How to Celebrate Christmas on Catalina Island

Whether you’re a Southern California resident who is looking for a short getaway from the hustle and bustle of the “mainland” or you live across the country and want to experience a warm, sunshine-filled Christmas this year, Catalina offers just what you’re looking for. Catalina — an island off the coast of Southern California — is about an hour boat ride from the ports of San Pedro and Long Beach in Los Angeles. A small island, Catalina offers an intimate setting and a close-knit community, perfect for a Christmas away from home.

Christmas Time on Catalina Island

Though Catalina is likely to enjoy the same 70-degree temperatures and clear blue skies as nearby San Diego or Los Angeles around Christmas time, you will still get holiday vibes as soon as you step foot off your yacht rental San Diego and onto the island. Catalina, like any other small town, goes above and beyond in the décor department. With carolers roaming the harbor, lights strung along the streets, and ongoing events and activities, it’s easy to fall into, and stay in, the Christmas spirit for the duration of your stay.

Festive Activities on Catalina this December

If you visit the island earlier in the season, you can join in on several of the island’s annual holiday traditions. Below are the top events that island residents and visitors alike look forward to year after year:

  • Holiday Open House at Mt Ada: A midweek event, the Mt Ada Holiday Open House is an annual fundraiser designed to raise funds for Avalon Schools and local nonprofits. The event features live music, visits from Mr. and Mrs. Clause, multiple raffles, a silent auction, beverages and snacks. The event is for people 14 years of age and older.
  • Annual “Shop Catalina” Event: Having gone on for nearly three decades, Shop Catalina has been perfected to the point where the one-day event is a local holiday in and of itself. The day is characterized by shopping with local vendors, live music, decorating contests, s’mores roasting, pictures with Santa, carolers and more. The grand finale comes at 5 pm, with the annual tree lighting ceremony.
  • Annual New Year’s Eve Celebration: If you plan to be in town for New Year’s Eve, snag tickets early to the annual New Year’s Eve celebration at the Casino Ballroom. The event is black-tie optional and includes a gourmet buffet dinner, a champagne toast, party favors, ballroom dancing to a live band and a midnight ball drop.

Things To Do Off the Island

If you are planning an extended stay in Southern California, consider chartering off the island for a day or two to visit nearby San Diego. San Diego harbor activities are designed with the whole family in mind and include things like a visit to the U.S.S. Midway, a Coronado Ferry Ride, San Diego Segway tours and a day spent exploring Seaport Village. If you’re lucky enough to be in town between December and March, make time for a whale watching excursion, as winter is prime migrating season for the gray whales. Next Level Sailing whale watching offers affordable three-to-four-hour tours daily and boasts a success rate of between 98% to 100%, depending on the season.

If you’re looking for a unique way to spend the Christmas holiday, head to Catalina. Rent a yacht to do things on your own schedule, or schedule a charter out to sea through a company like Next Level Sailing.

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