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What to Do in Los Angeles for Christmas

Updated: March 11, 2024
 By Mel

This post is a guide to things to do in Los Angeles during the Christmas holiday season, all updated for 2024.

We include tours, theme-park celebrations, winter festivals, Christmas markets, where to see Christmas lights and so much more. 

As local tour guides, we compiled this list based on our own experiences, but also by answering your questions.

We lead thousands of people each month through the streets of Los Angeles and on every tour you ask us about things to do in the city.

We also grabbed ideas from the members of our popular LA Travel Tips Facebook group.

The group consists of locals, like our tour guides, veteran travelers, as well as newbies to Los Angeles.

You don't need to join in order to read the posts, comments, and recommendations.

Check out the group once you are finished reading this post.


Surprisingly, Los Angeles does an amazing job of making its sunny warm weather feel like a true Christmas.

There are many things to do that invoke the Christmas and Holiday spirit.

You can see Christmas tree lighting, take holiday lights tours, and enjoy Christmas festivities at big theme parks like Disneyland.

Some activities start in December and run through the New Year, but many begin in November.

Be sure to read our posts on things to do in Los Angeles in November, December, and January to see what other holiday celebrations are still running in those months.

If you are considering enjoying several of LA’s theme parks, seasonal tours, and unique bus tours, you may find that a tourist pass can help you save money.


Christmas Lights of Los Angeles Walking Tour 

This 2-hour walking tour takes you to see the holiday lights of Downtown LA.

You’ll typically see a Nutcracker Village, light displays, "Las Posadas" at Olvera Street, and several famous buildings that are lit up for the holidays.

In addition to the tour itself, you'll also receive a free festive holiday drink. This outing is a private tour, so you can expect to pay a bit more for tickets than usual.

This tour runs nightly throughout December. Book soon before it sells out! 

More information and to purchase tickets.

To find out about the many Los Angeles tours offered year-round, see our post on the best Downtown LA walking tours.

Holiday Lamplight Historic Home Tour 

On this tour, you will visit several historic homes that are exquisitely decorated for the holidays.

Costumed guides lead you from home to home, telling you engaging stories about the era when these homes were built.

The tour ends with a complimentary wine and cheese reception.

Unfortunately, this tour might not be available in 2023.

That said, they will likely have plans for other Christmas events this December. Check their events calendar for more information.


Disneyland Christmas Fantasy

As if Disneyland wasn’t already a special place to visit, it goes all out for the holiday season! 

A dazzling display of lights, Christmas-themed characters and shows, and even a nightly snowfall, deliver a fantastic holiday experience.

It runs from November 10th, 2023 - January 7th, 2024. Find out more about this special experience from their website.

Alternatively, you can purchase tickets for Disneyland Resort ahead of time to avoid missing out on the festivities!

Knott's Merry Farm

Knott’s Berry Farm brings the holidays home, with a nightly snowfall, Christmas lights, live entertainment, and a holiday market with seasonal food.

The festivities are held from November 17th, 2023 to January 7th, 2024. See their website for details.

Once you know when you plan to visit, book your tickets ahead of time to avoid missing out.

It's also worth noting that tickets to Knott's Berry Farm are included for free with the Go City Los Angeles Pass.

Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Magic Mountain

Six Flags makes the season even brighter during their Holiday in the Park festivities.

Celebrate the holiday with their thrilling rides along with holiday light shows. 

There will be holiday decor, live entertainment, and seasonal foods (think s’mores!)

You can look forward to special events on select days from November 23rd, 2023 to December 31st, 2023. Check their website for dates and prices or purchase tickets ahead of time.

Keep in mind that tickets to Six Flags Magic Mountain are included with the Go City Los Angeles Pass.

Universal Studios

Already a popular destination in Los Angeles, Universal Studios at the holidays brings you "Grinchmas". 

The Grinch (who famously stole Christmas) is loose in Universal Studios. There will be Grinch-themed musicals and activities.

Santa Claus is often on hand, and you can have a photo taken with the Grinch and his dog Max.

Grinchmas starts on Nov 24th, 2023, and runs through Jan 1st, 2024. For more details about the event, visit their website.

Fans of Harry Potter will also be happy to hear they celebrate the holidays with The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts and Holiday Frog Choirs!

For more information on visiting Universal Studios at any time of the year, check out our full post on Hollywood studio tours.

You can also get tickets to Universal Studios Hollywood using the Go City Los Angeles tourist pass.


LA Zoo Lights

Head over to LA Zoo in Griffith Park for its annual holiday light celebration!

We can't begin to describe it so we will let this video speak for itself!

There'll be holiday animal-themed exhibits, seasonal treats, and more!

This event will be taking place between November 17th, 2023, and January 7th, 2024.

TIP: While tickets for Zoo Lights are typically separate from tickets to the zoo, it's worth noting that admission to the LA Zoo is included for free with the Go City Los Angeles Pass.

