The Best Holiday Events and Activities in Los Angeles

2018 Christmas events, concerts, outdoor ice skating, dazzling lights and more

"Messiah" Sing-Along at Walt Disney Concert Hall | Photo courtesy of L.A. Master Chorale, Facebook
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With gorgeous weather and endless entertainment options, the holidays in Los Angeles are like no other city. From classic Christmas music concerts to dazzling light displays and outdoor ice skating, read our guide and learn about some of the best Los Angeles holiday events and activities that will keep you joyfully warm throughout the season.

In keeping with tradition, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) offers free rides on Christmas Eve to provide safe transportation and reduce holiday traffic congestion. All Metro Rail and Bus lines are free starting at 9 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 24 until 2 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 25. Metro Rail and Metro Bus systems will operate on a Monday schedule on Christmas Day.

Outdoor Ice Skating (November 2018 - January 2019)

LA Kings Holiday Ice at L.A. LIVE
LA Kings Holiday Ice at L.A. LIVE I Photo courtesy of L.A. LIVE

Holiday Lights in L.A. (November 2018 - January 2019)

WINTER WONDERLAND - THE GROVE

Winter Wonderland at The Grove
Photo courtesy of The Grove, Facebook

Open 365 days a year, The Grove invites the entire family to enjoy a Winter Wonderland in L.A. now through Christmas Day (Tuesday, Dec. 25). The holiday festivities include a 100-foot Christmas tree, the Santa House, nightly snowfall at 7 and 8 p.m., live music and entertainment. Santa Paws Pet Photos for your furry friend every Tuesday from 6:30-9pm through December 11.

REINDEER ROMP - L.A. ZOO (through Jan. 6, 2019)

Reindeer Romp at the Los Angeles Zoo
Reindeer Romp | Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Zoo

Reindeer Romp is back at the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens, featuring Reindeer Village and daily visits with real reindeer. Weekend Romps include professional photos with Santa (additional fee), antler crafts in Reindeer Village, and reindeer keeper talks. The reindeer will be on view 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through Jan. 6, 2019. The zoo is closed on Christmas Day.

Gifts aren’t just for humans this holiday season – during Reindeer Romp, the zoo’s animals will also partake in the festivities with special behavioral enrichment, including "presents" to unwrap that encourage natural behaviors.

Los Angeles Holiday Parades (November 2018 - January 1, 2019)

Photo courtesy of sfPhotocraft, Flickr

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD (November 2018 – January 2019)

Christmas at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Christmas at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter | Photo courtesy of Universal Studios Hollywood

Get in the festive spirit with all-new holiday experiences at Universal Studios Hollywood! Surrounded by holiday decor, you can celebrate Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, enjoy the most Who-tacular Grinchmas™ celebration ever, and take a selfie with the merry and mischievous Minions.

CHRISTMAS AT THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER
This holiday season, Hogsmeade™ is transformed with festive décor to celebrate Christmas at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Experience an all-new holiday spectacle with dazzling lights and music cast against the majestic backdrop of Hogwarts™ castle. Hear holiday favorites performed by the Hogwarts student choir accompanied by their giant throaty frogs. Shop for holiday ornaments, stockings, tree toppers and figurines, then enjoy seasonal food and beverage offerings at Three Broomsticks™, including a Holiday Dinner and hot Butterbeer™.

Family photo with The Grinch™ at Grinchmas™
Family photo with The Grinch™ at Grinchmas™ | Photo courtesy of Universal Studios Hollywood

GRINCHMAS
This holiday celebrate withThe Grinch™, Max and all of Who-ville, during the most Who-tacular Grinchmas celebration ever. Snap a selfie with The Grinch and Max for holiday memories that last a lifetime, then enjoy the spectacular lighting of the spectacular 60-foot Seussian tree. Listen to cheery Christmas carols from the Who-ville singers, then decorate ornaments – prepare for messy fingers! Enjoy Martha May Who-vier and the Who-Dolls’ big holiday revue before settling in for story time with Cindy Lou Who.

WESTFIELD (December 2018)

Santa with Boxes at Westfield
Photo courtesy of Westfield

This holiday season, Westfield is here to help spread the joy, from head to toe at their world-class Century City, Santa Anita, and Topanga & The Village shopping, dining and entertainment hubs. The spirit of the season is in full swing at each location, with special events that you’ll want to add to your calendar alongside your holiday shopping.

Holiday Events at the Music Center (December 2018)

Located in Downtown Los Angeles, The Music Center is home to the Ahmanson Theatre, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Mark Taper Forum and Walt Disney Concert Hall. From concerts and sing-alongs to the city’s largest holiday celebration, visitors can spend the entire season at the Music Center and never see the same event twice. Read More

STEVIE WONDER’S HOUSE FULL OF TOYS - STAPLES CENTER (Dec. 9, 2018)

Stevie Wonder’s House Full of Toys 2018
Photo courtesy of Stevie Wonder, Facebook

Now in its 22nd year, Stevie Wonder’s House Full of Toys is taking place on Sunday, Dec. 9 at STAPLES Center in Downtown L.A. Each year, the legendary musician and special guests raise funds to provide toys for thousands of children in orphanages, hospitals, and shelters all over the country. This year, Stevie will be combining his benefit concert with his House Full of Hope charity to support those affected by the recent Southern California wildfires. “Along with the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), our goal is to raise money in support of all those who suffered loss to the catastrophic fires, to support the amazing firefighters who worked so hard to save lives and homes, and to support the first responders who are always there when we need them.”

