Immerse Yourself! The Best Holiday Experiences for the Whole Family

best holiday events in Los Angeles Andie Huber

Looking for some over-the-top holiday spirit? These experiences are so chock full of good cheer that your cup will officially runneth over

There’s holiday spirit and then there’s Elf (from the movie) sized holiday spirit. If you’re looking for something more than a little jingle jangle this holiday season, you’re in luck because SoCal has some of the most unique and immersive events that would put any Hallmark Christmas movie to shame. From crowd-friendly sing-alongs and cozy train rides to winter festivals with real snow and holly jolly fun at one of the most gorgeous resorts in town, your family’s sure to make memories that will last a lifetime.


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This article is sponsored by Terranea Resort, a premier oceanfront resort in Rancho Palos Verdes. Featuring four swimming pools, delicious dining options, an on-site kid’s club, a golf course and a spa, to name a few, Terranea is perfect for family-friendly vacations. Check out the resort’s extensive list of holiday activities to get your family in the festive spirit! 

The Best Holiday Events in Los Angeles

Holidays at Santa Monica Place

Now – Dec. 24: Spend the Yuletide season at Santa Monica Place with fun events like Breakfast with Santa on Dec. 3, as well as photos with Santa, and even an opportunity for your pets to grab a holiday pic with the Big Man himself. And who knows—you might even get a little shopping done while you’re there!

395 Santa Monica Pl.
Santa Monica
Online: santamonicaplace.com

Holidays at Beverly Center

Now – Dec. 31: Beverly Center is doing it up this holiday season with lots of festive events for the family to enjoy. There will be a larger-than-life holiday display featuring a 35ft. tall tree, mirrored gifts boxes and light-up installations in the Grand Court area. Per usual, Santa will be on hand to take pics with the kiddos (and pets), along with live entertainment from holiday carolers, hip-hop Nutcracker dancers, a lead ballerina and a drag queen sugar cane fairy—obviously. Every Sun., a live DJ spins holiday tunes; on Dec. 8, there’s holiday drag queen bingo; and on Dec. 19, there’s a fantastic Hanukkah celebration with music, arts and crafts, and traditional treats.

8500 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles
Online: beverlycenter.com

The Immersive Nutcracker: A Winter Miracle

Now – Dec. 31: From the producers of Immersive Van Gogh, comes a reimagined holiday tale that’s a feast for the senses this season. The Immersive Nutcracker: A Winter Miracle will transport your family to a world of holiday wonder with dazzling projections brought to life by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s sweeping music including such iconic scores as The March of the Toys and The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Advanced tickets are required for entry.

Lighthouse Art Space
6400 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles
Online: immersive-nutcracker.com

Related: The Full List of Must-See Nutcracker Performances in Los Angeles

Skypark at Santa’s Village

Now – Jan. 8: Santa’s Village is filled with magic year-round, but it’s even more special during the holiday season when it transforms into a whimsical winter wonderland. Whether you hop aboard the electric train for a ride around the Meadowlands, enjoy an interactive nighttime stroll through the NorthWoods to check out dazzling lights, hit the ice at the Silver Bells Arena, sip with pinkies out at an afternoon tea party with Mrs. Claus, or savor a delicious holiday breakfast with Santa and his elves, your family will feel the joy and warmth of the season.

28950 California 18
Skyforest
Online: skyparksantasvillage.com

Kidspace Winter Frollic

Now – Jan. 8: Kidspace’s creative take on wintertime returns once again this year with an array of imaginative cold-themed activities, including a sock skating rink, ice fishing and building fantastic sculptures with frost-free ice blocks, as well as dressing up like a life-size no-melt snowman inside an icy snow cave. All experiences are included with the price of admission except sock skating which is $5 extra.

480 N. Arroyo Blvd.
Pasadena
Online: kidspacemuseum.org

Lightscape at the LA Arboretum

Now – Jan. 8: Lightscape is an extravaganza of light, art and music that transforms the Arboretum into an illuminated night experience. Wander along with the family through stunning new installations on an expanded trail that includes the magnificent Winter Cathedral. Good to Know: There’s hot chocolate, s’mores, and adult-friendly beverages along the way. Get a sneak peek here at this magical, outdoor experience.

301 North Baldwin Ave.
Arcadia
Online: arboretum.org

Southern California Polar Express Train Ride

Now – Dec. 24: An event that encourages guests to wear jammies?! Holla! Set to the soundtrack from the film The Polar Express, passengers take a one-hour magical train ride to meet Santa. While on board the festively decorated train, guests enjoy hot chocolate and shortbread cookies served by dancing chefs, read along with the classic book, The Polar Express, enjoy caroling and other entertainment, and squeal with joy as Santa finally boards to greet everyone and hand out a special gift.

