th and Central avenues) present “In Every Heart a Bethlehem” on Dec. 10. This family musical combines traditional and original hymns with readings of the Christmas story and a children’s tableau. 7 p.m.; free. (213) 431-0494.

On Dec. 11, “Original Christmas Music” by local songwriters including Sydney Lehman and Vance Lander will be presented at the Costa Mesa Church of Religious Science (2850 Mesa Verde Drive East). 12:30 p.m.; free, but donations will be accepted. (714) 898-5906.

That evening, the South Coast Symphony presents singer and actress Florence Henderson in a program of classic Christmas melodies and pop tunes at Orange Coast College’s Robert B. Moore Theatre (2701 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa). 8:15 p.m.; $9-$21. (714) 662-7220.


“Noise for Toys,” the fifth annual benefit for the Canyon Acres Home for Abused Children in Anaheim Hills, will feature the Decadent Debutantes All Star Band, Cheezboy and Nevada Time at the Loose Moose Saloon (8901 Katella Ave., Anaheim) on Dec. 17. 9 p.m.; admission price is one unwrapped toy or $5. (714) 826-2174.

Bop your holiday blues away on Dec. 22 at The Hop Christmas Show (18774 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley), a benefit for the Orangewood Home for Dependent Children. 8 p.m.; admission is an unwrapped children’s gift or $5 donation. (714) 963-2366.

On Dec. 24, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (600 St. Andrews Road, Newport Beach) presents a “Christmas Eve Meditation” featuring the adult and childrens’ choirs and bell choir performing inspirational holiday tunes, including “Still, Still, Still” and Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” 5, 7, 9 and 11 p.m.; free. (714) 631-3821.

(A more complete list of holiday concerts and dance events, including performances of the “Messiah” and “The Nutcracker,” appeared in Wednesday Calendar).



“Holidaze II,” a family event with skits, music and dancing, runs this weekend and next at the Golden West College Forum II (15744 Golden West St., Huntington Beach). Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $3-$5. (714) 895-8378.

Through Dec. 23, “The Glory of Christmas” at the Crystal Cathedral (12141 Lewis St., Garden Grove) is the Christmas story as told with a huge cast, live animals, flying angels, special effects and the largest indoor set in the world. 4:30, 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. daily. $14 to $25. (714) 544-5679.

“A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” based on the poem by Dylan Thomas, is a toasty-warm remembrance of Thomas’ own childhood Christmases. Adapted by Jeremy Brooks and Adrian Mitchell, this third annual production by the Grove Theatre Company is directed by Daniel Bryan Cartmell. Through Dec. 24 at 12852 Main St., Garden Grove. 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays; 3 p.m. Dec. 4 and 18; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4, 11 and 18. $13-$17. (714) 636-7213.


Ebenezer Scrooge, the most dastardly miser in Christendom, discovers the real meaning of Christmas in several local productions of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

Golden West College presents the holiday classic through Dec. 11 in the college’s Mainstage Theatre (15744 Golden West St., Huntington Beach) Tickets are $5-$7. (714) 895-8378.

The Nebraska Theatre Caravan presents its version at 8 p.m. Dec. 16 in Fullerton’s Plummer Auditorium (800 N. State College Blvd.). $12.50-$17.50. (714) 773-3371.

And Hal Landon Jr. will play Scrooge once again at South Coast Repertory (655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa) on Dec. 7-24. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays, and 1 and 5 p.m. Sundays. Additional matinees are 2:30 p.m. Dec. 20, 21 and 23, and 1 and 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve. $13-$20. (714) 957-4033.


In what seems to be one of the county’s few theatrical nods to Hanukkah, the Orange Coast College Repertory presents three comedies based on the work of Sholom Aleichem depicting Jewish life in Eastern Europe. “The World of Sholom Aleichem” will be presented Dec. 8-11 and 15-18 in the Studio Theatre (2701 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa). The program includes “A Tale of Cheim,” which tells what happens when the angel in charge of distributing foolish souls fouls up. Performances are 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 4 p.m. Sundays. $5-$6. (714) 432-5880.

Living nativities, music, ethnic food and Las Posadas (a traditional Mexican candlelight procession re-creating the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem) are among the highlights of the 1988 Christmas Pageant for the Homeless on the grounds of the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse in Orange (480 S. Batavia St.). Shows are 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 16, 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 17 and 2 to 4 p.m. Dec. 18. Tickets are $1; donations are welcome. Proceeds will be used to sponsor a free meal and concert for the homeless at Mater Dei High School on Dec. 18. (714) 744-3175.

Las Posadas also can be observed Dec. 18 starting at 6 p.m. on the grounds of Bowers Museum (2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana). Holiday snacks and a party for children will be included. Free. (714) 972-1900.

The California Music Theatre’s all-new production of “Babes in Toyland” marches into Segerstrom Hall at the Orange County Performing Arts Center (600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa) on Dec. 22 and continues through Dec. 30 with Broadway star Robert Morse as The Master Toymaker. “Reconceived,” directed and designed by Toby Bluth (but still featuring that grand old music by Victor Herbert). Performances are 7 p.m. Dec. 22, 23 and 25-30 and 1 p.m. Dec. 24. $17-$34 (half-price for children younger than 12). (714) 556-2787.


