Your Guide to the Best Holiday Events in Los Angeles This Year

It’s jingle bell time—embrace it

The winter holiday season is approaching, and while there may not be snow in the forecast for L.A., that doesn’t mean we don’t have a ton of ways to get into the festive mood that aren’t dependent on the weather. Here are a flurry of events to take part in to celebrate the season.


Performances, Shows, and Screenings

Love, Actually Live

The beloved holiday film gets a stage adaptation. This world premiere includes music from the film performed live by a full orchestra and claims to transform the Bram Goldsmith Theater at the Wallis into an immersive, multimedia experience. December 4-31. Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; tickets $35-$125. 

Stevie Wonder’s House Full of Toys Benefit Concert

Musical legend Stevie Wonder returns to the Staples Center for this, his 22nd annual holiday spectacular. He calls the event a “song party,” celebrating his extensive, hit-filled catalog. Concertgoers are asked to bring an unwrapped toy for the drive, and the night benefits his charity, Stevie’s We Are You Foundation, assisting families in need. December 9 at 8 p.m. Staples Center, 1111 S. Figueroa, downtown; tickets $35-$179.50.

John Legend: A Legendary Christmas Tour

John Legend picks up the Bing Crosby mantle with his jazzy, retro-tinged new Christmas album, from which he’ll perform material at this live, holiday-themed concert. The album features collaborations with Stevie Wonder, Esperanza Spalding, and Raphael Saadiq, so who knows who might drop in as a guest at the show. December 23 at 7 p.m. Microsoft Theater, 777 Chick Hearn Court, downtown; tickets $49.50-$250.50.

Swinging Christmas with the Arturo Sandoval Big Band

Get jazzy this Christmas with a live concert by Latin jazz legend (and ten-time Grammy winner) Arturo Sandoval. He’ll trumpet in the season along with his big band as they play their own updated versions of holiday songs. December 21 at 8 p.m. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 151 S. Grand Ave., downtown; tickets $39-$100.

L.A. County Holiday Celebration

Head to the Dorothy Chandler Pavillon for this free concert on Christmas Eve. The tradition, dating back to 1959, includes holiday music performances from a diverse array of local performers and groups. December 24 at 3 p.m. Dorothy Chandler Pavillon, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown. 

The Nutcracker by American Ballet Theater

Misty Copeland, perhaps the most celebrated ballerina dancing today, is among the ABT all-stars who will perform with this touring production of the holiday classic. The set and costumes were created by Tony-winner Richard Hudson who also created the iconic designs of The Lion King. December 14-16 and 19-23. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa; tickets $29-$179.

White Christmas Sing-Along

The Walt Disney Concert Hall becomes a big, fancy movie theater for this special holiday screening event. The movie will play on a big screen with the lyrics of the musical numbers projected so you can join in and sing along with Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney. December 23 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 151 S. Grand Ave., downtown; tickets $34-$69.

Yuletide Cinemaland Presents It’s a Wonderful Life

Street Food Cinema gets into the holiday act with Yuletide Cinemaland, a holiday pop-up screening experience. Nestled into the quaint grounds of the Heritage Square Museum, the night includes carolers, hot chocolate, mulled wine, a holiday light tunnel photo op and more, as well as an outdoor screening of It’s a Wonderful Life.  December 16 at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Heritage Square Museum 3545 Pasadena Ave., downtown; tickets $20-$30, children 6-12 $10, children 5 and under free.

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

You’ve probably seen 100 versions of A Christmas Carol, but Jefferson Mays, who wrote and performs this new adaptation, hopes he can convince you to take another look at the tale. Mays, a veteran stage actor, has edited the story down to a one-man show in which he shifts into 50 different roles. November 27-December 16. Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Westwood; tickets $30-$120. 

