Dust off those ugly sweaters and ring in the Yuletide with these dazzling experiences.
The most wonderful time of the year has finally arrived, and sleigh bells are ringing, the trees are twinkling and you finally get to wear that winter wardrobe that collects dust most of the year. While last year was filled with elaborate drive-thrus, this year, the holiday festivities are back and more dazzling than ever. However, beyond the kaleidoscopic parade of Santas, reindeers, and shiny baubles, the (slightly) cooler weather offers an excuse to indulge in the best hot chocolates, seasonal cocktails, and partake in blissful winter activities. So, here’s everything you can add to your calendar to ensure your month is filled with cheer.
- Credit: For The Record
While it might not be cold outside, it’s almost (almost) that time of year again where we partake in our favorite festive traditions; we dust off the garish knitted sweaters, eat enough food to hibernate for a month and rewatch Richard Curtis’ classic Christmas film, Love Actually. Except, this year, we get to switch our couches for a giant, 3-dimensional cinematic world with live actors belting out songs from the iconic soundtrack. The award-winning For The Record series in partnership with the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts will be bringing the glorious Love Actually Live back to audiences for a limited run this winter.
Yes, our favorite seasonal activities are back this year which means you get to hobble around an ice rink accompanied by classic holiday jingles, twinkling lights and work up an appetite for all those holiday treats. While you might be a little bit rusty after your year off, you have the whole month to find you’re groove. Here’s where you can find two huge rinks in L.A.
On Eataly’s 3rd floor you’ll find a festive mercatino overflowing with Italian culinary delights. From flutty panettone cakes, and artisanal chocolate, to Italian salumi and formaggi, decadent truffles, and bronze-extruded pasta. You can even curate your own gift box from a selection of gourmet treats with a little help from the Eataly experts, and take them home in a signature Eataly gift basket. It’s the ultimate gift for everyone on your list! The Holiday Market is open every day from 8:30 a.m – 9 p.m (excluding Christmas Day). Click here to plan your visit now. ⭐ Sponsored ⭐
Fill your month with joy at one of these magical holiday drive-thru experiences. Hop in your four-wheeled sleigh and prepare to be dazzled by tunnels featuring millions of lights, gleaming larger-than-life ornaments and festive displays—each with unique features and themes. Here are 9 of our favorites:
Get swept into an enchanting winter fantasy with Snow Globe’s theatrical dining experience. Feast on farm-to-table cuisine from Primal Alchemy as ballerinas twirl between the tables and other mythical creatures perform mind-bending acts before your eyes. Book your tickets and experience a one-of-a-kind night out this season. ⭐ Sponsored ⭐
The 57th annual Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade will cruise across the waters on December 11.
For over half a century, the Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade has been illuminating the waters with boats decked out in glowing, over-the-top holiday lights and displays. It’s California, so naturally, you’ll find Santa’s captaining yachts, motorboats and other aquatic modes of transport, not just sleighs. This beloved tradition began in 1963 when Marina del Rey had only 100 boats, no breakwater and there was only one restaurant, Pieces O’ Eight (now Shanghai Red’s).
Just a few miles away from Santa Barbara, nestled amongst the lush hills, you’ll find this stunning outdoor spa. These cascading thermal pools known as the Montecito Hot Springs can be reached with an easy trek and are filled with sulphur which is known for its healing properties. Is there anything better than rewarding yourself with a free, hot soak after a long week? Find out all the details here.
11-13. Candlelight Holiday Concerts
The wildly popular Candlelight will be setting the winter nights aglow with these mesmerizing musical concerts set in some of L.A.’s most beautiful venues. Wrap yourself in seasonal nostalgia with awe-inspiring renditions of classics across genres. Whether it’s a mainstream hit like“Thank God It’s Christmas” by Queen or heartwarming tracks from holiday films like “Christmas Time is Here” from A Charlie Brown Christmas, you’ll find something for every musical taste. Here are the seasonally-themed editions coming this December:
- Candlelight: Holiday Movie Themes ft. “Christmas Time is Here” & More
- Candlelight: An Evening with Vitamin String Quartet
- Candlelight: A Vivaldi Celebration ft. The Four Seasons
The city is positively glowing with mesmerizing festive installations this year. Although some favorites like Candy Cane lane might not be available to the public this year, there are plenty of streets, parks and gardens with glittering decorations and lights to make up for it. From Buena Vista Street to Mission Inn, here are 10 of the best places to see holiday light displays around L.A:
- ‘Wildlights’ At The Living Desert
- The Mission Inn Festival of Lights
- Christmas Tree Lane
- Sleepy Hollow Christmas Lights Extravaganza
- ‘Sparkle DTLA’ at The Bloc
- Dana Point Harbor
- Buena Vista Street
- Old Pasadena
- The Grove
London’s acclaimed holiday display ‘Lightscape’ has turned every inch of the expansive L.A. Arboretum into a sea of glimmering lights. Visitors will enter through a twinkling Winter Cathedral and journey down a mile-long path of multi-colored, glowing trees and a dozen large-scale installations that explore light in all shapes and forms., all accompanied by charming themed music. Find out more here.
