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Winter Fest OC: Experience Fresh Snow and Holiday Fun in SoCal

Offering Broadway productions, top-tier accommodations, and proximity to miles of beautiful beachfront, Costa Mesa is the perfect California destination to escape winter's chill. The City of the Arts is home to a renowned arts and theater district which includes the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, a variety of stunning outdoor sculptures, and more. From boat tours highlighting the beautiful waterfront to golfing 18 holes at the Costa Mesa Country Club, Costa Mesa has activities for everyone.


Winter Fest OC has become one of the region's top winter events in only three years, and it will take place December 21 - January 7 at the OC Fair and Event Center. Patrons will find a winter playground that features real snow, holiday-themed entertainment, and a full carnival. Make sure to dress in layers as attendees will have the opportunity to ice-tube down a 150 foot-tall mountain, play in an area with fresh snow blown daily, and ice-skate on the largest rink in Southern California. Those in search of holiday cheer will love the nightly tree lighting ceremony’s parade of Winter Fest characters and appearance of Santa and his reindeer. From strolling carolers singing holiday tunes to live bands representing a variety of music genres, there will be live entertainment for all tastes. The Candy Cane Carnival will include more than 30 rides, games, and attractions that are great for all patrons. We interviewed Kim Coutts, a representative for the event, to learn more about this great holiday experience.


RAL: Tell me a little bit about the event.

KC: Winter Fest OC brings all the thrills and magic of winter to sunny SoCal. Our event features snow play, tubing, ice skating, rides and holiday lights. There's nothing else like it anywhere in the area.


RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?

KC: This is our third annual Winter Fest OC, and every year we've doubled our attendance. We expect more than 100,000 people will join us this year during our 18-day run.  


RAL: What makes the event unique?

KC: Winter Fest is an excellent event for anyone that loves the magic of the holidays. We have more than 20 wintry attractions, and tickets start at just $10 making the event very affordable fun for families and date nights alike.


RAL: Take me through a day at the event. What can I expect as an attendee?

KC: Winter Fest is the ultimate winter-themed wonderland filled with food, games, wintry attractions and picture-worthy scenes around every corner.  Each day brings a new group of award-winning cuisine from local food trucks, and there is holiday-themed entertainment nightly around a huge holiday tree.  For the first four nights of the event, Santa will even fly over the fairgrounds in his sleigh pulled by his reindeer!


Every Winter Fest admission tickets include all these fun activities:


  • Unlimited ice tubing down Snowflake Summit’s 150-foot, eight-lane mountain of ice

  • Snow Play area with real snow blown in daily

  • Festival of Lights holiday light maze

  • Nightly tree lighting celebration with parade of Winter Fest characters, snow flurries, fireworks and flying Santa and his Reindeer until he returns to the North Pole

  • Winter Fest themed bounce houses and slides for kids

  • The world’s largest walk-through ornament and rocking horse

  • Craft making and games in Santa’s workshop

  • Daily entertainment including live bands, magic from Jimmy H, and strolling carolers

  • Character live shows with meet and greets from popular cartoons such as Thomas the Train and Sid the Science Kid

  • Little Elves (Toddler) Play Area

  • Santa’s Petting Zoo

  • Arcade games


Additional attractions for a fee include:

  • Ice Skating

  • Candy Cane Carnival with more than 30 rides, attractions, and games

  • Pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus


RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?

KC: Winter Fest OC is five minutes away from the world-class beaches and lodging of Newport Beach. Accommodations range from sleeping on your very own yacht in the Harbor through Airbnb to the five star Island Hotel at world-class shopping destination Fashion Island.


RAL: What does this event mean to the community?

KC: One of the interesting things about the area is that Orange County is made up of 34 unique cities and Winter Fest OC celebrates each of these cities through a program called City Days that showcases three cities each day and includes city officials in the nightly entertainment. We also offer residents 50% off admission on their City Day. Winter Fest draws attendees from across the County as well as from southern Los Angeles County and San Diego County. The event also thanks first responders, military, nurses and teachers with free admission days throughout the event.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

KC: Winter Fest OC is the only winter wonderland experience you can enjoy in the middle of sunny Southern California. The event offers an affordable mix of rides, games, food, and attractions for any taste and brings to life the magic of the holidays. Also, the location in beautiful Costa Mesa means travelers can also enjoy world-class shopping at South Coast Plaza or Fashion Island and also get some beach time or even add a visit to the world-famous Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade now in its 109th year.

For more information about Winter Fest OC, please visit the event website.