I’m dreaming of a White Christmas! Well, not exactly, I like our warm weather here in LA. And, believe it or not, Los Angeles does a fabulous job of celebrating the holidays even when it’s 90 degrees outside. I compiled a list of Los Angeles holiday events if you happen to be in the area. They are my favorite places to go to get a dose of the holiday spirit in the City of Angels.
Celebrate your Los Angeles holiday by listening to a concert at Disney Concert Hall
The spectacular Disney Concert Hall is the premier concert venue in Los Angeles and is the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic currently under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel. The building was designed by Frank Gehry and is not only stunning to look at but has amazing acoustics. It features a 6,134-pipe organ with external pipes that are humorously referred to as French Fries. Most always there is a pre-concert lecture where you can learn more about what music will be played that evening and its history. A favorite holiday event at the Disney Concert Hall is the Holiday Sing-a-Long.
Take a walk in Grand Park at night
Grand Park, located at 210 W Temple Street is across from the Disney Concert Hall and the Los Angeles Music Center. It is colorfully lit up during the holidays with waterfalls and fountains. Their annual tree lighting includes a concert, hot chocolate and holiday cheer.
Los Angeles Holiday Events in Pershing Square
Pershing Square, located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, is a popular LA landmark surrounded by historic hotels and buildings. During winter, an ice skating rink is installed in the center of it. It’s directly across from the Millennium Biltmore Hotel that is dressed up in elegant holiday finery for the winter season. Stop for high tea at the hotel’s luxurious Rendezvous Lounge or have a hot toddy at the Gallery Bar and Cognac Room. Pershing Square is also a quick walk to the Grand Central Market where you can find an array of multicultural food vendors and enjoy a yummy and affordable lunch. It’s easy to take the subway downtown. The Red Line stops at Pershing Square so there’s no need to worry about parking.
More Ice Skating in Los Angeles
We may not have snow but we have plenty of ice rinks dressed up for the holidays. In addition to Pershing Square, you may want to try LA Kings Holiday Ice at LA Live, Westfield Topanga, Ice at Santa Monica, True North Ice Rink at The Queen Mary in Long Beach, and The Rink, in Downtown Burbank.
Union Station Holiday Lights Display – Olvera Street
The iconic Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles features a luminous Holiday Light display and a month-long series of concerts with various activities such as sing-a-longs, a holiday market, dance parties and more. To see what’s happening at the station click here.
It’s directly across the street from Olvera Street and El Pueblo Historical Monument. The merchants there put on nine-consecutive evenings of Posada processions. Posada means “inn” in Spanish and is a reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for a place to stay. You’ll listen to traditional songs, festive music, and see colorful costumes. Afterward, enjoy traditional Mexican food like sweet bread and champurrado.
Be amazed by the Los Angeles Zoo Lights
The Los Angeles Zoo is located in beautiful Griffith Park and hosts the Los Angeles Zoo Lights from mid-November to early January. The zoo is completely transported into a wonderland of color and light. It’s a popular attraction so it’s best to purchase tickets online with timed entries. I’m not sure how the animals feel about it but most of them are asleep when I was there. Walking the Zoo Lights is a great way to spend your Los Angeles holiday and get your steps in as you meander through the fabulous light display.
Winter Wonderland and Santa House at The Grove
The Grove is a fabulous outdoor shopping and dining center. They host a Winter Wonderland and Santa’s Workshop each year. Nearby is the Original Farmer’s Market at 3rd and Fairfax. Find every kind of food you can imagine in their stalls and restaurants inside. It will be decked out for the holidays and is always lots of fun to visit.
Visit and shop Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills
Beverly Hills goes all out during the holidays. The hotels are dressed to the nines and Rodeo Drive sparkles with a brilliant lighting display. During the holiday season, you can enjoy live entertainment, and special hotel and restaurant offerings. Who knows, you may even meet a movie star.
Universal Studios CityWalk Holiday Fun
Universal Studios and a stroll through City Walk are especially fun from Thanksgiving through early January. Hang out with The Grinch, have a photo taken with the Minions, or make Christmas magic with Harry Potter.
Americana at Brand in Glendale
Make sure to visit the Americana at Brand in Glendale to see their 100 foot Christmas Tree where you’ll find a beautiful winter wonderland. You’ll even see snow each evening through Christmas Eve.
Old Pasadena Holiday Events
Not only is Pasadena a fabulous place to shop for the holidays but you’ll find incredible restaurants as well. Old Pasadena has ongoing holiday events all along the boulevard. And of course, it’s the home of The Tournament of Roses Parade. I prefer to watch the parade on TV, but stalwarts camp out overnight to watch it early in the morning on New Year’s Day. It’s been a tradition since 1890. After the parade, you can visit all the floats on display for
Marina Del Rey Lights and Boat Parade
Burton Chace Park in Marina Del Rey gets festive with boats lit up in the marina, live caroling, an incredible boat parade, and live entertainment. 60 tons of real snow is brought in for sledding. The park hosts a fireworks display on New Year’s Eve with a CNN live broadcast.
The Hollywood Christmas Parade
The Los Angeles holiday experience would not be complete without going to the Hollywood Christmas Parade. The parade route on Hollywood and Sunset Blvds feature floats, bands, equestrian units and plenty of celebrities. You can reserve grandstand seating or just park yourself on the street. Rub elbows with the stars and then enjoy a cocktail at any of the many bars, restaurants, pubs, and hotels in the area. Favorite hotels to stay at are the Hollywood Roosevelt and the W.
Hanukkah at the Skirball
The Skirball Cultural Center celebrates Hanukkah with musical performances, food, and fun. It’s located off the 405 freeway on the Sepulveda pass and is the site of year-round exhibitions, art installations, and seminars that not only focuses on Jewish heritage but diversity in general.
Other holiday events in and near Los Angeles you don’t want to miss
The Tournament of Roses Parade – in old downtown Pasadena – I prefer to watch the parade on TV, but stalwarts camp out overnight to watch it early in the morning on New Year’s Day. It’s been a tradition since 1890.
Descanso Gardens Enchanted Forest of Light – La Canada Flintridge – You can take a one-mile walk in the evening through gorgeous Descanso Gardens to view their spectacular light display.
Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade – This Orange County holiday event started in 1913 and is the highlight of the season in the Newport Harbor area.
The Queen Mary – Long Beach Harbor – The historic Cunard ship Queen Mary host holiday events on board and a CHILL ICE Event outside of it that includes an ice rink, zip line, tubing slide and more. If you just want to watch you can have a chilly cocktail at the ICE bar. They provide you with a parka. Stay aboard the Queen Mary Hotel
Fillmore and Western Railway Company Train Ride – The Fillmore Train is a collection of 19th-century railroad cars. It tours the orchards of Santa Paula in nearby Ventura County. During the holidays, you can board the Christmas Tree and Santa Shopper train as well as other themed rides during the year. The train even has seats on top for a better view. It’s a fun and relaxing ride and grand-kids will love it.
Holidays at the Disneyland Resort – Disneyland, Anaheim hosts holiday events that are truly magical with lights, fireworks, and entertainment. You can’t see it all in one day so you may want to stay at their fabulous Disneyland Resort.
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Wishing you a joyous and peaceful Holiday Season! Celebrate the holidays in style!