Dana Point Harbor's Adorable ‘Merry Kiss Me' Arch Is Back

The bulb-tastic boat parade is sailing in the area later in December, but on-shore visitors will be treated to bright on-shore sights over several nights.

Dana Point Harbor Partners

What to Know

  • See sparkling on-shore lights, including the popular "Merry Kiss Me" arch, for free by visiting the harbor area; parking is additional
  • The Boat Parade of Lights sails on Dec. 10, 11, and 12
  • Holiday carolers rocking ugly sweaters will stroll on three Thursday evenings: Dec. 9, 16, and 23

Perhaps you're the sort of person who really enjoys a contrast at Christmastime.

You like a chilled cocktail followed by a hot-from-the-oven cookie. You love a weepy holiday flick and then a laugh-a-minute seasonal sitcom, the sort of show that is rife with rollicking twists.

And when it comes to lights, the sort of dazzle-'em-up displays that are full of wonder and wattage? You're super-into those, too, but especially when they're next to a powerful place that is famously unlit.

We're talking about the ethereal and deep expanses of the ocean, of course, but then you knew that when we said the word "powerful," surely.

And getting the opportunity to savor sparkle just steps away from the Pacific is truly the ultimate trip into the amazing land of Christmas contrasts.

Dana Point Harbor provides the sparkle, twinkle, and illuminated oomph each year, oomph that is made extra-oomphy by its placement near the Pacific.

And that oomph is now on eye-wowza display as December 2021 begins, giving visitors seeking seasonal splendor that's steps from the surf lots to soak up.

Look for over 700,000 LED lights around the water-close area, points of prettiness that add splendor to all sorts of scenes, including "... giant whale sculptures, lighted palm trees, Christmas trees, a giant Adirondack chair, and the popular 'Merry Kiss Me' arch."

All of these spots are free to visit, though parking in the harbor area may be additional.

Ebullient events will up the aqua-tastic aura of the harbor area over select December evenings. If you're visiting on Dec. 9, 16, or 23 — yep, they're all Thursdays — you'll encounter a caboodle of carolers rocking their ugliest holiday sweaters.

Oh yes: And the Boat Parade of Lights sets sail nightly from Dec. 10 through 12. "Fiesta Holiday" is the theme, and there are prizes aplenty for the participants, in several cheerful categories.

One of the best parts for people viewing the on-the-water procession? How nicely the boats' bulbs glimmer off the ocean's surface, another interesting contrast to appreciate.

And this is as sweet as the "Merry Kiss Me" arch is charming: If you post your Dana Point Harbor pictures on Instagram through Dec. 22, 2021, and tag them with #HolidaysattheHarbor, you'll be entered to possibly-maybe-fingers-crossed win a Dana Point Harbor-themed goodie package.

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