Grab your cozy jackets and head to a Christmas tree lighting ceremony that is so much more than just a few lights on a tree—from fireworks and faux snow to Grammy award winning performers—Los Angeles knows how to really jumpstart the holiday season
There is something magical about turning on the lights of a Christmas Tree… Something about the “Three…two…one….” —not to mention the celebration before and after the lights go on! that gets us in the mistletoe mood. Luckily, Los Angeles has no shortage of tree lightings. Whether you want to see the Grove light up the night or the towering pyramid of lights twinkling over the ocean at the Manhattan Beach Pier—you’ve got plenty of choices when it comes to Yuletide dazzlement. Check out the below events, listed by date so if you miss one, you can quickly find another Christmas tree lighting ceremony that is sure to impress. Of course, take all that holiday magic and apply it to the rest of the month—don’t miss our favorite places to buy Christmas trees in LA, the best holiday light displays in Los Angeles that are worth your time and money, and last, but not least, where to get tickets to all the kid-friendly Nutcracker shows nearby that kids (and adults!) will adore.
1. Christmas Tree Lighting at the Manhattan Beach Pier
Manhattan Beach does more than just light a Christmas tree on its annual holiday lighting event—it lights up all 900-feet of its popular pier, with the totem "tree" (which is really just strings of lights forming a massive cone) jutting up from the roof of the end-of-the-pier aquarium. The festivities start at 5 p.m. with a visit from Santa, then continues all night long leading up to the lighting ceremony. Throughout the night, all the Downtown shops hand out free holiday treats in honor of the event—and kids will want to stop and see the live reindeer (!) in front of Pages, the quaint beach town's popular small bookstore. Throughout the night, roving carolers will be strolling the streets, singing holiday songs to all who listen—and the local school choirs will sing leading up to the lighting ceremony, at which point the town mayor flips the switch and the crowds are allowed to walk down the newly-illuminated pier.
Date: Wed. Nov. 16; 5-8:30 p.m. (Christmas tree lights turn on at 7 p.m.)
Manhattan Beach Blvd.
2. Christmas Tree Lighting on Rodeo Drive
Welcome the holidays, red carpet style! Enjoy Rodeo Drive's glitzy shops, all done up in holiday cheer, then watch as the towering Christmas tree lights blaze on before a grand finale of fireworks. This year's celebration will feature performances by sixteen-time Grammy award-winning musician, songwriter and producer David Foster and acclaimed singer, television and Broadway star Katharine McPhee, who will will perform live with new holiday songs and old favorites. Of course, Santa will also be on hand for the event.
Can't make it to the lighting ceremony? The celebration doesn't end there! Pump up your holiday spirit by visiting Beverly Hills' dazzling display of holiday light installations, all running nightly through Jan. 1. These include "Glowing Gardens" at Beverly Cañon Gardens, "Lights on the Lily Pond" at Beverly Gardens Park, and "Unwrap the Magic" at Beverly Hills City Hall Tower. There will be also be live caroling, dancing, craft-making and more at Greystone Mansion and Gardens’ holiday celebration on Dec. 3-4.
Date: Thurs. Nov. 17; 5-8 p.m.
2 Rodeo Dr.
3. Christmas Tree Lighting at The Grove LA
Keep kids up past their bedtimes for the shopping destination's 20th annual star-studded tree lighting extravaganza, which will feature live performances from Gloria Estefan, Andy Grammer, Little Big Town, and David Foster & Kat McPhee. This year's spectacular is being held in partnership with CBS for its “A Home for the Holidays at The Grove” TV special. The hourlong special, which will air Dec. 23 on CBS, aims to shine a light on the thousands of American children in foster care and help get these kids into "forever families."
The cameras will be rolling, so make sure you and your brood are "Lights, camera, action!"-ready as you gather around the Grove's 100-foot-tall white fir tree, which will be adorned in 15,000 sparking lights and 10,000 ornaments. The forecast also calls for a (faux) snowfall—and fireworks—so kids will be sufficiently wowed.
Of course, with all the glitz and glamour on stage, the only star your kid will want to see is Santa. And word has it that he'll be making an appearance, too—so get those holiday wish lists in order!
