By Michele Whiteaker

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Are you looking to find out about holiday lights at Dana Point Harbor 2018?  I feel likeIlluminOcean in Dana Point Harbor made a big impression on people. It was a holiday lights extravaganza that lasted only one year (2014).  IlluminOcean was, for the most part, not a static light display. Most of the lights moved or had some sort of animated features and sounds to go along with them. They even had special 3D glasses to view the show. You can see what I mean with my video of this light tunnel. The public loved it and so did the harbor businesses, but there was controversy and litigation.

Local dad and CEO, Bruce Brenon, of Shine Illumination came up with the NEW concepts last year and they are adding to it for this year! Follow the Shine Illumination page on Facebook and follow the @shineillumination account on Instagram to get current news about their displays all over our area.

For 2018, they are again calling it Happy HarborDays. The light display will run from Thanksgiving through January 6th. There are static light displays that the kids will love with candy cane pillars and lighted stars hanging above. This area with starbursts overhead and the impression of snow falling is called Candy Cane Lane.

Highlights of Holiday Lights at Dana Point Harbor

  1. It’s FREE!
  2. It’s scheduled to run from Thanksgiving through January 6th. The lights stay on from dusk until dawn.
  3. The candy cane light lane is a favorite. Little kids in strollers have the best view because there are features up on the “ceiling.”
  4. Lots of the eucalyptus trees are lit up with green and blue along the medians and the parks that line the harbor.
  5. There’s a HUGE Happy HarborDays welcome light display as you come to the entrance of the harbor. 2017 also featured a whale here. But this year,  you’ll also see a bobblehead Santa there.
  6. In 2017, there was a shark stand over by Waterman’s restaurant — this year, you’ll find a Candy Cane heart display.
  7. Yes – “Merry Kiss Me” will be back! Couples flock here like it was mistletoe. Take your photo and share with a #MerryKissMe hashtag.
  8. And the lights don’t stop there! Walk or drive down towards Baby Beach just past the Marina Inn and the harbor offices to experience light trees and a wave tunnel. The blue and white lights actually move in a way that makes you feel you are in the barrel of a crashing wave.


  • Free parking for holiday lights at Dana Point Harbor around the shops (if you can find it). Surprisingly, we went on Holiday Boat Parade night and got a spot super close with no trouble! Or there’s $3/hour parking on Boat Parade nights at Doheny State Beach with trolley service (see map on Dana Point Harbor website).
  • Hours: Come in the evening on a weeknight and you’ll probably find easy parking! Maybe bring the kids in their pajamas? The lights are on from dusk until dawn. Lights are on from Thanksgiving through January 6th, 2019.
  • Restrooms at Dana Point Harbor are near Dana Wharf — and outside the Harbor Grill Restaurant.
  • Dana Point Harbor Restaurants open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day: I’m working on getting you a list and will post when I’ve got it!
  • Coffee Importers – Espresso Bar & Scoop Deck is a great place to get a scoop of Lapperts Ice Cream or a hot cocoa. It’s open until 8pm Sun-Thurs and until 9pm on Fri/Sat.
  • Harpoon Henry’s has seating downstairs on their patio which would be a fun place to watch the lights come on and people walk by. They have a Happy Hour which includes some pretty yummy appetizers and entrees on M-F from 4pm-7pm.

Be Aware:

More crowds on weekends and during the Holiday Boat Parade nights (December 7th/8th and 14th/15th).

There are signs everywhere that say “don’t touch the lights” so you might want to prep the kids ahead of time to look, but don’t touch.