Top Los Angeles Things to Do in December

BOLD photo by Kamil Galimski | Los Angeles things to do
Enjoy the best of Beverly Hills this holiday season with extended shopping hours on Friday and Saturday.

December may bring (slightly) chillier temperatures to LA, but this year’s holiday events are red hot. From classic seasonal performances to joyous firework shows, here are the top Los Angeles things to do this month.

By Gillian Glover and Christina Wiese, adapted from the WHERE Los Angeles magazine December issue

Westbound: Miracle on Santa Fe
Nov. 29-Dec. 31. Drink and make merry at DTLA’s speakeasy-inspired bar as it transforms into a kitschy, over-the-top Christmas wonderland. Falling snow, visits from Santa and more complement 15 speciality cocktails including How the Gimlet Stole Christmas (gin and pine-caraway sage cordial), Chailent Night (Monkey Shoulder Whisky, Martini Rubbino Vermouth and chai-spiced rum butter), Run Run Rudolph (blanco tequila, coffee liqueur, iced hot chocolate and Mexican spices), among others. Tu-Sa 5 p.m.-2 a.m., Su 5 p.m.-midnight. $7-$17. Westbound, 300 S. Santa Fe Ave., downtown.

Holiday Concerts
Dec. 1, 9-10, 16. The Forum in Inglewood hosts three local radio stations’ star-studded holiday concerts—KIIS FM’s Jingle Ball with headliners Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran; KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas with Muse and Morrissey; and Power 106 Cali Christmas with Chance the Rapper and Travis Scott. The Forum, 3900 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood.

Los Angeles Auto Show
Dec. 1-10. Test drive nearly 100 of the auto industry’s latest models and explore 1,000 vehicles at this annual car show. Kids can enjoy video games, virtual-reality demos and play zones. Check website for hours. $5-$30, under 6 free. Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa St., downtown, 310.444.1850.

BOLD (Beverly Hills Open Later Days) Holidays
Dec. 1-23. Travelers and locals alike are invited to enjoy the best of Beverly Hills this holiday season. Shops will extend their hours on Friday and Saturday evenings to complement an array of activities including Santa Claus at The Paley Center, live DJ sets and a stunning geometric, iridescent light installation. See website for full lineup.


Museum of Failure photo by Sofie Lindberg | Los Angeles things to do
Take a peek at history’s failed products and services at the Museum of Failure.

Museum of Failure
Dec. 1-Feb. 4. Celebrate history’s failed products and services at this quirky, experiential exhibit. Expect artifacts spanning from the 17th century right up to present day, including the Segway, one of Apple’s few unsuccessful devices and a movie case from Blockbuster (RIP). GA $15, seniors/military/A+D members $8. A+D Architecture and Design Museum, 900 E. 4th St., downtown.

Taste of Tamales Food Festival
Dec. 2-3. Eat your way through a cornucopia of tamales from L.A.’s top food vendors and restaurants. Daily entertainment includes art and craft stations, live music, carnival rides and games, 20,000 free toys for children, free health screenings and more. Noon-10 p.m. Free. 8th St. & Normandie, L.A.

Holiday Festivities at Walt Disney Concert Hall
Dec. 2-23. The iconic hall plays host to a festive lineup this December. Among the highlights: the Los Angeles Master Chorale kicks off the season with its Festival of Carols (Dec. 2, 9); the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus performs its winter concert (Dec. 3); the Holiday Sing-Along invites guests to join in on seasonal favorites (Dec. 16); the L.A. Master Chorale takes on Handel’s “Messiah,” (Dec. 17) followed by its 37th Annual “Messiah” Sing-Along the next night. And finally, on December 23, sing along with Bing Crosby and his beloved 1954 film White Christmas. See website for schedule. 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown.

‘The Contenders’
Dec. 4-19. Experience 10 nights of groundbreaking films just before awards season. The series, organized by The Museum of Modern Art, opens with Dee Ree’s Mudbound and continues with the likes of Jordan Peele’s Get Out, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon’s The Big Sick, among others. Many directors will be on hand for a post-screening discussion. 7:30 p.m. $20 GA, $10 Hammer Museum members. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.

