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Irvine Blog - Posts from Local Experts

Posts for November 2012

Seven Ways to Get in the Christmas Spirit

Posted by: Terry Winkler
Posted on: Tuesday, Nov 27, 2012

Grab your most colorful holiday scarves and check out these wonderful Irvine events, perfect to get in a cheerful holiday mood!  See you there!!


1.    Holiday Tree Lighting

Terry Tree LightingDate:  Thursday, Nov 29 5:30p to 7:00p

at Irvine Ranch Historical Park, 13042 Old Myford Road, Irvine, CA 92602

Spend this holiday season in the outdoor winter wonderland of OC Parks. December welcomes a full calendar of festive events and programs for families and friends to enjoy together.  Join OC Parks and OC Public Libraries on Thursday, November 29 for the second annual Holiday Tree Lighting at Irvine Ranch Historic Park, home to the Katie Wheeler Library. The event will feature holiday performances, music and refreshments, and a special appearance by Santa Claus in a beautiful, historic setting. Complimentary festivities will culminate with the lighting of the large redwood tree adjacent to the library. Event and parking are both free and open to the public


2. Candlelight Walk
Date: Saturday, December 8 and Sunday, December 9, 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Event Fee: $4 adults, $3 kids ages 3-12
Parking Fee: FREE
Location: Heritage Hill Historical Park, 25151 Serrano Road, Lake Forest, CA 92630
Also at Heritage Hill Historical Park, the annual Candlelight Walk returns on Saturday, December 8 and Sunday, December 9. Watch the park transforms into an extravagant celebration with 1,000 luminarias lighting the buildings, illuminating the pathways and shining on the park grounds. Holiday carolers, local musicians, storytellers and flamenco dancers provide seasonal entertainment throughout the evening. Visit Santa and enjoy warm cider, cocoa and homemade confections.


3.    A Christmas With Scrooge

Friday, November 30th through December 29th

At Musical Theater Village in Irvine.  Based on the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas with Scrooge tells the tale of curmudgeonly miser Ebenezer Scrooge, who is visited by the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future hoping to change his destiny and save his soul. This brilliant musical adaptation follows Scrooge through a series of strange and magical journeys, where he ultimately discovers the true spirit of the holiday season


4. Tinseltown Christmas

A new holiday musical at the Claire Trevor Theater on the UCI campus.
Saturday, December 1 through Saturday, December 8

Saturday, December 1 at 8:00 pm
Sunday, December 2 at 2:00 pm
Thursday, December 6 at 8:00 pm
Friday, December 7 at 8:00 pm
Saturday, December 8 at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm
For ticket information, please contact the UCI Arts Box Office at 949-824-2787
Tickets may also be purchased online here.

Get into the holiday spirit with this delightful, charming, and entertaining new musical... Christmas Eve:  Living in two adjacent Hollywood apartments, Steve and Monica have never gotten along until the arrival of celebrity ghosts from the classic black-and-white films featured in the annual Christmas Movie Marathon on TV.  The fun begins when Steve and Monica are confronted with the ghosts of Jimmy Stewart, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, and Natalie Wood.  True to its title, Tinseltown Christmas has a classic happy Hollywood ending.


5. CLARA'S TUTU TENT-A Family Fun Nutcracker Experience

Date: Saturday, December 22 - Sunday, December 23, 2012

Venue: Northwood Performing Arts Center   4515 Portola Pkwy., Irvine, CA, 92620


As guests of the Maple Youth Ballet's The Nutcracker, your family's enchanting journey to the "Palace of the Sweets" will begin with a visit to Clara's Tutu Tent for a host of fun activities for the kids, which will take place one hour before each performance and during intermission. You and your family will also be able to enjoy our delectable desserts and unique boutique offerings on sale during intermission

 6. Santa's Wonderland

Opens at 10:00am daily through December 31 with last entry at 8:00pm.  Tours run every two hours.  Reserve your tour in advance for best times.   Tickets $25. Children 24 months and younger are free.

Location:  2719 White Road, Irvine, CA 92614

Santa's Wonderland is OC's newest holiday tradition that will dazzle and delight your entire family. Become an honorary Elf in our Elf Academy, decorate gingerbread, play Reindeer Games, stop by Santa's office and control room and check the Naughty/Nice list. Then make your way through the Mischief Maze. Shop the Mistletoe Market and enjoy a treat at the Candy Cane Cafe'. Finish your tour with a visit to Santa for a cherished family photo!