Taylor Mac’s Holiday Sauce

MacArthur “genius” fellow Taylor Mac returns to L.A. for a two-night performance celebrating the holidays in his distinctive way. Mac creates his own versions of well-known songs and explores what he calls “the holidays in all their glorious dysfunction.” December 14 and 15 at 8 p.m. UCLA Center for the Art of Performance, Royce Hall, 10745 Dickson Court, Westwood; tickets $29-$119.  

Black Christmas and Silent Night, Deadly Night Double Feature

When the typical holiday programming gets a bit too sweet, this double feature night at the newly-reopened New Beverly Cinema should do the trick. Black Christmas from 1974 and Silent Night, Deadly Night from 1984 turn the season into a setting for scares. December 18 at 7:30 p.m. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; tickets $10.

Holiday Screenings at Rooftop Cinema Club

Rooftop Cinema Club shows a series of holiday classics at their L.A. venues this December. Catch Elf, Home Alone, Love, Actually, and other favorites throughout the month. December 1-22. Various locations; tickets $17. 

Scissorhands: A Musical Inspired by the Film

Tim Burton’s classic film Edward Scissorhands serves as a jumping-off point for this new, holiday-themed musical parody. Pop music from the ’80s and ’90s mixes with Christmas songs for the score, and the show has the backing of Dear Evan Hansen Broadway producer Bradley Bredeweg.  December 7-January 5. Rockwell Table & Stage, 1714 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; tickets $20-$64. 

Holiday Movies at Dream Hollywood

The lobby of Hollywood’s Dream Hotel is being made over into a cozy Christmastime living room environment–and what’s a living room without a classic holiday movie on the screen. Get some hot chocolate and cookies and settle in between the crackling fire and the Christmas tree for movies including Elf, A Christmas Story, and Love, Actually. Email guestserviceshw@dreamhotels.com to reserve your spot. December 5, 7, 12, 14, 19, 21, 24, and 25 at 5 p.m. Dream Hotel, 6417 Selma Ave., Hollywood; free.

L.A. Gives Back 3

This annual rager at Catch One celebrates L.A.’s music scene while raising funds for charity. This year’s list of performers is still secret for now, but will include some of the biggest names in electronic music for a night nobody will forget. December 19 at 8 p.m. Catch One, 4067 W. Pico Blvd., Mid-City.


Family-Friendly Holiday Events

Holiday Graham Cracker House Making Class

Kids and teens are invited to drop by this afternoon workshop at the Eagle Rock library to make simplified (but still very cute, and probably pretty tasty) versions of traditional gingerbread houses. December 11 at 3:30 p.m. Eagle Rock Branch Library, 5027 Caspar Ave., Eagle Rock

Reindeer Romp at L.A. Zoo

Visit Reindeer Village to interact with real, live reindeer (we’re sure they’re just taking a quick break from sleigh-pulling duty). On weekends, Santa is on hand for photo ops, too. November 16-January 6. L.A. Zoo, 5333 Zoo Dr., Griffith Park; free with zoo admission.

Bob Baker’s Nutcracker

Bob Baker Marionette Theater continues an annual tradition with this performance of Nutcracker, which they’ve staged each year since 1969. While the company’s own theater has closed, they’ll be performing this year at the Pasadena Playhouse’s Carrie Hamilton Theater. November 24-December 30. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena; tickets $24.

Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Universal Studios gets extra magical at the holidays with special Christmas programming in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The Hogsmeade set is decorated for the season, and every night brings a light spectacle and snowfall. November 23-January 6. Universal Studios, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City; tickets $99-$269. 

All Ages Holiday Wreath Workshop

The stylish floral designers of Matriarch pop up on the patio of Silver Lake restaurant Sawyer for this family workshop. Adults will craft modern, sophisticated wreaths with high-end supplies, while the kids work on a embellishing a pre-made pine or cedar wreath. December 9 at 3 p.m. Sawyer, 3709 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake; tickets $45-$85.