Parade of Boats at Marina del Ray

Bringing Christmas to the water, this free event features all kinds of sea vessels lit up with dazzling lights.

Reflecting off the water at night makes this event even prettier.

In 2023, it will be on December 9th from 6 pm-8 pm. The parade is followed by a grand fireworks show over the water.

The theme this year will be "Joy on the Water."

Prior to the parade, there is usually the Annual Snow Wonder event at Burton Chace Park from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. which is great for kids. 

They'll have the chance to enjoy real snow and have their faces painted, and for adults, there's a live DJ and food trucks. See the website for details.

Enchanted Forest of Light

There is simply nothing like this light festival at Descanso Gardens.

But first a disclaimer: tickets are not cheap. At $25-$38 per person, this may not be for you. If you can swing it, you won't be disappointed.

The Enchanted Forest of Light is a nighttime event featuring a one-mile walk through some of the most beautiful parts of the gardens.

More than just lights, the forest has an array of large-scale light displays that are interactive.

Visitors can actually engage with the displays to manipulate the lights and sounds.

This event will take place from November 19th, 2023 - January 7th, 2024, closed on Nov 23rd, Dec 24th (Christmas eve) & Dec 25th, 2023.

Find out more information and purchase tickets here.

Holiday Road at King Gillette Ranch

King Gillette Ranch, 26800 West Mulholland Hwy, Calabasas, CA

Get ready for huge holiday decorations, tons of twinkling Christmas lights, Santa, Mrs. Claus, Elves, loads of candy canes, and all the festive excitement you love!

The event will take place between Nov 24th, 2023 - Dec 27th, 2023 with variable dates.

The timing of the event is 5 pm - 10 pm.

Tree Lightings in Los Angeles and Nearby

There are several public tree light ceremonies in Los Angeles, but the annual Tree Lighting at Union Station is one not to miss.

Dates for the Union Station Tree Lighting ceremony have yet to be announced in 2023, but chances are it will either be at the end of November or the beginning of December.

This is also a very family-friendly event.

The South Patio of this historic station is turned into a winter wonderland, featuring thousands of sparkling holidays and a Christmas tree beautifully decorated. 

If they bring back everything from years past, there will be special musical performances, a "cocoa bar” with Elftenders, a kids zone with games, and a craft zone for kids to decorate gingerbread houses. 

Other Christmas Tree Lightings for 2023:

  • Grand Park - Dates unconfirmed, still planned.
  • LA Civic Center - Dates unconfirmed.
  • El Pueblo in Downtown LA - Dates unconfirmed, still planned.
  • Burbank City Hall - Dates unconfirmed.
  • Beverly Hills - Dates unconfirmed.
  • The Grove in LA - Dates unconfirmed.
  • Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica - Dec 1st, 2023
  • Mission Inn Hotel & Spa Festival of Lights (3649 Mission Inn Ave, Riverside) - Nov 18th, 2023 - Jan 7th, 2024


Unique LA Holiday Market

In 2023, this market will be held in Downtown LA on December 2nd and 3rd.

This market does really feature unique items! It is one of the best markets to visit, It is also held at other times of the year.

Union Station Holiday Festival

This holiday season pop-up market takes place in December (dates to be announced) at Union Station on the South Patio.

There will be unique gifts by local artisans and craftspeople. Plus, Union Station will be festively decorated! 

Jackalope Indie Artisan Fair

The name says it all - this will be an unusual market. It is held in Pasadena on November 18th & 19th, 2023 from 11 am - 7 pm. There will also be an art fair in Burbank on December 9th and 10th, 20231. It is free to enter.

Vendors are small businesses and you'll find lots of hand-crafted and original gifts like home decor and housewares, jewelry, paper goods, and art. 

There will also be delicious food to purchase. It is also very easy to reach as it is located right in Downtown LA! 

Renegade Craft Fair

Crafts enthusiasts love the Renegade Craft Fair, a roving market that is held twice a year in over 11 US cities including NYC, Miami, Chicago, and even in London!

The 2023 Winter edition in Los Angeles will be held at the Los Angeles State Historic Park on the weekend of November 18th and 19th from 10 am - 4 pm.

Expect more than 275 artisans to sell their unique creations. There will also be music and food trucks.

Echo Park Craft Fair 

This craft fair usually takes place every year, but they have yet to confirm plans for 2023.

This large holiday market featuring work by over 150 artists, started as a small community fair. 

It is now one of the highlights of the holiday shopping season.

It has grown so big over the past decade it is held in two buildings next to each other in the trendy and pretty neighborhood of Silverlake.


Ice Skating

L.A. Kings Holiday Ice Rink

Brought to you by the Los Angeles Kings ice hockey team! The main rink is in downtown LA at the Staples Center, home arena to the Kings.

Not only is it fully decorated but there are events scheduled including visits from some of the LA Kings players and perhaps even Santa himself!

The rink opens in mid to late November and stays open through the holiday season.

Why not see a hockey game while in town? You can see the Kings or the Ducks.

