Here Are Some of L.A.’s Most Festive Ways to Celebrate Christmas

”The Nutcracker” performances, snow tubing, and immersive holiday lights, and other fun ways to celebrate the season
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Last year, many of the city’s beloved winter events were canceled. But now they’re back and brighter than ever.

We’ve curated a list of events happening throughout SoCal this holiday season. (Always be sure to check the county health guidelines before making plans.)


Elf on the Shelf’s Magical Holiday Journey

Through Sunday, January 2 

Creative director David Korins (Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen) has worked to transform the Fairplex into the North Pole. Last year, the event’s inaugural run was a drive-through affair; this year, attendees will get to explore the magical elfland by foot and trolley. $20–$50, 1101 E. W. McKinley Ave., Pomona, elfontheshelfjourney.com.

L.A. Zoo Lights

Through Sunday, January 9 

A brightly lit Reggie the Alligator, a magical disco-ball forest, and, new this year, an LED light show near the reptile house, all provide festive selfie fodder. Also, there will be cocktails. $15–$24, 5333 Zoo Dr., Griffith Park, lazoo.org.

(Photo by Jamie Phan)

Winter Frolic

Through Sunday, January 9

Gone is Kidspace’s usual five-day Snow Days celebration, and in its wake is this seven-week upgrade, with a nearly 1,000-square-foot sock-skating rink, a faux ice fishing activity, and a Rose Parade-inspired float-building workshop. $15 (plus $5 for the rink), 480 N. Arroyo Blvd., Pasadena, kidspacemuseum.org.

Enchanted Forest of Light

Through Sunday, January 9

After a one-year hiatus, Descanso Gardens’ illuminated extravaganza is back with an exciting new addition: glass houses, courtesy of kaleidoscopic sculptor Tom Fruin. $25–$35, 1418 Descanso Dr., La Cañada Flintridge, descansogardens.org.

Alamitos Bay

Through Tuesday, January 4

Grab a rental from Long Beach Waterbikes and check out the 68 Christmas trees floating in Alamitos Bay, El Dorado Pond, and Colorado Lagoon. $30 for a one-hour waterbike rental, 164 N. Marina Dr., Long Beach, lbwaterbikes.com.

The Nutcracker Suite

Through Friday, December 24

Not your usual Nutcracker, American Contemporary Ballet’s one-hour performance is immersive and favors the dark vision of the original story by E. T. A. Hoffmann. But it’s still family-friendly. $25–$125, 926 N. Sycamore Ave., Sixth floor, Hollywood Media District, acbdances.com.

Holiday Road

Through Friday, December 31

In the 1920s, King Gillette (yes, the razor guy, and that’s his real name) bought alot of idyllic land in the Santa Monica Mountains and turned it into an eponymous ranch. In the last few years, it’s become the site of this elaborate illuminated trek, which features a one-kilometer-long gingerbread lane, an elf village, and a very Instagrammable neon tunnel. Drinks from Blitzen’s Bar and food-truck grub will also be on offer. $35-$65, 26800 Mulholland Hwy., Calabasas, holidayroadusa.com.

Kuumba Makers Festival

Saturday, December 18 

To prep for Kwanzaa, the California African American Museum will practice the sixth principle of the holiday: the commitment to creativity known as Kuumba. Visitors can enjoy crafts and yoga, then check out the museum’s growing collection. Free, 600 State Dr., Exposition Park, caamuseum.org.

Snow n Glow Holiday Festival 

Through Sunday, January 2 

Featuring snow tubing, private igloo reservations, holiday light displays with over one million lights, as well as several family-friendly activities, CBF Productions’ Snow n Glow Holiday Festival will take place through January 2 at the Ventura County Fairgrounds and Event Center. Those who live south of L.A. can visit the festival’s second location at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, which will also be open through Jan. 2. Ventura: $13-$38, 10 W. Harbor Boulevard, Ventura, snownglow.com/ventura. Del Mar: $16-$36, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar, snownglow.com/delmar.

(Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Dodgers)

Dodgers Holiday Festival

Through Friday, December 31

The newly renovated Centerfield Plaza, home to the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, is hosting a holiday festival, which will feature a 80’ x 60’ open-air ice skating area, photos with Santa and his elves, live musical performances, and a Northern Lights immersive experience. Holiday inspired treats, cocktails, and food will also be available for purchase. The celebration will be held at Dodger Stadium nightly from 5-10 p.m. on weekdays and from 3-10 p.m. on weekends. $16, 1000 Vin Scully Ave., Los Angeles, mlb.com/dodgers.

Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Ballet

Los Angeles Ballet Presents The Nutcracker 

Through Sunday, December 26

The Nutcracker has become the city’s holiday tradition to welcome in the season. Set to Tchaikovsky’s iconic score, Los Angeles Ballet will be bringing the holiday story—with some surprises—to L.A. through Sunday, December 26. You can catch the show from Dec. 17-19 at Royce Hall at UCLA and from Dec. 23-26 at the Dolby Theatre. Royce Hall: $39-$114, 10745 Dickson Ct., Los Angeles and Dolby Theatre: $45, 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, losangelesballet.org.

Kailyn Brown contributed to this report. 


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