The Best Holiday Events and Activities in Los Angeles

2018 Christmas events, concerts, outdoor ice skating, dazzling lights and more

"Messiah" Sing-Along at Walt Disney Concert Hall | Photo courtesy of L.A. Master Chorale, Facebook
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With gorgeous weather and endless entertainment options, the holidays in Los Angeles are like no other city. From classic Christmas music concerts to dazzling light displays and outdoor ice skating, read our guide and learn about some of the best Los Angeles holiday events and activities that will keep you joyfully warm throughout the season.

In keeping with tradition, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) offers free rides on Christmas Eve to provide safe transportation and reduce holiday traffic congestion. All Metro Rail and Bus lines are free starting at 9 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 24 until 2 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 25. Metro Rail and Metro Bus systems will operate on a Monday schedule on Christmas Day.

Outdoor Ice Skating (November 2018 - January 2019)

LA Kings Holiday Ice at L.A. LIVE
LA Kings Holiday Ice at L.A. LIVE I Photo courtesy of L.A. LIVE

Holiday Lights in L.A. (November 2018 - January 2019)

WINTER WONDERLAND & SANTA HOUSE - THE GROVE (through DEC. 25, 2018)

Winter Wonderland at The Grove
Photo courtesy of The Grove, Facebook

Wondering what to do on Christmas day in Los Angeles? Open 365 days a year, The Grove invites the entire family to enjoy a Winter Wonderland in L.A. now through Christmas Day (Tuesday, Dec. 25). The holiday festivities include a 100-foot Christmas tree, the Santa House, nightly snowfall at 7 and 8 p.m., live music and entertainment. Appointments for photos at the Santa House are available now through Dec. 24. The Santa House is closed Christmas Day. Various photo packages are available priced from $40-70. 5% of Santa House proceeds will be donated to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

REINDEER ROMP - L.A. ZOO (through JAN. 7, 2019)

Reindeer Romp at the Los Angeles Zoo
Reindeer Romp | Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Zoo

The annual Reindeer Romp is back for the holidays at the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens, featuring Reindeer Village and daily visits with real reindeer. Weekend Romps include professional photos with Santa (additional fee), antler crafts in Reindeer Village, and reindeer keeper talks. The reindeer will be on view 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through Jan. 7, 2019. It 'slots of fun if you’re looking for things to do on Christmas eve though the zoo is closed on Christmas Day.

Gifts aren’t just for humans this holiday season – during Reindeer Romp, the zoo’s animals will also partake in the festivities with special behavioral enrichment, including "presents" to unwrap that encourage natural behaviors.

"Up Close: Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel" - Westfield Topanga (Through Dec. 31, 2018)

Michelangelo, "The Creation of Adam" (detail), Sistine Chapel
Michelangelo, "The Creation of Adam" (detail), Sistine Chapel | Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Now on view at Westfield Topanga & The Village, Up Close: Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel brings visitors face to face with one of mankind’s greatest artistic achievements, Michelangelo’s renowned ceiling frescoes from the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel. The paintings have been reproduced using state-of-the-art technology and displayed at near original size. Featuring 34 reproductions, the exhibit includes iconic works like The Creation of Adam and The Last Judgement. Guests will view the pieces as few others have - in an immersive environment that lets the observer fully engage and comprehend the artwork.

Westfield Topanga will host the exhibit through Dec. 31. General Admission is $10 and the Audio Guide is $2. For more info and to purchase tickets, visit the Westfield Topanga website.

Los Angeles Holiday Parades (Nov. 26, 2018 - Jan. 1, 2019)

Photo courtesy of sfPhotocraft, Flickr

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD (Nov. 24, 2018 – Jan. 7, 2019)

Christmas at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Christmas at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter | Photo courtesy of Universal Studios Hollywood

Get in the festive spirit with all-new holiday experiences at Universal Studios Hollywood! Surrounded by holiday decor, you can celebrate Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, enjoy the most Who-tacular Grinchmas™ celebration ever, and take a selfie with the merry and mischievous Minions.

