If you need to fill up a monthly to-do list, you’ve come to the right place.
This December in Los Angeles, catch Astra Lumina at South Coast Botanic Garden, Santa’s Speedway in Irwindale, Holiday Tours at the Gamble House, CicLAvia in South L.A., a Beastie Boys EXHIBIT at Beyond the Streets, a Black Comics Festival at CAAM, the Grand Park New Years Eve Celebration, and more. Lots to cram in before 2023… now let’s start planning!
Things To Do in December
Official City of Santa Monica Holiday Tree Lighting (December 1) -> Christmas comes to the Third Street Promenade for the annual holiday lighting of a 24-foot-tall tree. Expect performances by local school groups, free photos with Santa, and a snowy surprise to round out the evening. Runs 6 to 8 p.m. Free to attend. More info here.
MOCA Together Thursdays (December 1 & 8) -> MOCA Together Thursdays offer free admission, special programming, extended hours, and shuttle service between the two MOCA Downtown campuses. Shuttle runs from 4 to 8 p.m. Make sure you reserve your free tickets to MOCA Geffen and MOCA Grand in advance. Get more info here.
Hot Chocolate Nutcracker (December 1-4) -> Debbie Allen Dance Academy (DADA) presents its award-winning production of “Hot Chocolate Nutcracker” at Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. The highly-anticipated performance follows a young girl, Kara as she steps into a land of wonder journeying to fantastical places such as Candy Cane Land, Egypt, the Indian Rainforest/Bollywood, Jazzland, Russia and the Land of the Kimono Dolls. Tickets range $50 to $125. More info here.
Santa’s Speedway (December 1 to January 1) -> A holiday walk built around real-life Nascar track in Irwindale, filled with series of Christmas vignettes and lighting displays, including a Santa’s Village, a 30-foot high Teddy Bear, and a 110-foot free standing Christmas tree. Tickets range $29-$35 for adults. The experience runs 5 days a week through New Year’s Day. Get more info here.
ICE at Santa Monica (through January 16, 2023) -> Get into the winter spirit with ICE at Santa Monica. Open daily from noon to 10 p.m. tickets cost $20 per person for all day entrance. More info here.
Tree Lighting at Pasadena City Hall (December 2)-> Pasadena City Hall gets the holiday treatment with a special tree lighting ceremony hosted by the mayor of Pasadena. The celebration features local singers and dancers, crafts for kids provided by Armory Center for the Arts, light refreshments, and an appearance by Santa Claus. Runs to 5 to 7 p.m., with the lighting taking place at 6 p.m. Free to attend. More info here.
Season’s Screamings (December 2-4) -> If all you want for Christmas is more Halloween horror, head to the Season’s Screamings convention in Pasadena, which is put together by the same folks that host the annual Midsummer Scream Convention. The three-day affair features haunted attractions, spooky shopping, and photo ops with celebrity guests. GA tickets run $30-$37.50 depending on day of entry. Get more info here.
Winter Parks After Dark (December 2-17) -> L.A. County’s Parks After Dark program returns for the winter season with extended hours and free recreational activities and winter entertainment at 31 LA County parks, spread over two weeks in December. Get more info here.
Venice Sign Lighting and Holiday Block Party (December 3) -> The Venice Sign is getting the holiday treatment, and to celebrate the occasion a portion of Windward Avenue will be closed down for a street festival, staged entertainment, and public exhibits. The event starts at 6:15 p.m., and is free to attend. Get more info here.
Open House: The Legacy of Cacao (December 3) -> LA Plaza de Cultura’s latest exhibition traces the origins of chocolate from its first reference by the Olmec civilization more than 2,000 years ago to present day through a series of precolonial objects and contemporary photographs. During the open house event, conchas and hot chocolate will be served and variety of chocolate and chocolate-related goods will be sold at LA Plaza’s Cocina’s store. Starts at noon. Free to attend. More info here.
The Groundlings’ Cozy Winter Cabin The Holiday Show (December 2-17) -> Grab tickets for Cozy Winter Cabin and laugh your way through the holiday season. The all-new comedy sketch show takes place every Friday and Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Tickets range between $22-$28 each. More info here.
Deck the Hall at Disney Concert Hall (December 3-31) -> LA Phil’s holiday programming at the Walt Disney Concert Hall kicks off with a festive sing-along on December 3 (two performances), followed by The Nutcracker with Dudamel (multiple dates), Home Alone screenings with the score performed live to picture (December 20-22), and a swinging holiday concert with Arturo Sandoval (December 23). The season wraps up with a New Year’s Eve bash featuring The Roots. Get more info on the full slate here.
