San Juan Capistrano will kick off the Yuletide season with a festive flash of holiday lights at the Mission and Historic Town Center Park.
The city’s annual Christmas tree-lighting celebration at the Historic Town Center Park will get started at 4 p.m. on Dec. 2 with pre-show entertainment followed by a musical holiday stage production.
The tree will be lit with fanfare at 5:45 p.m. Attendees can enjoy free holiday activities at the Los Rios Historic District following the tree lighting, including photos with Santa Claus, storytime with Mrs. Claus, a holiday puppet show and a mechanical train ride.
Visitors can also enjoy holiday karaoke, a s’mores station, free kids’ crafts, costumed characters and a business merchant open house.
A special event trolley service will be offered, with two trolleys operating on a 20-minute continuous loop from Junipero Serra Road at the JSerra Catholic High School North Campus northern terminus to a trolley stop at Stonehill Drive and Del Obispo Street.
That same night, Mission San Juan Capistrano will celebrate the opening night of its “Capistrano Lights: Mission in Lights” with a tree lighting, visits from Santa and more festive activities. The Mission in Lights will run on select days through Dec. 30, featuring Dickens-era carolers, a full-scale nativity scene, light features including a new lighted halo grove, a new butterfly orchard, dancing swallows and more.
Festivities at the Mission welcome back the Community Christmas, Family Wreaths and a harpist at the Serra Chapel. Attendees can also enjoy a special audio tour throughout the month of December.
Capistrano Lights tickets also include same-day admission to the Mission so visitors can enjoy the historic site in the daytime before it’s lit up with festive lights at night.
More information on the Mission in Lights event can be found at missionsjc.com/capistrano-lights.
San Juan Capistrano City Council will bring the festivities to its Dec. 5 meeting, with hot cocoa for a holiday reception at 4:30 p.m. The council’s festivities will mark the last meeting of the year and final meeting in the temporary Council Chambers located at the Nydegger Building (31421 La Matanza Street).
The Ecology Center will also host its Holiday Celebration as it encourages a season of gratitude and conscious consumerism. On Saturday, Dec. 9, The Ecology Center will offer a curated selection of locally sourced, artisanal products and gifts, complimentary cider and donuts, live music and a cooking demonstration and book signing.
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. visitors of The Ecology Center can engage with local artisans and vendors, support young makers from the Farm Raised program, and shop local for holiday gifts. Acoustic Grateful Dead tribute band Cats on the Bandstand will perform from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and cookbook author Jeanne Kelley will give a demonstration and sign books from noon-1 p.m.
More information on The Ecology Center Holiday Celebration can be found at theecologycenter.org/event/holiday-celebration.