CHRISTMAS AT THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER (Nov. 27, 2018 - Jan. 7, 2019)
This holiday season, Hogsmeade™ is transformed with festive décor to celebrate Christmas at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Experience an all-new holiday spectacle with dazzling lights and music cast against the majestic backdrop of Hogwarts™ castle. Hear holiday favorites performed by the Hogwarts student choir accompanied by their giant throaty frogs. Shop for holiday ornaments, stockings, tree toppers and figurines, then enjoy seasonal food and beverage offerings at Three Broomsticks™, including a Holiday Dinner and hot Butterbeer™.

Family photo with The Grinch™ at Grinchmas™
Family photo with The Grinch™ at Grinchmas™ | Photo courtesy of Universal Studios Hollywood

GRINCHMAS (Dec 2-3, 9-10, 15-31, 2017)
This holiday celebrate withThe Grinch™, Max and all of Who-ville, during the most Who-tacular Grinchmas celebration ever. Snap a selfie with The Grinch and Max for holiday memories that last a lifetime, then enjoy the spectacular lighting of the spectacular 60-foot Seussian tree. Listen to cheery Christmas carols from the Who-ville singers, then decorate ornaments – prepare for messy fingers! Enjoy Martha May Who-vier and the Who-Dolls’ big holiday revue before settling in for story time with Cindy Lou Who.

WESTFIELD CENTURY CITY (November-December, 2018)

Sunset at Westfield Century City
Photo courtesy of Westfield Century City, Facebook

Following a $1-billion renovation, the flagship Westfield Century City showcases more than 200 luxury, contemporary and international designer brands, a stunning new three-level Nordstrom, a completely remodeled three-level Bloomingdale’s and a modern new two-level Macy’s. Westfield Century City is also home to the West Coast’s first Eataly, the massive Italian food emporium co-owned by celebrity chef Mario Batali.

Westfield Century City is featuring a variety of holiday experiences. Written, directed and choreographed by famed dancer and choreographer, Debbie Allen, Hot Chocolate Nutcracker brings a new context, fresh lively characters, new music and spectacular dancing to Tchaikovsky's beloved ballet for a vibrant and unforgettable theatre experience for all ages. Hot Chocolate Nutcracker performances will take place on Nov. 25 at 3pm and 7pm at the Atrium.

Stop by the mall for Cocoa With Santa on Dec. 9, 16, and 23 and enjoy entertainment, surprise gifts, cocoa, dessert, snacks, photo ops, perks and craft activities for kids and adults of all ages to enjoy.

On Wednesday, Dec. 13 Westfield Century City will host a Hannukah celebration that includes a public menorah lighting, music, activities and more.

"IT'S HOLIDAY TIME IN PALEYLAND" - THE PALEY CENTER FOR MEDIA (NOV. 25, 2018 - JAN. 7, 2019)

Hermey the Elf and Rudolph in "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (1964)
Hermey the Elf and Rudolph in "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (1964) | Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills celebrates the joy of the season with a special family-friendly experience. "It’s Holiday Time in PaleyLand" features screenings of beloved classic holiday TV programs from the Paley Archive, along with family holiday activities and a visit with Santa. Playing continuously on the big screen Wednesday-Monday from noon to 5pm are classics like Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Rugrats Kwanzaa, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town and Elmo’s World: Happy Holidays!

Visit with Santa and take a photo on weekends and select weekdays from 11am - 5pm (11am - 4pm on Christmas Eve). Families can also enjoy special holiday activities like ornament and puppet making, plus free hot cocoa!

Holiday Events at the Music Center (Dec. 2-24, 2018)

Located in Downtown Los Angeles, The Music Center is home to the Ahmanson Theatre, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Mark Taper Forum and Walt Disney Concert Hall. From concerts and sing-alongs to the city’s largest holiday celebration, visitors can spend the entire season at the Music Center and never see the same event twice. Read More

SNOW WONDER - BURTON CHACE PARK (Dec. 9, 2018)

On Saturday, Dec. 9 Burton Chace Park in Marina del Rey will be transformed into a winter wonderland. Taking place from noon to 6 p.m., Snow Wonder features more than 80 tons of real snow that will create a sledding hill and snow-kissed pine forest. (Sledding discs are provided or bring your own.) Enjoy crafts, music, face painting and food trucks. The Wonderelles will perform Christmas songs in a 1950s-rock style from 2-4 p.m. Admission to Snow Wonder is free, with food available for purchase. For those who want to participate in holiday activities, guests of all ages need a wristband. Get yours at the registration tent, where you'll first sign a waiver. Save time and download the waiver at Eventbrite.

