This time of year can be hectic but I hope you find some free time to have a little fun and spend time with family and friends. If you’re not quite sure what to do, or you want to do something other than just have dinner and go see a movie, read on for some of our recommendations.
Parks After Dark
33 LA County Parks | Dec. 17-18 | parks.lacounty.gov
Parks After Dark returns to transform your local park into a snowy play area with 40 tons of snow, crafts, filled holiday stocking for every child (while supplies last), hot cocoa, food giveaways and a visit from Santa.
Love Actually In Concert
Microsoft Theater | 777 Chick Hearn Court, Los Angeles, CA 90015 | Dec. 17 | microsofttheater.com
A full orchestra will replay the score of this holiday classic film.
Pasadena Convention Center | 300 E. Green St., Pasadena, CA 91101 | Dec. 17-19 | midsummerscream.org
Find scores of spooky stocking stuffers, wandering evil elves and other monsters taking a break from winter hibernation, and so many other not-so-nice surprises at this holiday horror convention.
Long Beach Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”
Terrace Theater | 300 E Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90802 | Dec. 17-19 | longbeachnutcracker.com
Long Beach Ballet’s Artistic Director David Wilcox has pulled out all the stops for this 39th production of “The Nutcracker” bursting with special guest performances and additional surprise treats for the entire family. This production boasts a full symphony orchestra, a flying sleigh, a real live horse, on-stage pyrotechnics, and a cast of over 200. Former Disney designers Elliot Hessayon and Scott Schaffer created the enchanting scenery, Australian artist Adrian Clark designed the detailed costumes, and renowned magician Franz Harary created the special effects. Ticket prices range from $34.00 – $78.00 with a special VIP Package also available. Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more.
Pasadena Symphony and Pops Present: Holiday Candlelight
All Saints Church | 132 N. Euclid Ave., Pasadena, CA 91101 | Dec. 18 | pasadenasymphony-pops.org
Acclaimed singer Allie Feder (“Pitch Perfect 2”) joins an array of choruses and handbells in this festive concert featuring your favorite holiday songs with “Silent Night,” “Let it Snow,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Hallelujah!” and more, all performed by candlelight – an aural respite that is sure to summon the spirit of the season.
Stevie Wonder House Full of Toys Benefit Concert
Microsoft Theater | 777 Chick Hearn Court, Los Angeles, CA 90015 | Dec. 18 | microsofttheater.com
Stevie Wonder hits the stage at Microsoft Theater for one night only in the House Full of Toys benefit concert.
Naples Island 75th Annual Boat Parade
Naples Island, Long Beach | Dec. 18 | naplesca.com
This nautical Christmas parade will feature boats of all sizes decked out in their holiday best. The parade begins at 6 p.m. but show up early as streets will begin to close at 5 p.m.
Once Upon A Time in L.A.
Banc of California | 700 Exposition Park Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90037 | Dec. 18 | onceuponatimeinlafest.com
Dozens of hip-hop and rap legends like Snoop Dogg, Al Green, 50 Cent, The Game, YG and Ice Cube (plus many more) are coming together for this one-day musical festival.
Barnyard Lights Tour
William S. Hart Regional Park | 24151 Newhall Ave., Newhall CA 91321 | Dec. 18 | instagram.com/lacountyparks
Take your family to enjoy a free evening of animal feeding, giveaways and photos with Santa.
Street Food & Yuletide Cinemaland Present: “It’s a Wonderful Life”
Heritage Square Museum | 3545 Pasadena Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90031 | Dec. 19 | feverup.com
Get into the holiday spirit at this picturesque neighborhood of Victorian-era homes decorated for the season. The festivities include two outdoor screenings of “It’s A Wonderful Life,” carolers, piano sing-alongs, food trucks, hot chocolate, mulled wine and an Instagram-worthy light tunnel.
