Los Angeles may not get any snow, but you’d be surprised at how festive it can get in 70-degree weather! To get everyone in the spirit of the holidays, the city offers a ton of holiday events and activities in Los Angeles. You can enjoy outdoor movies, take magical walks in lit-up botanical gardens, watch exciting holiday plays, and experience Christmas takeovers at theme parks.
The whole town gets into the Christmas spirit with lights everywhere. With Christmas lights adorning the entire town, our selected list of the best events ensures that Los Angeles becomes a winter wonderland throughout the month, making it easy to embrace the holiday cheer in the warm California climate.
Top Holiday Events and Activities in LA
This holiday season, enjoy the special opportunity to leave your cars behind and experience the joyful vibe of the city with your loved ones. There’s, even more, to be excited about as our favorite holiday traditions are back, some even bigger and brighter than before.
From November to early January, the city will be lit up with fantastic holiday lights, and there are plenty of delightful Christmas events to celebrate the season. Check out our favorite holiday celebrations below:
1. Walk Along the Glittering Wonderland at Holiday Road
Embark on a magical journey through illuminated tunnels, candy cane-lined paths, and winter-themed scenes in the Santa Monica mountains at Holiday Road. This year, the enchanting spectacle transforms King Gillette Ranch into a glittering wonderland that can be explored on foot.
Wander along the nearly mile-long walking trail, featuring festive decor such as a treetop canopy of icicle lights, a charming Christmas village, oversized decorations, and archways adorned with lights. Indulge in festive delights with food trucks and a holiday bar on-site. From the creators of Nights of the Jack, Holiday Road promises a dazzling experience in this Santa Monica Mountains hideaway.
2. Skate Around the Ice Skating Rinks in Los Angeles
Get ready for some festive fun as our favorite seasonal activities make a comeback this year! You can skate around an ice rink while enjoying classic holiday songs and twinkling lights. It’s a delightful experience that will surely make you hungry for delicious holiday treats.
Don’t worry if you haven’t skated in a while – you’ve got the whole month to get back into the groove. Check out the 3 perfect ice rinks in Los Angeles where you can join in this festive tradition and have a fantastic time during the holiday season.
Winter Wonderland in Downtown Santa Monica
While Los Angeles may not have numerous open ice rinks within the city, the intersection of Fifth Street and Arizona Avenue has been transformed into a winter wonderland for the holidays. Gather your loved ones and create enchanting memories on the ice. It’s also an ideal way to take a break from your Christmas shopping in Downtown Santa Monica.
Pershing Square Holiday Ice Rink
In Downtown Los Angeles, there’s a lively 7,200-square-foot ice rink that sparkles during the holidays. Surrounded by tall buildings and decked out with colorful lights, it gives you that perfect holiday feeling.
Every year, they have fun celebrations like the Icebreaker Opening ceremony. This event includes choreographed performances and a special “ice-breaking” ritual where they shatter a big ice sculpture, making the festivities even more exciting.
Irvine Spectrum Center's Skating Under The Stars
Experience the magic of the holidays at Irvine Spectrum Center‘s Skating Under The Stars ice rink, where you can glide through the enchanted night with the giant Ferris Wheel as your backdrop. Create lasting memories and embrace the festive spirit with friends and family in this enchanting setting.
3. Stunning Light Show at Lightscape
Lightscape, a famous holiday display from London, has turned the huge L.A. Arboretum into a stunning light show. It starts with a beautiful Winter Cathedral and takes visitors on a one-mile path with colorful trees and big light artworks. The display plays with different types of light and has charming music. The admission cost might be worth it if you want to take photos in the cathedral-like light tunnel.
4. Magical Movie Night at Yuletide Cinemaland
The grandest outdoor movie series in Los Angeles has returned, featuring blockbuster hits, live music, delectable food trucks, and delightful weather – an ideal combination. This season, revel in the Yuletide Cinemaland pop-up, where you can relish all your Christmas classics amidst the picturesque Heritage Square. Secure your spot for a magical movie night under the moonlight at this enchanting venue.
5. Gondola Cruise in Long Beach
While Italy might not be accessible to everyone, you can still embark on a Venetian-style getaway along the charming canals of Long Beach. Glide beneath romantic bridges adorned with festive lights, surrounded by stunning scenery. Discover more about this enchanting experience here.
6. Enchanted: Forest of Light
Enchanted: Forest of Light, a beloved Christmas event at Descanso Gardens, is a one-mile-long trail that features captivating illuminated installations, promising a brighter and more magical experience.
With around 10 enchanting displays, this holiday tradition combines hands-on art installations with atmospheric, luminescent forests, set against a backdrop of uplit trees and shimmering sound effects, creating a delightful journey of discovery and wonder.
