Los Angeles Things to Do in December

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From holiday spectaculars, film festivals, shopping and more; find the best Los Angeles things to do in December 2016 in our events roundup.

Edited by Christina Xenos

The Contenders 2016
Dec. 1–2, 5–8, & 12–15. The Hammer Museum collaborates with New York’s MoMA for this film series that screens the year’s best films, followed by talks by filmmakers and actors. Highlights include Jeff Nichols’ Loving, which explores interracial couple, Richard and Mildred Loving and their civil rights case, Loving v. Virginia (Dec. 1); Kenneth Lonergan’s highly anticipated Manchester by the Sea (Dec. 5); and Werner Herzog’s Inter the Inferno (Dec. 13). See website for complete screening schedule. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., L.A., 310.443.7000. hammer.ucla.edu

The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Los Angeles’ Glitz and Glamour Spa Soirée
Dec. 1. Get into the holiday spirit with an evening of pampering at The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Los Angeles. Enjoy one complimentary mini treatment, festive holiday bites, a glass of champagne or spiked apple cider and a 15 percent discount on retail spa products. Downtown Los Angeles’s new high-end retail store, Brigade LA, debuts at the spa with an exclusive pop-up during the event. 5-9 p.m., sign up upon arrival at the spa and treatments are available on a first come, first serve basis. 900 W. Olympic Blvd., downtown, 213.763.4400. ritzcarltonlaspa.com

Jingle Ball
Dec. 2. 102.7 KIIS FM curates the annual concert at Staples Center, which features performances from Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, Meghan Trainor, Fifth Harmony, Diplo, Alessia Cara, Lukas Graham and Daya, plus a special guest appearance by Niall Horan. 1111 S. Figueroa St., downtown, 213.742.7100. staplescenter.com

The Wholehearted
Dec. 2-11. Presented by the theater’s DouglasPlus program in association with La Jolla Playhouse, this multimedia production by Stein|Holum Projects follows a female boxer who is brutally attacked by her husband. Recommended for ages 16+. Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City, 213.628.2772. centertheatregroup.org

TEDxLA
Dec. 3. Get inspired at this independently organized TED event, when world-class innovators, thought leaders, designers, educators and explorers convene at the Dolby Theatre to share their visions of an “Imagined Future.” Dolby Theatre, 6801 Hollywood Blvd., L.A. tedx.la

Unique L.A. Holiday Market
Dec. 3-4. Huge indie design show features handcrafted wares (jewelry, furniture and more) by 125 designers and artists. Free DIY crafts, photo-booth portraits, drinks and snacks. 11 am-6 pm. Admission $15, under 13 free. Parking $6. The 10th Floor at California Market Center, 110 E. 9th St., downtown. uniqueusa.com/markets-la

The Nutcracker
Dec. 3-4, 10-11, 16-18, 22-24. The Los Angeles Ballet performs Tchaikovsky’s beloved holiday tale—here set in 1912 Los Angeles—at the Alex Theatre, Dolby Theatre, Royce Hall at UCLA and Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. Special appearances by the cast of characters and Santa Claus at each performance. See website for schedule and ticket information. Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale, 818.243.2539; Dolby Theatre, 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, 323.308.6300; Royce Hall at UCLA, 340 Royce Drive, L.A., 310.825.4401; Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Redondo Beach, 310.318.0610. losangelesballet.org

Festival of Carols
Dec. 3, 10. Ring in the holidays at Walt Disney Concert Hall with your favorite carols and songs of the season sung to perfection by the Master Chorale. 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown. lamc.org

Teddy Bear Tea at The Langham
Dec. 3, 4, 10, 11, 17-24. Get in the holiday spirit with the little ones at The Langham’s annual tea. Enjoy the hotel’s signature afternoon tea—along with child-friendly sandwiches, cookies, hot chocolate, milk and other tasty goodies—paired with holiday decorations, a puppet show, storytelling by one of Santa’s helpers and pictures with Santa. Check website for times. $52/pp, $42/pp children under 12. 10 a.m. 1401 South Oak Knoll Ave., 626.568.3900. langhamhotels.com