Spike Lee Live In Conversation With Ernest Dickerson
Zipper Concert Hall | 200 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012 | Dec. 19 | eventbrite.com
Book Soup presents Oscar-winning director Spike Lee live in conversation with filmmaker Ernest R. Dickerson to discuss Lee’s new book, “SPIKE.” The book is a “visual celebration” of Lee’s life and career, featuring stories from him and never-before-seen photographs by David Lee.
Kids’ Holiday Culinary Camp 2021
Saute Culinary Academy | 150 E. Colorado Blvd., Monrovia, CA 91016 | Dec. 20 | sauteacademy.com
Salute Culinary Academy.will be holding a fun kids’ holiday culinary camp for the little chefs where they will learn the fundamentals of the culinary arts, including basic cooking techniques, knife skills, baking, sauces, and much more!
Johnny Mathis Christmas Concert
Segerstrom Center for the Arts | 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626 | Dec. 21
Best-known for his supremely popular hits like “Chances Are,” “It’s Not For Me To Say,” and “Misty”, “and “it’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, Johnny has recorded close to 80 albums, including 6 Christmas albums.
Fiesta Navidad With Mariachi Los Camperos
Segerstrom Center for the Arts | 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626 | Dec. 22 | scfta.org
This joyous annual tradition returns with Grammy Award-winning Mariachi Los Camperos. This celebration of Mexican holiday traditions is a concert filled with festive music and dance.
“The Nutcracker” at the Covina Center for the Performing Arts
Covina Center for the Performing Arts | 104 N. Citrus Ave., Covina, CA 91723 | Dec. 23 | covinacenter.com
This community ballet performance features local dancers of all ages. The theater’s mission is to support ballet tradition in our community while providing accessible ballet training, and education. This performance benefits student learning and helps support our school’s growth and development.
Hollywood Tequila Tasting
The North End Hollywood | 6423 Yucca St., Los Angeles, CA 90028 | Dec. 17-18, 24 | eventbrite.com
Staff at The North End will introduce you to new and unique tequilas, including four tastings of their top-selling tequilas.
35MM “It’s A Wonderful Life”
Million Dollar Theater | 307 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013 | Dec. 24 | eventbrite.com
Secret Movie Club presents this holiday classic starring Jimmy Stewart. Tickets are $14.
Estilo! Latin Party … (With A Little Extra Thrown In)
Treehouse | 686 N. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90012 | Dec. 25-26 | eventbrite.com
Estilo! Is a Latin party playing the best reggaeton, cumbia and Latin pop to get you dancing. Enter for free with an RSVP before 10:30 p.m.
A Magical Cirque Christmas
Segerstrom Center for the Arts | 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626 | Dec. 26 | scfta.org
Experience the enchantment of Christmas as hostess Lucy Darling takes you through an evening of dazzling performers and breathtaking cirque artists, accompanied by holiday music performed live.
Rose Bowl Stadium Holiday Tours
Rose Bowl Stadium | 1001 Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena, CA 91103 | Dec. 26 | eventbrite.com
Touring with a large group of football fans? Part of a club that enjoys history and architecture? Just in town for the holidays? Come enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of America’s Stadium!
ANW’s ‘A Christmas Carol’
A Noise Within | 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91107 | Through Dec. 23 | anoisewithin.org
This merry holiday classic returns with all new music to enchant and inspire viewers with the story of Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and Scrooge.
The Frankie | 300 S. Mission Road, Los Angeles, CA 90033 | Through Dec. 31 | truvariety-entertainment.ticketleap.com/snow-globe-la
Snowglobe LA combines an immersive art experience, gourmet farm-to-table meals, roving entertainment, performances and a bar for the ultimate night out.
Dodgers Holiday Festival
Dodger Stadium | 1000 Vin Scully Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012 | Through Dec. 31 | mlb.com/dodgers
Open nightly from 5-10 p.m. weekdays and from 3-10 p.m. weekends, the Dodgers’ Holiday Festival features professional photos with Santa, an illuminated ice skating rink across the outfield, other photo opportunities, light displays, live musical performances, bounce houses, and seasonally-inspired foods, including grilled entrees, desserts, cocktails, craft beers, wines, and hot chocolate.
