Winter Fest, at the OC Fair Grounds, is Orange County’s entry into the crowded but always fun Christmas activity scene. I am a huge fan of Christmas and all of the unique events it brings, so I try my best to go to every place near me that celebrates it and gets into the holiday spirit. Winterfest feels like a Christmas fair with food, rides, shows and lots of fun light installations. I went in 2023 and had a blast with my family, meeting Santa, riding the ice tubing hill, and watching the tree lighting. Here is all the information on this fun holiday event.
- 2023 cost, hours, and new attraction information are available here
- Runs till Jan 7th
- Cost: Ticket prices vary from $30+, and some attractions cost above that (such as ice skating). Parking is an additional $12
- Location: 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
- Check out my Instagram for a video on the visit.
The event is located at the OC Fairgrounds. As you get off the freeway there will be signs directing you where to park for the event.
After paying for parking and finding a spot in the large lot, you will head over to pick up your tickets and enter the event. Right when you enter, you will be surrounded by Christmas trees and experience some fake snow as you walk past the WinterFest OC sign.
The lighting installations follow with light tunnels, lit-up ornaments, light up houses, and more. These light-up structures were one of the highlights for me, and they were all over the fairgrounds, especially in the Journey to the North Pole area.
WinterFest OC basically takes over one of the parking areas for the OC fairgrounds, so there is a lot of space to spread out, and it feels like a big event.
We had tickets that included the attractions, so here are a few of the things we did.
Snow tubing was by far my favorite part. It was fast and a total blast to race your friends down the hill. I come back every year just to do this.
My kids love the Ferris Wheel, so we rode it here, and it gave an excellent high-up view of the event.
Ice skating is always a blast and they had a good size ice rink here for you to skate around. You need to buy tickets for a specific time in advance. In 2023, the ice skating rink is more of a trail with a figure 8 which was a fun addition
The Tree Lighting
Each night at 6 PM, they have a tree lighting festival. It was a 20-30 minute show with singing and dancing, culminating in the large tree getting lit.
My kids loved watching the show; the tree was very impressive when lit up. The rest of the night, this house had a light show going on it as you walked by and the tree stayed lit.
North Pole Experience
The North Pole Experience was the event’s highlight in 2022 but it changed a lot in 2023. It is now a guided walk through experience with about a half dozen small shows you watch in each of the tents. My kids were probably too young for it as they didn’t understand having to wait to exit a tent and the experience did feel a little rushed. It had some fun elements though.
The guided tour takes about 45 minutes to get through.
This was by far the highlight for my kids in 2023. They spent an hour here and probably could have spent the whole night there. They had two large snow areas for running around and making snowballs, a ride on tube experience and a small snow hill for toddlers. If you have young children this is almost worth the price of admission by itself.
The event also has a bunch of fun food vendors ranging from kettle corn and turkey legs to chocolate chip cookies and curly fries. There is something for everyone and it feels like what you would see at a fair.
These are just a few things you can do at Winterfest OC, and there are also many places to eat and many more attractions around the festival grounds. My family and I had a blast experiencing the event, and if you are in Orange County, it is worth checking out. Just note that it can be expensive if you have a large family and want to do many of the add on attractions. Let me know what you think in the comments.