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The Best Christmas and Holiday Events In And Around Los Angeles

LA Zoo Lights is one of the many fun holiday events in Los Angeles in December (photo by Jamie Pham courtesy of the LA Zoo)

The holiday season is officially here, and southern California is ready to celebrate. Families have a variety of ways to celebrate and enjoy this festive month! (This post contains affiliate links.)

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LA Zoo Lights is one of the many fun holiday events in Los Angeles in December (photo by Jamie Pham courtesy of the LA Zoo)

photo by Jamie Pham courtesy of the LA Zoo

Hanukkah Family Festival – Light for the People
Skirball Cultural Center
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90049

The Skirball invites families to celebrate Hanukkah on Sunday, December 18th from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. This year’s Family Festival includes storytelling, music, dance, printmaking, and more. (General admission is $12, children 2-12 are $7, and children younger than 2 are free).

LA Zoo Lights and Reindeer Romp
Los Angeles Zoo
5333 Zoo Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90027

LA Zoo Lights is a yearly holiday light extravaganza. Each night, between 6:00 pm and 10:00 pm, families will marvel at the holiday “wonderland of light” featuring seasonal treats, visits with Santa on certain dates, and more. In addition, the Zoo is also hosting Reindeer Romp. Stop by Reindeer Village for photos, enjoy holiday music, make holiday-themed crafts, and much more. The Los Angeles Zoo is the only place in Los Angeles to see live reindeer (a family complete with two babies!) Check the website for a complete schedule. Reindeer Romp is included in general Zoo admission; separate admission fees are required for LA Zoo Lights.  *Use our Goldstar Affiliate link HERE to get discount tickets to Zoo Lights!**

Enchanted: Forest of Light
Descanso Gardens
1418 Descanso Dr., La Canada Flintridge, CA 91011

Descanso Gardens invites families to an “interactive, nighttime experience.” The special event features a one-mile walk through ten different lighting displays throughout Descanso Gardens. Timed tickets are available online. Enchanted: Forest of Light runs nightly (from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm through January 8th, but is closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). General admission is $28, children 3-17 are $24, and children 2 and younger are free.

Christmas on the Farm
Underwood Family Farms
3370 Sunset Valley Rd., Moorpark, CA 93021

Celebrate the holiday season at Underwood Family Farms. Through December 18th, you can purchase (or simply enjoy) fresh-cut northwest trees, mistletoe, and wreaths. In addition, Santa will be visiting the farm for two different weekends (December 3-4 and December 10-11 from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm).

Holiday Fun
The Original Farmers Market
6333 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, CA 90036

From Sunday, December 18th through Saturday, December 24th, families can celebrate the holiday season at the Original Farmers Market. Different festivities are planned for each day, and details are available online. You can expect live musical entertainment, strolling carolers, festive decorations, holiday crafts, and more.

Snow! Day LA
Stadium Way and Scott Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012

Here in Los Angeles, it may not snow in the traditional sense, but that doesn’t mean families can’t play in the snow. At Snow! Day LA, you’ll find over 10,000 square feet of synthetic snow across 9 acres. Families will enjoy a winter wonderland complete with food trucks, snowmen, snow tubing lanes, a light show, hot cocoa and hot cider, and much more. Tickets are available online. Check the website for days and times.

Downtown LA Holiday Lights Walking Tour
meets at Union Station
800 Alameda St., Los Angeles, CA 90012

Downtown LA Walking Tours offers a special two-hour holiday-themed walking tour of downtown Los Angeles. Families will view downtown L.A. as they don’t usually see it. Marvel at the lights decorations, and holiday cheer that you’ll find as you walk along during the tour. A few of the tour’s highlights include the illuminated fountain at Grand Park, Nutcracker Village at California Plaza, and Icicle sheets in the Old Bank District. Check the website for ticket information.

It’s Holiday Time in Paleyland
The Paley Center for Media
465 N. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210

The Paley Center for Media invites families to experience “It’s Holiday Time in Paleyland.” Families can view classic holiday television shows, enjoy complimentary hot chocolate, participate in craft activities, and on select days, visit with Santa! This free event is available beginning on Saturday, December 2nd through January 8th from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Be sure to check the website for details when Santa will be on hand.  

