Capistrano Lights

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


Capistrano Lights
Saturday, December 7, 2019 – Monday, January 6, 2020


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. No 5:00 p.m. tree lighting and music program on Monday, December 24, 2018, Tuesday, December 25, 2018, and Monday, December 31, 2018.

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. Featuring an 18th century St. Nicholas. Event dates are December 8, 9, 15, 16, and 22, 2018 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. 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.

For more fun, join us for Winter Break: Crafts and Activities for Kids. This event will be offered daily starting Saturday, December 22 to Sunday, January 6, 2019., nominal fee in addition to paid admission. Nominal fee to Mission Members.

Winter Crafts on Weekdays 11:00 .m. to 1:00 p.m. Adobe Brick Making, Arrowhead Necklace and an Alternate Craft. $5 per craft/activity for non-members. $3 for Mission Members. Bundle price for all three crafts is $10 per person for non-members. $5 per Mission Members.

Weekends 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Adobe Brick Making, Arrowhead Necklace, and Panning for Gold. $5 per craft/activity for non-members. $3 for Mission Members. Bundle price for all three crafts is $10 per person for non-members. $5 per Mission Member.

*There is no Capistrano Lights Program on Monday, December 24, 2018, Tuesday, December 25, 2018, and Monday, December 31, 2018

*There is no Winter Crafts on Monday, December 24, 2018 and Tuesday, December 25, 2018.

Capistrano Lights 2018 Opening Night 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 for a nominal charge 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.

Download Event Program
Download Event Flyer
View 2017 Christmas at the Mission photos

2018 Tickets

Admission is $7 per adult, senior and child (ages 4-11). Children 3 years and under are free. Admission tickets will be sold exclusively online starting Thursday, November 1 at 9:00 a.m.

Admission is FREE for the following groups:

  • Mission Members with Reserved Online Ticket. RESERVED TICKETS SOLD OUT*
    • Number of free tickets allowed per membership is as follows:
      • Individual level: up to 2 tickets
      • Households of 4 to 8 may reserve the number of tickets equivalent to the membership level.
      • Photography and Restaurant levels: up to 4 tickets
      • Business Partnership, Supporting and Supporting Plus levels: up to 8 tickets
      • Corporate, Patron and Philanthropy levels: up to 10 tickets
  • Mission Volunteers with Reserved Online Ticket. RESERVED TICKETS SOLD OUT*

After November 30, event tickets will be sold onsite at the Mission Gate House*

  • $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and $7 for children (ages 4-11).
  • $5 per person for Mission Members.

*Due to safety, capacity is limited. There will be no re-entry to this event. 

*On December 1st, the Mission grounds will be open for general admission from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Mission grounds will close at 4:00 p.m. Doors will re-open at 5:30 p.m. for Christmas at the Mission. General admission tickets purchased during the daytime visiting hours are not transferable to Christmas at the Mission.

*Complimentary Guest Passes, CertifiKID, Gold Star, Groupon and Travel Zoo are not valid for Christmas at the Mission. 

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.


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 Cart, a special extension of the Mission Store located near the West gate area inside the Mission grounds.

Learn more about the Mission Store

Food Vendors

Las Golondrinas Mexican Food


3:16 Bakery Shop

Sweets and hot cocoa

Hawaiian Delight

Snow cones and cotton candy

*Our Food Vendors will be accepting cash and credit card payments.*

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.

Download 2019 Downtown Map & Guide

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.  Click here for details about 2018 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. Please refer to the Metrolink website to check train schedules: Metrolink.

2018 Sponsors

Thank you to our 2018 Christmas at the Mission Sponsors for their Generous Support.




Laura and James Baratta


DM Color Express


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