Taco Tuesday at The Roof Garden
Dec. 5, 12, 19, 26. Heat up your weeknight dinner plans with a trio of tacos and unbeatable rooftop views. Created by executive chef David Codney, choose from Al Pastor, Octopus, Pollo Pibil, Chimichurri Camerones and Carne Asada tacos, each served in a handmade tortilla and garnished with herbs from the hotel’s own rooftop garden. 5-9 p.m. Three tacos for $19+. 9882 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310.975.2855.

Kilchoman Scotch Dinner at Saddle Peak Lodge
Dec. 6. Nestled in Malibu Canyon, enjoy a special four-course menu alongside four whiskeys at Saddle Peak Lodge’s new Double Barrel Room. Menu highlights include crisp prawns with barley, chili and ginger paired with Kilchoman Loch Gorm (100% sherry matured) and pork belly with caramelized turnips, smetana, marble potatoes and peanut vinegar sauce paired with Kilchoman Machir Bay (bourbon cask and oloroso sherry matured). 6:30 p.m. $130, excludes 20 percent service charge + tax. Reservations encouraged. 419 Cold Canyon Rd., Calabasas, 818.222.3888.

George Balanchine’s ‘The Nutcracker’
Dec. 7-10. The Music Center hosts the world premiere of the new George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker by Miami City Ballet. Set to Balanchine’s iconic choreography, the performances will include live vocals from the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus. Check website for show times. $34-$125. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown, 213.972.0711.

Cirque du Soleil: ‘LUZIA’
Opens Dec. 8. Billed as “A Waking Dream of Mexico,” this Cirque du Soleil show consists of visual surprises and acrobatic performances (e.g., hoop diving and surrealistic animals) bringing multiple places, faces and sounds of Mexico to the stage. Check website for schedule. Tickets start at $50, under 2 free. Dodger Stadium, 1000 Vin Scully Ave., L.A.


Fiesta Mexicana: Feliz Navidad photo by Luis Luque
Celebrate the holidays with traditional music and dance by Latina artists at Fiesta Mexicana: Feliz Navidad.

Fiesta Mexicana: Feliz Navidad
Dec. 9. Valley Performing Arts Center and Star Entertainment join forces to bring an encore performance of this Mexican fiesta. Celebrate Christmas with traditional music and dance by artists such as Ballet Folklorico de Los Angeles, Mariachi Garibaldi de Jamie Cuellar and a show-stealing 35-member children’s mariachi band. 7 p.m. $38-$78. Valley Performing Arts Center, Great Hall, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge.

Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade
Dec. 9. Hop into the holiday spirit at the 55th annual parade of decorated boats in Marina del Rey, preceded by a fireworks show. Enjoy real snow, sledding, arts and crafts, face painting, a DJ and food trucks in the park from noon-6 p.m. Fireworks 5:55 p.m., parade 6-8 p.m. Free. Burton Chace Park, 13650 Mindanao Way, Marina del Rey, 310.670.7130.

Echo Park Craft Fair
Dec. 9-10. Explore a new wave of local talent alongside top international design brands at this L.A. holiday staple. Expect ceramics, jewelry, handcrafted beauty products, clothing designs, woodworking, textile art and much more at this creative gathering housed at the legendary Mack Sennett Studios. Sa 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Su 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $10 one day entry, $16 two day entry. Mack Sennett Studios, 1215 Bates Ave, L.A.

Shopping Guide: 15+ Spectacular Los Angeles Holiday Markets

Renegade Craft Fair
Dec. 9-10. The world’s largest curated showcase of independent craft and design returns to Los Angeles for its ninth year. Discover one-of-a-kind gifts, DIY workshops, photos ops, local food trucks and seasonal cocktails at this highly anticipated event. For the winter marketplace, Renegade will partner with CERF+ to help raise funds for their Disaster Relief Fund which provides aid to makers and artisans affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and the wildfires in Northern California. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Free. 1245 N. Spring St., L.A.

Artists & Fleas
Dec. 9, 23. Stock up for the holidays at this year-round L.A. staple featuring the vibrant, artistic community of Venice. Situated on Abbot Kinney, shop from over 50 art, design and vintage merchants before taking a stroll down America’s Coolest Block. 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Free. 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice.


