Capistrano Lights

Event Info
Opening Night
Food Drive
Mission Store
Food Vendors
Downtown San Juan Capistrano & Tree Lighting

Capistrano Lights Nightly Program
December 8, 2019 – January 6, 2020
Nightly Christmas Tree Lighting at 5pm
Mission Grounds Close at 6pm

We are excited to announce the return of Capistrano Lights from December 8, 2019 through January 6, 2020 with a special Opening Night on Saturday, December 7.

Celebrate the holidays at Orange County’s only Mission with 30 days of festive programming and a nightly tree lighting. Create lasting memories with family photos under our 10′ wreath, our complimentary Christmas tree lighting and music program with our 30′ tree at 5:00 p.m. and make your prayer for peace and goodwill by placing a candle in the Ruins of the Great Stone Church. Visit the Serra Chapel open after hours, California’s most historic chapel.

For more fun, join us for Winter Break: Crafts and Activities for Kids. This event will be offered daily starting Saturday, December 21, 2019 to Sunday, January 5, 2020, nominal fee in addition to paid admission. Mission Members receive a discounted rate. Weekday crafts and activities are offered from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m and weekend crafts and activities are offered from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Crafts and activities include Adobe Brick Making, Arrowhead Necklace and an Alternate Craft.

Download Flyer

*There will be no Capistrano Lights Program on Tuesday, December 24, 2019, Wednesday, December 25, 2019 or Tuesday, December 31, 2019.

*There will be no Winter Crafts and activities offered on Tuesday, December 24, 2019 or Wednesday, December 25, 2019.

Additional Holiday Programs! 

December 14, 15, 21 and 22 from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.! Guests will have the opportunity to enjoy

  • “Selfies with Santa” in the historic Sala building – free
  • Holiday Do-It-Yourself Crafts with AR Workshop in the Soldiers Barracks. The craft is wooden ornaments featuring 4 Mission themed designs – nominal fee 
  • Sweet treats and hot beverages by 3:16 Bakery Shop – cost for all food items 

Capistrano Lights Nightly Program – December 8, 2019 – January 6, 2020 (includes complimentary Christmas tree lighting and music program at 5:00 p.m.

  • Non-Member Public General:
    • $10 for Adults (ages 12-59)
    • $9 for Seniors (60+)
    • $7 for Children (ages 4-11).
  • Mission Members receive free admission with an active membership card and valid ID at the Main Entrance of the Mission.
  • Guests of Mission Members receive a discounted admission rate! Bring a canned food item to support the Serra’s Pantry Food Drive and receive $5 admission.*  Offer ends at 5:00 p.m. on January 6, 2020. One food item per person is permitted. The reduced admission is applied onsite at the Admissions counter located at the Main Entrance on Ortega Highway. Guests must be accompanied by a Mission Member. 

Guest are encouraged to be onsite by 5:00 p.m. to enjoy the Christmas Tree Lighting and Music Program in the Ruins of the Great Stone Church. The Main Entrance & Admissions counter closes at 5:00 p.m. Guests with same day admission may re-enter for Capistrano Lights with a hand stamp. 

The Mission grounds close at 6:00 p.m. and the Mission Store will close at 7:00 p.m.

All Ticket Sales are Final and Ticket Policy Regarding Rain

Please Note: Capistrano Lights will be held rain or shine. Ticket purchases for Capistrano Lights are final. No refunds, exchanges or transfers will be honored. Thank you for your understanding. If you are unable to attend Capistrano Lights, please consider the cost of your tickets a charitable donation in support of Mission San Juan Capistrano, historic California landmark #200 and 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization #95-1904079.

Ticket Transfer Policy for Capistrano Lights Opening Night to Capistrano Lights Nightly Program

Please note the event on Saturday, December 7 will go live rain or shine. Should advance ticket buyers decide to not attend Opening Night, the unused Opening Night ticket(s) may be redeemed for ONE visit to Capistrano Lights Nightly Program offered Sunday, December 8 to Monday, January 6, 2020. This ticket policy applies only to the event tickets not redeemed on Opening Night, Saturday, December 7th (5:30 p.m. and 7:30 pm tickets only). To redeem this offer, print the Opening Night tickets and present to the Mission staff at the Main Entrance.

