While 2020 won't be a normal holiday season, there are still pockets of holiday cheer throughout Los Angeles County. In keeping with local guidelines, a handful of establishments have designed opportunities to gaze at immense Christmas trees, take in light spectacles and even give the kids a glimpse of Santa Claus. You might even be able to catch some snow in Southern California this year.
This year, car experiences are becoming a popular way to enjoy winter wonderlands while keeping public health in mind. Even Six Flags Magic Mountain has turned to this option to reopen the park for the holidays. Other venues are building holiday spirit with installations that you can explore safely on foot. At spots like Santa Monica's Main Street and Commerce's Citadel Outlets, traditional events have been re-configured for social distancing. At Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Pier, the holidays are an opportunity to check out art made as part of the city's economic recovery program. Here's what's available for holiday visits.
Dodgers Holiday Festival
There's a holiday experience made for Dodgers fans this year. L.A.'s World Champions are the hosts of The Holiday Festival, which opens at Dodger Stadium on November 27. The drive-thru experience is a 20-30 minute jaunt through Lots 10 and 11 at the stadium that includes holiday lights, Dodger elves and more. The event will also include a donation drive of baseball and softball equipment for Dodgers RBI, new toys for RaiseAChild and new socks for L.A. Family Housing. Tickets go on sale November 17 and range in price from $55 to $115 per car.
Elf in the Garden at South Coast Botanic Garden
South Coast Botanic Garden has a quest for you. Find the elf that's hiding in their lush South Bay gardens. This is an interactive experience that guests might want to try multiple times. The elf's location will change throughout the course of the holiday season and South Coast Botanic Garden will provide clues to the location on Instagram. If you find him, take a photo and use the hashtag #elfinthegarden to enter a raffle to tickets to the opening of their butterfly pavilion in the spring. The fun starts on November 23 and lasts through December 27 during daytime hours. The botanic garden is also presenting an evening light installation, "Glow," from November 21 through January. Ticketing for these events differs, so check their website for details.
Bob Baker Marionette Theater's "Windows of Wonderment" at Santa Monica Pier
The puppets from Los Angeles' legendary Bob Baker Marionette Theater are heading to Santa Monica Pier this holiday season. "Windows of Wonderment" is a retrospective exhibition that showcases the whimsical history of the 57-year-old puppet theater in six windows surrounding Santa Monica Pier's own iconic carousel. "Windows of Wonderment" runs from November 25 through January 7.
Santa's Speedway Christmas Lights Spectacular
Santa's Speedway is a new holiday experience that will make its debut at Irwindale Speedway and Event Center on November 25. This immersive, car-based experience was created by Mobile Illuminations, who has worked on Christmas projects for The Grove, Universal Studios and Warner Brothers.
Visitors will head onto the NASCAR track to drive through holiday scenes, including Santa's Village and Rudolph's garage. They will also unveil what's touted as the largest freestanding light tree in the world, standing at 110 feet and made of over 100,000 LEDs. The experience runs through January 10 and tickets are $75 per car.
Snow Flurries at The Point
El Segundo shopping and dining center The Point, will let it snow this holiday season. Their Magical Snow Flurries event begins on November 27 and will continue on weekend evenings through December 23. Find the snow on The Point's grassy area between 6 and 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays where flurries will fall every half hour.
Holiday Treats for the Animals at Aquarium of the Pacific
Long Beach's Aquarium of the Pacific launch's its holiday season on the weekend of December 5 with Holiday Treats for the Animals. On Saturday and Sunday, Santa Diver will bring gifts to the creatures inhabiting the aquarium. Holiday activities will continue through December 23 with snow in the Great Hall and more appearances from Santa Diver. There will also be snow play area, Santa photo ops and Hanukkah activities on the weekends. All activities are available to members and anyone with a general admission ticket. Guests must make reservations in advance of attending.
Snowy Nights and Holiday Lights at Citadel Outlets
Beginning November 14 and running through December 31, "Snow Nights and Holiday Lights" will fill Commerce's Citadel Outlets with seasonal cheer. The shopping center's 100-feet tall tree will feature 180,000 lights and 10,000 ornaments and bows. Nightly, guests will be be able to enjoy a free show of snow flurries and lasers that incorporates music from artists who have played previous Tree Lighting Concerts at the Citadel, like Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato and Sabrina Carpenter. The Citadel will also present the "world's largest holiday bow" on its castle wall. Socially distanced visits with Santa will be available beginning November 28 and there will opportunities to donate to CHiPs for Kids Toy Drive and Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.
Holiday in the Park Drive-Thru Experience at Six Flags Magic Mountain
The rides may be closed, but Six Flags Magic Mountain fans can visit in your car this holiday season. Guests will be able to drive through the 125-acre theme park, which will feature choreographed lights and amusement park characters, as well as Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and the elves. This massive drive-thru experience will also incorporate displays of rare cars from West Coast Custom's collection and a "Gleampunk District," that drops guests into the 19th century, steampunk environment. Holiday in the Park Drive-Thru Experience opens on November 20. Reservations are required and tickets are first come, first served.
The Elf on the Shelf's Magical Holiday Journey
Opening November 12, The Elf on the Shelf's Magical Holiday Journey is an immersive, drive-through experience that will take guests into Pomona Fairplex, where Santa's sleigh has landed and where you and the elves will be tasked with repairing his ride. Expect to visit gingerbread villages and enjoy a light show on your trip. Narration audio for the experience is available in both English and Spanish. Tickets for The Elf on the Shelf's Magical Holiday Journey start at $24.95. Guests are also welcome to bring a new, sealed toy or make a donation for Toys for Tots and Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
Wonderland Drive-Thru Adventure
Westfield Topanga/The Village present a holiday experience for families with Wonderland Drive-Thru Adventure, beginning November 30, located at the Promenade at Westfield Topanga. The car ride will include holiday music, and lights, as well as installations like the "WonderLAnd Forest." There will be opportunities for photo and video as well and appearances from Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and the elves. Tickets range from $70 to $90 per car.
Miracle on Main Street
A Santa Monica tradition for more than a quarter century now, Miracle on Main Street will be returning this holiday season. This includes its famed Shopping Cart Tree, a 40-foot tall behemoth of shopping carts, lightbulbs and zip ties, inside the Edgemar building. The free event will take place on select weekends during December and includes carolers and Santa Claus appearances. Festivities begin on December 5.
Holiday Art at Third Street Promenade
"Art of Recovery" is a grant program that came about as part of the City of Santa Monica's Economic Recovery Task Force and brings together artists with the city's local community. As part of the program, there will be holiday art installations at both Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Pier. These are self-guided installations that are free to view. Over at Third Street Promenade, holiday lights will also be on display, beginning November 27 and running through January 3. In addition, Third Street Promenade's socially distanced, seasonal activities will include a 24-foot tall tree, sundown menorah lightings during Hanukkah and a spot for contact-free visits with Santa Claus. They're also launching an augmented reality experience accessible through your mobile phone while visiting.