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Christmas in LA sparkles with an array of holiday festivities. As a native Angeleno it’s my favorite time of year. There’s ice skating under the stars and holiday themed activities in downtown and at theme parks, beaches, the zoo and other fun attractions.
And with our sunny climate, winter is an ideal time to visit Southern California. Want to find out where to find the best Christmas events and activities in Los Angeles? Read on!
Christmas in LA at the Los Angeles Zoo
L.A. Zoo Lights features a self-guided 90-minute stroll through a nighttime winter attraction that transforms its grounds into an immersive landscape with lantern sculptures of animals among flowers, towering trees and more.
At the entrance, a 90-foot-long shimmering wall of lights features snowflake displays set to music. For example, the light show features a high-tech interactive display where dancing lights respond to guests’ voices. In addition, the light show features giant glowing animals and wildlife-inspired displays. More festivities include holiday treats, food and visits with Santa.
The holiday display takes place from 6 – 10 pm November 17, 2023 to January 7, 2024 at the Los Angeles Zoo.
Santa Monica Holiday Shopping and Festivities
Slather on sunscreen for the daytime, but bring a scarf for chilly evenings while shopping and enjoying seasonal events in Downtown Santa Monica. The beach community is decked out for the holidays starting November 16, 2023 with a Tree Lighting Ceremony and free photos with Santa from 6 to 8 pm.
Festivities include ICE, featuring an 8,000-square-foot ice-skating rink through January 15, 2024. At Santa Monica Place, scoop up trendy and luxury items.
Celebrate Hanukkah and join in the community tradition of lighting the menorah at the Third Street Promenade starting December 7, 2023. The final lighting ceremony will take place at the ice rink at 4:45 pm on Thursday, December 14, 2023.
Read More: How to Ring in the New Year, Family Style
Christmas in LA at the Santa Monica Pier
To celebrate the holidays, Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier will light the Pacific Wheel in holiday colors in December 2023. It will also feature several holiday-themed icons, such as wreaths, reindeer, animated falling snow and an 80-foot tall snowman.
Enjoy watching the Ferris wheel light program live at santa-monica-pier-live-cams/wheel/
Urban Ice Skating
Christmas in LA means swapping out flips flops for skates at outdoor ice rinks set up for the holidays through the New Year.
Downtown on Ice
Skate under the sun and stars at the 26th Annual Downtown on Ice in Pershing Square in Los Angeles November16, 2023 to January 7, 2024. It’s L.A.’s biggest outdoor rink, located in the heart of the city at 532 South Olive, Los Angeles. The rink is open from 11:30 am – 8:30 pm. General admission: $20 includes skate rental.
The annual LA Kings Holiday Ice
The LA Kings Holiday Ice Rink brings outdoor ice skating to L.A. LIVE’s Xbox Plaza. Dates to come.
Christmas in LA at Universal Studios Hollywood
The Holidays at Universal Studios Hollywood features a variety of themed activities November 24, 2023 to January 1, 2024. The special events are included in the price of theme park admission.
Christmas In The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter transforms the quaint town of Hogsmeade into an enchanting holiday village. Seasonal décor is uniquely themed to each of the individual storefronts. In addition, a dazzling light projection spectacular brings the iconic Hogwarts castle to life.
As night falls, The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle illuminates Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry with colorful imagery. There are also dimensional animations that dance across Hogwarts castle in tandem to a musical arrangement from the Harry Potter movies. Musical performances from the a cappella Frog Choir entertain with their harmonized holiday-themed songs.
Shoppers will delight in the selection of custom-made Christmas ornaments created especially for “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.” And, of course, holiday-themed fare and hot butterbeer further complement the overall experience.
A 55-foot tall Grinchmas tree is adorned with ornaments and LED lights choreographed to music for the annual Who-lebration. Dazzling Grinchmas tree lighting ceremonies take place every evening, accompanied by a snowfall flurry. The festival features The Grinch, his faithful dog Max and a roster of Who-ville Whos.
Universal CityWalk’s 40-foot tall Christmas tree sparkles with 200,000 LED icicles choreographed to the lights and sounds of the season. Feel the magic of the holiday in the “5 Towers” outdoor plaza along with a slate of free concert performances and an eclectic ensemble of talented street performers. Admission to Universal CityWalk is free but there’s a parking fee. This event takes place through January 1, 2024.
The Original Farmers Market
Not just any market, this fun venue is a gathering place for meals, shopping and seasonal events. Celebrate the holidays with Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree: A Holiday Kick-Off from 2 – 7 pm December 3, 2023. The event features live music, entertainment, kids’ crafts and photos with Santa.
A Hanukkah celebration with a menorah lighting takes place from 3 – 5 pm December 10, 2023.
Christmas in Downtown L.A.
Holidays at the Music Center features a variety of festive events – some free – throughout December. The annual L.A. County Tree Lighting ceremony kicks off the holidays at 5 pm on November 27, 2023 at The Music Center.
Festival of Carols features traditional Christmas carols and festive folksongs from around the world at 2 pm on December 2, 2023 at the Walt Disney Concert Center.
Raise your voices with holiday classics during Carols on the Plaza at 6 pm Dec. 18 at the Music Center Plaza in Downtown L.A. Free admission.
The 64th Annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration is the city’s largest multi-cultural celebration. The free event takes place from 3 – 6 pm on Christmas Eve at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The three-hour show features numerous musical groups and nearly 500 performers, representing the diverse cultures and holiday traditions of L.A. County.
The annual Rodeo Drive Holiday Lighting Celebration will take place from 5 – 8 pm on Thursday, November 16, 2023. The event features a live performance by Emmy Award-winning actor and singer Sheryl Lee Ralph.
Holidays in Beverly Hills shines with several free spectacular light shows through Jan. 1, 2024.
Unwrap the Magic Projection Show illuminates historic Beverly Hills City Hall with different holiday scenes, including a Christmas tree that says “Merry Christmas Beverly Hills” and a Hanukkah menorah being lit. There will be interactive elements on display between show times, which take place daily every half hour from 6 – 9:30 pm November 16, 2023 to January 1, 2024.
Lights on the Lily Pond is a festive light show at the Beverly Gardens Park near the Beverly Hills sign. Show times are daily from 6 to 9:30 pm November 16, 2023 to January 1, 2024.
In addition, see sparkling light sculptures at Beverly Canon Gardens park located near the Maybourne Hotel. Enjoy the sculptures 5 pm – 11 pm through January 1, 2024.