Christmas at the Mission

Event Info
Capistrano Lights


Food Drive

Mission Store
Food Vendors
Downtown San Juan Capistrano & Tree Lighting


Event Info

Celebrate the holidays with Mission San Juan Capistrano for the first ever Christmas Tree Lighting program as part of the long-standing annual Christmas at the Mission event on Saturday, December 1, 2018 from 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.  Bring the family and enjoy this fun, festive and memorable evening together at the beautiful Mission! The new Tree Lighting Program begins with a 7 p.m. special reading of “The First Christmas” by Mission Pastor, Monsignor. J. Michael McKiernan. The Program includes holiday carols, music and a light program at 7:15 p.m. and again at 7:45 p.m.

As part of the annual tradition, the event will feature live performances in its Central Courtyard that include Dickens-era carolers, a local orchestra, and mariachis playing “Merry-achi music of the season.” On the food front, there will be savory tamales offered by San Juan Capistrano’s Las Golondrinas restaurant as well as hot cocoa and sweet treats provided by 3:16 Bakery Shop, both San Juan Capistrano local businesses offering snacks for a nominal price.

Children can enjoy the chance to decorate a holiday cookie with Mrs. Claus and take selfies with Father Christmas in the historic Sala. Guests have the option to write holiday messages on a Mission postcard to be mailed to service men and women who are away from their families during the holiday season.

Check back soon for our full schedule of events for 2018!

Download the 2017 Christmas at the Mission Event Program 

Download your own 2017 Christmas at the Mission Flier 

Information for 2017 Performers and Performers’ Parents

View 2017 Christmas at the Mission photos



Admission is FREE for the following groups:

  • Mission Members with Reserved Online Ticket. Reserve online beginning November 1*
  • Parish Members with Active Parish Pass
  • Mission Volunteers with I.D. Badges
  • Active Military with I.D. Card – Free military prayer coin for military personnel

*Due to safety, capacity is limited. Admission ticket is required.

Mission Members attend Christmas at the Mission for FREE and receive 10% off at the Mission Store all year. Join now! Join or renew your membership now to make sure you receive your membership ID card in time for the event!

Ticket Policy Regarding Rain
Please Note: Christmas at the Mission will be held rain or shine. Ticket purchases for Christmas at the Mission are final. No refunds, exchanges or transfers will be honored. Thank you for your understanding. If you are unable to attend Christmas at the Mission, 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.

Capistrano Lights
December 2 – January 6, 2019

After Christmas at the Mission, join us all month long for a new tradition!

The Mission will host Capistrano Lights 2018: a nightly tree lighting at 5:00 p.m. The Mission’s new nightly lighting and music program will be held from December 2 through January 6, 2019. Guests must be on the grounds before closing at 5 p.m. to enjoy the lighting experience. After the Mission closes, guests can take their complimentary downtown San Juan Capistrano map and discover the historic downtown district with plenty of holiday shopping, dining, and wine tasting all season long.

Additionally, throughout December weekends, families will also have the chance to meet and take “selfies with Santa or Mrs. Claus” in the historic Sala building on December 8, 9, 15, 16, and 22, 2018. Both the nightly tree lighting and weekend holiday fun are free for Mission Members or with paid admission to the Mission as part of our holiday programming. Learn more.


Check back soon for our full schedule of events for 2018!


Serra’s Pantry Food Drive

November 19 – December 19, 2018
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 Christmas at the Mission.

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

Mission Store

Christmas at the Mission 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 Trunk Show, a special extension of the Mission Store located in the recently conserved Sala Building inside the Mission grounds.

Learn more about the Mission Store

Food Vendors

Check back soon for our full list of food vendors for 2018!


Enjoy Historic San Juan Capistrano

Tree Lighting Ceremony
Christmas at the Mission 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.

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 4:15 p.m. on December 1st and is followed by a variety of free activities for families in the downtown walking area. Check back soon for full program of activities.

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.

Plan your visit by clicking here for San Juan Capistrano Historic Downtown 2018 Map & Guide

Getting to San Juan Capistrano: There will be a free shuttle service in San Juan Capistrano from 3:30 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. for the Tree Lighting Ceremony & Festivities. Click here for details: Shuttle Service Map. The Metrolink is also a great way to get into town with a train station located just two blocks from the Mission. Click here to check train schedules: Metrolink.

Thank You to Our 2017 Sponsors for their Generous Support

Click here to see 2017 Christmas at the Mission Sponsorship Opportunities

Holiday Cheer – Entertainment Sponsors:

Eve and Mike Ruffatto

San Juan Hills Golf Club


Santa’s Workshop – Activities Sponsor:

Laura and James Baratta


Thank You to Our Event Partners for Their Generous Gift-In-Kind Support


Baked in the Sun
Baked in the Sun

DM Color Express
DM Color Express Inc.

Shine! Lighting

Sierra Springs Water Company
Sierra Springs Water Company

Signature Party Rentals
Signature Party Rentals

For sponsorship opportunities, please contact the Events Department at (949) 234-1317.