The Bai Holiday Ice Rink Pershing Square

Located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, this outdoor ice skating rink has a view of the city skyline. You can skate day or night.

The rink will open daily from Nov 16th, 2023 to Jan 7th, 2024.

General admission is priced at $20 and it also includes skate rental.

ICE in Santa Monica

This skating rink is returning for the 2023-2024 season. Official dates have yet to be revealed.

The skating experience here is odd to be sure -- ice skating with the ocean waves nearby and suntanned beachgoers in view? Only in LA!  

Hours: Sun-Thurs 11:30 am - 9:30 pm/ Fri-Sat 11:30 am - 11 p.m.

Price: All-day admission and skate rental is just $22.

The Burbank Ice Arena

This indoor ice rink offers public skating all year long. While not as festive as the seasonal rinks, you can’t beat the selection of dates! 

The prices are also very affordable. Admission for adults is $8 and $6 for children, students and seniors over 60. Skate rentals are $7 a pair.

Check their website for hours as times may vary.


The Hollywood Christmas Parade

Every year, on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Hollywood Boulevard welcomes Santa, holiday floats, and marching bands.

The Hollywood Christmas Parade has been an LA tradition for 90 years! 

In 2023, the parade is on November 26th at 6 pm. You can watch for free along the Boulevard. See their website for details. 

If you are already in the area, use our guide to things to do in Hollywood to see even more. You might prefer our audio tour of 

Las Posadas on Olvera Street

This Mexican-American Christmas festival will be taking place between December 16th and 24th, 2023. It is free to attend and people of all denominations are welcome.

The first night is the traditional candlelit procession with a reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. 

On all nights starting at 6 pm, there will be traditional Mexican music and dance performances, all sorts of authentic food, and a piñata-breaking at Olvera Street.

If you can’t make it during the festival, try to visit Olvera Street on another day. It is a unique part of Los Angeles and worth a visit.

Pershing Square’s Winter Holiday Festival

It’s free, it’s fun and it’s snowy. Yes the Winter Holiday Festival at Pershing Square in Downtown L.A. will have ‘snow’!

It may be artificially manufactured but that doesn't mean it won't be fun for the family!  

There will be craft booths, family entertainment, and a chance to pose with Santa. You can also go ice skating.

This event will begin on November 16th, 2023.

Music and Theater

LA County Holiday Celebration 

This free annual Christmas spectacular is made up of local bands, choirs, and dance companies who apply to be selected to perform in this three-hour holiday celebration.

It is held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Sunday, December 24, 2023, from 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

A Christmas Carol

See the Charles Dickens holiday classic about Ebenezer Scrooge learning what the Christmas spirit is all about.

It runs from December 9th - 23rd, 2023 at the Long Beach Playhouse in Long Beach.

The Nutcracker 

The Los Angeles Ballet offers an outstanding performance of this holiday classic. 

Catch it from December 1st - 26th, 2023 at multiple venues.

The Nutcracker

The Long Beach Ballet also puts on a fantastic rendition of this beloved dance. On December 16th - 23rd, 2023.

Handel’s Messiah

On December 17th, 2023, hear the Los Angeles Master Chorale sing this inspirational holiday classic. 

They will be accompanied by a chamber orchestra and four soloists. At Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Festival of Carols

Hear your favorite carols sung by the carolers of Los Angeles Master Chorale at Walt Disney Concert Hall on December 2nd at 2 p.m.

Bob Baker Marionettes Holiday Show

Perfect for young audiences, this marionette theater has been putting on holiday shows since 1963.

This show has yet to be scheduled for 2023, but it will likely take place. Check their calendar for more details.


Los Angeles locals love their nightlife, so there is no shortage of things to do on the last night of 2023.

New Year’s Eve in Grand Park

Join the crowds for this free, public gathering in Grand Park in Downtown LA. This celebration attracts thousands of people and for good reason! 

With two stages of music, light projections, food, a festive atmosphere, a countdown, and fireworks, this is an exciting and family-friendly place to ring in the new year. 

This event has yet to be confirmed for 2023, but it is very likely they will be holding a New Year's Eve celebration of some kind.

New Year's Eve aboard the Queen Mary

Located in Long Beach, this historic docked cruise ship is hosting its annual New Year's Eve party. 

You will definitely want to dress for this occasion. This ship is quite swanky with its Art Deco design. 

If you want to see more of the ship, you can take a tour of it. They also have haunted tours! Read more here.

This event will take place on Dec 30th & 31st, 2023.

We can't possibly list every New Year's Eve party in Los Angeles, so take a look at Eventbrite for a long, long, long list of parties and galas.


About The Author


Mel loves to be a tourist in her own city. With a background in performing arts, tourism, and photography, giving tours and being a story-teller comes naturally to her. She loves traveling, food, and theatre. Mel splits her time between Chicago and Los Angeles (#theatrelife) and leads tours and manages both cities!
Updated: March 11th, 2024
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