25-26. Immerse Yourself In A Masterpiece At One Of These World-Renowned Art Exhibitions
Step into the works of two of the world’s artistic masters and allow state-of-the-art technology to transform your surroundings with the complex strokes and details of Gustav Klimt and Claude Monet’s most iconic paintings. After a successful global tour in cities like NYC and Paris, the multisensory exhibitions have finally landed in L.A. for a limited time only. Get your tickets here:
- Credit: Descanso Gardens
The one-mile-long trail of illuminated installations, Enchanted: Forest of Light, will be returning this November 21 through January 9, 2022. After a year off, the beloved holiday tradition with charming artistic displays, promises to be brighter and more magical than ever. Find out more here.
Joyce may have bought up all the Christmas lights but you can still enjoy the holidays in Hawkins with L.A.’s first-ever Stranger Things retail experience. You can step right back into the 80s, dodge Demogorgon and stock up on hair-raising goodies and find the perfect holiday gifts for that Stranger Things stan in your life. Reserve your spot here before the total to the Upside Down closes forever..
29. Gingerbread Man
Join real-life Christmas characters and venture into a merry maze of multisensory delights at the Gingerbread Man experience. A wonderful story unfolds through magnificent sights, sounds and aromas that capture the essence of the season. You’ll attempt to catch the Gingerbread Man while witnessing the magic of Santa’s toyshop and indulging in the sweetness of the candy cane lane… But beware of getting lost in other-worldly experiences! Get your tickets here.
Envelop yourself in the quintessential winter fairy-tale accompanied by Tchaikovsky’s iconic composition at The Immersive Nutcracker. The charming holiday story will come to life in the most beautiful way, featuring an ornamented grand ballroom, life-size installations and VR mapping. Get your tickets here.
South Coast Botanic Garden will be illuminated with dazzling lighting installations that will transform the way you see nature for another year. This walkable route through the 87 acres of horticultural and wildlife habitat is unlike any holiday displays you’ve ever seen. Find out more about this organic oasis here.
Get ready to experience an exclusive and stunning visual journey through the life of the Princess of Wales at this unique Princess Diana Exhibition coming to LA. From Photographs by the world-famous Royal Photographers, Anwar Hussein and his two sons Zak and Samir, to art installations by the world-renowned multimedia artist, Pauline Loctin, this exclusive exhibit will give you an inside look into royal life. Book your tickets here.
Bring a little Hygge into your holidays with this Danish-style holiday festival. If you think Solvang, a.k.a. “The Danish Capital of America,” is already Christmas-y most of the year, then just wait until you see it during the Julefest. It’s a month-long celebration where the quaint hamlet is filled with twinkling lights, traditional ornaments, festive treats, and other holiday delights. Find out more here.
We’ve discovered a private membership community that gives you access to the hottest events in L.A., plus highly curated perks at the top restaurants, lounges, hotels, and retailers from Beauty & Essex to BOA. Find out all you need to know here.
L.A.’s largest outdoor movie series is back with Blockbuster hits, live music, food trucks, and great weather – what more can you ask for? This season you’ll get to enjoy the festive Yuletide Cinemaland pop-up with all your Christmas classics at the scenic Heritage Square. Book ahead to avoid missing out!
Get your golden ticket and hop aboard the magical Polar Express Train for a dazzling journey to the North Pole. Every carriage will be decked out with sparkling baubles and brimming with holiday charm, as actors retell the story and dancing chefs serve you cocoa. Find out more here.
Contrary to popular opinion, Santa is actually a huge fan of the sunny West Coast and him and his elves have been bringing that North Pole magic to Lake Arrowhead for years. Adventurers of all ages will find an alpine adventure with gingerbread men, candy and seasonal decorations filling this festive village. Partake in workshops, find souvenirs, take hikes and so much more at Skywalk Santa’s Village. Find out all the details here.
- Credit: Highland Springs Ranch & Inn
The picturesque 123 Farm, known for its beautiful swaths of violet flowers over the summer, has a stunning night market. Its towering trees and fields have been 1,000 years in the making and you can continue to enjoy its beauty post the summer blooms. Every Thursday to Sunday through October 24, you can stroll through the lavender fields and olive groves draped with lights to enjoy food, live music, games and unique handmade goods. Find out more here.
Whether you donate to the LA Food Bank, the LA Mission or volunteer to help, you can make sure there’s enough cheer, warmth and food to go around this holiday. You could even gift someone with a donation to give to the charity of their choice. Let’s be honest nothing feels better than helping others and it could be the perfect alternative to the stocking stuffer that lands up untouched in a cupboard.
Take an enchanting ride under the stars at Snow Summit. The only thing better than skiing under gorgeous blue skies is night skiing through a winter wonderland with a glowing trail of lights. Beginner and intermediate snowboarders and skiers will be able to glide down the beautifully illuminated Upper Miracle Mile and Summit Run or along the legendary Westridge Park. Find out more here.
Italy may be out of reach for some, but you can still go on a Venetian escape along the canals in Long Beach. Cruise under the romantic bridges filled with festive lights and stunning surroundings. Find out more here.
- Credit: Mini Kabob / Instagram
Los Angeles has 3 out of 50 of the best restaurants in America, according to the New York Times. And they’re not your typical upscale Michelin spots either. Skip the usual festive fare and celebrate the season by supporting these phenomenal businesses. Find the list here.