Smorgasburg Holiday Market
Dec. 4, 11, 18, 25. Every Sunday in December (except for Christmas), head to the Smorgasburg Holiday Market for festive, tasty offerings from dozens of local food vendors. After filling up, stroll through the rest of hip new Arts District shopping destination Row DTLA, which is hosting a Holiday Collective featuring a curated selection of unique designers, artists and retailers whose sought-after jewelry, apparel and high-end finds are usually only available online. Snag items like first-class luggage from Away Travel or fashion illustrations from the Cartorialist. M-Sa 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Su 11 a.m.-6 p.m. through the end of the year. 777 S. Alameda St., downtown. rowdtla.com

Amelie, A New Musical
Opening Dec. 4 This mesmerizing new musical is based on the beloved Oscar-nominated French film of the same name. Hamilton’s Phillipa Soo stars as the quirky Amélie in this pre-Broadway production. Pre- or post-show, keep the Parisian theme by dining on French favorites from Kendall’s Brasserie and Bar, on-site at the Music Center. Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown, 213.628.2772. centertheatregroup.org

Gloria Steinem and Jill Soloway In Conversation
Dec. 4. CAP UCLA presents feminist icons Gloria Steinem and Transparent’s Jill Soloway in conversation at Royce Hall. Royce Hall at UCLA, 340 Royce Drive, L.A., 310.825.4401. cap.ucla.edu

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas
Through Dec. 4. Based on the timeless holiday musical, this lavish stage production follows a song-and-dance team putting on a show in a magical Vermont inn and falling for a stunning sister act in the process. Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, 323.468.1770. hollywoodpantages.com

Here Comes the Funny Tour
Dec. 6. Saturday Night Live legends Adam Sandler, David Spade and Norm Macdonald are just three of the hilarious headliners of this Netflix-presented show at the Microsoft Theater. 777 Chick Hearn Ct., downtown, 213.763.6030. lalive.com

Rustic Canyon 10th Anniversary
Dec. 8. The celebrated neighborhood dining destination, helmed by Chef Jeremy Fox, is turning 10, and celebrates the milestone with a collaborative dinner that features former Rustic Canyon chefs. Dine on a six-course menu from past chefs like Samir Mohajer (Cabbage Patch) and Evan Funke (the forthcoming Felix), who will join current talent Jeremy Fox, Jun Tan, Zoe Nathan, Chef de Cuisine Brittany Cassidy, and Sous Chef Andy Doubrava. $125/pp., purchase tickets in advance. 1119 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, 310.393.7050. rusticcanyonwinebar.com

Van Gogh’s Bedroom
Opening Dec. 9. See Van Gogh’s intimate 1889 masterpiece The Bedroom (detail below) at the Norton Simon Museum. 411 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 626.449.6840. nortonsimon.org

L.A. Dance Project
Dec. 9-10. Benjamin Millepied’s world-renowned L.A. Dance Project returns to the Theatre at Ace Hotel. 933 S. Broadway, downtown. ladanceproject.com

Santa Monica Pub Crawl
Dec. 10. Don your best holiday costume and drink your way through the beachside city, all to benefit the Westside Food Bank. santamonicapubcrawl.com

Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade
Dec. 10. Annual parade of decorated yachts and boats in Marina del Rey preceded by fireworks show. This year’s theme is “An Animated Holiday.” Fireworks, 5:55 pm; parade, 6-8 pm. Plus, enjoy food trucks and snow in the park from noon-6 pm. Free. Burton Chace Park, 13650 Mindanao Way, Marina del Rey. mdrboatparade.org

Echo Park Craft Fair
Dec. 10-11. This popular homegrown arts and design event showcases the wares of talented local artisans. Shop jewelry, shoes, ceramics, food items and more. Check website for hours. One day $10; weekend pass $16. Mack Sennett Studios, 1215 Bates Ave., L.A. echoparkcraftfair.com

Renegade Craft Fair
Dec. 10-11. Back in L.A. for the eighth year, this celebration of the DIY and maker spirit features hundreds of artisans selling their wares, plus seasonal food and drink, hands-on craft workshops, immersive features, special events and more. 10 am-5 pm. Free. Grand Park, 200 N. Broadway, downtown. renegadecraft.com

Winter Wonderland at Malibu Country Mart
Dec. 10, 17. The Malibu lifestyle center celebrates the holidays with festive holiday décor and activities. Enjoy songs from Victorian carolers (Dec. 17), photo opportunities with Santa, a cookie decorating party (Dec. 10) and a visit from Santa’s reindeer (Dec. 17). 3835 Cross Creek Rd., Malibu. malibucountrymart.com