Southern California Railway Museum
2201 S A St.
Perris
Online: socalthepolarexpressride.com

Christmas on the Farm at Underwood Family Farms

Nov. 25 – Dec. 24: One of our favorite go-to farms is even more delightful during the holidays. With tons of fun activities to choose from, it’s the perfect place to spend a day. Enjoy tractor-drawn wagon rides, Christmas duck racing, California sleigh rides with the farm’s Draft horses, participate in elf training, hop aboard the holiday train, visit with adorable reindeer and even meet Santa Claus (on select dates).

3370 Sunset Valley Rd.
Moorpark
Online: underwoodfamilyfarms.com

Holiday Road

Nov. 25 – Dec. 30: Over the last few years, Holiday Road has become a beloved tradition in So Cal. The immersive walking trail experience at the King Gillette Ranch features larger than life holiday installations, more Christmas lights that Scrooge can shake a cane at, Santa and Mrs. Claus, elves aplenty, falling snow, and lots of food trucks to grab a bite and warm up with a cup of cocoa…or even a cocktail.

King Gillette Ranch
26800 W. Mullholland Hwy.
Calabasas
Online: holidayroadusa.com

Holiday Market at Westfield Century City Mall

Nov. 25 – Dec. 24: If you can’t travel to one of the adorable Christmas markets in Europe, the holiday market at Westfield Century City might be the next best thing (and no jet lag)! The center court of the mall is magically transformed into a delightful marketplace filled with pop-up shops that feature extra special goodies and nibbles for everyone on your list. You can also drop a postcard Santa’s Post Office, enjoy a wondrous snow fall, or shake your belly like a bowl full of jelly with some rockin’ live entertainment. Don’t forget to check out Santa’s North Pole Experience near the holiday market as well—advanced reservations are required.

10250 Santa Monica Blvd.
Century City
Online: westfield.com

Santa’s Village at Irvine Park Railroad

Nov. 25 – Dec. 23: Gather the fam and head to Santa’s Village at the Irvine Park Railroad for some wintry fun. Festive activities include ice fishing, Blizzard Ball, Rudolph Racers, a moon bounce, ornament creation, sipping hot chocolate and eating snacks while taking in the dazzling lights, and of course—a ride on the fabulous Christmas train to see Santa. Activity tickets are available online and can be purchased on site for all events except the train – that requires a separate reserved ticket.

1 Irvine Park Rd.
Irivine
Online: irvineparkrailroad.com

Illuminate Silverlakes

Nov. 25 – Dec. 30: About an hour’s drive from LA, enter a family-friendly world of nighttime holiday enchantment at Illuminate Silverlakes in the town of Norco. Guests will enjoy mind-blowing light displays strolling the Illumination Trail, Toyland, Electric Forest and Reindeer Grove. After your walk, stop by Santa’s Village for a photo with the man of the hour. There’s also a bustling holiday marketplace that features swell gift shops, tasty seasonal treats, live musical performances, and an outdoor fire where you can roast s’mores.

Silverlake Sports Complex
5555 Hamner Ave.
Norco
Online: illuminate.holiday

Bob Baker’s Nutcracker

Nov. 26 – Jan. 8: Is there any better childhood tradition in LA than Bob Baker’s marionette production of The Nutcracker? We think not! Since 1969, Bob Baker has enchanted audiences with its holiday classic featuring the Sugarplum Fairy and her Promenading Cakes, Waltzing Flowers, The Go-Go’s Nutcracker Band and all wonders beyond the mysterious door. Following the show, guests will enjoy ice cream!

Bob Baker’s Marionette Theater
4949 York Blvd.
Los Angeles
Online: bobbakermarionettetheater.com

Snow N Glow Holiday Festival

Nov. 27 – Dec. 26 (Ventura) & Dec. 8 – Jan. 1 (Del Mar): This year, check out the Snow N Glow Holiday Festivals in Ventura and Del Mar. Festive activities include snow tubing down a giant hill made from real snow, sipping hot chocolate while strolling through a winter wonderland glowing with one million lights, fireworks on select nights, and even private igloos for rent that come with their own patio, a fire pit for roasting s’mores and snow delivered to directly you for snow play.

Ventura & Del Mar
Online: snownglow.com

Holidays at Terranea Resort

Dec. 1 – Dec. 31: Whether you’re craving a cozy holiday getaway overlooking the Pacific or an easy day trip to one of the most stunning spots in SoCal, Terrenea is the ultimate holiday destination. The sprawling Rancho Palos Verdes resort has a wide variety of festive activities to get visitors and resort guests in the Yuletide spirit. On Dec. 4, kick off the season with Terrenea’s annual tree lighting ceremony featuring live entertainment, sweet treats, gingerbread house decorating (with kits available for purchase) and good times for the whole family. During the festivities, guests are invited to fill out personalized postcards to be sent directly to Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole. And speaking of Jolly Old St. Nick, he’ll be there too for a meet and greet—whether you’ve been nice…or naughty. In lieu of admission fees, the resort asks you to bring an unwrapped toy donation for Toys for Tots. On Dec. 18 – Dec. 26, visit the Lobby Lounge terrace for a sunset lighting of the menorah and a ringing of crystal singing bowls to bring harmony and well-being to all. Now, for those families who are lucky enough to stay at the resort on Dec. 24, make sure to stop by Terrenea’s Lobby Living Room for a very special rendition of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by the fire.