Holiday in the Park
Six Flags Magic Mountain
26101 Magic Mountain Parkway, Valencia, CA 91355

Magic Mountain is ready to celebrate the holidays with your family. The amusement park is decorated with more than one million lights and six themed areas. Enjoy holiday treats, shows, rides, and more at the “Thrill Capital of the World.” Tickets are available online and discounts are offered for tickets bought at least a week before visiting.

The Mission Inn Festival of Lights is one of the fun things you can do with families in Los Angeles for the holidays

25th Festival of Lights
The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa
3649 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside, CA 92501

The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa invites families to its annual Festival of Lights. This year the festivities will continue through January 7th. The famous hotel will be illuminated by over 4 million holiday lights. The Festival of Lights is a grand event featuring more than 400 animated figures, the world’s largest man-made mistletoe, horse-drawn carriages, and more. In addition, this year the Mission Inn Hotel and Spa will be showcasing a gingerbread theme throughout the hotel.

Science of Gingerbread
Discovery Cube Los Angeles
11800 Foothill Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 91342

Now through January 1st, families can visit the Discovery Cube and learn about the Science of Gingerbread. This annual event includes hands-on activities including cookie decorating, a build-a-house learning station, a gingerbread derby competition, and more. On select days, children can also visit with Santa. Check the website for scheduling information. (Admission is $12.95 for each guest).

Visit Santa’s Village
28950 CA-18, Skyforest, CA 92385

While a trip to the North Pole may be out of the question, you can visit Santa’s Village here in southern California. Santa’s Village hasn’t been open in 20 years and now that it’s open this year, families are invited to enjoy the whole experience. Each admission ticket includes the opportunity to visit with Santa, a chance to enjoy the outdoor skating rink, a train ride, storytelling, a visit to the climbing room, and much more. Tickets are available online. They are open daily (except on Christmas Day) from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.

CHILL at The Queen Mary
1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach, CA 90802

Families can do it all at Queen Mary’s CHILL. This yearly tradition includes visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, live entertainment, ice skating, ice tubing, Alice in Wonderland, and more. “Alice in Wonderland” is new this year and features the familiar story in a completely new way within an interactive 14,000-square foot experience. Visit the North Pole Village, have fun in the Snow Zone, experience the World’s Largest Rocking Horse (standing over 15 feet tall, 24 feet long, and 8 feet wide!), and much more! You can experience CHILL through January 8th, and tickets are available online.

Las Posadas
Olvera Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

This yearly event is a nine-night re-enactment of the journey of Mary and Joseph. Each night families will enjoy singing, ballet folklorico, a candlelight procession, and a children’s pinata breaking. Las Posadas is scheduled for Friday, December 16th through Saturday, December 24th, 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm each night.

Knott’s Merry Farm
Knott’s Berry Farm
8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, CA 90620

Knott’s Merry Farm is all ready to welcome your family (and is available until January 8th). You’ll find a Snoopy ice show, holiday food, thousands of lights, holiday music, a crafts village, falling snow, live entertainment, and much more. You can purchase tickets online.

Hanukkah Celebration
Two Rodeo Drive
210 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Families are invited to celebrate Hanukkah in the city of Beverly Hills on Tuesday, December 27th from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm. This free event features live music, traditional Hanukkah food, and more!

Winter Fantasy Sawdust Art and Craft Festival
935 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Laguna Beach invites families to its Winter Fantasy. The Sawdust Festival grounds will resemble a winter wonderland featuring 175 artists creating a variety of different art media including ceramics, jewelry, sculpture, woodwork, painting, and more. In addition, you’ll find live holiday entertainment, outdoor cafes, a petting zoo, Santa Claus, and more. Tickets are available online. You can visit on weekends (December 3-4, December 10-11, and December 17-18 from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm each day)

Universal Studios Hollywood Grinchmas
100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608

Families who are familiar with the classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss will enjoy Grinchmas at Universal Studios Hollywood. Festivities include carols performed by Who-ville singers, photo opportunities, check out the Who-ville set on the Backlot, enjoy story time with Cindy Lou Who, and more. Check the website for scheduling information.

