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Irvine Blog - Posts from Local Experts

Posts for December 2016

Filed In: Dining, Events

Ring in 2017 at OC's Hidden Cocktail Bar YNK

Posted by: Amanda Nguyen
Posted on: Friday, Dec 30, 2016

The cat's out of the bag, the Irvine Marriott's innovative cocktail bar, YNK (You.Never.Know) is hosting an event curated by the most delicious bespoke winter cocktails to ring in the new year. I myself have not gotten to visit and experience YNK, but if you're looking for a unique and special experience to celebrate 2017, you need to make your way over to the Irvine Marriott as you will be pleasantly surprised and awakened by the intimate, almost speakeasy ambiance and craft drinks selection- not to mention, get to end this year in style. 

Join the bar, nestled inside the Irvine Marriott, for an evening of winter cocktails, including the Not Your Basic PSL and Winter Spiced Old Fashioned. The festivities will begin at 7 pm and include a complimentary champagne toast at midnight and live-action video of the ball drop in New York.

No RSVP is needed and you can easily access the bar by entering the entrance of the Irvine Marriott and walking toward the main bar and entering YNK behind the main bar. Champagne for the toast will be complimentary but all other specialty crafted cocktails will be available for purchase. 

YNK at the Irvine Marriott 

18000 Von Karman Ave.
Irvine, CA 92612
(Secretly Inside Irvine Marriott)

Valet Parking Available

Phone: 1-949-553-0100 


Images + Info provided by White Oak Communications 


Filed In: Events

Celebrate the Holidays with the Horses of Cavalia Odysseo

Posted by: Terry Winkler
Posted on: Wednesday, Dec 21, 2016

If you've been anywhere near the 405 and 133 freeway interchange in Irvine lately, you've probably noticed the impressive white tent peaks with Cavalia flags rippling in the breeze. The world's largest White Big Top signals Cavalia's back in town, running through January 8th.

I was fortunate enough have backstage and in the stable meet and greet with Cavalia's four-legged stars and I absolutely loved it! For the safety of the horses you're not allowed to touch them but this friendly filly really wanted to give me a kiss. I think we shared a moment. Xoxo


This handsome gelding greeted me with kisses and blew in my nose. He sure was flirty and I was delighted with his horsey howdy-do until we were both told how naughty we were being.


The two-hour extravaganza combines equestrian arts, aerial stunts, theatrical and musical arts, and high-tech effects to create an immersive experience that transports you to beautiful fields, magical forests and a waterfall oasis surrounded by the most beautiful horses in the world.

"Odysseo" is like Cirque du Soleil with horses. One of my favorite numbers was a dream-like dance with lovely ladies suspended in air via luxurious sheets of silk while being twirled by handsome men on horseback. Dreamy.

"Odysseo" begins in a misty, mysterious forest where horses play and rest as the sun sets. From there we visit the arid steppes of Mongolia, the solemn sculptures of Easter Island, the African savannah, and other iconic locales.

There's also a group of West African acrobats, who perform dizzying somersaults and build gravity-defying human pyramids. Everything combined makes for a spectacular evening out.


Here are some of the interesting Odysseo facts:
• The tent was designed to have no arches or poles in the performing area so that the horses and humans can run free on the stage.
• At one point in the show, 80,000 gallons of water will fill part of the stage in 1 1/2 minutes' time.
• The stage is approximately 17,500 square feet, larger than a hockey rink.
• A high-definition backdrop is the size of three IMAX screens. Between that, the vast and multi-dimensional stage area and moving humans and horses, there is incredible depth to the show.
• The White Big Top is big enough to cover an NFL football field. Supported by three arches, the 125-foot-tall tent will feature the main stage, backstage, lobby,
• There are 350 costumes. Artists may have up to seven different costumes, some with quick costume changes taking place in 30 seconds.
• Odysseo features 65 horses with 11 different breeds including the Arabian, Holsteiner, Lippizan, Luistano, Mustang, Paint, Quarter Horse.

