Christmas in Los Angeles is a very festive season. You’ll find every conceivable traditional holiday activity from tree lightings and boat parades to theme park events and holiday shows, including some activities designed for colder weather – without actually having to suffer through the cold. There are also truly unique Los Angeles Christmas events and some more Unusual Christmas Traditions in LA. Some winter activities begin before Halloween and run through February, others are scheduled throughout November and December.
The Hollywood Christmas Parade is one of the most longstanding holiday traditions in LA. Every year, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Santa accompanies floats and marching bands down Hollywood Boulevard.
It began with Downtown on Ice and has now spread to venues across the LA Basin and into the Valley and Orange County. New technology allows outdoor rinks to stay frozen despite the warm weather so that outdoor ice skating in LA has become a widespread winter tradition. Skating now starts as early as the beginning of October and continues at some rinks through February. Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks in Los Angeles and OC
Disneyland at Christmas is quite enchanting with the park dressed up in its holiday finery complete with a nightly snowfall. Christmas themed characters and shows join the classic Disney family. More About Disneyland’s Christmas Fantasy
At about 1/3 the price of Disneyland, Knott’s Merry Farm, the Christmas celebration at Knott’s Berry Farm, is pretty much the most Christmas fun you can have for your money. In addition to all the rides being open all day and night, there are tons of holiday shows, festive food, unique shopping, great decor and family fun for all ages. Knott’s Merry Farm Details and Photos
Not just another place to go outdoor ice skating in Los Angeles, CHILL at the Queen Mary is a winter holiday event at the Queen Mary in Long Beach that includes a ice skating, ice tubing, a couple rides, entertainment and different holiday activities every year, from snowman bounce houses to the world’s biggest rocking horse. It originally included the Ice Kingdom exhibit of ice sculptures, but this year that has been replaced with Alice in Winterland, a non-frozen exhibit of Chinese lanterns and other interactive components telling the story of Alice in Wonderland. Read more about CHILL at the Queen Mary
Six Flags Magic Mountain goes all out for the season with festive light shows, seasonal decor and entertainment and an abundance of unique holiday fare at Holiday in the Park.Read more about Holiday in the Park at Magic Mountain
Visit the Grinch at Universal Studios Hollywood
While Santa reigns in most of LA, the Grinch and the Whos of Whoville take over Universal Studios Hollywood to enchant Dr. Seuss fans young and old. Get details on this year’s Grinchmas at Universal Studios Hollywood.
From Marina del Rey to Newport Beach, the waters off the Southern California coast sparkle with lights as festively decorated boats parade through the night. Some cities have just one parade, Long Beach has two different ones and Newport Beach and Dana Point run the same parade on multiple nights. Schedule of Los Angeles and Orange County Holiday Boat Parades
Almost every ballet company and ballet school in the region and a number of visiting companies put on some version of The Nutcracker Ballet for the holidays. Some last a night or a weekend, others run for several weeks. Schedule of Nutcracker Performances Around Los Angeles
From classics like A Christmas Carol to LA originals like Bob’s Holiday Office Party, holiday cheer shows up in various incarnations on stages all over Southern California with dozens of holiday-themed performances.
- Christmas Plays and Performances Around LA
- Live Theatre in Los Angeles
- All Kinds of Shows in Los Angeles
Holiday Shopping Events and Tree Lightings are a festive tradition in LA. From traditional tree and menorah lighting ceremonies and visits with Santa to nightly falling snow and a walk-through ice palace, LA shopping centers put on all kinds of programs to lure you in and keep you entertained.
- Tree Lighting Ceremonies, Entertainment and other Holiday Shopping Center Events in LA
- Los Angeles Shopping Guide
- LA’s Top Indoor Shopping Malls
Although you won’t find a lot of people caroling door to door, there are lots of places to listen to and sing along with your favorite Christmas and Hanukkah songs around LA from tree lighting celebrations to concert hall sing-alongs. Christmas Caroling Events around LA
The DWP Holiday Light Festival won’t be coming back in it’s original location, so they’ve created a new light show at Griffith Park within the Los Angeles Zoo. The new LA Zoo Lights display includes LED lights, lasers, 3D projections and animal-themed sets and interactive displays. They’ve also incorporated a few favorites from among the original DWP lights collection. Zoo staff assure me they’ve taken precautions to make sure the new light show doesn’t bother the animals. Dates run from Thanksgiving weekend to the weekend after New Year’s. The evening show from 6 to 10 pm requires a separate ticket from the daytime zoo ticket. Reduced price earlybird tickets are available. More on LA Zoo LightsCheck Goldstar.com for discount tickets.
You can still check out what the DWP Light Festival used to look like.
Reindeer Romp at the LA Zoo gives Zoo visitors young and old a chance to see live reindeer and enjoy hands-on arts and crafts, live music, visits with Santa and more. The event usually runs from Thanksgiving through the weekend after New Year’s. More details at lazoo.org.
Since LA was once part of Mexico and the Mexican-American population is still the majority, it is not surprising that the tradition of Las Posadas is alive and well on Olvera Street at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Site, the oldest part of LA. During Las Posadas, a costumed Mary and Joseph, (or alternately statues of them), accompanied by a procession of singers, musicians and community members, go from house to house looking for a room, being turned away at each stop by singing innkeepers in a call and response routine. Las Posadas on Olvera Street is held for nine nights beginning December 16. Entertainment begins at 6:00, procession at 7:30. Info: (213) 625-5045
Truth be told, the possibilities are endless, so get out there and enjoy the Holiday Season L.A. Style!