The holiday season is in full swing and southern California with its miles of sandy beaches and palm tree lined streets is no exception. There are so many holiday events taking place here, one can barely squeeze everything into a mere month.
One of my favorite places to visit during the holidays is the city of Long Beach, California.
Long Beach is recognized as the home of the Queen Mary, a passenger luxury liner that departed Southampton, England on May 27, 1936 on her maiden voyage. For three years following her initial voyage, the Queen Mary was the grandest ocean liner in the world carrying Hollywood celebrities, royalty and dignitaries. However, when the Queen Mary docked in New York in September 1939 it would be the last time she would carry civilian passengers for many years.
As World War II started, the Queen Mary was transformed into a troopship. She was painted a camouflaged grey color and stripped of her luxurious amenities. Dubbed the “Grey Ghost” because of her stealth and stark color, the Queen Mary was the largest and fastest troopship to sail, capable of transporting as many as 16,000 troops at 30 knots. After the end of WWII, the Queen Mary began a 10-month retrofitting process, which would return the ship to her original glory. On July 21, 1947, the Queen Mary resumed regular passenger service across the Atlantic Ocean, and continued to do so for nearly two more decades.
The increasing popularity of air travel helped signal the end of an era for the Queen Mary. By 1965 the entire Cunard fleet was operating at a loss and they decided to retire and sell the legendary Queen Mary. On October 31, 1967, the Queen Mary departed on her final cruise, arriving in Long Beach, California, on December 9, 1967. She has called Southern California her home ever since. The Queen Mary is now a floating Hotel, Attraction and Event & Wedding Venue, home to three world-class restaurants and an icon in Southern California.
Beginning in the last week of November and running through the first week of January, Queen Mary hosts Chill, southern California’s only frozen holiday adventure. The interactive event features ice sculptures, an outdoor skating rink, holiday themed entertainment, food, live music and carolers.
This year, the second annual Chill event began on November 22nd and will run through January 5, 2014!
Location: 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach, CA 90802
The ice sculptures are housed within the giant dome outside of the Queen Mary which was once home to the legendary Spruce Goose. Once inside, guests don warm blue parkas and gloves before entering the awe inspiring Ice Kingdom exhibit. Temperatures inside the exhibit drop to a numbing 9 degrees! But you will be more than willing to brave the cold temperatures in order to see the larger than life ice creations, some towering over 2.5 stories tall. Two million pounds of ice were used to create these amazing ice sculptures!
After the Ice Kingdom exhibit, go aboard the Queen Mary for a quick self-guided tour. The ship will be decorated for the holidays and you will be transported to a bygone era as you walk her decks and hallways.
There will be plenty of opportunities for holiday photos!