7. Festival Ballet Theatre's The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker @ Irvine Barclay Theatre, Irvine, CA

Date: Friday, December 14 through Monday, December 24

See Festival Ballet Theatre: The Nutcracker at Irvine Barclay Theatre in Irvine.   In 1891, Tchaikovsky adapted E. T. A. Hoffman's story, "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" into a two-act ballet called The Nutcracker, first performed in 1892. It is one of the most popular ballets in the world, particularly during the Christmas season. Apart from being a landmark production which is still being staged today, it has been noted for the use of the rarely seen musical instrument known as the celesta, which Tchaikovsky stumbled upon while in Paris. 

Terry Winkler  is the founder of Enter Stage Write, an Orange County theater, entertainment and lifestyle website.

Your Irvine Holiday Shopping Guide

Posted by: Sharlene Earnshaw
Posted on: Wednesday, Nov 21, 2012

Yep. It's that time of the year again. The time for baking cookies, trimming trees, and pulling your hair out trying to shop for all the people on your holiday list. There is nothing more miserable than walking up and down the mall without any gift-giving direction. Fear not! We are here to help guide you to some of our favorite shops in Irvine, in hopes of putting your frazzled holiday-dominated minds at ease.

AnthropologieBest place to shop for women:


      99 Fortune Drive

      Irvine, CA 92618

      (949) 341-0104

It is virtually impossible for me to walk by Anthropologie's big picture windows filled with fabulous fashion without heading inside. Once inside, nearly every woman I know lets out an involuntary sigh of despair. You see, we want everything in the store, from the bright red holiday dress to the sequined walrus ornament (which we didn't know we needed until we saw it) yet we know we can't have it all. But you can help us have something special.  The cashmere scarf is enchanting. The avocado mint candle smells divine. The iced dew bracelet set would be the perfect stocking stuffer. Just saying....

Best place to shop for men:

Irvine Marketplace

13702 Jamboree Road

 Irvine, CA 92602

Inside the Irvine Marketplace you will find what I refer to as the trifecta of men's holiday shopping: Sport's Authority, Howard's Appliance and Flat Screen Superstore, and Lazyboy Furniture Galleries.  You can park the car in one spot and shop for all the things men love the most: sports gear, massive televisions, and recliners with coolers attached. If you still haven't found everything that special man in your life desires, just head up one block to Lowe's. There enough power tools in there to unleash any man's Tim the Toolman Taylor grunts of joy.

Best place to shop for the epicurean:Irvine Shopping Guide epicurean

Sur la Table

97 Fortune Drive

Irvine, CA 92618

(949) 585-0031

I will be honest.  I used to pass Sur la Table without even considering walking in the door because I figured with all that fabulousness in the window, it was most definitely out of my league. I was so wrong. Sur la Table is an epicurean's dream with all the gadgets and gizmos a baker, griller, or chef could ever desire. Cookware is available at a variety of price points, from high end Mauviel cookware to the more reasonably priced Sur la Table house brand. Whether you are looking for a paella pan, collapsible cupcake carrier, gourmet grilling sauces, or novelty mustache drink markers, Sur la Table is the place to find it!

Best place to shop for your pampered pooch:


6755 Quail Hill Pkwy

Irvine, CA 92603

(949) 737-5950

If you're the type of pet parent who feels your pooch deserves but the best, then Dogma is the perfect place for you to do all your holiday shopping for Fido. They carry everything from holiday sweaters (for your puppy, of course) to leashes, carriers, and toys. My puppy is particularly fond of the dog bakery case which is filled with treats that look so good, human tummies are known to rumble while picking out their pet's goodies.


Irvine Shopping Guide Best place to shop for the nostalgic urban hipster:

      Urban Outfitters

      99 Fortune Drive

      Irvine, CA 92618

      (949) 341-0104


I have simply one question to ask- who doesn't need a Clark W. Griswold Moose Mug a la National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation? Or a crazy haired good luck troll? Or a box of Nerds as big as a toddler?  These gifts, plus dozens of other quirky items are the perfect answer to the question "what do I get my 28-year-old single brother who lives in an urban loft and invites fabulously dressed friends over past 10PM on a weeknight to hang out and listen to music that is too cool to be found on the radio?"  These gifts also work great with 35-year-old moms who would love a bit of nostalgia to shake them from their exhausting scheduled life revolving around work, home, and kids.