Mickey, Minnie and the whole Disney crew hit the ice in “Magic Kingdom on Ice” at the Anaheim Convention Center (800 W. Katella Ave.). Shows are 7:30 p.m. Dec. 23, noon and 3:30 p.m. Dec. 24, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 25, 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 26, and noon Dec. 27 and 28. $6.50-$12.50. (714) 740-2000.


Through Dec. 24, hitch up the team and head for Knott Berry Farm’s Third Annual Christmas Crafts Festival (8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park), a down-home arts and crafts fair in a special area of the park where admission is free. Entertainment includes performances of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” carolers, folk singers, puppets and clowns, all starting at 10 a.m. daily (closing times vary). (714) 220-5200.

This weekend only, the Muckenthaler Christmas Bazaar (1201 W. Malvern Ave., Fullerton) offers a variety of handcrafts for all ages and an exhibition by the National Watercolor Society. Sales will benefit the center’s art education programs. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Free. (714) 738-6595.


For a combination street fair and shopping spree, take a stroll along Corona del Mar’s 12th annual Christmas Walk on Sunday. There will be jugglers, carolers, big bands, international dance troupes and wandering musicians, along with merchant open houses starting on Acacia Street and stretching past Poppy. There will be puppet performances of “The Night Before Christmas” at the Corona del Mar Library, plus visits from the Zoomobile and, of course, Santa. Activities begin at noon. Free. (714) 673-4050.

The Brea Civic and Cultural Center Gallery (1 Civic Center Circle) sponsors its annual Holiday Boutique on Dec. 8-10. Gifts created by more than 30 local artists will be on sale starting at 10 a.m. each day (closing hours vary). Free. (714) 990-7730.


King-size characters invade Santa Ana today as The Times Orange County Holiday Parade features a stories-high Popeye and other behemoth balloon pals, marching bands, floats and more. They step off at 10 a.m. at Civic Center Drive and Broadway, head north on Broadway, right on 17th, right on Main Street and end up at Washington Avenue. Parade watchers can bring an unwrapped new toy for the Marine Reserves’ Toys for Tots program for needy kids. (714) 647-6561.


The Huntington Harbour Cruise of Lights run Dec. 14 through 22. Some tickets ($7) are still available for the cruise, a 45-minute tour of the harbor’s decorated homes and glittering boats. Departure is on the hour from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. from Peter’s Landing; shuttles to the landing leave from 16897 Alqonquin St. (714) 840-7542. (The Anaheim Parks and Recreation Department is offering a cruise/shuttle package: For $16, viewers can take the cruise and be shuttled round trip from the Brookhurst Community Center. (714) 999-5191.)

On Dec. 17-23, the Newport Harbor Christmas Boat Parade makes its nightly circuit through the waters off Balboa with nearly 200 decorated boats. Starting at 6:30 p.m. and for about 2 hours, you can watch them follow a circular route that begins and ends at Collins Isle near Balboa Island. (714) 644-8211. (If you want to skip the parking hassle, call the Newport Harbor Jaycees for information on shuttle service to grandstand seating at the Sea Scout base. The grandstand opens at 5:30 p.m. The package costs $4-$6. (714) 644-6701).


On Sunday, the Orange County Chapter of the Swedish Women’s Educational Assn. presents the eighth annual “Swedish Christmas Bazaar and Celebration,” offering crafts, baked goods, food and glogg --a potent holiday drink of hot spiced wine--along with a traditional Swedish Christmas program for kids, and visits from Tomten (known stateside as Santa Claus) and Lucia, the Queen of Lights. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Costa Mesa Community Center (1845 Park Ave.). Admission is 50 cents to $2. (714) 654-1184.


Also on Sunday, the Old World Village outdoor shopping village (7561 Center Ave., Huntington Beach) celebrates the Feast of Saint Nicholas with a European Christkindl Markt, juggling and face painting, readings of German fairy tales by a Christmas angel, a lantern parade and caroling, and an evening church service. The festivities begin at 1 p.m. Free. (714) 897-1470.


Santa comes to Garden Grove’s H. Louis Lake Senior Citizens’ Center today (11300 Stanford Ave.) for a pancake breakfast, 8 to 11 a.m. Tickets are $2. (714) 741-5200.

On Dec. 10, the Mission Viejo/Saddleback Valley Elks Lodge will put out the welcome mat for developmentally handicapped kids with its 18th annual Special Kids Christmas Party, to include a visit from Santa, gifts, music and lunch. Contributions are welcome. (714) 830-3557.


Pack up the kids and the popcorn and head to the Mariners Branch of the Newport Public Library (2005 Dover Drive) on Dec. 17 for an afternoon of free Christmas movies, including “Pluto’s Christmas Tree” and “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” starting at 2 p.m. (714) 644-3145.