Are You Looking For Something To Do For The Holidays?

Festival Ballet Theater is one of many companies in Orange County presenting "The Nutcracker" this holiday season. (Photo courtesy of Festival Ballet Theatre)

There are so many ways to celebrate the coming holidays in Orange County that you’ll have a tough time settling on what to do. For the traditionally minded, there’s no shortage of options: South Coast Repertory’s sumptuous production of “A Christmas Carol,” now in its 39th year, or your choice of “Nutcracker” performances.

But look at the endless variations to the tried-and-true. If you want to celebrate in ways that are Irish, Mexican, choral, celestial, religious, secular, pet-oriented, tree-oriented,  Jewish, cartoonish, messianic or Mathis-y, there’s an option for you. Our well-populated list covers every corner of our decked-out county and every conceivable taste and preference.

Friday, Nov. 23 – Sunday, Dec. 16
The Holiday Gem
The GEM Theater, 12852 Main Street, Garden Grove
$26 – $45
Santa Claus, his tap dancing elves and a cast of talented performers bring the joy and music of the holiday season to life in a family-friendly holiday review.

Saturday, Nov. 24 – Monday, Dec. 24
A Christmas Carol
South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
Starting at $30
Recapture the spirit of an old-fashioned Christmas with SCR’s version of the Dickens classic with Hal Landon Jr. as Ebenezer Scrooge.

Monday, Nov. 26 @ 8 p.m.
An Irish Christmas
Irvine Barclay Theater, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine
$36-$49
“An Irish Christmas” features an award-winning cast of Irish dancers, led by Riverdance principal dancer Caterina Coyne, world champion dancer Tyler Schwartz, and Connor Reider (The Chieftains).

Friday, Nov. 30 @ 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Visual Arts Winter Market
Orange County School of the Arts, Dance Music Science Center, 906 N. Main St., Santa Ana
Free to attend
OCSA visual arts conservatory students, alumni and staff vendors sell a variety of hand-crafted items including candles, home and garden decor, calendars, hand-painted and printed T-shirts, and more.

Friday, Nov. 30 @ 5 p.m. & 8 p.m.
A Child Is Born
Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
Starting at $18
Millennial Choirs & Orchestras  presents A Child Is Born. Features hundreds of musicians, including the youth choirs, their Grand Chorus, and their Symphony Orchestra.

Friday, Nov. 30 @ 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Stargazing Night
Heritage Museum of Orange County, 3101 W. Harvard St., Santa Ana
Free
Enjoy the beautiful night skies at the Heritage Museum of Orange County. Wear warm clothes and view the heavens through telescopes brought by volunteer astronomers! Remember to bring a flashlight.

Friday, Nov. 30 – Sunday, Dec. 9 @ 7:30 p.m.
Once Upon a Christmas Time
Vanguard University Lyceum Theater, 55 Fair Dr., Costa Mesa
$16 – $19
It is Christmas Eve and Princess Aubrianna is awaiting her wedding the next day – to a man she’s never met! She meets a handsome young man that challenges her as well as charms her. What will she do on her wedding day? Will she choose duty or love? Suitable for ages 6 and older.

Saturday, Dec. 1 @ 12 p.m. – 2 p.m.
Pet Photos with Santa
Heritage Museum of Orange County, 3101 W. Harvard St., Santa Ana
$10 donation
Celebrate the holiday season with Barks of Love and “Santa Paws” to make a special holiday memory. The $10 donation grants you access to download your photos. All proceeds benefit Barks of Love and Heritage Museum of Orange County.

Saturday, Dec. 1 @ 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Holly Berry Tea
Heritage Museum of Orange County, 3101 W. Harvard St., Santa Ana
$38 plus a service fee
The Heritage Museum of Orange County hosts a holiday themed Victorian Tea set inside of the historic Kellogg House.

Saturday, Dec. 1 @ 3 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
Out of Darkness, Light!
Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
$25 – $40
Concordia University Irvine’s annual Christmas Concert tradition makes a debut appearance at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Concordia’s critically-acclaimed choirs, handbells and orchestra perform.

Saturday, Dec. 1 @ 7 p.m.
Joy to the World
Garden Grove United Methodist Church, 12741 Main Street, Garden Grove
$20
Westminster Chorale hosts its annual Winter Concert which includes classic carols and a holiday sing-a-long.