Manhattan Beach Holiday Fireworks
Dec. 11. The picturesque beachside city’s annual holiday celebration features a Skechers-sponsored snow park, a Santa float and live music, capped off by a fireworks show over the pier. Snow park, float, 4 pm; fireworks, 7 pm. Free (new, unwrapped toy or cash donation to benefit the YMCA Adventure Guides Toy Drive requested for snow-park admission). 2 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach. mbfireworks.com

12 Days of Soufflés at The Polo Lounge
Dec. 12-23. Leading up to Christmas, enjoy 12 days of festive treats at The Polo Lounge. Indulge you sweet tooth with festive soufflé flavors—a new one every day—that range from pumpkin spice, to egg nog and candy cane. The Polo Lounge, The Beverly Hills Hotel, 9641 Sunset Blvd., L.A., 310.887.2777. dorchestercollection.com

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I
Opening Dec. 13. Set in 1860s Bangkok, this musical tells the story of the relationship between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, a British schoolteacher, and features classic songs like “Getting to Know You” and “I Whistle a Happy Tune.” Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, 323.468.1770. hollywoodpantages.com

Disney on Ice Presents Worlds of Enchantment
Dec. 15-18. Bring the kids to see their favorite Disney movies come alive on ice. The show features characters from Frozen, Cars, The Little Mermaid and Toy Story. Mickey’s Dance-Along Pre-Show gets the audience warmed up. See website for showtimes. $25-$90, under 2 free. Staples Center, 1111 S. Figueroa St., downtown, 888.929.7849. disneyonice.com

LA Phil Holiday Sing-Along
Dec. 17. Enjoy singing your favorite holiday songs accompanied by the Walt Disney Concert Hall’s huge pipe organ. 11:30 a.m.; 2:30 p.m. 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown, 23.850.2000. laphil.com

Messiah Sing-Along
Dec. 18. After 35 years, the annual Messiah Sing-Along is more popular than ever! With orchestra and four talented soloists on stage, Artistic Director Grant Gershon conducts the entire audience for a performance of Handel’s most beloved oratorio of all time. This year, the Master Chorale will be onstage to sing along with the audience for the choral passages and fill the hall with an even bigger holiday sound. Bring your own score or buy one in the lobby and join the chorus. lamc.org

A Chanticleer Christmas
Dec. 20. The 12 men of this “orchestra of voices” make a return to the Walt Disney Concert Hall for their eclectic Christmas program. 8 p.m. 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown, 23.850.2000. laphil.com

Swinging Christmas with The Arturo Sandoval Big Band
Dec. 22. Trumpet virtuoso and 10-time Grammy honoree Arturo Sandoval leads a Latin-flavored jazz program for the holidays. 8 p.m. 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown, 23.850.2000. laphil.com

White Christmas Sing-Along
Dec. 23. Sing along to a screening of the classic holiday film with songs like “The Best Things Happen When You’re Dancing,” “Snow,”  “Sisters” and, of course, the iconic “White Christmas.” 3 p.m., 8 p.m. 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown, 213.850.2000. laphil.com

L.A. County Holiday Celebration
Dec. 24. The 57th annual Emmy Award-winning LA County Holiday Celebration returns to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with a free (first-come, first-seated), family-friendly three-hour show on Christmas Eve, featuring bands, choirs and dance companies that honor L.A.’s many neighborhoods and cultures. 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown, 213.972.0711. lacountyarts.org

Rams vs. 49ers
Dec. 24. Celebrate Christmas Eve by watching Los Angeles’ very own Rams take on San Francisco at the LA Memorial Coliseum. 3911 S Figueroa St., downtown. therams.com

Tournament of Roses
Dec. 27-Jan. 3. For more than a century, people have been welcoming the new year with the Tournament of Roses’ iconic Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena. If you’re in LA, you can be a part of the action. Besides the televised parade (Jan. 2, 8 a.m.) and football game (Jan. 2, 1:30 p.m.), there are other ways to get in on the floral fun. From Dec. 27-31, get a behind-the-scenes look at the parade by volunteering to help put finishing touches on the flower-covered floats. On Dec. 30–31, Pasadena City College hosts Bandfest, featuring field shows from the parade’s top-notch marching bands before they make their way down Colorado Boulevard on Jan. 2. Check website for detailed schedule. Free curbside viewing of parade on first-come, first-served basis; grandstand seats start at $50 on sharpseating.com. Rose Bowl tickets start at $150. Check website for schedule, locations and fees for other events. 626.449.4100. tournamentofroses.com

