Huge blue whales are illuminated around Dana Point harbor to kick off the holiday season and just in time a real blue whale even appeared.

Dana Point is home to the Whale Festival, is North America’s premier whale heritage site, and has been declared the Dolphin and Whale Watching Capital of the World. So it’s a tradition in the city to celebrate whales and it wouldn’t be a real vacation if they weren’t the star of the show.

This year, the port operator, Dana Point Harbor Partners, the group that undertakes the $ 330 million land and river renovations of the port, installed 700,000 LED lights in a holiday display that attracts visitors every year who visit walk around the harbor and stop to take photos. Besides the giant glittering whales, there are illuminated palm trees, Christmas trees, a giant Adirondack chair and the famous “Merry Kiss Me” arch.

  • A couple kiss on the first night of the 47th Holiday Harbor Lights at Dana Point on Wednesday, November 17, 2021. (Photo by Patrick Smith, Contributing Photographer)

  • A young girl performs alongside the giant whale show during the first night of the 47th Holiday Harbor Lights at Dana Point on Wednesday, November 17, 2021. (Photo by Patrick Smith, Contributing Photographer)

  • Holiday lights shine on the first night of the 47th Holiday Harbor Lights at Dana Point on Wednesday, November 17, 2021. (Photo by Patrick Smith, Contributing Photographer)

  • Holiday lights shine on the first night of the 47th Holiday Harbor Lights at Dana Point on Wednesday, November 17, 2021. (Photo by Patrick Smith, Contributing Photographer)

  • The giant letters of the #happyharbordays display located near the Dana Point Harbor entrance at Golden Lantern and Dana Point Harbor Drive welcome visitors to the 47th Holiday Harbor Lights in Dana Point on Wednesday, November 17, 2021. (Photo by Patrick Smith , Photographer contributor)

  • A blue whale was sighted just off the Dana Point Headlands on Saturday, November 20. (Photo courtesy of Captain Dave Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari)

  • A blue whale was sighted just off the Dana Point Headlands on Saturday, November 20. (Photo courtesy of Captain Dave Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari)

In addition to the fun, on Saturday, November 20, whale watchers aboard Capt. Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari had an extra treat when they got to see a real live blue whale.

The juggernaut – a rare sighting at this time of year – was spotted in just 400 feet of water by a passenger aboard the Manute’a catamaran. The last observation recorded in November by the charter dates back to 2011.

Gray Friday, dubbed an alternative to Black Friday by harbor whale watching charters, celebrates the start of the gray whale migration season. Each year, gray whales begin their journey from Alaska to their birth and breeding grounds in Baja.

Capt. Dave’s and Dana Wharf Whale Watching & Sportfishing will offer tours to search for gray whales. Dana Wharf will also begin its cruises at Dana Harbor, where attendees will have the opportunity to see the festive harbor lighting from the water.

Other holiday activities are planned:

A Menorah Lighting Ceremony will take place at 4 p.m. on November 28 at the Baby Beach Fishing Pier.

The annual Light Boat Parade has a “Fiesta Vacation” theme this year. The parade begins at 7:30 p.m. on December 10 and 11 and at 6:30 p.m. on December 12.

Christmas carolers dressed in ugly Christmas sweaters will entertain the crowds from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Thursday in December before Christmas.

And don’t miss an unforgettable moment with Santa Claus, who will be spending time in the Cour de l’Horloge from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on December 10 and 11.

If you’d rather take a photo with Santa on the water, Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching will also be hosting their annual Santa Boat Rides from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on December 4-5. The harbor cruise is accompanied by a donation of $ 5 with proceeds supporting the Soroptimist of Capistrano Bay.