Saturday, Dec. 1 @ 8 p.m.
Carols by Candlelight
Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church, 2100 Mar Vista Dr, Newport Beach
$25-$70
A small group of Pacific Chorale’s talented singers hails the Christmas season in this candlelit evening of reverent, meditative, and transcendent musical wonder.

Sunday, Dec. 2 @ 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Posadas Miniondas
Heritage Museum of Orange County, 3101 W. Harvard St., Santa Ana
Free
Posadas Miniondas Viva La Tradicion “Por Amor a Mexico”! Kermes, craft sale, games, prizes, entertainment, live music at the Heritage Museum of Orange County.

Sunday, Dec. 2 @ 5 p.m.
Balboa Bay Resort Tree Lighting
Balboa Bay Resort, 1221 West Coast Highway, Newport Beach
Free to attend
Orange County School of the Arts’ performance ambassadors, MONTAGE!, perform at the Balboa Bay Resort’s annual tree lighting ceremony. The show takes place near the Balboa Bay Club’s Christmas tree, with a view of Newport Harbor.

Sunday, Dec. 2 @ 7 p.m.
Dr. Bobby Rodriguez – Latin Jazz Christmas
Irvine Barclay Theater, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine
$35-$100
Grammy nominee Bobby Rodriguez is a first-rate jazz trumpeter and a dynamic leader of jazz and Latin ensembles. Concert includes the salsa-drenched “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to the bolero-infused “Silent Night” and “The Christmas Song.”

Sunday, Dec. 2 – Tuesday, Dec. 4 @ 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Hooray for Hanukkah
Pretend City Children’s Museum, 29 Hubble, Irvine
Cost included with admission
Spin the dreidel and light the menorah at Pretend City. Little ones learn about Hanakkah  through fun activities, traditions, games, and art.

Thursday, Dec. 6 – Friday, Dec. 7 @ 7 p.m.
Winter Solstice Dance Celebration
Orange County School of the Arts, Dance Music Science Center, 906 N. Main St., Santa Ana
$13 – $18
Orange County School of the Arts’ commercial dance conservatory performs their winter concert.

Thursday, Dec. 6 – Saturday, Dec. 8 @ 8 p.m.
Holiday Classics: Nutcracker Sweet
Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
Starting at $25
The Pacific Symphony presents a reimagining of the traditional Tchaikovsky classic with Duke Ellington’s interpretation of “The Nutcracker” will jazz up your holiday. Enjoy reinvented favorites like “Sugar Rum Cherry” and “Dance of the Floreadors.”

Friday, Dec. 7 – Saturday, Dec. 8 @ 8 p.m. 
55th Annual Holiday Wassail Concert
Musco Center for the Arts, 415 North Glassell, Orange
$10 – $25
Holiday season favorites performed by the Chapman University Singers, University Choir and Women’s Choir along with music performed by The Chapman Orchestra.

Friday, Dec. 7 – Sunday, Dec. 23 
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Chance Theater, 5522 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim
Starting at $26
Charlie Brown and his friends discover the real meaning of Christmas in this live action version of the television holiday animated classic.

Saturday, Dec. 8 @ 7 p.m.
Newport Harbor Lutheran Church, 798 Dover Drive, Newport Beach
Sunday, Dec. 9 @ 3 p.m.
St. Wilfrid of York Episcopal Church, 18631 Chapel Lane, Huntington Beach
Nun That I Know Of: An Unconventional Convent Christmas
$15 – $30
This holiday concert by the Orange County Women’s Chorus is a “sister act” of music written, performed, or inspired by nuns. Hear works by Mendelssohn, Cozzolani, Tavener, Szymko, and more.

Sunday, Dec. 9 @ 3 p.m.
Songs of Winter
Lake Forest Sun and Sail Club, 24752 Toledo Way, Lake Forest
$15
The Festival Singers present an afternoon celebrating the Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, and Christmas with in a variety of festive and colorful musical arrangements.

Sunday, Dec. 9 @ 3 p.m. (sold out); 7 p.m. show recently added
Celtic Christmas
Soka Performing Arts Center, 1 University Drive, Aliso Viejo
$25 – $40
Eric Rigler, the piper from “Outlander” and “Titanic,” guitarist Dirk Freymuth, and special guest Nuala Kennedy team-up to create a soundscape of Celtic spirit and energy for the holiday season.