Prohibition NYE
Dec. 31. Union Station travels back in time to the Roaring ‘20s at this New Year’s Eve party, complete with burlesque, live jazz, DJs, a dance floor and a premium open bar. prohibitionnye.com

Pink Martini
Dec. 31. Ring in 2017 with Pink Martini—and its fusion of Brazilian samba, ’30s Cuban dance, and Parisian café music—at Walt Disney Concert Hall. 7 p.m., 10:30 p.m. 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown, 23.850.2000. laphil.com

Continuing
Snow Los Angeles
Through Dec. 23. Los Angeles turns into a winter wonderland at the new snow-themed attraction, which offers 10,000 square feet of snow tubing across nine acres of snowfall. Also frolic with giant singing snowmen in a snowman forest, enjoy an interactive light show and find food trucks, drinks and more. Stadium Way and Scott Ave., L.A. snowlosangeles.com

Enchanted: Forest of Light
Through Jan. 8. Visit Descanso Gardens for the inaugural interactive, nighttime experience that features a one-mile walk through 10 festive lighting displays. Highlights include Pool, an interactive light sculpture by artist Jen Lewin in which people manipulate colors by walking over lighted pads, and Symphony of Oaks which invites visitors to control the sounds and lights in the Oak Grove. On-site restaurant Maple also serves dinner from 5-10 p.m. each night. 5-9 p.m., closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. 1418 Descanso Dr., La Cañada Flintridge, 818.949.4200. descansogardens.org

L.A. Zoo Lights
Through Jan. 8. The holiday light experience combines spectacular sets and lighting design with the enchanting environment of the LA Zoo. Stroll through areas of the Zoo that are transformed into a fantastical wonderland populated by glowing light animals and gold touches in celebration of the Zoo’s 50th anniversary. 5333 Zoo Drive, L.A., 323.644.4200. lazoolights.org

Spider Pavilion
Through Dec. 11. This year the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County takes its spiders outside to a new roomier pavilion. Observe the daily lives of spiders like the pink toe tarantula and the jumping spider in enclosed habitats, walk through orb weavers and their intricate webs and learn about all these amazing arachnids. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 900 Exposition Blvd., downtown. nhm.org

Chill at The Queen Mary
Through Jan. 8. The Queen Mary hosts this annual winter wonderland, which features outdoor ice skating, ice tubing and more. This year’s immersive Alice in Winterland experience re-imagines Lewis Carroll’s classic story with color and light. Check website for hours. $29.99-$64.99. 1126 Queens Hwy., Long Beach, 877.342.0752. queenmary.com/chill

Holiday Ice Rink at Pershing Square
Through Jan. 16. Skate among the skyscrapers at this ice-skating rink, which materializes every holiday season at Pershing Square. See website for hours and skate-session schedule. $9, skate rental $4. 532 S. Olive St., downtown. holidayicerinkdowntownla.com

Ice at Santa Monica
Through Jan. 16. This 8,000-square-foot outdoor skating rink in downtown Santa Monica brings holiday spirit to the beach. M-Th 2-10 pm; F 2 pm-midnight; Sa 10 a.m.-midnight; Su 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Admission, including skate rental, $15. 5th Street and Arizona Avenue, Santa Monica, 310.260.1199. downtownsm.com

The Beauty Queen of Leenane
Through Dec. 18. This dark comedy follows protagonist Maureen Folan and her aging mother, who meddles in her daughter’s romantic relationship with horrific results. Tony winner Garry Hynes helms this production by the renowned Irish Druid Theatre Company. Mark Taper Forum, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown, 213.628.2772. centertheatregroup.org

Icebergs
Through Dec. 18. Alena Smith’s (The Affair, Newsroom) Silver Lake-set comedy about aimless 30-somethings has its world premiere here. Gil Cates Theater, Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Westwood, 310.208.5454. geffenplayhouse.com

Merrily We Roll Along
Through Dec. 18. This rarely staged Stephen Sondheim work navigates the bumpy history of three friends who began their careers in show business together and features songs like “Good Thing Going” and “Our Time.” Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310.746.4000. thewallis.org

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