Holiday Events LA
Credit: Lightscape

Fa-la-la! 9 Ways to Celebrate the Holidays in Los Angeles

From Musicals to Immersive Light Experiences, LA Is Bringing the Merry Magic

Life isn’t always like the movies, but Iris’s escape to LA in “The Holiday” feels pretty real! We’ll take a December cruise down PCH with swaying palm trees over a frozen tundra any day, especially when the city’s immersive holiday experiences have LA’s signature production quality. Top-tier Christmas shopping, downtown ice rinks and mesmerizing light displays are just a few of the spectacles popping up this December in Los Angeles. There are enough holiday happenings to create an advent calendar of to-dos, but we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite things to experience during the best time of year.

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Holidays at Manhattan Village

When: Nov. 20-Jan. 2

Manhattan Village, LA’s luxury lifestyle destination, has decked the halls with festive decor and letterboxes for Santa! Kids can send letters to the North Pole or whisper their wishlist to Santa during photo ops with St. Nick himself. Following photos, act like an elf in the workshop-like wonder of Manhattan Village’s shopping scene. Shop for holiday pajamas at Aerie, get glam with Rudolph-red nails at Holly & Hudson and use Topdrawer’s holiday gift guide for everyone on your list. When it comes to dining, Chinese food always makes for a good Christmas story (whether the dogs eat the turkey or not!). Enjoy a festive feast at Dan Modern Cuisine with silky house-made soup dumplings and wok-fried noodle dishes. For businesses looking to treat employees or clients, cheersing a glass of bubbles at JOEY Manhattan Beach is the perfect way to do so. This holiday season, JOEY is offering customized gift cards with up to 20% back bonus cards. Don’t miss out on all the festivities Manhattan Village has in store this holiday season!

Location: Manhattan Beach 

 

Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade

When: Dec. 9

Holiday Events LA
Credit: © Venice Paparazzi

Trade in crackling fires for fireworks at Marina del Rey’s legendary holiday boat parade. This night of lights has been spreading the Christmas spirit for over 60 years! On Dec. 9, LA locals will flock to the marina like it’s the North Pole to witness the merry wonder. Fireworks signal the start of the parade at 5:55 p.m., followed by a cruise line of sleigh-like sailboats. Park in the Burton Chace Park or Fisherman’s Village public lots and view the spectacle from the south jetty or marina shore. 

Location: Marina Del Rey

 

Holidays in Old Pasadena

When: Nov. 10-Jan. 2

As if Old Pasadena wasn’t charming enough, the holiday season in this historic city becomes all the more magical with snowflake light projections across the city, holiday shopping and festive dining. Holidays in Old Pasadena are best spent as a solo trip to conquer that holiday shopping list! First things first, fuel up on a peppermint mocha from Alfred Coffee. Then, shop for new glassware for the hostess at Crate and Barrel and gear for the adventurer at Patagonia. No one will ever refuse a Burke Williams gift card! 

Local Insight: Bringing the kiddos along for the ride? Don’t miss photos with Santa on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Nov. 24-Dec. 24!

Location: Old Pasadena

 

L.A. Zoo Lights

When: Nov. 17-Jan. 7 

Holiday Events LA
Credit: L.A. Zoo Lights

At L.A. Zoo Lights, it’s not just tiny tots with their eyes all aglow but tigers, elephants and chimpanzees, too! From now until Jan. 7, the L.A. Zoo transforms into an immersive holiday experience for all ages to enjoy. Their Winter Wildlands experience is complete with glowing icicles, a “northern lights” show and animal encounters with fluffy friends who call the snow their home. Festive foods and seasonal spirits (spiked hot cocoa, anyone?) will be available for purchase. Check online for holiday happy hours and get your tickets to glow wild! 

Local Insight: Look out for the glowing cacti. These motion-sensor light activations will dance along with you!

Location: Los Angeles 

 

Holiday Movies at Rooftop Cinema Club

When: Various dates in December 

LA rooftops never looked so cozy! Snuggle up at the Rooftop Cinema Club in DTLA to experience holiday classics on the big screen. Trust us, “Elf” becomes even more magical with LA’s twinkling skyline in the background. On the fourth floor of the Level Hotel, “Elf,” “Home Alone” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas” play on rotation all month long. Classic concessions are available for purchase, and we recommend packing your fluffiest blanket for a night under the stars. Seating is first come, first served, so arrive early and watch the sunset over the skyline.

Location: DTLA

 

The Holiday Ice Rink in Pershing Square

When: Nov. 16-Jan. 7

Credit: Red Apple Photography

Pershing Square is the Times Square of LA, aka the most festive place to ice skate this winter! This pop-up ice rink transforms the heart of downtown LA into a frozen oasis surrounded by skyscrapers and a 105-foot twinkling tree! Kids can perfect their skating skills with lessons during the day, followed by a parent’s shopping session at Saks Fifth Ave. Wednesday night DJ sets also make the rink a hallmark-worthy holiday date night spot! The rink is currently open from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. for one-hour skating sessions. 

Location: DTLA

 

Lightscape

When: Nov. 17-Jan. 2

Lightscape returns to LA this winter but with a reimagined display of mesmerizing spectacles! Find Insta-worthy photo ops at the Los Angeles County Arboretum along the mile-stretch of light architecture. Themed around art and nature, Lightscape is a truly unique holiday experience complete with a fire garden, 10-foot flowers and their iconic Winter Cathedral. Admission prices range from $29-$35, but be sure to select tickets over Dec. 7-9, 15-17 and 20-23 to see Santa! Once inside the arboretum, explore the light gallery with bites from LA’s favorite food trucks.

Location: Arcadia

 

A Christmas Story, The Musical

When: Various dates in December 

Level up this year’s viewing of “A Christmas Story” from your living room to the Los Angeles Theater. Ralphies’s pink bunny costume and his dad’s infamous leg lamp come to life on stage in this musical rendition of Bob Clark’s classic film. Ralphie will be performing this Tony-award rendition of Hollywood’s holiday favorite select nights from Dec. 5-31. Grab tickets and put on your holiday best—we triple-dog dare ya!

Local Insight: Complete your festive evening with dinner at one of LA’s newest restaurants before the show!

Location: DTLA

 

Holiday Road Calabasas

When: Nov. 24-Dec. 27

Holiday Events LA
Credit: Holiday Road

Follow the holiday road to find your winter wonderland! At Holiday Road Calabasas, you’ll feel like you’re the main character in a Hallmark movie with larger-than-life Christmas characters and an immersive village to explore. Candy canes and gingerbread houses line the mile-long path of this winter fantasy. It’s family fun for everyone, with LA’s favorite food trucks and seasonal beverages for sale. Tickets and parking can be purchased in advance for this Santa Clause lane-like event taking place Nov. 24- Dec. 27. Wear matching Christmas sweaters for all the family photo ops!

Location: Calabasas

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Lover of the beach, food and fitness, Emily enjoys exploring all sunny Southern California has to offer! She has a passion for sharing about her favorite local gems and began writing for Locale in 2022. On the weekends, find her creating recipes for her food blog or out in Laguna!

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