Sunday, Dec. 9 @ 3 p.m.
Handel’s “Messiah”
Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
$43 – $215
The Pacific Symphony and the Pacific Chorale present a beloved holiday tradition, Handel’s celebrated oratorio — with its blazing trumpets, thundering timpani and spectacular “Hallelujah!” chorus.

Sunday, Dec. 9 @ 6 p.m.
Blanca Nieves’ Christmas
Grand Central Arts Center Theater Space, 125 North Broadway, Santa Ana
$10 general; $5 students, veterans, seniors; free for kids 10 & under
This play, based on true events, tells the story of recently widowed Blanca, a mother of six who struggles and faces tough times during the holiday season of 1955. Presented by Breath Of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble & In The Spirit Productions.

Sunday, Dec. 9 @ 7 p.m.
Johnny Mathis Christmas Concert
Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
$79 – $159
Johnny performs some of his greatest Christmas hits and personal favorites.

Sunday, Dec. 9 – Monday, Dec. 24
Festival Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”
Irvine Barclay Theater, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine
$42 – $55
Guest artists from major ballet companies join Festival Ballet’s version of “The Nutcracker.” Some select performances also include a pre-show tea party.

Monday, Dec. 10 @ 8 p.m.
Vanguard Christmas Fantasia
Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
$25 – $60
Vanguard University’s nationally-known, vocal and instrumental ensembles ring in the Christmas season with beloved carols and musical masterpieces.

Tuesday, Dec. 11 @ 6:45 p.m.
Sounds of the Season
Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
$20 – $45
Fountain Valley High School vocal music program, featuring it’s 7 high school choral ensembles, the Fountain Valley Singers (middle school program) and an alumni choir performs “Sounds of the Season.” This holiday spectacular will be accompanied by a 60-piece full professional orchestra.

Wednesday, Dec. 12 @ 8 p.m.
Fiesta Navidad Mariachi Los Camperos
Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
$29 – $89
The Grammy Award-winning Mariachi Los Camperos returns to Segerstrom Center with an evening filled with music and dance.

Wednesday, Dec. 12 – Wednesday, Dec. 23 @ 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Christmas Countdown
Pretend City Children’s Museum, 29 Hubble, Irvine
Cost included with admission
Each day leading up to Christmas, Pretend City will “unwrap” a new holiday activity at the museum!

Thursday, Dec. 13 @ 7 p.m. 
Live! at the Museum – The Celtic Consort of Hollywood
Laguna Art Museum, 307 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach
Free to museum members or with museum admission
Soprano Christina Linhardt along with the Celtic Consort of Hollywood perform seasonal songs for  Live! at the Museum presented by Laguna Beach Live!.

Thursday, Dec. 13 – Friday, Dec. 14 @ 7 p.m.
HoliDAZE
Orange County School of the Arts, Dance Music Science Center, 906 N. Main St., Santa Ana
$10
OCSA’s musical theatre conservatory’s holiday concert features performances by students in all grades. The first act is performed by the conservatory’s a cappella caroling group OCSA Unplugged. The second act features seventh and eighth grade Musical Theatre students in a holiday music review.

Thursday, Dec. 13 – Saturday, Dec. 22
Journey to Christmas
PYLUSD Performing Arts Center, 1651 Valencia Ave., Placentia
$30 – $35
Musical Theatre Orange County debuts a heartfelt Christmas musical. The story opens with a celebration of traditional modern-day family gatherings, then travels back to the first Christmas in a contemporary, theatrical style.

Thursday, Dec. 13 – Sunday, Dec. 23
Christmas Cabaret
Vanguard University Lyceum Theater, 55 Fair Dr., Costa Mesa
$16 – $19
American Coast Theater Company’s brand new variety style cabaret. This song and dance show will highlight sacred and popular Christmas folk tunes.

Friday, Dec. 14 @ 7 p.m.
Comfort and Joy
Newsong Church, 1010 W. 17th St., Santa Ana
$10 – $12
Orange County School of the Arts’ classical voice conservatory choral ensembles sing holiday classics. Traditional carols, a broad range of vocal solos, as well as barbershop and holiday-inspired jazz selections highlight the concert, which proves to be the conservatory’s most popular offering each year.

Friday, Dec. 14 @ 7:30 p.m. 
Michael Feinstein
Musco Center for the Arts, 415 North Glassell, Orange
$50 – $85
Michael Feinstein makes his Musco Center debut by bringing music from the  Great American songbook. His Musco Center appearance will include pop standards along with a selection of holiday favorites.