Terrenea
100 Terranea Way
Rancho Palos Verdes
Online: terranea.com

Holiday Sing-Along at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Dec. 3: The Holiday Sing-Along at Walt Disney Concert Hall has long been a beloved tradition of Angelenos. The hall’s massive pipe organ, a choir, and a jazz combo lead concert goers in a joyous selection of seasonal favorites that inspire good cheer. Before the concert starts at 11:30 a.m. and again at 2:30 p.m., arrive early to Winter Wonderland at BP Hall for complimentary hot cocoa, make your own wreath with Makers Mess and take a photo with Santa before the show. Please note kids under age two will not be admitted.

Walt Disney Concert Hall
111 S. Grand Ave.
DTLA
Online: laphil.com

Holidayfest on South Lake Ave.

Dec. 3: Celebrate the holidays from noon-5 p.m. with tons of in-store promotions and family-friendly activities throughout the district, including photos with Santa, ornament making, cookie decorating, hanging with holiday characters, raffles and giveaways, a snow globe station, and live music. Admission is complimentary and ample parking is available.

South Lake Ave.
Pasadena
Online: southlakeavenue.org

Street Food Cinema and Heritage Square Museum Present: Yuletide Cinema

Dec. 3 – Dec. 23: If you love holiday movies, Street Food Cinema has put together a dream series of outdoor film screenings in Heritage Square downtown. Take grand tours of decked out Victorian homes, grab a bite from a food truck, sip hot cocoa while you stroll through a tunnel of holiday lights, channel your inner Mariah with piano sing-alongs, and catch films like Elf, Edward Scissorhands, The Muppet Christmas Carol, A Christmas Story, Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, Home Alone, Nightmare Before Christmas, and The Santa Claus.

Heritage Square Museum
3800 Homer St.
DTLA
Online: streetfoodcinema.com

The Nutcracker at The Alex Theater

Dec. 10 & Dec. 11: Featuring the area’s top youth dancers from over 25 dance studios across the city, Red Chair Productions’ The Nutcracker is a one-of-a-kind holiday experience. With lavish sets, glittering costumes and dancing that will blow your mind, this show is not to be missed.

The Alex Theater
216 N. Brand Blvd.
Glendale
Online: redchairproductions.org

The Nutcracker with Dudamel: Tchaikovsky and Ellington – Symphonies for Youth

Dec. 10 & Dec. 17: LA Phil’s Gustavo Dudamel hosts and conducts this long-time holiday favorite with a special twist. Leading selections from both Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker and Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington’s The Nutcracker Suite—a swinging reimagining of the original. The concert is recommended for kiddos aged 5-11.

Walt Disney Concert Hall
111 S. Grand Ave.
DTLA
Online: laphil.com

Las Posadas on Olvera St.

Dec. 16 – Dec. 24: As one of LA’s oldest Christmas events, Las Posadas is an extra special experience. Seasonal entertainment commences nightly starting at 5 p.m. and includes a lovely candlelight procession starting at Avila Adobe at 7 p.m. The leaders of the march (who are usually little ones) dress as shepherds, angels, Mary and Joseph, and are followed by dozens of other worshippers. The procession strolls up and down Olvera Street singing songs in English and Spanish. They make stops at stores along the way requesting shelter but will be denied until they are eventually admitted and receive complimentary champurrado, pan dulce, and pinatas bursting in celebration.

Olvera St.
DTLA
Online: olvera-street.com/las-posadas

Los Angeles Master Chorale: Carols on the Plaza

Dec. 19: This free event features conductor Grant Gershon, 20 singers from the Los Angeles Master Chorale, a piano, and you! In an evening filled with merriment, Angelenos are invited to sing everyone’s favorite songs for the holidays. Song booklets will be provided, and the event runs about 30 min.

The Music Center Plaza
135 N. Grand Ave.
DTLA
Online: lamasterchorale.org

Home Alone in Concert

Dec. 20, 21 & Dec. 22: Conductor David Newman joins the Angeles Chorale for a very special screening of this beloved holiday classic. John Williams’ charming and delightful score will be performed live to picture bringing the hilarious antics of a young boy and two bungling thieves to life.

Walt Disney Concert Hall
111 S. Grand Ave.
DTLA
Online: laphil.com

LA County Celebration at Dorothy Chandler Pavillion

Dec. 24: The 63rd annual LA County Holiday Celebration returns this year, giving families an incredible (and free) opportunity to experience the dynamic cultures of the county. The diverse lineup of LA based artists includes choral groups, dance troupes, and tons of amazing local artists.

135 N. Grand Ave.
DTLA
Online: musiccenter.org

 

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