The Long Beach holiday season kicks off with the annual Christmas Tree Lighting on November 27 at the Terrace Theater Plaza. It’s a night filled with festivities and fun, including holiday photo booths, train rides for kids, a brass band, choirs and other holiday treats.
Expect literal pyrotechnics during this year’s performance of The Nutcracker the Long Beach Terrace Theater. A live symphony orchestra accompanies a cast of 200, headlined by dancers from the Pacific Northwest Ballet. Also joining the dancers on-stage–a flying sleigh and a horse! Dates: December 15-16; December 21-23
A new seasonal tradition comes to Long Beach with the arrival of Holidays POPs on December 22. Music Director Eckart Preu, the Long Beach Symphony, and the Camerata Singers have put together a festive concert guaranteed to put attendees in the holiday spirit. “Yule” love it.
A more casual tune-filled event is Make Music Winter, a celebration of the winter solstice. The free outdoor music-making affair is marked in Long Beach with a Christmas Caroling Parade on December 21. Singers, harmonica players, bell ringers, and brass bands harmonize with unique renditions of holiday songs.
Holidays at Sea
New this year: Queen Mary Christmas: Where Holidays Set Sail runs from November 23 to January 6. On board the ship, an 80-foot-tall Christmas tree decorated with more than 45,000 LED lights is illuminated anew every night, accompanied by a spectacular music and light display. More Christmas trees can be found lining the ship’s Promenade Deck. Don’t miss the Gingerbread Village, where the Queen Mary is replicated in cookie dough and icing. Speaking of icing, guests can don their skates for a spin on the ice rink located on the Sports Deck.
The Long Beach Boat Parade of 1,000 Lights takes sail on December 15th. Colorfully-decorated boats and yachts sail past the Pine Avenue Pier, and then across the bay and past the Queen Mary. The best places to watch the spectacle are from the Queen Mary or in Shoreline Village or Rainbow Harbor.
Aquarium Holidays at the award-winning Aquarium of the Pacific features holiday décor, a display of gingerbread houses, snowfall in the Great Hall, and characters outfitted in holiday garb. On weekends, there’s a snow play area, underwater shows with Santa the Diver, children’s crafts, and Hanukkah storytelling with opportunities to play dreidel. The gift shop is packed with marine-inspired gifts. December 1-December 23.
Shopping for That Cultured Person On Your List
Oft-forgotten in the haze of holiday shopping are the amazing gift possibilities offered by museum shops. Long Beach has several of these. The boutique at the Long Beach Museum of Art offers an eclectic collection of curated items sure to please any connoisseur. The shop at The Aquarium of the Pacific is filled with pelagic products, including plenty of plush marine critters. The Museum of Latin American Art is the only museum in the United States dedicated to modern Latin American art. MOLAA‘s museum shop is packed with a colorful inventory of Latin American artisan jewelry, art, leather goods, and toys. A perfect stocking stuffer is a chanchito. These small three-legged clay pigs are Chilean good luck charms.
Other notable shopping venues include:
The East Village Arts District, an emerging arts community where the work of avant garde artisans is showcased.
The Pike Outlets, a retail and entertainment center, also hosts Holiday Ice at The Pike Outlets through January 6.