Holiday Party at Thinkspace (December 3) -> Thinkspace Projects will host a December opening reception for four new exhibitions that will double as a holiday party featuring DJ’d tunes, an open bar, video projections, a vape bar, tamales, an art mart curated by GoopMassta, and a toy drive. Event runs 6 to 10 p.m. Free to attend. Get more info here.
Prosperity Market (December 3) -> Prosperity Market stops by The Original Farmers Market to feature goods from Black farmers, food producers, entrepreneurs, artists, florists, and chefs. Happening 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. the market also includes a kids craft station and DJ music. Free to attend. More info here.
The South Lake Avenue HOLIDAYFEST! (December 3) -> Pasadena’s South Lake Avenue kicks off the holiday season with family-friendly activities around the district. The public will enjoy live music, raffles, free photos with Santa, arts and crafts including snow globe making stations, plus in-store promotions. Free to attend. More info here.
Yuletide Cinemaland (December 3-23) -> The Holiday series put on by Street Food Cinema offers a festive outdoor movie screening experience a Heritage Square Museum with mulled wine, sing a-longs, a cameo by Santa, snow dancing, a holiday light show, a market place and Victorian home tours. Tickets coast $36 for adults and $20 for kids 6-15 years-old. More info here.
Lightscape at The L.A. Arboretum (various dates through January 8) -> The L.A. Arboretum’s annual lights display brightens up the holiday season with a one-mile trail of installations and twinkling displays. GA adult tickets range $37-$39, depending on the date selected for purchase. Get more info here.
Enchanted: Forest of Light (various dates through January 8) -> Descanso Gardens’ annual light is back this November with a range of wondrous, illuminated installations, including a magical “stained glass” creations built in the Rose Garden by contemporary sculptor Tom Fruin. The one-mile walk also features geometric installations from HYBYCOZO on the Main Lawn; Flower Power lights, and sparkling adornments added to Descanso’s Ancient Forest. Tickets cost $34-$40 for non-member adults. More info here.
Winter Fest in the OC (various dates through January 1) -> Winter Fest returns to the OC Fair & Event Center for 26 days and nights of family-friendly entertainment, including outdoor ice skating, a nine-lane 150-foot-long ice tubing slide, ice bumper cars, and LED mini golf, plus nightly Holiday celebration featuring snow flurries and Santa appearances. Pre-sale tickets (available through November 24) start as low as $14.95 for kids, and $19.95 for adults. Get more info here.
L.A. Zoo Lights (various dates through January 22) -> The Los Angeles Zoo’s brightest annual tradition will transform the zoo grounds into a world of light and holiday magic. The after-hours event offers brightly lit displays and festive family-friendly experience every night throughout the entire holiday season. Adult tickets range from $34-$39, depending on the desired date to attend. More info here.
Lights on Parade (various dates through January 1) -> One of the most elaborate home lighting displays of the holiday season is back in Sherman Oaks. Resident Mike Ziemkowski has a brand new edition of Lights on Display for 2022, but per usual you’ll find an elaborate mix of computer controlled lighting, DMX controlled intelligent light, and a bevy of animatronic characters synched to a pre-programmed playlist of holiday tunes. The experience is free to check out, and will run Wednesday to Sunday through New Year’s Day. Get more info here.
Pershing Square Holiday Ice (daily through New Year’s Day) -> The 7,200 square foot skating rink in the heart of DTLA is back for the holiday season. GA tickets, including skate rental, cost $20 for adults. The rink runs daily through New Year’s Day. Get more info here.
Ice Santa Monica (daily through January 16) -> Downtown Santa Monic’a Ice brings 8,000-square-foot pop-up rink to the corner of Fifth Street and Arizona Avenue, running daily through January 16, 2022. Skate rental and all-day admission runs $20 per person. Get more info here.
Holiday Road (various dates through December 30)-> Holiday Road returns to King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas for its third year, bringing a 1-mile walking trail of immersive scenes and holiday-themed activities for all to enjoy. The experience continues on select dates through December 30. Tickets range from $29.99-$44.99. Get more info here.
Breakfast with Santa at Loews Santa Monica (December 4) -> Santa is making a stop in Santa Monica for a festive breakfast buffet at Loews. The morning also includes photos with Santa, reindeer antler making kits for kids and mimosas for adults 21+. Reservations can be made on Resy and cost $85 for adults, $45 for children under 10 and free for kids under 3. More info here.
A Snowy Wonderland in Inglewood (December 4) -> Crenshaw Imperial Plaza hosts an afternoon of snow sledding and snow play with a real snowman, angel painting and kids crafts, caroling choir, holiday family portraits, raffle prizes, free giveaways and more. Runs noon to 4 p.m. Free to attend. More info here.
