Festive Ways To Celebrate The Holidays In L.A.
From booze fests and spirited caroling to the infamous SantaCon, here are LA’s essential winter-themed events to warm your Grinch-like heart.
Light up the Night at Moonlight Forest
October 26 – January 6
The Arboretum, Arcadia
A lantern art festival for the ages, Moonlight Forest transforms the Arboretum into a full-fledged winter spectacle. With fun art, food trucks (like Son of a Bun and Sabores de Mexico), and booze, it definitely has the potential for a date night grand slam.
Feel the Christmas Magic at Disneyland
November 9 – January 6
The annual Christmas Fantasy Parade is always a monster of Disney-sized proportions, but since it’s only an hour away it’s kind of a no-brainer. Pro tip: The best time to go on Space Mountain is during the parade, so if your idea of festivity somehow doesn’t include holiday Mickey, you’re still in luck.
Cost: Admission differs based on the day, but can range from $97 to $135, or even up to $185 for a Park Hopper on peak days.
Show off your super-sweet skills at the Pershing Square Ice Rink
November 15 – January 21
DJ-led and free skate sessions, gay skate nights, and curling lessons set the scene at this outdoor ice rink smack in the middle of DTLA.
Cost: $5 – $15
See the lights and play with reindeer at the LA Zoo
November 16 – January 6
Reindeer, which are real and not just fictitious Santa Claus animals, will be hanging out at Reindeer Village at the LA Zoo for you to visit. Not a reindeer fan? That’s weird because they are rad as hell, but the rest of the zoo will also be decked out in wintery splendor during Zoo Lights, which includes NYE festivities, a happy hour lounge, and more.
Cost: $11 for Zoo Lights, $21 for Reindeer Romp
Forest of Light at Descanso Gardens
November 18 – January 6
The beloved garden is once again bringing back the Enchanted: Forest of Light for a mile-long walk through an always-impressive set of light displays (some of which are interactive). There will be two lounges set up along the way too, so make sure to get your food and drink on.
Set sail for holiday cheer at the Queen Mary
November 23 – January 6
The Queen Mary, Long Beach
The Queen Mary will be decked out with twinkling lights, live music, food & drink, family activities, and a whole lot more this year for the iconic ship’s annual holiday party.
Cost: $20 – $40
Get blitzed at Here & Now’s Blitzen
November 27 – December 31
Remember Westbound? One of the Arts District’s best cocktail bars closed earlier this year, but has reopened as Here & Now under the helm of Va’La Hospitality and Westbound’s original founder Sarah Meade. They’ll be doing a fun winter popup this year, complete with a snow machine, themed entertainment (think Bad Santa), and of course, winter-themed food and drinks like spiked hot cocoa.
Grab your wino pants for Wine Winter Wonderland
Hotel Constance, Pasadena
You know the drill for booze festivals in LA, and this one’s no different; grab a ticket for access to unlimited wine tastings (with some beer) as well as some small bites. Actually, it’s a little different: 50% of each ticket.
Try to survive SantaCon (even if you’re not attending)
Location Announced 12/7
Let’s be real: SantaCon is a huge nightmare. The streets are filled with stumbling Santas at every corner, most of them far too merry, and you’ll probably. But is there a part of you who wants to be one of those stumbling Santas? Yes. Yes there is.
Raise a glass (or 50) at the Brew Ho Ho
The Phoenix Club, Anaheim
Any beer fest that takes place at the Phoenix Club is a beer fest that you want to be a part of — especially one with more than 100 craft brews on offer. So much of LA’s best beer is brewed in Anaheim (like Noble Ale Works, Bottle Logic, and so many more), making this is an absolute must-do for any beerhead.
Grab your red suit for the Santa Monica Pub Crawl
If you’re looking to crawl your way through the holidays (and you’re not alone there), a good place to start is the Santa Monica Pub Crawl. You’ll have four crawlable routes, so choose wisely — though if you want our advice, hit the Pier route since the bars are bigger and you’ll have an easier time getting a drink. Also, please don’t forget to eat. Please.
Get all holly jolly at the Festival of Carols
December 8 & December 15
Disney Hall, DTLA
Are you the one in your friend group who just can’t get enough Christmas Carols? Big news: Anybody who pretends to hate ‘em also secretly loves ‘em, and probably also wants to get tickets to the Festival of Carols, where over 100 classically trained carolers will be hitting you with the classics.
Feel the spirit at the Winter Wonderland End of the Year Party
The Source, Buena Park
Does toasting to the end of 2018 on a rooftop with a five-hour open bar, food samples, a goodie bag valued at over $100, and top-notch DJs sound good to you? Of course it does; you have a brain in that head of yours. Would you believe that this event somehow only costs 60 American dollars? Well, it does. Congratulations: you’ve won the season.
Check out the embarrassment of riches at the Newport Boat Parade
It’s the 110th annual Newport Beach Boat Parade, which means that over a million viewers will be posting up to check out the boats, yachts, and canoes (many of them sporting over $500,000 in Christmas decorations). Oh, rich people. Bless their hearts.
Ring in the season at the LA County Holiday Celebration
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Downtown
Bands, choirs, and dance companies will be spreading the cheer during this free, three-hour Christmas Eve show. It’s A+ family time, to counteract the booze-soaked debauchery you’ve filled the rest of your season with.
Kiss 2018 goodbye on New Year’s Eve
All Over LA
There’s always so much to do in LA for New Years, so if you haven’t made plans yet, don’t fret. Grand Park’s NYE celebration is always ton of fun, and remains the most family-friendly since it’s completely dry. For a less dry option, consider one of the all-inclusive parties from The Doheny Room, Skybar at the Mondrian, or Poppy. Maybe you want to dress up like you’re from the 20s? Give Prohibition NYE a look. Had so much fun at the Santa Monica Pub Crawl that you’re itching to do it again? Just do it again.
Cost: Varies by party