Things To Do This Weekend in L.A. [12-15-2023 to 12-17-2023]

The new Little Tokyo Metro station. Photo by Brian Champlin

Did you wrap up your holiday shopping already? If so, that leaves plenty of time to enjoy fun to-dos around the Southland these next three days.

From December 15-17 in Los Angeles, you’ll find Yuletide Cinemaland at Heritage Square, Smithsonian’s Our Shared Future Family Day, Shogun Santa in Little Tokyo, LA Phil’s Holiday Sing-Along, Salsa Navidad at BroadStage, Christmas in the Park in Leimert Park, the Queer Mercado in East L.A., and more. Hope your weekend is an awesome one!


Make Metro Part of Your Weekend

Shogun SantaM > This Saturday and Sunday, Little Tokyo’s Shogun Santa makes his annual appearance in Japanese Village Plaza ready for photo opps with kids, families, pups and adults. The event runs 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. More info here.

Go Metro: Take the A or E Line to Little Tokyo Station

More Things To Do This Weekend

M = Less than .5 miles from an L.A. Metro Station, FA = Free Admission, TP = Top Pick

Yuletide Cinemaland M > Street Food Cinema’s annual holiday screenings series returns with festive outdoor events at Heritage Square Museum. Running daily from from December 14-23, each screening includes holiday inspired cocktails, a Yuletide Market, live piano sing-along, guided Victorian home tours and more. Tickets cost $39.99 for adults and $19.99 for kids 6-11 years-old. More info here.

Eataly LA’s Holiday Notte Italiana > Eataly’s holiday edition of their signature market place roaming event returns this Friday with a late evening event filled with delectable Italian food, beverages, and lively entertainment. Tickets are priced at $125 and grants you access to 10+ stations of chef-curated bites and 15+ stations of Italian wines and cocktails. More info here

Netflix Family NightsM FA > Beginning this Friday, Netflix Family Nights at Ice Santa Monica offers free skate sessions on Tuesdays and Fridays through December 26. The activation begins at 5:30 p.m. and is free to participate, but capacity is limited and will be first-come, first-served. More info here.

The Nutcracker Suite M > The American Contemporary Ballet is performing their annual one-of-a-kind version of the Tchaikovsky classic on select Thursdays to Sundays through December 24. Tickets cost between $70 to $135. More info here.

Klarna’s Holiday Takeover at Glendale Galleria -> Klarna and Glendale Galleria present ‘Klarna After Dark’ this Friday to Sunday. The a stress-free holiday shopping pop-up offers extended hours, exclusive deals, and a pink-themed celebration with a dazzling light installation. Navigate to free gift-wrapping stations and unwind with complimentary snacks, then wrap up your experience by catching a free Klarna Kab ride back to your car. More info here.

Lightscape at The L.A. Arboretum -> The L.A. Arboretum lights up the holiday season with a one-mile trail of installations and twinkling displays, taking place at the garden after-hours on select dates. This week they are open Friday through Sunday. Lightscape runs through January 2, 2024. GA adult tickets range $29-$35, depending on the date selected for purchase. Get more info here.

Holiday Road -> Holiday Road continues this Friday through Sunday this week at King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas. Now in its fourth year the 1-mile walking trail feathers immersive scenes and holiday-themed activities for all to enjoy. The experience runs on select dates through December 27. Tickets range from $29.99-$39.99. Get more info here.

Makers Market at Earle’s -> Earle’s on Crenshaw is co-hosting a Makers Market featuring live DJs and local vendors at Crenshaw Square on three dates in December, including this Saturday. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and parking is free. More info here.

Deck the Hall Holiday Concerts at The Walt Disney Concert HallM TP > There’s something for everyone at LA Phil’s annual Deck the Hall series, which returns to Walt Disney Concert Hall this week. The series continues on Saturday with LA Phil’s annual Holiday Sing-Along, which will include performances at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Tickets start at $64. More info here.

