Night of Lights OC 2023 (Winter Fest OC)

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Want to know the best way to enjoy Night of Lights OC this year? We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know!

We finally have news about Winter Fest OC 2023 (formerly known as Night of Lights OC during the pandemic).

Night of Lights OC is no more as we saw last year with the return of Winter Fest OC.

Winter Fest OC will be returning to the OC Fairgrounds for 2023 again from November 24th – January 7th.

Winter Fest OC snow and Christmas trees

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Winter Fest OC 2023

So far here is what we know:

☃️ NEW Snow Play Area with Snow Sledding & Snow Carousel , ❄️ Ice Tubing,?North Pole Journey, Winter Photo-ops, Nightly Live Entertainment, Dazzling Light Displays, Evening Tree Light Show, Meeting Santa, & MORE!

Winter Fest OC Banner Image
Image Courtesy of Winter Fest OC

Here is this year’s press release to get more of an idea of what Winter Fest OC has to offer:

Experience a Winter Wonderland in SoCal: Winter Fest OC Brings Snow Play, Ice Tubing and New Ice Skating Trail to the OC!

Tickets Now On Sale for Southern California’s Largest Winter Festival From November 24th to January 7th at OC Fair & Event Center

Winter Fest OC, Southern California’s largest winter festival, returns to Costa Mesa on November 24th, bringing 32 days and nights of winter-themed fun for families, groups of friends and dates.

Featuring over a million lights, massive holiday decor, and thrilling snow and ice activities, Winter Fest OC presents a one-of-a-kind winter wonderland experience that promises endless opportunities for memory-making.

Guests can enjoy all-new attractions, live entertainment, unique photo opportunities, seasonal food and drinks, shopping, and so much more through January 7th.

Winter Fest OC Christmas Lights
Image Courtesy of Winter Fest OC

Snow & Ice Activities

Enjoy the magic of the holiday season by skating under the stars on the all-new Arctic Ice Trail*, ride down the thrilling Snowflake Summit 150-foot-long ice tubing slide, and experience endless delights in a new real snow play area.

ice tubing slide at Winter Fest

Returning to Winter Fest OC by popular demand, guests can enjoy real snow that is refreshed daily, with free play zones, snow sledding, snowball tossing zone and a snow carousel for the little ones included in general admission.

Snow Play at Winter Fest

North Pole Journey Guided Tour

Embark on a magical adventure in the guided “North Pole Journey” experience where guests learn to become a certified elf!

Whether you’re a child or just young at heart, this immersive journey promises to fill your heart with holiday cheer and create cherished memories that will last a lifetime.

North Pole Journey at Winter Fest

Enjoy dazzling lights, music, unique photo opportunities, and a wide range of live entertainment and interactive activities throughout this 45-minute guided experience included in general admission. 

Winter Fest OC North Pole Journey Christmas Tree Photo Ops

Nightly Live Entertainment

At the center of Winter Fest OC is the 40-foot-tall holiday celebration tree and the Holiday House stage, where guests can enjoy live entertainment, community acts, interactive kid activities, and even more holiday magic.

Daily entertainment includes meet-and-greets with favorite Winter Fest OC characters such as Yowie the Yeti, Pep the Penguin and Snowdrop the Polar Bear, snow angels on stilts, plus the popular nightly parade, tree lighting and live stage show with snow flurries.

Grab a cup of hot cocoa and winter treats and enjoy a variety of entertainment at The Holiday House Stage to celebrate the holiday season.

Winter Fest OC Ferris Wheel

Additional Winter Fest OC Experiences

NEW! Holiday Market: Support small local businesses and discover talented local artisans at the all-new Winter Fest OC holiday market.

With a variety of vendors, it’s easy to find a gift for everyone on your list this holiday season. 

Polar Putt-Putt*: Putt your skills to the test with a nine-hole round of LED mini golf. 

NEW! Winter Wishes Meet-and-Greet & Photo*: Enjoy a private meet-and-greet and photo with Santa (through December 24th) or the Snow Princess (December 25th through January 7th) for up to eight people in your group.

Each experience includes a printed picture and digital image for capturing memories.