The Los Angeles Ballet
The Los Angeles Ballet performs the beloved holiday tale about Clara and her Nutcracker.

‘The Nutcracker’
Dec. 9-10, 15-17, 23-24, 29-31. Is there a more quintessentially wintry work than The Nutcracker? The Los Angeles Ballet performs the beloved holiday tale about Clara and her Nutcracker—set in 1912 Los Angeles—at the Alex Theatre, Royce Hall at UCLA, Dolby Theatre and Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. See website for schedule and ticket information.

Cocoa with Santa
Dec. 9, 16, 23. Reimagine the traditional Santa experience at this immersive and elevated meet-and-greet featuring surprise gifts, cocoa, dessert, snacks, craft activities and photo opportunities. Westfield Century City, 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.

Hanukkah Festival: LA/LA
Dec. 10. Inspired by the Getty’s PST: LA/LA initiative, this annual festival explores the themes of Hanukkah through the traditions of L.A.’s rich and diverse Latin American communities. Groove to musical performances by Latin Jewish bands, create art celebrating light and hope or learn about Mexican chocolate with culinary historian Maite Gomez-Rejón. Classic Hanukkah dishes like latkes and sufganiyot (jelly donuts) will be on hand. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. $12 GA; $9 Seniors/Students/Children ages 2-12; Free for members and children under 2.

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Manhattan Beach Holiday Fireworks
Dec. 10. 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 and float 4 p.m.; fireworks 7 p.m. Free (new, unwrapped toy or cash donation to benefit the YMCA Adventure Guides Toy Drive requested for snowpark admission). 2 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach.

CHILL at the Queen Mary
Opens Dec. 13. The Queen Mary’s all-new CHILL experience features the U.S.’ first-ever Ice Adventure Park and a tribute to cultural traditions from around the world, with a global sampling of food, music and live entertainment. The 38,000-square-foot Ice Adventure Park offers ice skating, an ice track, ice bumper cars, ice tricycles, a zip line, ice shuffleboard, a two-story ice-tubing slide and more. Check website for hours. $19.99-$29.99. 1126 Queens Hwy., Long Beach, 877.342.0752.

Disney on Ice presents ‘Follow Your Heart’
Dec. 14-17. Bring the kids to see their favorite Disney movies come alive on ice. The show features characters from Frozen, Inside Out, Finding Dory and Toy Story. See website for showtimes. $25-$100, under 2 free. Staples Center, 1111 S. Figueroa St., downtown, 888.929.7849.

‘Beauty and the Beast: A Christmas Rose’
Dec. 14-24. Broadway veterans and La La Land choreographer Mandy Moore put a holiday spin on the classic fairy tale. See website for showtimes. $28-$115. Pasadena Civic Auditorium, 300 E. Green St., Pasadena.


Grab your tickets now for the newest Instagramable darling in town, Candytopia.

Opens Dec. 15 | Update: Delayed Until Dec. 18. Step aside Museum of Ice Cream, there’s a new Instagrammable sweetheart in town. Explore the sugarcoated dreamworld, from the mind of celebrity candy stylist Jackie Sorkin, through larger-than-life installations and a dozen themed rooms inspired by pure, sugary bliss. And of course, all while nomming on candy samples. $30 adults; $23 children ages 4-12; Free for children 3 and under. 2627 Medford St., L.A.

Holly Jolly Day
Dec. 16. This third annual event returns to the JW Marriott with a festive, family-friendly lineup. Start with a morning feast featuring sweets like a hot chocolate bar, towering chocolate fountain and cooking decorating station, or opt for savory treats such as red and green deviled eggs and pigs in a blanket. Other highlights include private ice skating around a twinkling tree and a visit from Santa Claus. On your way out, don’t forget to take a peek at the life-size gingerbread house bar. Ice skating 9:30-11:30 a.m., holiday food and Santa 10 a.m.-noon. $30-35 adults, $18-$20 kids under 12. 900 W. Olympic Blvd., downtown. Tickets

Street Food Cinema: ‘Elf’
Dec. 16. Enjoy live music and food from the city’s top trucks at this month’s festive outdoor screening of holiday classic, Elf. See the website for full details. Doors 6 p.m., movie 8 p.m. $22-$38. 323.254.5068.

