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Christmas in Los Angeles

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This post is a guide to things to do in Los Angeles during the holiday season, including holiday tours and theme-park celebrations, winter festivals, Christmas markets, where to see Christmas lights and so much more, all updated for 2021.  Don't forget to look into our packing tips for winter trips!

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OVERVIEW

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 lightings, take holiday lights tours, and enjoy Christmas festivities at the 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.

Tourist Passes Reviewed

 


HOLIDAY-THEMED TOURS

Christmas Lights of Los Angeles Walking Tour 

This 2-hour walking tour that 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 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 will not be available in 2021. That said, they do have plans for other events this December. Check their events calendar for more information.


CHRISTMAS AT THE THEME-PARKS

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 12th, 2021 - January 9th, 2022. Find out more about this special experience from their website. Masks will be required and vaccinations are recommended.

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 on select days from November 2021 to January 2022. 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 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 Christmas decor, live entertainment, and seasonal foods (think s’mores!)

The park is open every day, including New Year's Day. 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 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 usually starts early December and runs on select days through the month. The 2021 schedule has yet to be announced, but it has been planned for this year, so keep checking their website.

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 Los Angeles tourist pass.


HOLIDAY LIGHTS 

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! Dates have yet to be announced so keep an eye on the LA Zoo website.

NOTE: Official dates have not been announced for 2021, but they do have plans to bring zoo lights back this holiday season.


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 2021, it will be on December 11th 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, 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 Descano 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 wont 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 21st, 2021 - January 9th, 2022.

Find out more information and purchase tickets here.


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.

The Union Station Tree Lighting is currently tentatively scheduled for November 30th, 2021. 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 holiday 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 craft zone for kids to decorate gingerbread houses. 

Other Christmas Tree Lightings for 2021:

  • Grand Park - Dates unconfirmed, still planned.
  • LA Civic Center - Dates unconfirmed.
  • El Pueblo in Downtown LA - Dates unconfirmed, still planned.
  • Burbank City Hall - Tentatively scheduled for December 4th.
  • Beverly Hills - Dates unconfirmed.
  • The Grove in LA - Dates unconfirmed.
  • Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica - Dates unconfirmed, still planned.

CHRISTMAS MARKETS

Unique LA Holiday Market

In 2021, this market will be held in Downtown LA on December 11th and 12th.

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 20th and 21st, 2021 from 11 am - 7 pm. There will also be an art fair in Burbank on December 11th and 12th, 2021. 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

Craft 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 2021 Winter edition in Los Angeles will be held at the Los Angeles State Historic Park on the weekend of November 20th and 21st from 11 am - 5 pm.

Expect more than 200 artisans selling 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 2021. 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.


OTHER HOLIDAY EXPERIENCES

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. While this event was cancelled in 2020, there are plans to bring it back for 2021. 

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 rink has a view of the city skyline. You can skate day or night.

This event has been cancelled for 2021,.


ICE in Santa Monica

This skating rink is cancelled for the 2021-2022 season.

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: Mon-Thurs 2 p.m. - 10 p.m./ Fri 2 p.m. - Midnight/ Sat 10 a.m.- Midnight/ Sunday 10 a.m.- 10 p.m.

Price: All day admission and skate rental is just $15.


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.


Festivals

The Hollywood Christmas Parade 

Every year, on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Hollywood Boulevard welcomes Santa, holiday floats, and marching bands. The parade parade is an LA tradition for over 80 years! 

In 2021, the parade is on November 28th at 5 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 usually runs for 9 nights, but is unconfirmed for 2021. 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 startling at 6 pm  there will 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 has sadly been cancelled for the 2021 season.


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 Tuesday, December 24, 2021, from 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

A Christmas Carol 

See the Charles Dickens holiday classic about Ebeneezer Scrooge learning what the Christmas spirit is all about. It runs from December 3rd - 20th, 2021 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 4th - 24th, 2021 at multiple venues.

The Nutcracker

The Long Beach Ballet also puts on a fantastic rendition of this beloved dance. On December 17th - 19th, 2021.

Handel’s Messiah 

On December 19th, 2021, 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 Los Angeles Master Chorale at Walt Disney Concert Hall on December 4th and 11th at 2 pm.

Bob Baker Marionettes Holiday Show 

Perfect for young audiences, this marionette theater has been putting on holiday shows since 1963. This show is scheduled to run from the last week of November 2021 to the first week of January 2022.


NEW YEAR'S EVE

Los Angeles locals love their nightlife, so there is no shortage of things to do on the last night of 2021.

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 an for good reason! 

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

This event has yet to be confirmed for 2021, but it is very likely they will be holding a New Year's Eve celebration of some kind.


New Years Eve aboard the Queen Mary

Located in Long Beach, this historic docked cruise ship is hosting their annual New Years 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 is unconfirmed for 2021.


Walt Disney Hall's New Year's Eve

In 2021, you can ring in the New Year with Pink Martini, who will be performing a mix of Brazilian samba, 30's Cuban dance music, and more.

There are two performances on December 31 - one at 7:00 pm and another at 10:30 pm. 


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.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS


 

About The Author

Mel

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: October 12th, 2021
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