AVALON, CALIF. (November 13, 2021) – Swaying palm trees, spectacular seascapes and an average high of 63 degrees in the winter make Catalina Island the perfect locale to celebrate the holidays – island style. From holiday shopping at locally owned boutiques to ringing in the New Year under the stars, visitors can enjoy a number of festive events and activities this winter.
“The holidays are a magical time on the island,” said Love Catalina President & CEO Jim Luttjohann. “Light displays and festive décor paired with the beautiful harbor backdrop make for a uniquely Southern California holiday experience. With more than 40 local shops that offer one-of-a-kind gifts, travelers can also get a head start on shopping while supporting small businesses.”
A list of festivities, along with travel and hotel updates, can be found below.
Holiday Events & Dining
Thanksgiving Dining: November 25
Many restaurants on the island will be open for Thanksgiving dining, including a special prix fixe menu at Avalon Grille featuring Herb Brined Diestel Turkey with Cranberry Stuffing, Cranberry Jam and Pan Gravy; and Sage-Butter Roasted Turkey or Honey Mustard Spiral Ham from M Restaurant. A full list of Thanksgiving dining on the island can be found online here.
Holiday Open House at Mt Ada: December 1
The historic Mt Ada bed and breakfast will be open to the public for a special open house event on Wednesday, December 1 from 2 to 6 p.m. Built by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. in 1921, the mansion sits atop a large hill, offering unmatched views of Avalon and the harbor. To celebrate the holiday season, guests will enjoy baked goods, live music from the Bierman Brothers, photo opportunities with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and multiple raffles and a silent auction to raise funds for local nonprofits. Admission is $10 and includes cookies and beverages; must be 14 years or older to attend. Wristbands for attendance will be available for purchase at the Catalina Island Visitor Center, or in the Shops at Atwater through November 30. More information can be found online here.
28th Annual Shop Catalina Holiday Kick Off: December 4 - 11
Kick off the holidays with seasonal activities, entertainment, shopping and exclusive savings during the 28th annual Shop Catalina event. An alternative to online shipping delays and mall madness, the weeklong shopping extravaganza features special offers and discounts from shops throughout Avalon, including a virtual treasure hunt for chances to win prizes up to $125. The beloved Christmas Tree Lighting at Wrigley Stage will be held at 5 pm on Saturday, December 4 to signify the official start of the holiday season. Additional festivities happening on December 4 include:
- Christmas craft and ornament decorating
- Gingerbread house decorating contest
- Holiday carolers strolling throughout the day and into the evening
- Pictures with Santa
Visit the Shop Catalina page for a full list of activities, schedule of events and participating businesses.
Letters to Santa: Through December 17
Hosted by the City of Avalon, children of all ages are invited to write letters to Santa. A festive mailbox will be placed in the Atwater Arcade (located at 118 Metropole Ave.) for young ones to drop a line to Santa along with their holiday wish list through December 17.
Toy Drive at Hermosa Hotel: Through December 20
Join Hermosa Hotel in making every child’s holiday special by donating an unwrapped gift or cash (to purchase gifts) that will benefit a local child in need. All donations can be received at the front desk of the Hermosa Lobby between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or mailed to 131 Metropole Ave Avalon Ca 90704. Donations will be given out December 21st.
New Year’s Eve Gala - December 31
The 48th annual New Year’s Eve Gala celebration will return this year in the world-famous Casino Ballroom. Dress in your finest and take a step back in time to enjoy the Casino’s stylish sophistication featuring 50-foot ceilings, elegant art deco design and 360-degree views of Avalon Bay. Guests will enjoy a gourmet buffet with menu standouts including Baked Sea Bass, Hangar Steak, Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Red Velvet Cake; live music from The Perfect Event's Christien Anthony Band playing everything from Big Band music to contemporary pop; a champagne toast and more. Reservations are priced at $199 per person and are available for purchase here.
New Year’s at Two Harbors - December 31
For a more remote and unique New Year’s Eve experience, travelers can head to Two Harbors for dinner, dancing and a champagne toast under the stars at local favorite Harbor Reef Restaurant. Reservations can be made by calling 310-510-4215.
Business & Travel Updates
Catalina Express Best of Winter Packages + Winter Schedule
Special packages are now available via Catalina Express’ Best of Winter boat and hotel packages, offering savings of up to 50 percent. Valid through March 25, 2022, participating hotels and packages can be found online here. The winter boat schedule is also now available for departures from the San Pedro, Long Beach and Dana Point ports, marking a return to pre-pandemic levels of daily departures. To view the schedule and book your trip, please visit the Catalina Express website here.
Cruises Return to Port of Avalon
After a long pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, cruise lines have resumed services to the Port of Avalon. Princess, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Holland America have confirmed cruise stops in Avalon in November and December. For a full list, please visit the cruise ship schedule here.
Catalina Canyon Inn
Previously known as the Holiday Inn Resort, the family-friendly property has changed its name to Catalina Canyon Inn. Tucked in the picturesque hills of Avalon, guests of Catalina Canyon Inn can enjoy all the same amenities as before, including spacious rooms, courtyard dining at The Cove Bar & Grill, an outdoor pool, gym and more. To learn more or book your stay, visit www.catalinacanyoninn.com.
Renovated Rooms at Glenmore Plaza Hotel
The oldest operating hotel on the island, many of Glenmore Plaza Hotel’s suites and rooms were recently renovated to provide guests modern comforts and amenities. Daily continental breakfast, a relaxing on-site day spa and its prime location just steps from the beach make this historic Victorian-style hotel a charming option for a holiday stay. For more information or to book your stay, visit www.glenmoreplaza.com.
Totally Nuts & Company
Slated to open in mid-November, Totally Nuts & Company is a family-owned business offering a selection of delicious roasted nuts, fresh squeezed lemonade and more than 20 flavors of Hawaiian shaved ice. While its flagship store was originally opened 12 years ago in Colorado, this is the only location in California. The shop’s tried-and-true favorites will be available, including cinnamon roasted almonds and pecans, along with hot chocolate and hot cider perfect for sipping on this holiday season.
About Love Catalina:
Love Catalina serves as the official Tourism Authority for Catalina Island. Originally founded in 1949, the nonprofit is comprised of approximately 230 member organizations, working closely with city officials, local businesses and the community at large to attract visitors and support the local economy. Love Catalina is governed by an elected board of directors and is funded in part through the collection of Transient Occupancy Taxes. For more information, please visit www.lovecatalina.com. Travelers can also join the conversation on Facebook (www.facebook.com/lovecatalinaisland) Instagram (@LoveCatalinaIsland) and Twitter (@LoveCatalina_).