Nightmare Before Christmas at The Hammer (December 4) -> The Hammer Museum’s Family Flicks series wraps up 2022 with a mid-morning screening of A Nightmare Before Christmas. Free to attend, but parking is $7. Be sure to check out the museum galleries after you enjoy the film. Get more info here.
CicLAvia – South LA (December 4) -> L.A.’s signature open streets event carves out 7+ miles of walkable/bikeable road in South L.A. this December, with a route from ranges from Exposition Park to Watts. This time around, organizers have put together a quick list of landmarks and local gems you can spot along the way, including the Central Ave Jazz Park and The Dunbar Hotel. The event runs 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free to attend. Get more info here.
Outdoor Movie Night at Jamaica Bay Inn (December 4-18) -> Jamaica Bay Inn in Marina del Rey hosts Christmas themed free movie screenings on their beachfront lawn. Screenings start at dusk and take place December 4, 11 and 18. More info here.
How Can Women and Girls Win Iran? (December 6) -> The latest talk from Zócalo Public Square tackles the issue of government oppression in Iran, focusing on women’s role in the resistance and how they figure into building a more democratic future. The panel features Iran analyst Holly Dagres, artist Sahar Ghorishi, and anthropologist Pardis Mahdavi. After the talk, stick around for complimentary beverages and small bites. Starts at 7 p.m. Free to attend. More info here.
Halo Holiday Market (December 7) -> The Halo Holiday Market is an all-day bazaar featuring local makers, artists, and brands, right in the heart of DTLA. Shop one-of-a-kind gifts from handmade jewelry and artist prints to self-care products and gourmet sweets. Free to attend, the market runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. More info here.
Astra Lumina: An Enchanted Night Walk Amongst The Stars (December 8 to January 15) -> The South Coast Botanic Garden morphs into a multi-sensory celestial pathway where guests will walk amongst the stars thanks to brilliant lights, cosmic visions, and astral song. Astra Lumina is the 17th experience in the Lumina Night Walk series created by Moment Factory. Adult tickets start at $29 and there’s an additional fee for parking. More info here.
Kindred: A Gallery Through Time (December 8-9) -> A two-day pop-up event takes inspiration from the new FX original series Kindred (adapted from the novel Octavia E. Butler), which streams on HULU beginning December 13. The experience bridges the temporal gap between modern day Los Angeles and nineteenth-century Southern United States through a collection of works from emerging black artists and designers, contrasted again a presentation of historic culinary items. Free to attend. RSVP and get more info here.
100th Annual Christmas Tree Lane Lighting Ceremony and Winter Festival (December 10) -> Every year, Altadena’s one-mile stretch of Deodar Cedars gets decked out in holiday lights, and to mark the beginning of the 2022 transformation, there will be family-friendly festival at Altadena Library featuring food, drink, and arts and crafts vendors. Free to attend. More info here.
Marina Del Rey Holiday Boat Parade (December 10) -> More than 40 boats are expected to participate, each adorned with holiday lights displays. The public can enjoy from viewing spots at Burton Chace Park and Fisherman’s Village. More info here.
Annual Redondo Beach Holiday Concert on the Pier (December 10) -> The 12th Annual Redondo Beach Holiday Concert on the Pier will take place in Fisherman’s Wharf from 2 to 4 p.m. and will include kid friendly activities, live holiday music, giveaways, selfie stations and a charity toy drive. Free to attend. More info here.
Black Comics Festival (December 10) -> A keynote conversation between Black Panther director Ryan Coogler and screenwriter/novelist Aaron Covington headlines CAAM’s Black Comics Festival. You can also expect an all-day comics marketplace, children’s activities, and food trucks with bites for purchase. Entry is free. Runs 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. More info here.
Valley Cultural Foundation’s 2nd Annual Holiday Arts & Music Festival (December 10) -> Enjoy some holiday fun during the Valley Cultural Foundation’s 2nd Annual Holiday Arts & Music Festival. There will be plenty to do including free photos with Santa, snow play, small business shopping, food trucks, crafts for kids, holiday music and a special “Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz” performance by nationally renowned Judy Garland impressionist Elaine Horn. Free to attend. More info here.
Come Up Markets (December 10) -> Come up Markets will host a holiday market at FIGat7th in DTLA. Get ahead of your holiday shopping while supporting Black businesses this season. Expect vintage goods, handmade gifts to plant-based self care. Free to attend. More info here.
Jackalope Pasadena (December 10-11) -> Indie craft market Jackalope heads to Downtown Burbank for a two-day, pop-up marketplace featuring over 180 vendors offering indie goods, accessories, jewelry, art, home decor, and more. Free to attend. Runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. More info here.
