California’s theme parks are sparkling with spectacular holiday lights and seasonal attractions, shows, parades, and tasty treats. From whimsical to classic decor and attractions, each park puts its own spin on holiday fun. It’s easy to get in the spirit of the holidays when surrounded by festive decorations, nightly Christmas tree ceremonies, carolers, high energy entertainment and even a dusting of snow.

Knott's Berry Farm becomes Knott's Merry Farm at Christmas.

Knott’s Merry Farm. Photo Courtesy: Knott’s Berry Farm

Holidays at California Theme Parks

It’s Christmastime in the city and California’s theme parks are decked out in style. Santa has come to town, along with reindeer, the Grinch and other fun characters to help celebrate this festive time of year. Find new shows, a dash of snow and holiday treats as your favorite theme parks are transformed into a winter wonderland.

The parks are especially crowded during the holidays, but don’t let that stop you from visiting during this wonderful time of the year. If you don’t love crowds, though, consider visiting early in the season or after Christmas when the parks are still dressed up for the holidays.

LEGOLAND California Resort

This Carlsbad park offers Holiday Snow Days and Winter Nights. Slide down real snow in the park’s tubing area and strap on ice skates at the rink now through Jan. 1, 2017. More fun includes building a snowman with LEGO® accessories and throwing real snowballs. Winter Nights features shows, music, and twinkling lights. Stay for the nightly fireworks over Miniland USA. See the lighting of a 30-foot tall LEGO Christmas Tree and enjoy live entertainment with LEGO Friends Live. A life-sized LEGO Brick Santa and Reindeer make the perfect family photo. Indulge in holiday treats like churros con chocolate, holiday cookies and peppermint milkshakes – yum!


The grand finale of Holidays at LEGOLAND California Resort is the annual Kids’ New Year’s Eve party, which features a countdown followed by a huge LEGO brick dropping 22 feet and spectacular fireworks at 6 p.m. to end the night.

SeaWorld San Diego


Photo Credit: Mike Aguilera/SeaWorld® San Diego

This year you can meet Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer™ and friends at SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration through Jan. 1, 2017. Join in reindeer games and take photos with Rudolph. Also, Sam’s Snowy Wonderland Snow Globe Experience is a unique opportunity to take a photo inside an actual snow globe. The Christmastown Stage features the Elf Band and a daily tree lighting ceremony. More family fun includes breakfast with Shamu and Santa’s Christmas Village.

Disneyland Resort

FESTIVAL OF HOLIDAYS -- The new Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure park celebrates holiday festivities of diverse cultures with music, dance and craft-making, plus food at the Festive Foods Marketplace. The daily lineup of entertainment includes nearly 50 performances of nine unique shows, with special Disney characters, street parties, cavalcades, musical ensembles and dance performances. The celebrations include Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas/Navidad and Three Kings Day. Guests can look for performances of traditional Indian dance that builds to a Bollywood party, a Klezmer band with a new global sound, the Mariachi Divas and an a cappella vocal group that puts an R&B spin on holiday songs. (Scott Brinegar/Disneyland Resort)

Photo Credit: Scott Brinegar/Disneyland Resort

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure become even more magical when Mickey and his pals are dressed in their holiday splendor for festive music, parades, dazzling lights and yummy seasonal treats through Jan. 8, 2017.

New this year: the updated “World of Color – Season of Light” show, Soarin’ Around the World, and “Festival of Holidays” along the main path through Disney California Adventure. Plan your day to see “Frozen – Live at the Hyperion” in California Adventure, and “A Christmas Fantasy” parade and holiday fireworks with Main Street snowfall in Disneyland.

Disneyland’s traditional holiday attractions include Haunted Mansion Holiday and “it’s a small world” Holiday. If you’ve been to Disneyland a million times and want to spice up your next visit, see how the parks get dressed up for the holidays on the Holiday Time at the Disneyland Resort Guided Tour. $85/adults.

Knott’s Merry Farm


Photo Courtesy: Knott’s Berry Farm

This charming Buena Park theme park has the Peanuts gang celebrating the holiday season through Jan. 8, 2017. Debuting this year: “It’s The Merriest Christmas Show Ever, Charlie Brown” at the new Calico Mine Stage. Returning this year, the PEANUTS® gang, and a cast of world class ice skaters perform “Merry Christmas, Snoopy!” in the Charles M. Schulz Theatre. A musical tree lighting ceremony features a cast of toy soldiers, snowmen, elves and Snoopy every night. Drop by Santa’s Christmas Cabin for holiday treats plus, local artisans are on hand with creative gifts for the holidays.

Universal Studios Hollywood


Photo Courtesy: Universal Studios Hollywood

A very merry “Grinchmas” runs weekends on Dec. 3-4 and 9-10, then continues daily from Dec. 16, 2016 through Jan. 1, 2017.

The lively Who-liday season stars the Grinch, his faithful dog Max, tons of fresh snow, and an array of wintry events for the family. These include Story Time with Cindy-Lou, Cookie Dec-Who-Rating, ornament decorating, and performances by the Wholiday Singers, a hip boy-band ensemble.

Be sure to visit the Who-ville Post Office and share your good deeds on a postcard to mail to the Grinch. In return, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P. and Random House Children’s Books, the publishers of Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, will donate a book to a child in need on behalf of the sender.

Six Flags Magic Mountain

See thousands of holiday lights displays during Holiday in the Park featuring Santa and carolers through Jan. 1, 2017. Water and lights create a unique holiday tree in the Six Flags Plaza. More fun includes holiday shows, crafts and contemporary holiday music set to one of the largest programmed light shows on the West Coast.