Winter Wishes photo ops at Winter Fest

VIP Fireside Private Igloo*: Enjoy a cozy igloo for up to 10 guests complete with plush seating, a private fire pit, and an exquisite view of the nightly Holiday celebration and Holiday House live stage shows.

Fireside Igloos are available to rent in 2-3 hour time blocks, and s’more roasting kits are available for purchase.

A private server is available for the purchase of specially themed food and drinks including craft cocktails, beer and wine.

VIP Fireside Private Igloos can also be adjoined to accommodate up to 100 people for memorable corporate parties, date nights, birthdays, or private parties. 

VIP Arctic Ice Trail Private Cabanas*: Private, ice rink-side VIP cabanas for up to 10 guests are available to rent for 2-3 hour time blocks, creating the ultimate premium lounge for intimate holiday gatherings and other special occasion celebrations.

A private server is available for the purchase of specially themed food and drinks including craft cocktails, beer and wine.

VIP Arctic Cabanas can also be adjoined to accommodate up to 150 people for memorable corporate parties, date nights, birthdays, or private parties.

All Ticket Options Now On Sale

General Admission: Includes access to the North Pole Journey guided tour, unlimited snow play and slides, unlimited Snowflake Summit ice tubing, access to the holiday market, live entertainment including the nightly Holiday celebration tree lighting show, dazzling light displays, winter photo opportunities, and much more.

Season Pass: Enjoy holiday magic all season long with a Winter Fest OC season pass, providing unlimited general admission entry for all 32 days.

Ultimate Experience Admission: Includes all of general admission, plus a VIP Snowflake Summit ice tubing slide pass and unlimited carnival rides, trackless train rides, and winter inflatables.

inflatable slides and obstacle courses at Winter Fest

Learn more and purchase tickets now at

*Additional ticket required

Winter Fest OC Swings

Our Favorite Foods at Winter Fest

There are a ton of food vendors with just about every type of food and drink you could want, not just fair foods.

We loved the al pastor wet burrito from the taqueria and the Philly cheesesteak from the bbq stand.

For dessert we had a phenomenal Nutella stuffed donut from the Donut Bar.

They also have cute donuts like the unicorn donut pictured below.

We also tried a couple iced cocktails that were all Winter themed with flavors like Peppermint, Kahlua, and Chocolate.

Winter Fest OC 2022

We attended a media preview opening night and got a glimpse of what Winter Fest has to offer this year.

From the tree lighting ceremony, to the parade, to the ice skating rink and snow tubing, there is so much to do that you could spend a whole day here.

We were especially excited to check out the new North Pole Journey.

This area had a ton of photo ops and interactive experiences.

Winter Fest OC Entrance Photo Op with Christmas tree and light tunnel

Night of Lights OC 2021

Night of Lights OC was the pandemic era of Winter Fest OC.

It was a fun and festive drive thru event.

It is a safe, magical, and interactive one-mile drive-thru winter wonderland holiday lights event with lots of special effects including strobe lights, fog, and snow.

This event ran rain or shine.

Some programming was modified in the case of rain.

carousel decorated with Christmas lights and garland

It was possible to cancel the event if there were dangerously high winds or lightning, but I don’t think they ever had to.

Our Experience at Night of Lights OC

Our time slot was for 6:00 pm and the ticket said to plan to arrive 15 minutes prior to our time slot because of the high volume of tickets for each time slot.

There are also directions on the ticket to enter at Gate 3 on Fairview Road.

There are lots of signs surrounding the fairgrounds to lead you to the correct place.

The tickets also list several reminders that I have already listed above.

The tickets also notified us that the sound for the event actually comes through your radio, so be sure to go to the correct FM station to have a great soundtrack to your experience.

I want to say it was 93.7. They will let you know when you arrive though!

We ended up arriving exactly at 6:00 pm and there was a decently long line, but it only took 10 minutes to get in.

When we got our ticket scanned they gave us the run down of how everything works.

They also notified us to turn our headlights off so it would be easier to see everything.

The experience is a consistent line of cars and the glares from everyone’s headlights would really be distracting.

We only had a couple spots where we got radio static, but it was very brief and hardly noticeable.