Beastie Boys EXHIBIT at Beyond the Streets (December 10 to January 13) -> Beyond the Streets and CONTROL Gallery have teamed up to create the most comprehensive Beastie Boys exhibition ever assembled in Los Angeles, which includes never-before-seen historical artifacts, ephemera, and photographs. EXHIBIT will be on view at the BTS flagship location on La Brea Ave starting December 10, and is free to visit. However, you’ll have to reserve advance tickets here.
LA3C (December 10-11) -> Music festival LA3C takes over the Los Angeles State Historic Park with dozens of performances including TOKiMONSTA, Megan Thee Stallion, Cuco and Snoop Dog. The food line up includes locals GOGO’s tacos, Heritage LA, Ramen Hood and more. Tickets start at $99. More info here.
Conscious Holiday Market (December 10) -> Shop 40+ local vendors right on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade. Free to attend the pop up market includes goods from sustainability focused brands, free workouts with Fit Girl Club, holiday tunes and Santa. More info here.
El Segundo Holiday Parade (December 11) -> The 58th Annual El Segundo Holiday Parade is taking it back to the groovier times of the 70’s with a magical display of festive cheer from local schools and organizations, marching bands, vintage cars, businesses and floats. The parade takes place from 1 to 3 p.m., with a route that begins on Main Street at Imperial Avenue and proceeds south to El Segundo Blvd. Free to attend. More info here.
Holiday Tours at the Gamble House (December 11) -> For just one day the Gamble House will be dressed in festive decorations and live seasonal music will takeover the space while the public explore the architectural gem. The Gamble House Bookstore will also be open for holiday shopping. Reservations are required for docent-led tours from noon to 2:30 p.m. and cost $15 for adults and $12.50 for Seniors, students, and children 13-18 years old. Free self-guided tours of the first floor take place 4-7 p.m. and are stand-by entry only. More info here.
Pacific Opera Project’s La bohème (December 12-14) -> The Pacific Opera Project brings three nights of hipster opera to two separate L.A. breweries this December. First on December 12, catch a performance of La bohème at Benny Boy Brewing ($20 tickets and includes one drink ticket). Then on December 13-14, the production pops up at Angel City Brewery (free to attend, no reservations required). More info here.
Four Roses Old Fashioned Film Night (December 14) -> Four Roses Bourbon will host a free and festive movie screening at the Million Dollar Theater in DTLA. Guests get to sip on craft cocktails, snack on Kentucky inspired concessions and enjoy the classic holiday movie A Christmas Story. More info here.
CAAM Kuumba Kwanzaa Celebration (December 17) -> Celebrate Kuumba, the Kwanzaa principle of creativity, with a special afternoon of storytelling and zine making at the California African American Museum featuring songs, puppetry, and interactive programs. All ages. Free to attend. Runs 1 to 3 p.m. More info here.
Open Stage at The Elysian (December 17) -> The Elysian Theater in Frogtown offers an open invite for performers looking to workshop their ensemble (meaning two or more people) material to a live audience. And even if you’re not a performer, you can attend for free to see what weird/inventive/hilarious stuff locals have been working on. Plus, there will be free pizza for all who perform/attend for an hour before the show begins. Doors open at 1:30 p.m, performances start at 2:30 p.m. Get more info here.
Hanukkah Festival at Skirball (December 18) -> Beloved klezmer rockers Mostly Kosher headline this year’s festival with support from Dublab DJ Callie Ryan and dance leaders Bruce Bierman and Gilberto Melendez. Plus, the Skirball Storytellers bring the Hanukkah story to life with a theatrical performance featuring puppetry, and a community candle lighting at sunset. GA tickets are $18. Get more info here.
LA County Holiday Celebration (December 24) -> The 63rd annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration returns live to The Music Center with a diverse lineup of L.A.-based performers, including choral groups, dance troupes and local artists. If you can’t make it out for the show, remember the performance will also be broadcast on PBS SoCal and streamed live on pbssocal.org. More info here.
New Years Eve Fireworks & GLOW Party at Marina del Rey (December 31) -> Celebrate the New Year with fireworks in Marina del Rey! Enjoy a ten-minute fireworks show, at 8:59 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. The shows will be shot from the Marina’s south jetty and can be viewed from virtually anywhere in Marina del Rey. The free family-friendly Glow Party takes place at Burton Chace Park, 7 p.m. to midnight. More info here.
Grand Park New Years Eve Celebration (December 31) -> Take part in Los Angeles’ flagship NYE celebration with music across two stages in Grand Park, 3D light projections and a light show projected onto City Hall. More info here.
Prohibition NYE (December 31) -> Ring in the New Year at Prohibition. The event, now in its ninth year, will see L.A.’s Union Station transformed into a massive entertainment hub featuring burlesque shows, a live jazz ensemble and headliners Neil Frances and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. Tickets range from $195 for general admission to a VIP table for four people for $3000. More info here.
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