South Coast Botanic Garden | 26300 Crenshaw Blvd., Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA 90274 | Through Jan. 17 | southcoastbotanicgarden.org
The Garden Lights & Ocean Waters (GLOW) exhibit has been reimagined. Event organizers say visitors can expect a “better and brighter experience.” Grab a bite to eat, maybe a drink, and walk through thousands of lights as music plays throughout. This year’s exhibit also features interactive experiences and themed nights.
Enchanted Forest Of Light
Descanso Gardens | 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011 | Through Jan. 9 | descansogardens.org
Live your fairytale dreams and enter the Enchanted Forest of Light, a one-mile walk featuring interactive light displays. New this year, Descanso Gardens has added an entire town of stained glass creations from sculptor Tom Fruin.
The Elf On The Shelf Magical Holiday Journey
Fairplex | 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona, CA 91768 | Through Jan. 2 | elfontheshelfjourney.com
Returning for the second year in a row, The Elf on the Shelf’s Magical Holiday Journey is an outdoor experience featuring dazzling scenery, lights, ice skating, trolleys, walking paths, treats and a Christmas village.
Santa Anita Park | 285 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia, CA 91007 | Through Jan. 2 | worldofillumination.com
Santa will have no problem finding this light display that puts even Rudolph’s nose to shame. From World of Illumination, producer of the world’s largest drive-thru animated light show, this display brings families face to face with elves, reindeer, the world’s largest animated toyshop and Santa himself.
The Obama Portraits Tour & Black American Portraits
LACMA | 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036 | Through Jan. 2 | lacma.org
Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of President Barack Obama and Amy Sherald’s portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama have become iconic since being unveiled at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in 2018. As part of the five-city tour of the portraits, LACMA will present Black American Portraits in conjunction at an adjacent gallery. The tour will feature teacher workshops, tours and an illustrated book.
Kidspace | 480 N. Arroyo Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91103 | Through Jan. 9 | kidspacemuseum.org
Winter has arrived in Pasadena as Kispace transforms into a space where children and families can share the magic of the season. Winter Frolic features a no-ice sock skating rink, “ice fishing” in the Kispace Arroy Stream, and snowflake decorating.
LA Arboretum | 301 N. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia, CA 91007 | Through Jan. 16 | arboretum.org
Following a sold-out run in London, Lightscape will transform the LA Arboretum with a one-mile illuminated trail featuring thousands of lights in various attractions like the Cathedral of Light, the Star Tunnel and the Fire Garden.
Santa’s Speedway Christmas Light Drive-Thru
Irwindale Speedway | 500 Speedway Dr, Irwindale, CA 91706 | Through Jan. 2 | santasspeedway.com
This year, Santa is bringing five new displays, twice as many lights, three full light tunnels and his signature 110-foot Christmas tree to a whole new course at the Speedway.
Ahmanson’s ‘ A Christmas Carol’
Ahmanson Theatre | 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012 | Through Jan. 1 | centertheatregroup.org
Tony Award-winners Jack Thorne and Matthew Warchus offer a new interpretation of Charles Dickens’ classic tale starring three-time Emmy-winner Bradley Whitford as Ebenezer Scrooge; Tony and Emmy Award-nominee Kate Burton as Ghost of Christmas Past; and Grammy, SAG Award, Critics Choice, and Hollywood Critics Association Award-nominee Alex Newell as Ghost of Christmas Present/Mrs. Fezziwig.
Mixpantli: Space, Time, and the Indigenous Origins of Mexico
LACMA | 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036 | Through May 1 | lacma.org
LACMA is marking the 500th anniversary of the fall of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital and site of Mexico City. According to LACMA, the exhibition “subverts the traditional narrative of conquest by centering the creative resilience of Indigenous artists, mapmakers, and storytellers who forged new futures and made their world anew through artistic practice.”