Where: Under the big white top at the 405-133 junction in Irvine
When: Performances through Jan. 8.
How much: $29.50-$144.50 plus taxes and fees. VIP, $149.50-$269.50, plus taxes and fees. Discounts available for groups, children (2-12), juniors (13-17) and seniors (65-plus)

Finding Holiday Peace - Naturally

Posted by: Ellen Bell
Posted on: Tuesday, Dec 13, 2016

This holiday season, a little peace may be hard to find. 

With a busy schedule chock-full of tasks, errands and events, it’s difficult to get some breathing room. Fortunately there’s a little piece of tranquility only minutes away from the hectic bustle of the holidays.
Recently, I put myself in time-out.


I turned off my phone, powered-down my laptop, and joined locals just like me for a free, 90-minute yoga class.

The setting is beautiful Bommer Canyon, part of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. This unique collection of preserved Open Space is Irvine’s best-kept secret.  Even though it's a vibrant city of more than 250,000 residents, Irvine has a wide variety of hiking and biking wilderness trails that are only minutes away.

Bommer Canyon is part of nearly 20,000 sprawling acres of natural wildland and is in the largest coastal open space remaining between Los Angeles and San Diego. Known as the South Coast Wilderness, these remarkable lands contain some of the largest remaining areas of coastal sage scrub along with oak woodlands, native grasslands, and craggy rock outcrops.
We begin our class with an easy hike down the East Fork trail.  There were few sounds, except the soft conversations of hikers and the crunch of dried leaves under our feet.
Every once and awhile we stop to notice little things; like an interesting plant or a red tail hawk soaring in the sky above.  It’s hard to believe that we are in the heart of Orange County, surrounded by millions of people. Here on the trail, there are only a few.






It is a beautiful, crisp morning when I arrive at the canyon trailhead. Mette, a volunteer docent from the OC Parks , directs me up the short drive to an area near the old Irvine Ranch cowboy camp. This collection of old barns and sheds is where they used to bring cattle down from across the ranch for the annual Spring Round Up. Fortunately these buildings remain, a reminder of a different time when Irvine was a much different place.





After about 30 minutes, we settle under a grove of old sycamore trees and lay our mats on the earth. I’ve practiced yoga for years, but have never experienced a class outdoors like this. It is quiet. Serene. My breathing begins to match the breeze that rustles the golden leaves over my head. For a blissful hour, I am free from the day-to-day bustle of the holidays and I breathe in peace.

The level of difficulty is perfect for a beginner, and the delightfully different setting is a surprising change of pace for Yoga veterans who have only practiced inside a studio. 
When I return to my car I am refreshed and renewed. I realize that have given myself the best gift this holiday season; a new sense of gratitude for the places of natural beauty that are right here,  in the middle of my city.
For more information on Yoga at Bommer Canyon or other Irvine Ranch Conservancy programs, check out their website.

The Christmas Guide to Orange County 2016

Posted by: Amanda Nguyen
Posted on: Thursday, Dec 08, 2016

Orange County has a variety of Christmas festivities to enjoy this holiday season. Although we may not experience below freezing temperatures or snowfall, you will be overcome with merry, holiday spirit through these decked out places and cheerful entertainment.

Knott's Merry Farm

Until January 1, 2017, experience Knott's Berry Farm's transformation into a winter wonderland with thousands of twinkling lights and holiday décor. Join in the fun with the ice skating spectacular, Snoopy on Ice, sing-along with the Calico Carolers, meet Santa Claus in his Christmas Village and be dazzled by the all new production, ‘It's The Merriest Christmas Show Ever, Charlie Brown'. At night, Ghost Town comes alive with Snow and Glow, a holiday celebration of music, lights and a blanket of snow that falls from the sky. Click Here for more information. 