Aquarium Holidays
Aquarium of the Pacific
100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802

Celebrate the holidays with the marine animals at the Aquarium of the Pacific. This special event begins December 3rd and continues through December 23rd. Families are in for a lot of special treats including a scuba-diving Santa, a daily Penguin Walk, a display of gingerbread houses, costumed characters, a holiday menu offered in Cafe Scuba, and more. On weekends, the Aquarium will also have a snow play area, photos with Santa, children’s crafts, Hanukkah storytelling, and much more. And don’t forget to participate in the Aquarium’s toy drive benefiting Spark of Love. See the website for details and schedules.

WinterFest OC
OC Fair and Event Center
88 Fair Dr., Costa Mesa, CA 92626

From December 16th through January 1st, families can enjoy WinterFest OC. You’ll find ice tubing, carnival rides, live entertainment, ice skating, a walk-through light show featuring 2 million lights, visits with Santa, snow, and much more. Tickets are available online.

North Pole Express
364 Main St., Fillmore, CA 93015

The Fillmore and Western Railway Company invite you to get into the Christmas spirit aboard their trains. Take your family on a version of a Polar Express-inspired train ride. Families will enjoy an hour-long train ride onboard a vintage train. Children are encouraged to dress warmly in their pajamas. Trains depart at 6:00 pm and 7:30 pm on select dates from December 3rd through the 23rd. Ticket information is available online.

Grand Park Lights Up the Holidays
Grand Park
200 N. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Head downtown to Grand Park this holiday season. Families will enjoy a festive setting as they stroll through Grand Park. Enjoy the 45-foot tree, the festive holiday decorations, and more. And get the camera ready for some great photo ops!

Holiday Magic at Disneyland and
Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure Park
1313 Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, CA

Families can celebrate this holiday season at the “happiest place on Earth.” Special festivities are planned for both Disney California Adventure Park as well as Disneyland. You can expect to enjoy parades, shows, fireworks, festive decor, music, food, and much more. Tickets are available online.

Holiday Boat Parades

Here in southern California, we can celebrate the holidays at the beach and the mountains (even on the same day). Families can enjoy several holiday boat parades that are scheduled throughout the month of December. Newport Beach is planning its 108th Boat Parade featuring festively decorated boats, kayaks, yachts, and canoes. The event happens December 14th through the 18th. The Naples Long Beach Boat Parade is happening on Saturday, December 17th. And Marina del Rey is hosting their annual Holiday Boat Parade on Saturday, December 10th. A fireworks show will get the festivities started and then the parade will begin at 6:00 pm. And you can spend time in Marine del Rey by visiting Snow Wonder at Burton Chace Park (available from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm).  

Santa Claus 

The Grove
189 The Grove Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90036 and
The Americana at Brand
889 Americana Way, Glendale, CA 91210

For many families, a yearly photo with Santa Claus is a tradition. Among the more popular places to visit with the Jolly Man are at The Grove and The Americana. At the Grove, appointment times are available online to save families from waiting outside Santa’s house. And on select days, you can bring the family pet for “Santa Paws Pet Photos.” At the Americana at Brand, you can visit Santa spontaneously or book an appointment ahead of time. Photo packages are available at both locations ranging in price from $30 to $70. Click here for more locations to visit Santa Claus


Outdoor Ice Skating

While the weather may be too cool for some of your usual outdoor activities, it’s a perfect time for the family to go ice skating. There are several rinks around southern California, including Pershing Square Holiday Ice Skating Rink, LA Kings Holiday Ice at the Battleship IOWA in San Pedro, ICE at Santa Monica, The Rink in Downtown Burbank, LA Kings Holiday Ice at Westfield Topanga, and many more throughout southern California.

Neighborhood Holiday Lights

While you can see holiday lights in every neighborhood of Southern California, you’ll want to make sure to stop by and see those on Christmas Tree Lane. This street in Altadena is celebrating their official Tree Lighting Ceremony on Saturday, December 10th. Be sure to also check out the lights on Candy Cane Lane. Candy Cane Lane is located in Woodland Hills near Pierce College. Their lights begin on the 2nd Saturday of each December and continue through to the end of the year.



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Wendy Kennar (389 Posts)

Wendy is a freelance writer who finds inspiration in her nine-year-old son and from her experiences from her twelve-year teaching career. Her writing has appeared in several publications and anthologies, both in print and online. She prefers sunflowers to roses and thinks chocolate is okay at any meal. You can find her at wendykennar.com.

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