Date: Sun., Nov. 20
189 The Grove Dr.
4. LA County Tree Lighting
Your little elves can make lots of merriment in DTLA with the official lighting of Los Angeles County’s Christmas tree at the Music Center's 35,000-square foot outdoor plaza. Enjoy the sweet sounds of holiday favorites from local music artists and community groups, then gather around the magnificent 75-foot-tall tree to watch it twinkle with holiday lights. Word has it, there may even be hot chocolate.
Date: Mon. Nov. 28; 5 p.m.
Music Center Plaza
200 N Grand Ave.
5. Christmas Tree Lighting at Union Station
The historic station will illuminate its towering tree with thousands of glistening lights on the majestic South Patio as snow drifts from the sky in a classic kickoff to the holiday season. The festive, family-friendly celebration will also feature performances from the vintage voices of The Beverly Belles and party band, Weekend Celebrity, along with a “live” mural from eclectic artist Septerhed and special appearance from the North Pole's most special guy. There will also be a holiday arts and crafts zone, custom photo opps, Santa selfies, and free hot cocoa and holiday cookie bars.
Date: Wed., Nov. 30 at 6:30 p.m (tree lighting is at 7:15 p.m.)
800 N. Alameda St.
6. Christmas Tree Lighting at the Santa Monica Promenade
If you want to get your holiday shopping done while you're celebrating the kickoff of the holiday season, head to the Santa Monica Promenade, where the city's annual holiday celebration, Winterlit, transforms Third Street Promenade and Downtown Santa Monica into an immersive Yuletide experience, with tens of thousands of lights and a smorgasbord of seasonal decor at every turn. The grand lighting of the Promenade's 24-foot-tall tree is an all-out extravaganza that will feature performances by local school groups, free photos with Santa, and snowy skies sure to delight all those beach babies.
Date: Thurs., Dec. 1; 6-8 p.m.
Third Street Promenade at Santa Monica Blvd.
7. Christmas Tree Lighting in Culver City
Historic Culver City will once again host its spectacular Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration—this year with 25 tons of fresh sled-ready snow! The Tree Lighting Ceremony will include a 30-minute
show of singing, dancing, and music by local kids and a countdown to the the big reveal led by the mayor. The “Sled-tacular Festival” promises to be a Winter Wonderland, with enough snow for lots of slippery sliding and snowball-rolling. Expect snowmen, games, booths, treats, and a special visit from Santa.
Can't make it? The event will be live-streamed and viewable 6-6:45 p.m. on the city's website.
Date: Thurs., Dec. 1; 5-8:30 p.m. (Sled-tacular Festival begins 5 p.m.; Tree Lighting show and countdown takes place from 6-6:30
9500 Culver Blvd.
8. Simi Valley Tree Lighting & Snowfall
Snow is in the forecast at this Simi Valley annual event, which features a whole roster of activities for kids plus live music, food and drinks for all. The event kicks off midday with a bounce house and activities for the kids including visits with both Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Come hungry (and thirsty!), as there will be a beer garden, farmers market and hot foods for sale. The tree lighting will be followed by a performance by oldies cover party band Captain Cardiac and the Coronaries. Make sure to dress warm—the snow will be falling!
Good to Know: Mrs Claus visits at 2 p.m.; Santa visits at 6 p.m.; the Christmas tree lighting is at 6:15 p.m.; Snowfall takes place at 6:30 p.m. and the concert will be held from 7-8 p.m.; The Night market is open from 7-10 p.m.
1555 Simi Town Center Way
9. 100th Annual Christmas Tree Lane Lighting Ceremony in Altadena
After a two-year hiatus due to COVID, the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony and Winter Festival is back in Altadena, where a stretch of Santa Rosa's iconic deodar cedar trees have been lighting up for the holidays since 1920 (it's reportedly the oldest outdoor Christmas tree display in the world). The kickoff event, the Winter Festival, will take place at the library and will include tasty seasonal treats and drinks, as well a holiday craft market featuring local artisans. From there, head out to the streets and watch with the crowd as the lights go on for the season.
Good to Know: Daytime festivities center around the Altadena Public Library. The lighting ceremony starts at 6 p.m. Don't miss "Christmas Tree Lane" —one of the best holiday light displays in Los Angeles and takes place on Santa Rosa Ave. between Woodbury Rd. and Altadena Dr.
Date: Thurs., Dec. 10; 3-9 p.m.
600 E. Mariposa St.