Concertgoers are asked to bring an unwrapped toy or unwrapped gift of joy. Support Stevie Wonder's fundraiser by donating to EIF.

"IT'S HOLIDAY TIME IN PALEYLAND" - THE PALEY CENTER FOR MEDIA (through Jan. 6, 2019)

Hermey the Elf and Rudolph in "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (1964)
Hermey the Elf and Rudolph in "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (1964) | Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills celebrates the joy of the season with a special family-friendly experience. "It’s Holiday Time in PaleyLand" features screenings of beloved classic holiday TV programs from the Paley Archive, along with family holiday activities and a visit with Santa. Playing continuously on the big screen from noon to 5pm are classics like Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Rugrats Kwanzaa, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town and Elmo’s World: Happy Holidays.

Visit with Santa and take a photo on weekends and select weekdays from 11am - 5pm. Families can also enjoy special holiday activities like arts & crafts, dreidel games, plus free hot cocoa!

SNOW WONDER - BURTON CHACE PARK (Dec. 8, 2018)

On Saturday, Dec. 8 Burton Chace Park in Marina del Rey will be transformed into a winter wonderland. Taking place from noon to 6 p.m., Snow Wonder features tons of real snow that will create a sledding hill and snow-kissed pine forest. (Sledding discs are provided or bring your own.) Enjoy arts & crafts, face painting, live DJ, foodie booths, and much more. Snow Wonder is free, with food for purchase. For those who want to participate in activities, guests of all ages need a wristband. Get yours at the registration tent, where you'll first sign a waiver. Save time and download the waiver at Eventbrite.

Las Posadas at Olvera Street (Dec. 16-24, 2018)

Las Posadas at Olvera Street | Photo courtesy of current events, Flickr

Each year from Dec. 16 until Christmas Eve, Olvera Street merchants and their families walk through El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument in a ceremonial re-enactment of Joseph and Mary’s nine-night search for sanctuary. The tradition features a procession with sing-alongs and piñata breaking, and is one of the oldest events in the city.

The ORIGINAL FARMERS MARKET (Dec. 15-24, 2018)

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

As it has for decades, The Original Farmers Market at Third and Fairfax will celebrate the holidays with Yuletide decor, globally-inspired seasonal music, arts & crafts, Christmas Karaoke and more. The Market’s holiday music line-up offers an eclectic range of musical styles, from Latin jazz to Calypso and mariachi. A popular Market tradition returns with carolers strolling the aisles in Dickensian costumes. Holiday events and activities at The Original Farmers Market are free, check the online flyer for the full schedule.

QUEEN MARY CHRISTMAS (NOW THROUGH JAN. 6, 2019)

American Bombshells at Queen Mary Christmas
American Bombshells at Queen Mary Christmas | Photo courtesy of The Queen Mary, Facebook

Discover new traditions mingled with old-fashioned Christmas cheer as you stroll the beautiful decks of the legendary Queen Mary! Experience thousands of twinkling lights, carolers and musical performances, the outdoor skating rink, meet and greets with Santa, and much more. Highlights of Queen Mary Christmas include Santa's Captain's Quarters featuring photos with Santa*, Mrs. Claus in the Starboard Lounge, outdoor ice skating on the Sports Deck*, Gingerbread Village, Canopy of Lights, Breakfast with Santa*, and the Holiday Dinner Show.*
*Additional pricing/ticket

Holiday in the Park - Six Flags Magic Mountain (through Dec. 30, 2018)

Renowned as the “Thrill Capital of the World,” Six Flags Magic Mountain lights up the season during its annual holiday extravaganza, Holiday in the Park. With more than two million lights and seven uniquely themed areas — including two new holiday sections, Merry Lane and Santa’s Cottage — the park will transform into a spectacular winter wonderland for 29 nights on weekends-only through December 9, and daily December 15 through 30. Entertainment includes the Holiday Square Carolers, live music by The Mistletones, and Kwerkmas - unique acrobatic artistry with a holiday flair. Holiday in the Park begins each day at 5 p.m., signaled by the first falling snow of the evening.

Tournament of Roses (December 2018 - January 2019)

Founded in 1890, the Tournament of Roses in Pasadena is America's New Year Celebration, a greeting to the world on the first day of the year and a salute to the community spirit and love of pageantry. From the pre-bowl game feasting at Lawry’s Beef Bowl, to the spectacular Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl Game on New Year's Day, the Tournament of Roses is a Southern California tradition that is unequaled anywhere in the world. Read More

Surf & Ski in the Same Day in L.A.

Snowboarder at Mountain High
Photo courtesy of Mountain High, Facebook