Holiday happenings abound in Huntington Beach this month, but you won’t find residents or visitors dreaming of a white Christmas. The city’s sprawling beachscapes provide the perfect backdrop for getting into the holiday spirit, SoCal style.

Around town, there are myriad ways to celebrate the season: tickets to Coast City Ballet’s performance of “The Nutcracker” at Huntington Beach High School and the Cruise of Lights tour on Huntington Harbour, to name a few. But for those who don’t want to break the bank to partake in seasonal festivities, check out our top three picks for enjoying complimentary holiday activities taking place throughout December.

Holiday Surf City Nights

Lights on pier


The year-round street fair kicks it up a notch every December with a holiday palooza starting with a tree-lighting Thanksgiving weekend. The occasion marks the arrival of Santa Claus in Huntington Beach—bring the tots down to the second block of Main Street to meet Jolly Old St. Nick himself and don’t forget your camera! Santa Claus will be at Surf City Night events on Dec. 13 and 20 from 5 to 8 p.m., in addition to special appearances from 1 to 5 p.m. on Dec. 10, 11, 17 and 18.

Kids will also enjoy an “Enchanted” evening at the Dec. 20 Surf City Nights event from 5 to 8 p.m., when the Enchanted Princess Holiday Party takes over at Main and Olive. Dress your little ones up in royal attire for photo ops with six princesses, then stay for a magical song and dance performance.

Pacific City’s 25 Days of Giving

Surfing Santa


Throughout December, a life-size Advent calendar at Pacific City reminds visitors of the true meaning of the holidays with daily messages of kindness, information on shopping opportunities to benefit local charities and fun activities. The unveiling on Dec. 1 kicked off the center’s 25 Days of Giving event, which includes special appearances from the PC Pedal Squad.

The group will present random acts of giving around the center, in addition to hosting a holiday-themed PC Grommets event on Dec. 20 at 10 a.m. in the kids’ play area in front of Sephora on level one. Enjoy a reading of “Llama Llama Holiday Drama,” an interactive sing-a-long, ornament making and the chance to win fun prizes. On Dec. 7, 14 and 21, free holiday movies (“Elf,” “A Christmas Story,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”) will be screened at 7 p.m. on the second level near Saint Marc.

Santa Claus is also pulling double-duty in downtown Huntington, with daily appearances at Pacific City from Dec. 12 through Christmas Eve. Check the schedule online for specific hours, then head over to the airstream on the main deck (level one) so your kids can share their holiday wishes. Even pups can get in on the action—bring your four-legged friends for a doggie photo with Santa on Dec. 10 and 17 from 4 to 6 p.m.

Bella Terra Holiday Events

Christmas tree


Music abounds this holiday season at Bella Terra. Strolling carolers are making spirits bright throughout the shopping plaza, with traditional classics performed from noon to 4 p.m. until Dec. 23. Additionally, every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through Dec. 23, catch a 7 p.m. snow show accompanied by a 15-minute musical performance.

On Dec. 11, Mexican holiday traditions take center stage in the Pavilion Event Plaza across from Old Navy, with live mariachi music, dance demonstrations, and kids’ craft stations. The musical fun continues on Dec. 18, with performances from the SC Children’s Chorus during the Ha-Ha-Happy Holidays event taking place from noon to 3 p.m.

For the little ones, the monthly Kids Club takes a holiday spin in December with “Frozen” Christmas featuring Anna and Elsa. Meet and greet the Disney princesses on Dec. 19 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. End the visit with a trip to Santa in the amphitheater next to Century Theaters (Santa appearances take place daily through Dec. 24; times vary, so check online).