Whether you’re a native Angeleno, or transplant from elsewhere, celebrating the winter holidays in Los Angeles—among palm trees and warm weather—may seem a bit hollow. How do you get into the holiday spirit when there’s no possibility of a white Christmas? Surprisingly, holiday events in Los Angeles are plentiful, presenting many festive opportunities to spend quality time with family and friends. As you prep for the holiday havoc in the next few weeks, gathering ideas for things to do around Christmas and New Year’s, take a minute to refer to our Holiday City Guide in Los Angeles.
Do All Your Christmas Shopping at a Local Holiday Market
If you have eclectic taste—or just want to give unique, one of a kind presents this year—consider shopping at one of the many holiday markets in Los Angeles. With shows in both New York and Los Angeles, the Renegade Craft Fair is one of the most popular artisan markets around. If you don’t mind paying for entry, the Unique LA Holiday Market gives you access to over four hundred independent designers and artists for only $15. Aside from checking off everyone on your list, you’ll enjoy festive music, seasonal food and drinks, family portraits, and even DIY workshops.
Celebrate With Celebrities at the Hollywood Christmas Parade
Each year, Hollywood Blvd. shuts down the Sunday after Thanksgiving for the star-studded Hollywood Christmas Parade. Although it airs on the CW network later in December, it’s much more enjoyable to watch it up close and personal. Local and national marching bands, dancers, and parade balloons all make their way down a giant red carpet—Hollywood style. This year’s grand marshal is Dr. Oz, but don’t be surprised if you see some of your favorite soap and TV stars waving from the floats too. Pro tip: Get as close to the parade start as you can. Some floats even throw candy and toys for the kids!
Deck the Halls With Holiday Concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall
During the second half of December, Walt Disney Concert Hall hosts six different holiday concerts to inspire yuletide cheer. Choose from jazz, acapella, or traditional choral music performed by Los Angeles singers and local musicians. Feed your ears with holiday favorites in addition to eclectic, original compositions. What better way to hear “Deck the Halls” this year, then on Walt Disney Concert Hall’s massive pipe organ? Better yet, come to the holiday sing-along, hosted by actress Melissa Peterman, on December 16th—a true test of your own pipes and the hall’s unforgiving acoustics.
Pretend it’s Actually Winter at the Outdoor Holiday Ice Rinks
Sure there are plenty of indoor ice skating rinks around Los Angeles, but for a holiday twist, why not try an outdoor rink this year? From Burbank to Santa Monica, many different cities have made ice skating a holiday tradition, despite the lack of freezing weather. Some even have themes—like the Pershing Square Holiday Ice Rink—including Disney’s Aladdin, a silent disco, and even a Polar Bear Skate. Brrrr! If you get tired of skating in a circle for hours,The Queen Mary’s annual CHILL celebration also offers ice tubing, ice bumper cars, and other adventurous, ice-filled activities.
Treat Your Sweetheart to Flowers, Cocoa, and Sparkling Lights
What better way to show your love and appreciation during the holidays than with a bouquet of Christmas flowers? Surprise your special someone with red roses and white calla lilies or a basket of blooming gardenias. After you’ve made them melt, warm them up with a cup of Cafe Demitasse’s lavender hot chocolate from one of their four locations across Los Angeles. Take one to go and cuddle up while enjoying a festively romantic night out. While fabulous Christmas light displays can be found all across the county, the dazzling, neighborhood light displays of Woodland Hill’s Candy Cane Lane or Altadena’s Christmas Tree Lane are definitely a must see.
Indulge in Holiday Fun at Local Theme Parks
Having five major theme parks less than an hour away, you can take your pick of the fun-filled holiday celebrations starring all your family’s favorite mega-franchises. Disney’s Festival of Holidays runs through January 7th and includes light shows, specialty entertainment, and a marketplace of festive, Mickey-shaped foods. Visit Santa, listen to carolers, and enjoy a Christmas craft village with Snoopy and friends at Knott’s Merry Farm. Or, if you’re looking for something a little closer to home, Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter promises a magical Christmas experience amid Hogwarts castle, with plenty of holiday themed food, beverages, and gifts galore.