Christmas in Los Angeles
Angelenos go all out for the holiday season, stringing up so many twinkly holiday lights that you might mistake it for Las Vegas. Oddly for such a big city, many of these activities have a small-town flavor, making them all the more charming. And to make it even better, most of them are free.
- Universal Studios celebrates "Grinchmas" during the month of December with Whoville on the Back Lot, a special holiday show, real snow and family activities. They're even open on Christmas Day. Buy tickets
- Griffith Park Christmas Lights feature tens of thousands of lights. It runs from just before Thanksgiving1 through the end of the year, with a few nights set aside just for bicyclists and walkers. The rest of the time, this is a drive-through activity.
- Candy Cane Lane in the San Fernando Valley community of Woodland Hills is a local favorite worth the drive (Lubao Avenue and Oxnard Street, exit US 101 at Winnetka Ave).
- Robert Road in the South Bay becomes a holiday wonderland, with trees draped in strings of white lights and neighbors vying for the most cheerful display. This is a great place to just park your car and walk. Take Pacific Coast Hwy to Robert Rd (near the Redondo Beach Hollywood Riviera area, between Calle Mayor and Prospect).
- Naples Island is a canal-filled section of Long Beach where people take a lot of pride in decorating their homes. You can stroll along the canals or take a romantic gondola ride and see them in style. Naples also has an annual holiday boat parade.
- Holiday Gondola Rides are offered in Redondo Beach and you can see the lights at Naples Island with Gondola Getaway.
- The Hollywood Christmas Parade is a long-time tradition, held on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
- Las Posadas on Olvera Street celebrates a Mexican Christmas tradition on downtown's Olvera Street. A festive nightly procession commemorates Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem. It runs for 9 days beginning December 16.
- Downtown on Ice is like Rockefeller Center west, only bigger. It's held downtown at Pershing Square from mid-November through the end of the year.
- Holiday Boat Parade: In conjunction with the holiday boat parade at the LA Harbor in San Pedro, the Battleship IOWA offers a special package that includes a great place to watch the parade (from their deck).
- Los Angeles Philharmonic - also downtown - offers their Deck the Hall series in December at the gorgeous Walt Disney Concert Hall, with a wide range of musical styles to choose from.
- LA County Holiday Celebration: Admission is free to this three-hour holiday show that happens on December 24. Even the parking underneath the Music Center is free. Reservations for tickets to the show aren't needed, either, making it a perfect last-minute holiday activity. More details at their website.
1 Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.