What to do in Los Angeles in December

This post covers the best things to do in Los Angeles this December, including free, family-friendly, as well as nighttime activities, all updated for 2019. 

 

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TOP 10 EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO IN DECEMBER 

This section will feature our top 10 activities to enjoy in LA throughout December.

For tips on the most popular activities in LA, check out our other popular posts: 


1. Go on a Sightseeing Tour

We offer pay-what-you-like walking tours or you can try our self-guided walking tours.  

Check out our calendar to book a guided walking tour.

If you’re looking for a bus tour, we have a great comparison of L.A.’s best. From hop-on-hop-off buses to nonstop our nighttime tours, you’ll find one to suit you

Another option is to check out a studio tour.  See what it is like to be a working Hollywood actor or a gaffer. Or find out what a gaffer does! 

Check out our post about Studio tour options


2. Go to a Concert

There are a lot of concert venues in Los Angeles. We’ve listed the highlights below, but you can find information about concerts or purchase tickets here.

 

 

Find all of this month’s concerts here.


3. Go to a Sporting Event

December is the month to enjoy an L.A. game! You can find all of December’s sporting events here. Here we have the highlights:

 

 

Seeing a big game is a great way to spend your afternoon or evening! For more things to do at night, check the section down below.


4. Attend the Theatre

Live theatre is a wonderful thing to enjoy while traveling. L.A. has several options in December.

Los Angeles loves to entertain! Here are just a few of the many plays and ballets happening in December 2019.

 

 

You can find all this month’s shows here.


5. LA Zoo Lights 

Take the family to the LA Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Griffith Park and watch it come alive with thousands of twinkling lights for its annual Zoo Lights celebrations.

 

 

Take a stroll through the zoo to see special holiday animal-themed decorations & special light projections, spend time with Santa (on select dates), and get to see & learn about live reindeer.

Zoo Lights runs from 6 pm-10 pm; ticket prices vary.


6. Holidays at Universal Studios 

Universal Studios, one of the biggest attractions in LA, will transform itself for the holiday season!

Guests will enjoy a made-over Wizarding World of Harry Potter with nightly snowfall and loads of holiday decor.

 

 

Visitors will also be able to get into the spirit at Grinchmas, a Grinch themed spectacle that’s totally decked to the halls–Who-ville style!


7. MoMA Contenders 

The Museum of Modern Art’s series of influential films from the past year is presented at The Hammer Museum. 

 

 

Each film is considered one that could have historical significance past this year’s awards season. Entrance is between $10-$20 and the films have speakers from the artistic team present for panels and discussions. Check their website for updates!


8. Shop at a Craft Fair

Shop small and feel good about it this holiday season! There are multiple craft fairs happening in the LA area throughout the month of December.

Some favorites include the Renegade Craft Fair taking place downtown and the Unique LA Market that will visit downtown and the Santa Monica Pier throughout the month. 

 

 

Also, check out Hillside Farm’s craft fair. Another option is the Echo Park craft fair for unique handmade items.  Bring the kids to the Harvest Fest craft fair since there will be food and activities.


9. Celebrate New Year’s Eve 

LA is an excellent location to ring in the new year! Check with restaurants to see who is offering special menus and drinks or go all out on the town!

 

 

Popular events include celebrating the holiday aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, see a “little” and lively orchestra at the Disney Concert Hall, or attend a Prohibition themed party at Union Station. Most events are 21+.


10. Save Money with a Tourist Attraction Discount Pass

To make the most out of your time in LA, and save a lot of money while seeing the sights, consider purchasing a tourist attraction discount pass.

You’ll pay one fee upfront and receive free or highly discounted entry into many of the city’s most popular attractions and activities.

 

 

Tourist discount passes work by bundling multiple tickets into one price, usually between 20%-50% the retail price.   

Read our post comparing the different LA tourist discount passes. Several bus tour companies, including hop-on-hop-off buses, also offer discounts and deals.

For more ideas for any time of year, be sure to read our master post on Things to do in LA.

 


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FREE THINGS TO DO IN LOS ANGELES IN DECEMBER

Los Angeles always has free events for the whole family to attend. In fact, some of the events we’ve listed above are also free to attend!

 

 

For even more free activities, see our guide to free things to do in LA.


Hollywood Christmas Parade

Head down to Hollywood early on December 1, 2019, to grab your spot for the famous Hollywood Christmas Parade.  

There will giant floats, entertainment, music, horses, and plenty of celebrities. It’s not a bad way to start the holiday season!


Grand Park’s Winter Glow 

In Downtown L.A. Grand Park will be all decked out for the holidays as Grand Park’s Winter Glow. This is an immersive night-time art experience that is meant for any age group. 

This event is free from December 1 – 24, 2019!


Public Star Party at Griffith Park Observatory 

One Saturday every month the Observatory hosts a night where guests can try amazing telescopes between 2:00 pm – 9:45 pm on the lawn. 

You can also check out the free museum while you are there on December 2, 2019!


Ciclavia Bike Event

Los Angeles has an event every other month for bike enthusiasts called Ciclavia. This event is free and you do not need to have your bike!

The streets are shut down in a specific neighborhood for locals to roam and explore the streets, bike, and enjoy the community.

