ZU News Editor-in-Chief | Jamie Roebuck-Joseph

Californians may not get to enjoy frolicking through the snow during the holiday season, but these free activities in Southern California might just make up for it. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, these activities are sure to get you in the holiday spirit.

1. Festival of Lights

Riverside’s annual Festival of Lights opened Friday, Nov. 29 with fireworks and live music. The festival, located at Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, runs through Jan. 6 and celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. It is considered one of the biggest holiday light collection in the nation.

2. Bainbridge Circle Holiday Extravaganza  

Located in Riverside County’s Murrieta, an entire street of 32 houses participates in putting on one of the best holiday light collections in the inland empire. Each house has its own light decorations and Christmas décor while they blink and move in synchronized beat to the music played on the neighborhood’s own FM station.

3. Winter Wonderland Festival in San Diego

This festival at Center of the Arts includes lights, Santa Clause, reindeer, Christmas cookie decorating, live dancers, music, warm drinks and more, all in the heart of Escondido.

4. Santa’s Electric Light Parade

Old Town Temecula celebrates its 25th anniversary light parade through Del Rio Road and Jefferson Avenue. you won’t want to miss on Dec. 4. There will be floats, holiday music from local schools’ marching bands and much more!

5. Culver City Downtown Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration

Watch Culver City light up the holidays at the city’s annual tree lighting celebration on Dec. 7. Hot drinks and a special visit from Santa Clause are included!

6. Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

This is a light parade that’s been around for the last 100 years. Visit to see million-dollar decorated boats light up the shore in Newport Beach from Dec. 13–Dec. 17.

7. L.A. County Holiday Celebration

This Christmas Eve celebration at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is one of the biggest in L.A County. The celebration includes more than 20 choirs, music groups and dance teams from all over L.A. According to the website, the three-hour event “celebrates L.A’s multicultural observation of the holidays with everything from an all-female mariachi ensemble to a Korean dance troupe. Doors open at 2:30 p.m.” Find more information here.

8. Balboa Park December Nights

Take a stroll through Balboa Park and enjoy music, food vendors, hot drinks, Christmas lights and many more festivities enjoyable for all Dec. 1–2.