Guests who attended Opening Night may not transfer their redeemed ticket from Saturday, December 7 to Capistrano Lights Nightly Program. We invite you to plan your return visit to Capistrano Light by joining the Mission Preservation Society, buying tickets online or pay admission to the Mission on the day of your visit. Prices for Capistrano Lights December 8 to January 6, 2020 are $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and $7 for children (ages 4-11). Capistrano Lights Nightly Program is a free event to Mission Preservation Society Members.

Serra’s Pantry Food Drive

November 18 – January 6, 2020
Spread goodwill and the spirit of Christmas by donating to the Serra’s Pantry Food Drive!

Drop off a food donation anytime during the holiday season to the Mission Gate House 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. or upon entry for Capistrano Lights.

The following items are usually in short supply and are much appreciated: cooking oil, cereal, tuna, one-pound bags of sugar and flour, peanut butter, jelly, dry pinto beans, canned vegetables and fruit, rice, spaghetti, spaghetti sauce and pop/flip top food items. Hygiene items in demand: toothpaste, deodorant, shaving cream, bar soap and toilet paper. Learn More About Serra’s Pantry

The Mission Store 

Capistrano Lights features holiday shopping for unique gifts, nativity scenes and beautiful handcrafted items from around the world. Visit the Mission Store and also the Mission Store Cart, a special extension of the Mission Store, located near the West gate area inside the Mission grounds.

Learn more about the Mission Store

12 Community Christmas Trees

Community Tree Sponsorship Program: This year to promote the entire community as part of our Capistrano Lights nightly tree lighting, we have ten community Christmas trees sponsored by key organizations in San Juan Capistrano. Each of these entities will have their very own Christmas tree at the Mission and will decorate it in a way to promote their service as well as contribute to an overall sense of good will to our visitors coming from all over the world. In the same spirit of Franciscan hospitality, these community groups as well as members of the Heritage Tourism Association, will contribute to a setting of inspiration during the holiday season. The trees will represent such important groups as:

  • Inn at the Mission
  • SEAS Productions
  • Mission Hospital
  • Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo
  • Home Front America
  • The Chamber of Commerce
  • San Juan Capistrano Rotary
  • San Juan Capistrano Historical Society
  • Fiesta Association
  • Buy My Bikes
  • St. Margaret’s Episcopal School
  • Mission Basilica School

We hope visitors will come see the Mission in lights, and leave with a sense of inspiration that our world famous Mission is known for.

Enjoy Historic San Juan Capistrano

Tree Lighting Ceremony

Capistrano Lights is part of a community-wide holiday celebration in San Juan Capistrano. Before and after visiting the Mission, plan an evening full of fun, festivity, and memories in historic San Juan Capistrano, home to the Jewel of the Missions.

Shopping and Dining in San Juan Capistrano: Enjoy a whole evening of holiday festivity, dining, and entertainment in beautiful, historic San Juan Capistrano. Many restaurants and shops are open late and offer special discounts or entertainment for this community-wide celebration. Check out our list of recommended restaurants here: Restaurant Members.

Download 2020 Downtown Map & Guide

2019 Sponsors 

Thank you to our 2019 Capistrano Lights Sponsors for their Generous Support.


Premier Sponsor

Coming in 2020!


Supporting Sponsors



Production Sponsors




Community Partners






For sponsorship opportunities, please contact the Events Department at (949) 234-1316.



Information about Capistrano Lights Opening Night December 7:

Celebrate the holidays with Mission San Juan Capistrano and join us for Capistrano Lights Opening Night on Saturday, December 7, 2019 from 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Enjoy a unique opportunity to experience the Mission at night where history meets holiday.  Bring the family and enjoy this fun, festive and memorable evening together at the beautiful Mission!