Click here for more information.


Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Grand- Free Thursdays

Each Thursday evening, from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm, MOCA Grand offers free admission to all visitors.

It’s a great way to introduce children to contemporary art and begin the conversation about what defines something as art. 


Go for a Hike during L.A.’s Winter Weather

The weather in LA in December can be crystal clear blue skies and very moderate temperatures, making it the perfect climate for a lovely afternoon hike.

For a popular option, check out Runyon Canyon Park where you’ll have 360-degree views of downtown LA, the Hollywood Sign & Griffith Observatory, and even the ocean on clear days. It’s free to hike in the park! 

Tip: Check out our post on things to do in Griffith Park for even more hiking options!

 


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THINGS TO DO IN THE EVENING IN DECEMBER

Below is just a sampling of the many things to do at night in December.

 

 

For suggestions on other nighttime activities, see our post, Things to do at Night in LA.


The Nutcracker

A true sign of the holiday season, The Nutcracker, presented by the LA Ballet, will show in multiple locations in Los Angeles throughout the holiday season.

Check the website for theatre information and tickets.


Moonlight Forest Magical Lantern Fest 

The Los Angeles Arboretum hosting the Moonlight Forest Magical Lantern Festival each winter.

Imagine life-size lanterns of pandas, flowers, and holiday friends lighting your path and the sky. There will be live performers too!

This is a fun night time activity that is family-friendly from November 2019 through early January 2020.


Enchanted Forest of Lights 

Walk through the beloved Descanso Gardens during the holiday season to experience the Enchanted Forest of Lights.  It is a beautiful light display over 1 mile of walking. 

This activity is great for the whole family, and the display is running from early November 2019 through early January 2020.


See Love, Actually, LIVE – December 4-31

For the Record troupe is back again and this time they have converted the Holiday movie Love, Actually into a fun musical show! 

Head to the Wallis Center to enjoy this production.


Holiday Boat Parades

Want a truly unique experience? Attend a free holiday boat parade! Could there be anything more L.A. then enjoying a parade near a beach?

See magnificent boats all dolled up for the Christmas season parade along the Los Angeles main channel. You don’t need your own boat to attend.


Holiday Fireworks at Manhattan Beach 

A great way to really feel the holiday spirit in a local community is to attend the Manhattan Beach Fireworks. 

There will be music, vendors, and of course, a spectacular firework display on December 8, 2019.  


Santa Monica Santa Pub Crawl 

Join in on the holiday fun with the 11th annual “Santa” Monica Pub Crawl!

Pick a “Santa” bar route and attend the official after-party where all routes come together. The pub crawl begins at 5 pm and raises money for the Westside Food Bank.

Come dressed as Santa or in your favorite holiday attire! This event is 21+ on December 14, 2019.


Silent Disco Skate Party

If you’re a fan of ice skating, head down the Bai Holiday Ice Rink in Pershing Square for a silent disco on ice. Enjoy jamming to an amazing on your headphones while skating on December 18, 2019. Y

ou can rent skates and free headphones will be provided to skaters. Find out more here.

You’ll pass by this ice rink during our Downtown L.A. Tour.


Check out a Los Angeles Bar

There are many places to get a good holiday-inspired drink in L.A. 

Go to AR Cucina and try the Buon Natale for a drink inspired by a Gingerbread House. Head to Big Bar for 15 different holiday-inspired drinks! Cafe Birdie will have several different Eggnog drinks too!

For suggestions on other nighttime activities, read the other sections of this post or our post on things to do at night in LA.

 


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FAMILY-FRIENDLY THINGS TO DO IN LOS ANGELES IN DECEMBER

There are lots of things to do in L.A. with families!

 

 

Here are a few more kid-friendly activities for the month of December.


Iphoneography Class at the Annenberg PetSpace

Join Grace Chon on December 1 for a class about how to best use your iPhone to photograph your pet!  This class is for anyone- aspiring photographers or young teens looking to photograph Fido. 

Check it out – click here for more information.


The Wonderful Winter of Oz 

Bring the whole family to the theatre to see The Wonderful Winter of Oz in Pasadena. 

It is a winterized new take on an old classic running for the second half of the month. There will even be an appearance of Kermit the Frog! 


WinterFest

Bring the whole family to WinterFest!  

There will be carnival rides and activities for everyone from December 19, 2019 – January 5, 2020. There will be tubing and actual SNOW that will be brought in daily. 

Santa and his reindeer will be making a special appearance on December 24th.  


Holiday Sing-Along at the Disney Concert Hall 

Bring the family together at the Disney Concert Hall downtown where a jazz combo, choir, and the performance center’s massive pipe organ will come together to lead everyone in a holiday song sing-along!

It’s a fun tradition for the whole family! Santa will be there!


New Year’s Eve Countdown to 2019

Something that’s more welcoming to families and is free to attend is the west coast’s largest New Year’s Eve gathering in Grand Park downtown.

Grand Park and Music Center’s N.Y.E.L.A event will offer music and dancing at two stages, light projections, fireworks, a ball drop, and more!

For more ideas of things to do with kids in LA, see our post, Things to do in LA with Kids.

 


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About the author

Manager | Chicago & Los Angeles

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!