In most places, people hop in their cars and take a drive to see the most -decorated, lighted-up homes they can find during the holiday season. In Huntington Beach, they take the boat out instead. Along the waterways that run through Huntington's man-made islands, the lighted decorations on the multi-million-dollar homes face the water, and the effect is magical, with each home's sparkling display doubled by its reflection in the water.
The displays range from simple white lights to extravagant spectacles created by professional lighting installers. In past years, these have included dancing snowmen, a blinking Menorah, a home transformed into a mountain with a railroad twisting around its edges and an inflatable Uncle Sam nearly large enough to have been in the Macy's Parade. One resident Disney employee bathed his home with lights that changed color every few seconds.
Thousands of visitors come to see the show every year, many of them cruising in their own boats, shouting "Merry Christmas" to each other as they pass. The effect brings to mind a small town, a rare, old-fashioned charm.
For those who don't have their own watercraft, the Huntington Harbor Cruise of Lights offers a way to join the fun. The 45-minute cruise runs nightly for a week, starting in mid-December. Reservations are a must.
Scenes from the Huntington Harbor Cruise of Lights
Enjoy some of our best shots in this Huntington Harbor Cruise of Lights Photo Tour
Tips for the Huntington Harbor Cruise of Lights
The cruise goes on, rain or shine, and it can be colder than you might think on the water on a December night, even if this is supposed to be sunny southern California. Dress warmly.
Huntington Harbor Cruise of Lights TicketsThis seasonal event is held every December. Order tickets online. Up to four tours go out each night.
The Huntington Harbor Cruise of Lights Benefits the Huntington Harbor Committee and supports the youth music education programs of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County.
Huntington Harbor Cruise of Lights
Huntington Beach, CA
You'll get directions when you get your tickets. Everyone parks at a nearby shopping mall and goes to the harbor in buses.