• Tree Lighting Ceremony
• Reading of the First Christmas
• Nativity in the Ruins of the Great Stone Church
• Capistrano Lights Cookie Decorating Kits by 3:16 Bakery Shop available for purchase
• New! Musical performances by The Filharmonic and The Goode Time Carolers
• Merry-achi Music by Mariachi Nuevo Capistrano
• Photo opportunities with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus
• Santa’s Workshop presented by AR Workshop SJC
• Visit the Serra Chapel open after hours, California’s most historic chapel
• Community Christmas Trees
• Tamales, Sweets & more!

Download Event Program for Capistrano Lights Opening Night: December 7

2019 Ticket Information

Admission tickets for Capistrano Lights Opening Night on Saturday, December 7th will be sold exclusively online beginning Monday, October 28 at 9:00 a.m. for Mission Members only. Become a Member to receive discounted ticket rates and access to the Member on-sale dates!

Admission tickets will go on sale to the general public beginning Friday, November 1 at 9:00 a.m.

Mission Members receive exclusive access to discounted admission tickets! In order to make tickets accessible to as many Mission Members as possible, Member tickets are limited according to membership level:

  • Individual Members: Two (2) discounted admission tickets
  • Household Members: Number of discounted admission tickets equivalent to the membership level (4-8)
  • Photography and Restaurant Members: Up to Four (4) discounted admission tickets
  • Supporting Members and above: Eight (8) discounted admission tickets

Members may purchase unlimited general admission tickets at full price.

PLEASE NOTE: Members must have an active membership to make an online purchase during the pre-sale. Memberships cannot be processed along with a purchase of admission tickets. For membership processing, please allow up to 48 hours to generate a membership ID number. An email notification will be sent when your member ID has been uploaded to the system.

Ticketing pricing is as follows:

Opening Night – December 7, 2019 (Pre-Sale – closed at 5:00 p.m. on December 5):

  • Mission Member:
    • $10 for Adults (ages 12-60)
    • $9 for Seniors
    • $5 for Children (ages 4-11)
  • Non-Member Public General:
    • $13 for Adults (ages 12-60)
    • $10 for Seniors
    • $7 for Children (ages 4-11)

Opening Night – December 7, 2019 (Day of the Event sold at the Mission Main Entrance on Ortega Highway only):

  • Mission Member:
    • $13 for Adults (ages 12-60)
    • $10 for Seniors
    • $7 for Children (ages 4-11)
  • Non-Member Public General:
    • $15 for Adults (ages 12-60)
    • $12 for Seniors
    • $10 for Children (ages 4-11) 

– Due to safety, capacity is limited for Capistrano Lights: Opening Night. There will be no re-entry to this event.

– On Saturday, December 7, the Mission grounds will be open for general admission at 9:00 a.m. and will close at 4:00 p.m. Doors will re-open at 5:30 p.m. for Capistrano Lights: Opening Night. General admission tickets purchased during the daytime visiting hours are not transferable to Capistrano Lights: Opening Night.

– Complimentary Guest Passes,  $5 Member Guests Tickets, CertifiKID, Gold Star, Groupon and Travel Zoo are not valid for Capistrano Lights: Opening Night.


Tree Lighting Ceremony width=

City of San Juan Capistrano’s Tree Lighting Ceremony: An annual tradition celebrated in Historic Town Center Park. Tree Lighting Ceremony begins at 4:00 p.m. on December 7 and is followed by a variety of free activities for families in the downtown walking area.

Download Program of Activities

Getting to San Juan Capistrano: There will be a free shuttle service in San Juan Capistrano from 3:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. for the Tree Lighting Ceremony & Festivities. The Metrolink is also a great way to get into town with a train station located just two blocks from the Mission. Please refer to the Metrolink website to check train schedules: Metrolink

2019 Food Vendors for Capistrano Lights on December 7:

Las Golondrinas Mexican Food

Savory Tamales

3:16 Bakery Shop

Cookie decorating kits, sweets and homemade hot cocoa