This article is being made possible by Pacific Park.
Behold the coastal City of Santa Monica, bustling with a full month of merriment this December. Bundle up and enjoy a sunny Christmas at the beach or a fun Festival of Lights under moonlit dancing waves. Catch Surfer Santa while he’s here on vacation, play in snow by the sand, and bask in the dazzling holiday light displays on the world-famous Pacific Wheel.
Lace up your ice skates at Ice at Downtown Santa Monica
No snow? No problem. Every holiday season, Downtown Santa Monica makes this beachside community a little cooler, transforming the corner of Fifth Street and Arizona Avenue into the winter wonderland known as Ice at Santa Monica, an 8,000-square-foot ice-skating rink. Open 2pm – 10pm weekdays, open until midnight on the weekends. Rent skates and enjoy the ice all day for only $15. Private and group skating lessons available, too!
Whimsical window art by Pip & Pop at the Looff Hippodrome
The windows of the historic Santa Monica Pier carousel building, The Charles Looff Hippodrome, are all decked out for the holidays. Australian artist Tanya Schultz, known as Pip & Pop, creates immersive installations and artworks from an eclectic range of materials including sugar, glitter, candy, plastic flowers, everyday craft materials, and found objects. The windows were unveiled November 27 and are open to the public through January 6.
Hang with famous puppets from the Bob Baker Marionette Theatre
Bob Baker’s Marionettes return to the Santa Monica Pier for a series of sing-alongs for children of all ages. The nearly three thousand puppets and expert puppeteers of this LA institution have given the gift of laughter to people around the world. Catch the captivating marionettes Thursdays this holiday season with performances at 6 & 7pm nightly on December 5, 12, and 19 on the Merry-Go-Round Deck. Free!
Selfie with Surfer Santa
Before Santa works his magic all night long on Christmas Eve, he’s surfin’ on over to Santa Monica to take photos with guests on the Pier. In the Central Plaza (next to Pier Burger) you can line up to get your photo taken with a real Surfer Santa from 11am – 5pm on Sunday, December 8. This is a free photo op brought to the public by Pacific Park.
Wave at an 80-foot tall snowman on the Pacific Wheel
Every holiday season, Pacific Park lights the chilly December nights with festive holiday icons and patterns on the world-famous Pacific Wheel Ferris wheel. The wheel’s 174,000 LEDs twinkle over the Pacific’s rolling surf, and this year’s holiday light program includes animated snowflakes, reindeer with blinking noses, holiday emojis and an 80-foot tall snowman cheerily waving from above. The lights appear every night around dusk (4:30pm) and run until 11:30pm or later. If you can’t visit the Pier in person, see the lights on the live-streaming webcams.
Holiday Story & Craft Time On the Pier
The Santa Monica Public Library hosts readings of holiday stories inside the Looff Hippodrome building next to the Carousel on Friday, December 13 at 4 & 5pm. This free event also offers opportunities for young ones to create crafts inspired by the Pip & Pop art installations in the Hippodrome windows.
Finish your shopping at Unique LA Holiday Market
This holiday edition of the beloved Unique LA brings crafters and artisans to the Santa Monica Pier deck the weekend of December 14 & 15. For $12, you can browse aisle after aisle of one-of-kind and hand-crafted items you won’t see on Amazon. Unique Markets started in December of 2008 and instantly became the largest ‘buy local’ shopping event in the country. The market is open from 10am – 5pm both days.
Caroling by the Sea
The Noelles, an all-female a cappella quintet, will perform classic holiday carols in their signature 1960s doo-wop style on Saturday, Dec. 21 and Sunday, Dec. 22 at 4, 5, and 6pm outside the Looff Hippodrome on the east end of the Pier. This free event is open to the public so swing on by and sing along to the holiday hits!
About Pacific Park
Pacific Park is an amusement park located on the world-famous Santa Monica Pier. Pacific Park is the family place to play! Featuring 12 thrilling rides, including the West Coaster and Pacific Wheel, the first solar-powered Ferris wheel. Millions of visitors each year enjoy all the rides, games and fun you’d expect from one of Southern California’s leading entertainment destinations. Pacific Park has it all - a dozen rides, midway games, ocean-front specialty food outlets, and seaside shopping.