STEVIE WONDER’S HOUSE FULL OF TOYS - STAPLES CENTER (DEC. 10, 2018)

Stevie Wonder
Photo courtesy of Stevie Wonder, Facebook

Now in its 21st year, Stevie Wonder’s House Full of Toys is taking place on Friday, Dec. 9 at STAPLES Center in Downtown L.A. The legendary singer-songwriter and humanitarian will be performing his iconic albums Talking Book and Innervisions in their entirety, along with special guests Andra Day, Dave Matthews, Pharrell, Savion Glover and Tony Bennett. The concert is a benefit for Wonder’s We Are You Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that helps children, people with disabilities, and families in need. Concertgoers are asked to bring an unwrapped toy or unwrapped gift of joy. Your charitable gift is 100% tax deductible.

HANUKKAH FESTIVAL: LA/LA - SKIRBALL CULTURAL CENTER (DEC. 10, 2018)

 

Inspired by the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative, this holiday celebrate the Hanukkah Festival at the Skirball and explore the themes of Hanukkah through the traditions of Los Angeles’s rich and diverse Latin American communities. Enjoy musical performances by Latin Jewish bands Klezmer Juice and Pan Felipe, and learn salsa, cumbia, mambo, hip-hop, and more with dance ensembles Versa-Style and Mambo Inc. Hands-on workshops include creating a community art installation with visual artist Sandy Rodriguez, and learning about Mexican chocolate and decorating chocolate gelt with Maite Gomez-Rejón. Skirball storytellers Mario Ibarra and Julia Garcia Combs will recount the age-old story of Hanukkah in both English and Spanish. Visit the Skirball’s PST: LA/LA exhibitions, Another Promised Land: Anita Brenner’s Mexico and Surface Tension by Ken Gonzales-Day: Murals, Signs, and Mark-Making in LA.

Families of all backgrounds are welcome to the festival, taking place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 10. Limited one-hour tickets to Noah’s Ark will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Museum doors and Will Call open at 10 a.m. General Admission is $12, $9 for seniors and full-time students, and $7 for children ages 2-12. These holiday activities are free to Skirball members and children under 2.

Las Posadas at Olvera Street (Dec. 16-24, 2018)

Las Posadas at Olvera Street | Photo courtesy of current events, Flickr

Each year from Dec. 16 until Christmas Eve, Olvera Street merchants and their families walk through El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument in a ceremonial re-enactment of Joseph and Mary’s nine-night search for sanctuary. The tradition features a procession with sing-alongs and piñata breaking, and is one of the oldest events in the city.

The ORIGINAL FARMERS MARKET (DEC. 17-24, 2018)

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

As it has for decades, The Original Farmers Market at Third and Fairfax will celebrate the holidays with Yuletide decor, a multicultural variety of seasonal music, arts and crafts, Christmas Karaoke and more. The Market’s holiday music line-up offers an eclectic range of musical styles, from Latin jazz to Calypso and mariachi. A favorite Market tradition returns with carolers strolling the aisles in Dickensian costumes. Holiday events and activities at The Original Farmers Market are free.

Tournament of Roses (Dec. 29, 2018 - Jan. 1, 2019)

Founded in 1890, the Tournament of Roses in Pasadena is America's New Year Celebration, a greeting to the world on the first day of the year and a salute to the community spirit and love of pageantry. From the pre-bowl game feasting at Lawry’s Beef Bowl, to the spectacular Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl Game on New Year's Day, the Tournament of Roses is a Southern California tradition that is unequaled anywhere in the world. Read More

Surf & Ski in the Same Day in L.A.

Snowboarder at Mountain High
Photo courtesy of Mountain High, Facebook