7. Holiday Light Display
This year, the city is ablaze with captivating festive installations, offering a variety of experiences from extravagant street lights and Christmas events to enchanting parks, gardens, and the magical atmosphere at Disneyland.
From Buena Vista Street to Mission Inn, here are the top 7 places in Los Angeles to witness dazzling holiday light displays, transforming the city into a vibrant and festive wonderland during the holiday nights:
‘Wildlights’ At The Living Desert
‘Wildlights’ at The Living Desert was named one of the 10 Best Zoo Lights in the country by USA Today in 2020, and it’s competing for the same title this year. The stunning display includes life-size lantern sculptures that represent various species, including endangered ones, highlighting the zoo’s diverse wildlife.
The Mission Inn Festival of Lights
Unlike the usual seasonal decorations like snowmen, the Palos Verdes Botanic Garden focuses on nature. The 87-acre coastal garden will turn into a colorful and immersive galactic experience, so grab a jacket and take a walk through the magical forest of glowing stars.
Drive Down at Christmas Tree Lane
While we’re accustomed to driving past rows of palm trees, once a year, people from all around make the journey to witness Altadena’s Christmas Tree Lane. Gather your household, take a leisurely drive down this illuminated hill, and be sure to keep your headlights on for the full sparkling experience!
‘Sparkle DTLA’ at The Bloc
Complete your shopping spree at The Bloc in Downtown Los Angeles while immersed in a vibrant showcase of 18 million holiday lights. Experience the festive magic of ‘Sparkle DTLA‘ with nightly shows, featuring the giant tree twinkling in harmony with festive tunes.
Dana Point Harbor Holiday Display
The much-anticipated Dana Point Harbor Boat Parade of Lights returns, accompanied by the enchanting Dana Point Harbor holiday light displays starting this November. The harbor will be adorned with festive archways, wreaths, glowing whale sculptures, and more, creating a delightful and cheery atmosphere for a charming night out.
Magical Atmosphere at Old Pasadena
Discover a charming historic district where you can shop and dine during the holidays, helping preserve the vibrant neighborhood and support local families. The place is beautifully lit with fairy lights and festive projections in the winter, creating a magical atmosphere in the alleys and courtyards.
Feel free to wander through the old streets and buildings, and if you prefer, you can also shop online or get takeout from local shops and eateries to enjoy the holiday spirit.
Night Snow at The Grove LA
During Christmas, The Grove goes all out, turning the shopping destination into an enchanting wonderland. Experience nightly “snow,” encounter the iconic Santa installation with holiday music in the air, and marvel at two of the tallest trees on the West Coast adorned with 25,000.
8. Holiday Parade in Los Angeles
Enjoy parades in Los Angeles! Witness the arrival of Santa Claus as his sled touches down the street, enjoy a dazzling parade of boats adorned with vibrant decorations, and unforgettable experience. Here is the list of holiday parades in LA.
Marina Del Rey Boat Parade
Transport yourself to a quaint fishing village ambiance at the Marina Del Rey Boat Parade. Bring a blanket, gather at Fisherman’s Village or Burton Chace Park, and witness 70 boats adorned with holiday lights and decorations competing in categories like Best Theme, Best Animation, Best Band, and more. The festivities kick off at 5:55 pm with fireworks, followed by the boat parade at 6 pm, regardless of rain or shine.
Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade
Experience the unique charm of Christmas in a Mediterranean climate, where boat owners adorn their vessels with holiday lights for the 115th Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. Over 100 decorated yachts and ships will gracefully parade around a 14-mile circuit in Newport Harbor for five nights.
While you can enjoy the free view from any bay-facing point along the harbor, reserved seats, dining packages, and cruises are also available for purchase.
Hollywood Christmas Parade
Join the fun at the Hollywood Christmas Parade, a ninety-year-old L.A. tradition with floats, balloons, bands, equestrians, and celebrities. The parade follows a U-shaped route from Hollywood and Orange to Sunset and Orange. You can buy reserved grandstand seats to support Toys for Tots or opt for free curbside seating.
9. Holiday Events at Music Center
10. LA Unique Market
This December, explore the annual Unique holiday market featuring a curated selection of clothing, accessories, art, and more from 150 designers, brands, and artists. Visit the California Market Center to discover local products and connect with diverse designers and artists presenting their creations.
Enjoy the convenience of complimentary gift wrapping and enhance your experience with VIP tickets, including two drink tickets and exclusive items, making your holiday shopping a delightful and efficient affair.
Get Ready to Visit the Best Places in LA
Experience the unique holiday charm of Los Angeles with its stunning weather and an array of entertainment options. Our guide has highlighted some of the best holiday events, from Christmas music concerts to enchanting light displays and outdoor ice skating.