Snow Day L.A.
Through Dec. 16. The L.A. winter wonderland experience offers multiple lanes for tubing, falling snow, decorated trees and ice skating. Also enjoy a giant snow globe photo booth, food and drinks and a VIP penguin lounge. The Old Lodge, 2002 Stadium Way, L.A.

‘Chasing Mem’ries: A Different Kind of Musical’
Through Dec. 17. Tyne Daly and Robert Forster star in this touching play—having its world premiere here—with songs written by legendary lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman. See website for full schedule. $32-$90. Gil Cates Theater, Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Westwood, 310.208.5454.

L.A. County Holiday Celebration
Dec. 24. On Christmas Eve, the 58th annual Emmy-winning L.A. County Holiday Celebration returns with a family-friendly show featuring bands, choirs and dance companies that honor L.A.’s many neighborhoods and cultures. Doors 2 p.m.; First-come, first-seated. Free. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown, 213.972.0711.


Tournament of Roses photo courtesy of Pasadena Tournament of Roses
See the famous New Year’s Day Rose Parade up close and personal.

Tournament of Roses
Dec. 28-Jan. 2. Float decorating, Bandfest, Equestfest, Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl Game make up this Pasadena tradition. Free curbside viewing of parade on first-come, first-served basis; grandstand seats for $55-$100 on Rose Bowl tickets start at $185. Check website for detailed schedule, locations and fees for other events. 626.449.4100.

Salt & Straw
Through Dec. 28. The iconic ice cream purveyor is churning out five brand new flavors to celebrate the holiday season. Choose from Peppermint Cocoa, Apple Brandy & Pecan Pie, Gingerbread Cookie Dough, Caramelized Grapefruit Eggnog and Butter Roasted Chestnut, alongside their year-round staples. Available at all five LA locations.

Through Dec. 30. The national tour of the Broadway hit brings its brilliant raps about Founding Father Alexander Hamilton (played by Michael Luwoye) to the Pantages stage. Hollywood Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, 323.468.1770.

Holiday Lights Train Ride
Through Dec. 30. Embark on a holiday train ride through magical scenes and tens of thousands of lights along the festively decorated one-mile track. $4. Griffith Park, 4400 Crystal Springs Drive.

Chocolate-Infused Treatments at The Ritz-Carlton Spa
Through Dec. 31. Renowned L.A.-based chocolatier, Valerie Gordon, has joined forces with The Ritz-Carlton Spa to offer exclusive, luxurious treatments this winter season. Pampering begins with a cup of Valerie’s hot chocolate blend before indulging in one of four options: Chocolate Peppermint Pedicure, Chocolate Spice Organic Facial, Chocolate Glow Body Ritual, or Whiskey-ing Away for the Holidays—a hot stone massage in which essential oils evoke the essence of whiskey. $95-$185. Call for appointments. 900 W. Olympic Blvd., downtown, 213.763.4400.

Croft Alley x The Rosy
Through Dec. 31. Steps away from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, The Hollywood Roosevelt continues to reinvent itself with the debut of a new collaboration with beloved Melrose eatery, Croft Alley. Menu highlights include a Cauliflower Grilled Cheese (cauliflower, béchamel, fontina) and a fresh Risotto Bowl (coconut brown rice, red cabbage slaw, egg crepe, bok choy, toasted shallots). 10 a.m.-6 p.m. 7000 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, 323.856.1970.

‘Something Rotten!’
Through Dec. 31. This funny, irreverent ode to musicals tells the story of two brothers in the 1590s who try to outshine the Bard by writing the very first musical. Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown, 213.628.2772.

City Highlights Tour at Skyspace LA
Ongoing. Skyspace now offers a complimentary City Highlights tour with every general admission ticket. Fall in love with L.A. by learning more about the city’s history, pop culture, art, film and architecture. Daily tours last 35-40 minutes and depart on the hour beginning at 11 a.m. from the north-facing side of the 69th floor. 633 West Fifth St. #840, downtown, 213.894.9000. Tickets

‘Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors’
Through Jan. 1. The Broad presents the hotly anticipated traveling exhibition comprised of six kaleidoscopic mirrored environments alongside large-scale installations, key paintings, sculptures and works on paper from the Japanese artist’s 65-year career. The Broad is the only space in California to host this exhibition. Advance tickets $25; limited same day standby tickets $30. 221 S Grand Ave., downtown, 213.232.6200.