Spanish Harlem Orchestra: Salsa Navidad -> On Saturday, the Grammy-winning ensemble Spanish Harlem Orchestra comes to BroadStage with Salsa Navidad, a unique holiday concert of American Christmas classics arranged in a Latin/Salsa style. They’ll also perform selections of non-holiday, original music as well. Tickets start at $85. Pre-show salsa lessons/dancing runs from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. More info here.

Benson Movie InterruptionM TP > What’s better than seeing a terrible/awesome movie with your friends and making fun of it while you watch it? One word: Celebrities! This Saturday at Dynasty Typewriter, Doug Benson hosts a “your choice” version of his Movie Interruption series alongside special guests Marc Maron and Ian Karmel. Attendees are invited to bring in a Blue Ray / DVD of their choice, and the audience will vote on what to watch before the show begins. Saturday’s show starts at 4 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance, or $25 the day-of. More info here.

Lit AF Holiday MarketFA > On Saturday, The Goor Bar and Bad Good Art Club team up for the 2nd Annual Lit AF Holiday Market in Long Beach, an afternoon event featuring local artists selling handmade goods, live music, and DJ sets. Runs 1 to 6 p.m., and free to attend. More info here.

Beyond The Streets Holiday MarketFA > The BEYOND THE STREETS Holiday Market runs this Saturday and Sunday and features over 100 artist products including rare and hard-to-find artworks and collectibles from artists, hip-hop heavyweights, and influential culture creators. It’s a golden opportunity for attendees to explore and acquire pieces. This shopping event welcomes families and even four-legged companions. There will be holiday treats, free strikers and totes while supplies last, and gift wrapping. Complimentary coffee will be served by The Mad Barista for early birds too. Runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. More info here.

The Queer MercadoM FA > The Queer Mercado brings queer product and food vendors to the East L.A. Civic Center every third Saturday of the month. In addition to shopping the market will also feature drag performances, DJ, and other live entertainment. Runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. More info here.

Theatre 40 Holiday ReadingsFA > On Saturday head to the Westwood Branch Library for Theatre 40’s annual holiday readings. The talent theatre troupe will read a number of holiday works from classic to modern and Christmas candy will be served too. Event starts at 3 p.m. Free to attend. More info here.


Movie Under The Stars at Runway Playa VistaFA > This Saturday, Runway Playa Vista concludes their Movie Under the Stars holiday film series with an outdoor screening of Home Alone. The movie begins at 5:30 p.m. and seating is first-come, first-served. Free to attend and free popcorn too! More info here.

Our Shared Future Family DayM FA TP > The Smithsonian’s Our Shared Future Los Angeles concludes with a free family day celebration at the Japanese American National Museum, Chinese American Museum,, and LA Plaza de Culturay Artes on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Experience an afternoon of free admission and cultural activities for all ages, delving into the rich history of Los Angeles and celebrating the city’s diversity. More info here.

Christmas in the ParkM FA > This Sunday, the Special Needs Network, Inc. and Social Justice Learning Institute team up for Christmas In the Park in Leimert Park, which will feature toy giveaways, Santa photo ops, food distribution, DJs, arts, crafts, and refreshments. Runs 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. More info here.

Enchanted: Forest of Light – > Descanso Gardens’ annual light is back 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. Enchanted is open nightly through January 7 (closed for Christmas and Christmas Eve). Adult tickets cost $35-$45 for non-members. More info here.

Hikari – A Festival of Lights at Tanaka Farms -> Hikari a Festival of Lights at Tanaka Farms turns the 30-acre Irvine farm into a dazzling spectacle of lights. Go on a wagon ride or explore by foot a lantern lite field and meet some animals in the petting zoo, participate in crafts, grab some food, Santa for a photo and buy gifts a the market stand. Runs Wednesday through Sunday. Admission starts at $35 per adult. More info here.

Miracle, a Christmas Themed Pop Up Bar -> This holiday season, gather some friends and head to Miracle, a Christmas-themed pop-up bar located inside Neighbors at Runway in Playa Vista. Guests can indulge in seasonal craft cocktails within a festive setting that embraces maximalist aesthetics. Throughout the pop-up, exclusively at Neighbors, you can purchase Miracle mugs and glassware – the SanTaRex is a personal favorite. Reservations for Miracle are now open, and the pop-up will run daily through the first week of January 2024.