OC Chill Ice Rink in Irvine

At the Irvine Spectrum Center, visitors can ice skate until their heart's content at one of Orange County's only outdoor ice rinks. Now through January 16, 2017 the rink will be open daily from 11 a.m. until 9:15 p.m. and guests of all ages can shred the ice for only $20 per person with rentals. On Saturday nights, grab a hot cocoa and enjoy live bands scattered throughout the Center. For this upcoming Saturday, enjoy Snow Day! presented by the Active Ride ShopClick here for more information.  

Christmas Boat Parade

A combination of opulence and beauty, the 108th Annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade showcases luxury yachts, personal boats, and kayaks covered in Christmas lights and holiday decorations. Running December 14th through the 18th, 2016 the annual tradition is one of Orange County's most popular attractions and was even named "one of the top ten holiday happenings in the nation" by the New York Times. The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade is one of the local traditions that I look forward to and if I'm able to make it, enjoy every year! I love getting a toasty cup of hot cocoa or coffee and walking on the boardwalk along the water as the boats sail by. There are many spots along the water in which you can take a seat to watch (bring blankets to get extra snuggly). You'll really have fun seeing the creativity, and ingenuity that is poured into lighting up these small to large boats! Click here for more information and a map of the parade route!

"Pirate's Take Christmas!," at Pirate's Dinner Adventure

Shiver me timbers...scoundrel pirates have captured Santa and Mrs. Claus and are threatening to put an end to the holiday season at Pirate's Dinner Adventure. The two hour, interactive Christmas dinner show runs December 5th through the 25th, 2016 and includes a delicious, four-course holiday feast. View the Pirate's Dinner Adventure's Rise of the Sea Dragon show below to get a taste of what's in store. Get tickets to Pirate's Take Christmas here!

Video and Images via Pirate's Dinner Adventure

Bolsa Chica's Christmas at the Beach

To escape the cold of the North Poll, Santa Claus visits Bolsa Chica ever year on December 11th, 2016. Garnering his favorite Southern California outfit, Santa meets with all the good boys and girls on his Christmas jet ski. After the sun sets, put on your ugly Christmas sweater and cozy up by the fire to roast marshmallows and watch the hit movie, "Despicable Me." Sounds like the perfect evening with a loved one or family!

Holidays at the Disneyland Resort

One of my all time favorite places has been sprinkled with pixie dust for a transformation into a winter wonderland for Holidays at the Disneyland Resort which runs now through January 8th, 2017. The iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle glimmers with Christmas lights, Jack Skellington has taken over the Haunted Mansion and boughs of holly line Main Street. Visitors can also enjoy favorites like It's A Small World Christmas with over 100,000 lights, the beloved Fantasy Parade and the night-time firework spectacular. You can even catch Santa Clause and his merry elves at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail at Disney California Adventure Park. While in the Disney California Adventure Park, experience cultural traditions with the Disney Festival of Holidays, and you'll want to stay for the World of Color - Season of Light, your favorite water and lights spectacular with a holiday twist! Santa will also visit the Disneyland Park and he can be seen at a special location in Critter Country. You'll also want to try the variety of holiday-inspired decorated sweet treats available at the Disney Parks! Click here for ticket info!

The Christmas Carol at the South Coast Repertory

Charles Dicken's classic, A Christmas Carol comes to life at the South Coast Repertory. The whole family will enjoy the live play depicting Scrooge as he transform from a cold, greedy man to a generous, kind-hearted business owner set in nineteenth-century London. The limited time production runs November 25th through the 26th, 2016.  Click here for ticket info!

Images via South Coast Repertory 

Festival Ballet Theatre's The Nutcracker Ballet

Take part in the grandeur and extravagance of the timeless Nutcracker ballet - the holiday season isn't complete with out dancing mice and snowflakes, the sugarplum fairy & nutcracker and more! The Festival Ballet Theatre is back with a performance of over 100 dancers at  Barclay Theatre! Click here for ticket info!

Images and Video via Festival Ballet Theatre
Happy Holidays!
Some event information provided by Visit Buena Park 
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