Food-Focused Events

Hanukkah at APL Restaurant

Chef Adam Perry Lang loves to bring out traditional Jewish dishes at holiday times, and for his first Hanukkah at APL he’ll be offering a full array of specialities. Expect his takes on latkes, fritters, and of course brisket, among other offerings. December 2-10. APL Restaurant, 1680 Vine St., Hollywood. 

Réveillon! A Creole Christmas Feast in L.A.’s Little New Orleans

Los Angeles is said to be home to the second-largest population of Creole Americans after Louisiana. The Pacific Food & Beverage Museum celebrates the tradition of Réveillon with this elegant dinner at L.A.’s oldest Creole restaurant, Harold & Belle’s. The menu includes regional specialities like oysters, crawfish étouffée, grits, armagnac-soaked bread pudding, and Sazerac cocktails. December 17 at 7 p.m. Harold & Belle’s Creole Restaurant, 2920 W. Jefferson Blvd., Jefferson Park; tickets $79-$89. 

Halal Hanukkah Party with Joshua Heller

Joshua Heller, host of the podcast “Two Jews Talking” and organizer of some of L.A.’s most popular Jewish cultural events, joins Chef Farid Zadi for a pop-up dinner with dishes including halal duck fat latkes with Moroccan roast chicken, dafina cooked overnight in a clay pot, and sfenj with cardamom cream and orange molasses. December 5 at 7 p.m. Revolutionario North African Tacos, 1436 W. Jefferson Blvd, University Park. 

Smorgasburg L.A. Holiday Pop-Up at Santa Monica Pier

Some of the top chefs from DTLA’s Smorgasburg are heading west for a day to whip up holiday treats on the Santa Monica Pier. In addition to 70 food stands, expect a special holiday gift area, photo ops, music, a beer garden, and other fun times. December 8 at 11 a.m. 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica; free.

Hanukkah with Harris at Genghis Cohen

One of the final Billy Harris dinner party events of 2018 is this Hanukkah celebration at nostalgic Jewish-Chinese restaurant Genghis Cohen. The night includes menorah lighting, dreidels, live music from Foie Grock (a band featuring chefs Bruce Kalman and Duff Goldman), and lots of tasty Chinese food. December 10 at 6:30 p.m. Genghis Cohen, 740 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; tickets $99. 


Markets and Gift Shopping 

Unique Markets Holiday Pop-Up

The essential, biggest, and perhaps best of L.A.’s indie maker markets, Unique L.A. returns yet again for its annual holiday shopping extravaganza. More than 300 designers, artists, and brands will be participating this time around, so you’ll probably be able to find something for every gift-recipient on your list. December 1 and 2. California Market Center, 110 E. 9th St., Downtown; tickets $15-$35. 

Santa Monica Pier Holiday Market

This westside market is also organized by the Unique L.A. squad, but unlike the downtown market, this one takes place right on the Santa Monica Pier. Among the vendors: The Moon Puppy Project who make cute pet accessories, Honey Belle organic skincare, and YOUTHS, makers of smart kid clothes. December 15 and 16. 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica; tickets $15. 

Echo Park Craft Fair

Stylish shoppers flock to the Echo Park Craft Fair every year for a more edited selection of handmade goods. Vendors fill all of Mack Sennett Studios’ stages as well as a full block outside with items perfect for those with a taste for the boho-chic. December 7-9. Mack Sennett Studios, 1215 Bates Ave, Silver Lake; tickets $12-$30. 

Renegade Craft Los Angeles

Formerly held at Grand Park, Renegade has moved to a larger space at Los Angeles State Historic Park, and will host some 200 vendors this year. In addition to shopping for crafted wares, you can have your aura photographed, listen to live DJs, and participate in DIY skill workshops. Bonus: the Madewell Personalization Station will be wheeling up their mobile shop at the fair, offering on-site customization of the brand’s leather goods as well as special items from Etta + Billie, Post Studio, and Hyworks. December 8 and 9, Los Angeles State Historic Park, 1245 N. Spring St., Chinatown; free. 

