You can quibble about whether L.A. has seasons (we say it does) but one thing you can’t argue is that there are A LOT of people around these parts who love Christmas How do we know? Well, let’s just say you should see our email inbox.
That said, we’ve sorted through a mountain of submissions, made our list, and checked it twice. Here’s what we came up with.
Holiday Events & Things To Do
LA County Tree Lightning at the Music Center (November 28) -> The annual Los Angeles County tree lighting event returns live and in person for the first time since the pandemic, featuring a special performance by Urban Voices Project. Arrive early to this free public event to enjoy live music beginning 15 minutes prior to the ceremony, snow flurries and complimentary hot chocolate! Starts at 5 p.m. Get more info here.
Union Station Holiday Tree Lighting (November 29) -> 7th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at Union Station takes place at the South Patio, where guests will enjoy live music from the Kingston Ska Collective and Grupo Bella, plus live sketching by illustrator Joey Mason, family-friendly holiday activities, and a free hot cocoa and holiday cookie bar. Free to attend. 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.
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.
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.
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.
The Groundlings’ Cozy Winter Cabin The Holiday Show -> 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 through December 17. Tickets range between $22-$28 each. 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.
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.
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.
LUMINARIA at Campo de Cahuenga (December 4) -> Get a little history lesson with your holiday festivities at this free LUMINARIA event at Campo de Cahuenga in Studio City. Enjoy live performances, light refreshments, a 2000 light selfie station, and children’s art activities. Plus, tour the small museum onsite where you can learn about the Treaty of Cahuenga, which ended the fighting of the Mexican-American War within Alta California. Free to attend. No ticket required. Runs 3 to 7 p.m. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Display (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.
Snow Flurries (every night through Christmas) -> Both the Americana on Brand and The Grove offer nightly snow flurries at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. through Christmas Day. Get more info here.
Need holiday shopping ideas and want to support somewhere local? Here are few holiday pop-up markets to keep on your radar:
- Prosperity Market comes to the Original Farmers Market on December 3
- Pickwick Vintage Market pops up at ROW DTLA December 3
- Halo in DTLA hosts a holiday marketplace on December 7
- Jackalope comes to Burbank December 10-11
- 2nd & PCH hosts Creative Communal Market on December 17-18)
- The Smorgasburg Holiday Market runs every Sunday through December 18.
Holiday Movie Screenings
It goes without saying that movies play a huge part in many holiday family traditions. If you want to make a day/night out of it, here are a few ideas:
- The Hammer hosts a free screening of The Nightmare Before Christmas on December 4
- Rooftop Cinema Club has a collection of Corny Christmas Classics screening at locations in El Segundo and Row DTLA.
- Street Food Cinema’s Yuletide Cinemaland offers a festive outdoor movie screening experience a Heritage Square Museum on select dates from December 3-23.
- Movies on the Roof Holiday Edition screens holiday flicks December 9-10, and 16-17.
- Melrose Rooftop Theater hosts holiday screenings from December 4-24.
- The Aero Theatre in Santa Monica screens It’s a Wonderful Life on December 22.
- The Million Dollar Theater screens It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve.
- New Beverly Cinema screens Die Hard on Christmas Eve.
Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention some of our favorite spots to view residential Christmas Lights in and around Los Angeles county. Here is a quick list:
- Candy Cane Lane in Woodland Hills
- Venice Canals
- Christmas Tree Lane in Altadena
- Upper Hastings Ranch in Sierra Madre
- Sleepy Hollow Lights in Torrance
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