Friday, Dec. 14 – Saturday, Dec. 15 @ 8 p.m.
Christmas with Jackie Evancho
Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
$46 – $205
Teenage superstar Jackie Evancho joins the Pacific Symphony to perform some of the most memorable classics of the season, including hits from her holiday album “Someday at Christmas.”

Friday, Dec. 14 – Sunday, Dec. 16 @ 7 p.m.
The Ultimate Nutcracker
IVC Performing Arts Center, 5500 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine
$28 – $33
This holiday crown jewel by Maple Youth Ballet features award-winning choreography, a life-size gingerbread house, Swarovski crystal curtain and a spectacular Christmas tree that grows to 55 feet.

Friday, Dec. 14 – Sunday, Dec. 23
Every Christmas Story Ever Told and Then Some
Cabrillo Playhouse, 202 Avenida Cabrillo, San Clemente
$15 – $20
Instead of performing Charles Dickens’ beloved holiday classic for the umpteenth time, three actors decide to perform every Christmas story ever told — plus Christmas traditions from around the world, seasonal icons from ancient times to topical pop-culture, and every carol ever sung.

Friday, Dec. 14 – Sunday, Dec. 23
American Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker”
Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
$29 – $219
“This ‘Nutcracker’ is cracking good!” raved the New York Post when American Ballet Theatre premiered this holiday favorite. This producation boasts a cast of more than 100 performers.

Saturday, Dec. 15 @ 7 p.m. & 9 p.m.
The Beautiful Day – Kurt Elling Sings Christmas
Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
$69 – $79
Grammy Award-winning jazz vocalist Kurt Elling performs holiday songs including traditional selections and less familiar works.

Sunday, Dec. 16 @ 7 p.m. 
Night of Wonder
Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
$15 – $30
Celebrate Christmas with The Salvation Army’s carol concert! This concert features a world class 30 piece brass band, a 120 member choir, a 100 member children’s choir and  American stage and movie actor, Obba Babatundé.

Sunday, Dec. 16 @ 7 p.m. 
A Southern California Christmas
Musco Center for the Arts, 415 North Glassell, Orange
$25 – $55
The second annual tradition as more than 150 performers from across Southern California – musicians, singers, dancers – bring you a holiday spectacular packed full of your favorite carols.

Tuesday, Dec. 18 @ 7:30 p.m. 
Holiday Organ Spectacular
Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
$15 – $79
Celebrate Christmas with The Salvation Army’s carol concert! This concert features a world class 30 piece brass band, a 120 member choir, a 100 member children’s choir and  American stage and movie actor, Obba Babatundé.

Wednesday, Dec. 19 @ 9 p.m. 
Holidays with Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra
Segerstrom Concert Hall, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
Starting at $28
The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, presented by the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, brings the sounds of wailing trumpets and toe-tapping rhythms in a swingin’ evening of holiday favorites and beloved standards.

Thursday, Dec. 20 @ 7 p.m. 
Film Night: Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special
Laguna Art Museum, 307 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach
$5 – $7
Laguna Art Museum screens “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special,” the star-studded holiday extravaganza based on the Saturday-morning television program.

Thursday, Dec. 20 @ 8 p.m. 
Holidays with The 5 Browns
Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
$30 – $168
Five Steinway pianos fill the concert hall stage as the widely celebrated quintet of piano-playing siblings known as The 5 Browns perform beloved holiday music from Bach, The NutcrackerA Charlie Brown Christmas, and Leroy Anderson (Sleigh Ride).

Saturday, Dec. 22 – Sunday, Dec. 23 
‘Tis The Season
Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
$29 – $140
Pacific Chorale joins forces with Pacific Symphony and the Southern California Children’s Chorus for a holiday concert tradition.

Sunday, Dec. 23 @ 5:30 p.m.
Anaheim Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” with Symphony Irvine
City National Grove of Anaheim, 2200 E Katella Ave, Anaheim
Starting at $25
The holiday season comes to life in Anaheim Ballet’s version of “The Nutcracker,” the heartwarming tale of Clara and her Nutcracker Doll who changes her woeful winter into a fanciful feast in Candyland.

Paul Hodgins and Heide Janssen are editors for the Arts & Culture section of Voice of OC. They can be reached at phodgins@voiceofoc.org and hjanssen@voiceofoc.org.