Best place to shop with kids:Spectrum carousel

 Irvine Spectrum Center

Fortune Drive

Irvine, CA 92618

(949) 753-5180

Dragging kids around while we try to finish up our holiday shopping can be, well, a drag! Luckily, Irvine Spectrum Center is filled with kid-friendly fun so you can bribe your children (yep, I am not above bribery) to behave with rides on the carousel, train, and Ferris wheel; games at Dave and Buster's and wintry fun on the outdoor ice rink as you finish your holiday shopping. Lollipops at See's Candy and candy apples from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory are great rewards for a couple hours of retail induced torture as well.  Best of all, Santa is at the Spectrum, eager to hear all of your children's Christmas wishes.

Best place to find inexpensive stocking stuffers:


14280 Culver Dr, Suite A

Irvine, CA 92604

New to Irvine this year is Daiso, the Japanese version of America's dollar store. Almost everything in this store is $1.50, and you will be amazed what a difference 50 cents can make. This is where you can buy Santa hats for the whole family, fun holiday decorations, wrapping paper, and plenty of affordable stocking stuffers. My kids will be finding scented pens, travel goodies, hair clips, toothbrushes, and Japanese candy in their stockings this year. All $1.50. All from Daiso.

Sharlene Earnshaw is the Editor in Chief of Trekaroo, a site dedicated to helping families travel better with kids.

My Holiday Bucket List

Posted by: Amanda Nguyen
Posted on: Saturday, Nov 10, 2012

There are so many exciting winter activities to do in OC to ring in this holiday season, here are a few of the festivities I'm looking forward to doing with my family and friends...

1. Go Ice Skating!

Nothing represents winter more (especially out here in sunny so cal) like ice skating! 

The Irvine Spectrum Center and the Downtown Disney District have outside ice skating rinks for you and your family to enjoy!


2. Take my little brother to Santa's House

Looks like Santa Claus and his helpers have set up shop at your nearest mall/shopping center. If you want to bring a bit of Christmas magic to your child(ren)'s life, stop by Santa Claus' house! 

The Shops at Mission Viejo /Westfield Main Place/Fashion Island Center

Check with your City's Community and shopping centers to see where Santa will be visiting near you!


3. See the Nutcracker

Being that almost my entire life has been spent dancing and aspiring to be a ballerina, seeing the Nutcracker is a MUST during the holiday season. Check out where Clara, the Nutcracker, Sugarplum Fairy, Snowflakes and delectable delights will be dancing near you at this site here. Shows are already selling out, so purchase your tickets now if they're available!


4. Festivity of Lights

Although the Fashion Island Shopping Center's Christmas Tree lighting just passed, there are a few lightings you can catch!

Menorah Lightings are available in Irvine, Tustin, Newport Beach, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo!

Clad in my winter coat, earmuffs, gloves, and a warm cup of hot cocoa, I've enjoyed in the merriment of both the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade and the Huntington Beach Cruise of Lights, don't miss out on this creative moving display of lights!


5. Holiday Inspired beverage

Coffee shops near and far are offering holiday inspired drinks; peppermint hot cocoa, spices apple cider, cinnamon and gingerbread lattes!


Image Source 1,2,3,4,5,6

Northwood Memorial: An Attitude of Gratitude

Posted by: Ellen Bell
Posted on: Wednesday, Nov 07, 2012

Northwood Memorial


It started as a simple remembrance; a collection of wooden monuments displaying the names and faces of fallen troops.  

In 2003, neighbors in the Village of Northwood wanted to find a way to acknowledge members of the military who had been recently lost in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Northwood Memorial

They took it upon themselves to create a memorial in their community park, decorating it with flags and yellow ribbons and lovingly lighting it with candles.      

 Northwood Memorial

What began as a personal community statement of remembrance became the Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial, the only place in the nation that honors those who died serving their country during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Northwood Memorial

Today, thanks to volunteer efforts and funding from the City of Irvine, the homemade wooden memorials have been replaced by five granite sentinels that are engraved with over 6,000 names. They stand prominently at the corner of Bryan and Yale Avenues, acting as a silent but constant reminder of service for those who cross this busy intersection every day.

Northwood Memorial 

On Sunday, November 11, there will be a Veteran's Day ceremony to express gratitude for those who have served their country and to honor those who were unable to return. It will be a time to feel pride for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. But it will also be a time to feel pride for the community that chose not to forget them.

Northwood Memorial 

A few feet behind the granite sentinels stands a lone, wooden stake displaying a hand-written letter. It was written by Sgt. Jacob Lee Butler on April 1, 2003; two hours before he was killed in action.

                "Dear Mom and Dad, If you are reading this, I did not make it."

The letter ends with a simple sentiment that could be echoed by all of those whose names are written here.

                "I love you. Don't forget me."

Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial

4531 Bryan Avenue

Irvine, CA 

  Veteran's Day Ceremony

Sunday, November 11, 2pm 

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