The Mall by ban.do

Inspired by the neon-colored shopping malls of the ’90s–right down to a real life Auntie Anne’s pretzel pop-up–this shopping experience will load you up on giftables. The main attraction is local label ban.do selling their own wares, but other “stores” in the “mall” will include brands from L.A. and beyond, including Sugarfina, Richer Poorer, The Good Twin, Boy Smells, Girlfriend Collective, Benefit, and more. Add in a manicure bar by Color Camp, vintage photo booth, and an appearance by author Busy Phillips signing her new book (Saturday only), and you’ve got a good day at the mall. December 8 and 9, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 1110 N. Beachwood Dr., Hollywood; free. 

The Fullest Holiday Market

Lifestyle brand The Fullest, based in Venice, curates this pop-up market at PLATFORM in Culver City that’s all about wellness and self-care. Pick up gifts or stock up for yourself on health-improving, stress-reducing items from a variety of brands. December 15, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. PLATFORM, 8850 Washington Blvd., Culver City; free. 

Holiday Bazaar at Delicious Pizza

Shop from 20 local artisans at this marketplace, while making a day of it with live music, DJs, yoga sessions, kids activities and more. The pizzeria will also be open with a full menu, beer, and wine. December 15, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Delicious Pizza, 5419 W. Adams, West Adams; free. 

Wild Riot Holiday Market

Local creative collective Wild Riot assembles this fun market and get-together event in the Ace Hotel’s Segovia Hall. There will be makers, artists, and vintage vendors selling goods, live entertainment, tarot card readings, a photo booth, food and drinks, and even a pop-up tattoo bar. December 16, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Ace Hotel, 929 S. Broadway, downtown; free. 


Assorted Merriment

Echo Park Community Parade

Gather along Sunset from Vin Scully Avenue to Park Avenue for a homespun holiday parade. The theme of this year’s volunteer-run celebration is “celebrating the cultural diversity of Echo Park.” December 8 at 11 a.m. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park. 

BOLD Beverly Hills

The area around Rodeo Drive gets into the holiday spirit with this neighborhood-wide celebration. Shops stay open later hours, restaurants have special seasonal offerings, and the whole area is elaborately decorated. Weekend nights also bring free live entertainment and art installations, from ice sculpting demonstrations to Hanukkah concerts and outdoor ballet. Various locations, Beverly Hills. 

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parades

Each evening from the 19th to 23rd, boats with holiday lights and decorations form an aquatic parade though Newport Harbor. Wednesday and Sunday night’s festivities also include fireworks. It’s free to watch from land, but to get even closer to the action, tour operators offer boat cruises for a fee. December 19-23 at 6:30 p.m. Newport Harbor, 1600 W. Balboa Blvd, Newport Beach. 

Holiday Ice at L.A. Live

Ice skating outdoors in L.A. isn’t the most natural of phenomena, but this annual holiday pop-up makes it happen. Skate gracefully–or shimmy and scoot awkwardly, if that’s your speed–around this rink in the middle of L.A. Live. If you go on a warmer day, be prepared for slick conditions. November 10-January 6 from 5 p.m. to midnight. L.A. Live, 800 Olympic Blvd., downtown; $15-$20. 

East Los Angeles Christmas Parade 

The East Los Angeles Christmas Parade ran for 35 years before being cancelled in 2009.  A group of community members and volunteers came together in 2016 to revive the tradition. Last year, the parade organizers estimate some 90,000 attendees came to watch marching bands, folklorico dance groups, and floats go by. December 2 at noon. Whittier Blvd., East Los Angeles

Queen Mary Christmas 

Replacing the CHILL experience that has popped-up at the Queen Mary in recent years is this somewhat scaled-down, traditional take on a holiday celebration. The festivities will still include thousands of lights to enjoy, live musical performances and carolers, visits from Santa, and an ice skating rink on the ship’s deck. November 23-January 6. Queen Mary, 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach; tickets $15-$69. 


RELATED: 7 of the Best Places to Buy a Christmas Tree in L.A.


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