No one else around us was obnoxious in any way, which made for an enjoyable event!

We were given a goodie bag at the end and they had photographers doing family photos in the car.

The event took us 50 minutes from the time we arrived until we were back on the road. It honestly only felt like 20 minutes!


If you have any questions about the event, first go to

For tips on planning your trip to OC, check out our Tips For Planning A Trip To Anywhere (A Step-By-Step Guide).

Since this event takes place in Winter, where there are a variety of potentially disruptive weather conditions, be sure to check out The Best Tips For Staying Safe When Traveling During Extreme Weather.

Travelers notoriously get sick on their Winter vacations, so you’ll also want to read up on Best Tips For Staying Well While You Travel.

What’s Next For Night of Lights OC?

Winter Fest is back for good, so Night of Lights OC will cease to exist.

Some elements from Night of Lights will exist in Winter Fest, but that’s it.

More Fun Winter Activities To Do in Southern California

If you’re traveling around Orange County or even LA, there are a ton of winter festivities to check out throughout the holiday season.

Over the years, some attractions come and go like Malibu Wine Safari Malibu Lights: Winter Nights and Snow Day LA at Elysian Park, but there are a few mainstays you can always count on!

Additionally, for tips for things to do all over California in the Winter, check out our post on the Best Things To Do In California In December.

➡️ LA Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow

Another great evening event for the holidays is checking out the Christmas lights at the LA Zoo.

There’s even a handful of animals that will still be out at night.

With it being Winter, the weather can be a little unpredictable.

If you’re not from here, you may be wondering, Does It Snow In Los Angeles?

The short answer is sort of, but read the full post to find out if it’s something you’ll need to worry about on your visit.

LA Zoo Lights - Winter Wonderland Series

➡️ Whale Watching Cruise From Newport Beach

Winter is one of the best times to go whale watching off the California coast.

It’s such a fun experience and you’re sure to see a ton of dolphins too!

?Click Here To Book Your Whale Watching Excursion Today!

➡️ Big Bear Lake Winter Weekend Getaway Itinerary

Big Bear Lake is the ultimate Winter getaway in Southern California.

This mountain destination has snowboarding, skiing, alpine slides, and more.

Spend your evenings exploring restaurants and shops in the village while enjoying a hot apple cider or hot chocolate!

Big Bear Lake in December

Our Favorite Orange County Activities

Winter Fest OC isn’ the only fun thing to do in Orange County.

Any time of year, you can enjoy a variety of Unforgettable Weekend Getaways in Orange County or soak in some of the Best Night Views in Orange County.

We particularly love to discover hidden gems everywhere we go and we’ve compiled a list of the Best Hidden Gems in Orange County.

Orange County is made up of quite a few cities that are huge tourist destinations like Anaheim and Buena Park, which are known for their theme parks.

Check out all the Best Things To Do In Anaheim (From A Local) and all the Best Things To Do In Santa Ana.

Additionally, if theme parks are more your speed, check out our Knott’s Berry Farm One Day Itinerary.

Where To Eat In Orange County

What I love about Orange County is that you can enjoy just about any type of cuisine on any type of budget.

If you’re looking to splurge and have an unforgettable dining experience, check out the Best Steakhouses, Best Romantic Restaurants, Best Birthday Restaurants, or the Best Restaurants With a View.

If there’s a particular type of food you’re craving, check out the Best Italian Restaurants or the Best Mexican Restaurants.

Anaheim specifically is a great destination for foodies.

Here you can explore the Best Burgers, Best Chinese Restaurants, and the Best Bars.

Orange County is also home to a few downtown historic districts that have a variety of restaurants from historic landmarks to the latest trending spots.

We frequently enjoy dining at Downtown Fullerton Restaurants and Orange Circle Restaurants.

Lastly, Huntington Beach is a must visit destination in Orange County for foodies.

From the best seafood in Southern California to restaurants with sunset views, you can’t go wrong with any of these Restaurants In Huntington Beach.

Conclusion: Night of Lights OC (Winter Fest OC)

Night of Lights OC has been a wonderful drive-thru event the past couple years and we look forward to seeing how it will change over the years as Winter Fest OC returns.

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