The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa Festival of Lights
Through Jan. 6. See more than 5 million holiday lights, appearances by Santa Claus, the world’s largest manmade mistletoe, horse-drawn carriage rides and a 30-ft multicolor pixelated tree showcasing a four-minute lights show with music. 3649 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside, 951.784.0300.


Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Magic comes to life this Yuletide season with a dazzling light projection at The Wizard World of Harry Potter.

Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Through Jan. 7. This holiday season, the wizarding village of Hogsmeade transforms with festive decor, lights, garlands and wreaths. Stroll the streets while you try bites and Butterbeer from the Three Broomsticks, take in a showing by the Frog Choir and see the all-new holiday spectacle with dazzling lights against the majestic backdrop of the Hogwarts castle. See website for schedule and pricing. Universal Studios, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City.

Enchanted: Forest of Light
Through Jan. 7. This local favorite returns for another year at Descanso Gardens. Additions for 2017 include a brand new Aqueous display, plus new enhancements to the Flower Power and Ancient Forest light displays. See website for hours. Descanso Garden Members $23-$25; GA $28-$30; Under 2 free.

Happy Place
Through Jan. 7. Smile and laugh your way through L.A.’s newest Instagram-worthy destination. Created for all ages, expect one-of-a-kind installations, multi-sensory immersive rooms and too many selfie moments to count. $28.50. 1242 Palmetto St., downtown.

L.A. Zoo Lights
Through Jan. 7. This L.A. holiday tradition returns for its fourth year to set the zoo aglow with thousands of LED lights, a disco ball forest and much more. Breathtaking new features for 2017 include a musical holiday tree experience, a reimagined water show and a glittering North Pole perfect for Santa photos, among others. Special programming includes VIP Experiences, Holiday Happy Hours and Family New Year’s Eve. See website for full schedule and pricing. 5333 Zoo Dr., L.A.

‘Spamilton: An American Parody’
Through Jan. 7. Can’t score tickets to Hamilton? This play, touted by the New York Post as the “next best thing to seeing Hamilton,” is a hilarious parody of the musical from the comedic force behind the long-running hit Forbidden Broadway. Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City. 213.628.2772.

Bai Holiday Ice Rink Pershing Square
Through Jan. 15. Skate among the skyscrapers at this ice skating rink, presented by Bai, which materializes every holiday season at Pershing Square. See website for hours, prices and skate-session schedule. 532 S. Olive St., downtown.


Ice Santa Monica
Lace up your skates for a day of fun at Ice at Santa Monica.

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

‘Caravaggio: Masterpieces from the Galleria Borghese’
Through Feb. 18. For a limited time only, experience a rare exhibition featuring three celebrated works by world famous Italian painter Caravaggio. The three paintings—Boy with a Basket of Fruit, Saint Jerome and David with the Head of Goliath—highlight Caravaggio’s bold, naturalistic style and will be viewed alongside The Getty’s exceptional collection of Italian masterpieces. Tu-F, Su 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Sa 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Closed Mondays and Christmas Day. Free. 1200 Getty Center Dr., L.A.

‘Tattoo’ at The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHMLA)
Through Apr. 15. New traveling exhibition at NHMLA explores more than 5,000 years of tattoo history and culture. Different from its iteration at other museums, this exhibit will feature content dedicated to the vibrant tattoo scene in L.A., highlight the dynamic work of female tattooists and also have a working tattoo parlor on-site with live demonstrations and special times for tattoo appointments. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, closed Christmas Day. $12 adults, seniors and students; $6 children 6-12; Free for Museum members and children age 2 and under. 900 W. Exhibition Blvd., L.A.


BOLD photo by Kamil Galimski. Museum of Failure photo by Sofie Lindberg. Fiesta Mexicana: Feliz Navidad photo by Luis Luque. The Nutcracker photo by Cheryl Mann. Tournament of Roses photo courtesy of Pasadena Tournament of Roses. Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter photo courtesy of Universal Studios Hollywood.



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