Blitzen’s Bar -> If you’re out shopping this week, stop by Blitzen’s Bar, a cozy daily pop-up in The Atrium of Westfield Century City. Relax in a cabana overlooking the festive Holiday Village as you enjoy handcrafted cocktails, tasty bites, scheduled snow fall, holiday activities and live performances from the Holiday Village cast. This all-ages pop-up, is presented by Fiji Airways, Starward Whisky and Peroni. More info here.

Astra Lumina: An Enchanted Night Walk Amongst The Stars – > ​​Every Wednesday through Sunday evening, 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. The seasonal attraction runs on select evenings through December 31. Adult tickets start at $35 and there’s an additional fee for parking. More info here

L.A. Zoo Lights – > 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. This week they’ll be open Wednesday through Sunday, then continuing on select dates through January 7, 2023. Adult tickets range from $29-$35, depending on the desired date to attend. More info here.


Lights on DisplayFA TP > 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 2023, 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 (weather permitting) through New Year’s Day. More info here.

Dining & Drinking

(picks by Christina Champlin)
Street view peering into Da Barbara. Photo courtesy of Da Barbara.

Da Barbara -> Chef Barbara Pollastrini’s newest venture, Da Barbara, opens its doors this Friday, introducing a charming chef’s table restaurant. The Italian-born chef offers guests an intimate experience with a thoughtfully curated seven-course meal prepared in an open kitchen setting. Unlike traditional Italian menus, Da Barbara takes a unique approach, featuring dishes born from Pollastrini’s imaginative flair. The Gnocchi alla Romana is transformed into a one-bite “almost carbonara” delight, adorned with house-cured guanciale, crispy artichoke, and grated egg yolk. The Cannoli surprises with its oversized butter cookie exterior, filled with sabayon cream and crowned with an apple flambé. What sets Da Barbara apart is its commitment to culinary creativity, where each dish defies expectations. Priced at an approachable $160 per person, the tasting menu promises a unique dining experience. Notably, Da Barbara currently offers a BYOB option for patrons at a reasonable $25 corkage fee, as the restaurant is not serving alcohol. Doors open daily at 7 p.m., inviting diners to savor Pollastrini’s culinary artistry.

A New Thai Gelato and Dessert Cafe -> Kanomwaan, the recently opened Thai gelato and dessert cafe in East Hollywood, serves a delectable fusion of sweets inspired by Thai desserts and Southeast Asian ingredients. Situated at 5261 Hollywood Boulevard and founded by the second generation of the esteemed family-run Thai Town restaurant Ruen Pair, Kanomwaan’s menu boasts unique Thai-flavored gelatos and tropical fruit dairy-free sorbets. The café’s custard toasts, served in thick, bite-sized squares, are drizzled with various custard flavors like purple yam, salted egg yolk and black sesame, topped with gelato. Additionally, Kanomwaan’s shaved ice creations include a Mango Sticky Rice variation featuring ample mango, sticky rice, and butterfly pea coconut gelato. Soft opening hours are Monday to Friday, 3-10 p.m., and Saturday to Sunday, 1-10 p.m.

Teddy Bear Tea -> There’s a children’s Teddy Bear Tea experience at the Hilton Los Angeles in Culver City this Saturday. Families can enjoy a festive tea service featuring an array of teas, hot chocolate, scones, and assorted finger sandwiches. The experience includes a meet and greet with a teddy bear mascot and each child in attendance will be gifted a special teddy bear, courtesy of Build-A-Bear Workshop. In the spirit of giving, children are invited to bring a new, unwrapped toy for donation to the Culver City Fire Department’s holiday toy drive. Seating commences at 12:30 p.m., with the event kicking off at 1 p.m. Tickets are priced at $50 for adults and $25 for children. More info here.

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