I love the holiday season and the magical transformation that happens when cities are festooned with millions of twinkling lights. I look forward to their warm glow and the festive feelings they bring all year long. It did take me a few years to get used to celebrating in a warm climate, but I’ve since decided it’s just as magical. From over the top festive theme parks and ice skating to neighborhoods dripping with Christmas lights and boat parades here are 10 family friendly way to celebrate the festive season in Los Angeles.
The Disneyland Resort
It’s no secret I love visiting the Disneyland Resort, but my favorite time to visit is during the Christmas Season when The Happiest Place on Earth becomes the Merriest Place on Earth. Each of the 5 lands as well as Main Street are adorned with themed decorations and treats and millions of glittering lights are hung throughout both parks.
Daily activities within the park include a tree lighting ceremony, nightly fireworks with snow, festive light shows and holiday parades. In addition to all of this many of the Park’s attractions have special holiday overlays including, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, The Haunted Mansion, and It’s A Small World.
Sleeping Beauty’s Castle
It’s A Small World Holiday
Christmas Fantasy Parade
From the spires atop Sleeping Beauty’s Castle to the peppermint beignets and masks in New Orlean’s Square to the jungle trees in Adventure Land and even the balloons no detail has been forgotten.
Visit Santa in Critter Country
If an annual visit to Santa Clause is one of your family’s holiday traditions your kids might enjoy visiting him at his Critter Country cottage. Though he is competing with Winnie the Pooh, who happens to live just next door. My boys and I lucked out when we noticed Santa’s line was shorter than Pooh’s and decided to check this tradition off our to do list early.
The World of Disney
If you’re looking for something to bring home you’ll find everything you could ever want and more inside the World of Disney including Mickey ears, toys, t-shirts, pajamas, frames, mugs, bakeware and even dishes and luggage. I admit to picking up an ornament or two…
Disney’s California Adventure
Season’s Speedings from Cars Land in Disney’s California Adventure where the holiday decorations are both beautiful and unique.
You’ll find everything from traditional sparkling Christmas trees and big red bows to festive fortune cookies, carburetor garlands and traffic cone trees during your visit.
All these gorgeous decorations make for great photo opportunities all you have to do is get the kids to sit still and smile…
All the treats have been given holiday makeovers as well. We wanted to give you the full scoop (pun intended), so we sampled as many as we could including, a peppermint flavored ice cream cone in a peppermint chocolate dipped waffle cone, a triple chocolate ice cream bar, peppermint beignets, festive chocolate brownies, and vanilla cupcakes filled with chocolate treats.
The Disney Resort Festive Holiday celebration runs from to , 2019.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios is not just a theme park, but a working movie studio as well, and as you can imagine they pull out all the stops during the festive season. Each area of the park has its own holiday theme including the famous Studio Tour, which is full of fun surprises, and of course there’s the Butterbeer, which can be enjoyed in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter all year round, but feels very much like a holiday treat, especially when its hot.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
If you aren’t therealready, the snowy rooftops in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will get you in the winter spirit.
Venice Canals Boat Parade
Have you heard of the famous Venice Canals? No, not that other city in Italy with canals, these are the ones in Los Angeles. Did you know we have our own? Normally a quiet residential neighborhood every December the Venice Canals come alive with merriment when they hold their annual festive boat parade and neighborhood decorating contest. This will be the 35th year!
This year’s Venice Canals Boat Parade will take place on Sunday, December 9th.
Even palm trees take on the spirit of the winter season when wrapped in twinkling lights. An evening drive to view the holiday lights is a favorite annual tradition in our family, and there are no shortage of stunning displays around Los Angeles.
The Venice Sign
Originally hung across Windward Avenue at Pacific by Abbot Kinney himself, this current version was installed in 2007. Most often lit with traditional white marquee lights, the Venice Sign changes throughout the year in support of various events and holidays.
Santa Monica Pier
My favorite time to visit the Santa Monica Pier is at night when it’s all lit up. The Ferris Wheel at Pacific Park is festive all year round, but especially during the holidays. Not only that, but the Pier boasts the only over water Roller Coaster in the world.
The Santa Monica Pier is open 24 hours a day 365 days a year, but check with individual businesses for their specific hours of operation.
WinterLit at the Third Street Promenade
Santa Monica’s Winterlit celebration will take place throughout the downtown area with many of the activities taking place in or near the Third Street Promenade. The Promenade is a vibrant pedestrian friendly shopping and dinning area in the heart of Santa Monica. Last year’s celebration included an interactive art exhibition by the duo DABS MYLA.
This year promises to be just as special. The Downtown streets and trees are lined with thousands of colorful lights and if that isn’t enough visitors will be treated to the occasional “snow” flurry.
Hanukkah will be celebrated with gatherings under the promenade’s giant menorah.
Menorah lightings will take place on the 1300 block of the Promenade from December 2 – December 9 at 6pm.
The light show will take place along the 1200 block of the Promenade daily every half hour from 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm November 19 – January 21. Other activities include outdoor films throughout the season, an official tree lighting with Santa on November 30, crafts for children, and so much more. Check the Winterlit website for more information.
Ice Skating at Santa Monica
Ice the city’s annual skating rink is located just two blocks from the Third Street Promenade. Before you hit the ice, get in the spirit with a cup of warm cocoa, or if you prefer a scoop of ice cream at the rink’s snack bar. Don’t worry if you’re not ready for a triple Salchow, or don’t own skates. All skill levels are welcome and skates are available for rental. There is even a tiny rink for the littles.
Ice is located on the corner of Fifth Street and Arizona Avenue. The season runs from November 3 – January 21, 2019.
Holiday Beach Bike Ride & Street Art Hunt
Always on the hunt for art I was delighted when we discovered holiday themed art while on our annual holiday beach bicycle ride. Our favorites are The Grinch yarn bombs by the artist Made By London, which have popped up every year. We can’t wait to see what her Grinch will be up to this season.
You’re in luck if holiday shopping is on your to do list, because Los Angeles has no shortage of shopping opportunities. The Grove and Century City in Los Angeles, the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica and Abbot Kinney in Venice are just a few of your options. You might be interested to know that The Grove’s Christmas tree is one of America’s tallest.