Christmas Lights, Holiday Festivals & Events in Southern California

In Southern California, the Christmas and Hanukkah season is host to an array of traditional holiday events, concerts and festivals, as well as a few that are distinctly our own. Here are a few worth the drive.

A Hollywood Christmas at the Grove
Where: The Grove L.A.
189 The Grove Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
When: November 17, 2013
7:30pm – 9:30pm
Tickets: NA

About: The lighting ceremony for the Grove’s 100 ft. tree is a star studded affair, including musical performances by Cee Lo Green, Gavin Degraw, Mary J. Blige, Jewel, Toni Broxton, Il Volo and Babyface.

Helpful Tips: Arrive early and enjoy the holiday themed dancing water fountain show in the plaza. Then stroll down the boulevard to Santa’s Workshop – a thirty foot tall red and white frosted, giant candy cane and ice cream cone decorated structure, where your kids can take pictures with Santa. Ever seen snow fall in L.A.? It happens every night, on cue here.

Sawdust Art Festival’s 23rd Annual Winter Fantasy
Where: Sawdust Winter Fantasy
935 Laguna Canyon Rd.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
When: November 23 – December 15, 2013
Tickets: $6.00 Adult; $5.00 Senior; $3.00 Children (6-12); FREE Children (5 & under);$9.00 Season Pass.

About: Every winter, Sawdust festival grounds transforms into a white Christmas wonderland. Complete with performances, carolers and of course, Santa.

Helpful Hints: There are plenty of paintings, sculptures, woodwork, clothes and jewelry to peruse. If you are so inspired, get hands on with an art project of your own.

Christmas Tree Lighting, at the Americana
Where: The Americana at Brand
889 Americana Way
Glendale, California 91210
When: November 21, 2013
Tickets: NA

About: The Americana’s tree lighting ceremony features live music by Dejah Gomez, acrobatic performances by Cirque du Santa, dancing snowmen and fireworks. : The Americana can be described as “The Grove East”. The grounds have a similar feel, complete with dancing fountains and the Americana’s own version of Santa’s Workshop.

Also Try: Fashion Island in Newport Beach has a tree lighting ceremony on November 15-16 featuring Disney performances. Victoria Gardens in Rancho Cucamonga, hosts a tree lighting event on November 15th. There will be music, carolers, snowfall in Chaffey Town Square and will feature Santa’s arrival in the gardens.

Hanukkah Family Festival
Where: Skirball Community Center
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90049
When: Sunday, November 24, 2013
11am – 4pm
Tickets: $10 General; $7 Seniors & Students

About: The popular festival, combines religious and historical fun, for the whole family.

Helpful Tips: Be sure to explore the Noah’s Ark exhibit. The ceiling tall ark, is stocked with all types of animals. Your family can climb and explore the structure. Exhibits allow you to build an ark, and create a storm amongst other things.

Orange County Christmas Lights
Where: 25473 Nellie Gail Rd.
Laguna Hills, CA 92653
When: November 28 – Dec 24, 2013
Tickets: NA

About: A local residence that goes all out with its Christmas tree d�©cor. This home features over 100,000 LED lights, that perform choreographed dances to a playlist of songs. Visitors can also look upon hand sculpted displays inspired by the Grinch, Charlie Brown, Disney characters, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, a carnival boardwalk and an traditional snowcapped Bavarian Village.

Helpful Tip: Text a holiday message to the homeowners and it will be displayed on an LED screen in front of the home.

The 82nd Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade
Where: Hollywood Christmas Parade
Hollywood & Highland
Hollywood, CA 90028
When: December 1, 2013
Tickets: Curbside viewing is FREE; reserved premium seating from $45 to $85

About: The parade will be led by this year’s Grand Marshall, astronaut Buzz Aldrin. This year’s parade features giant character balloons, marching bands, equestrian and dance troupes, celebrity performances and more.

Helpful Tips: Parade route travels from Hollywood & Highland to Hollywood & Vine, to Sunset & Vine & back to Highland & Sunset.

Hanukkah Celebration at the L.A. Farmer’s Market
Where: L.A. Farmer’s Market
6333 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
When: December 1, 3013
2:30 – 5:00pm
Tickets: NA

About: Celebrate Hanuukah with performances by live musicians, the building of a giant Lego, arts and crafts and a traditional menorah lighting ceremony.

Also Try: Live in the O.C.? The Irvine Spectrum is hosting a menorah lighting event on December 1st.

The Nutcracker Ballet
Where: Alex Theatre, Glendale
216 North Brand Blvd.
Glendale, CA 91203
When: Dec 7 – 8th at Alex Theater
Thru December 29th at other venues
Tickets: Varies per venue

About: The popular holiday ballet is performed throughout Southern California.

Also Try: Want to find a venue near you? The Nutcracker is also being performed at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, Royce Hall at UCLA, Valley Performing Arts Center in Northridge, The Lewis Family Playhouse in Rancho Cucamonga, the Terrace Theater in Long Beach and the Barclay Theatre in Irvine.

World class conductor, Gustavo Dudamel will lead the L.A. Philharmonic in an orchestral performance of the Nutcracker at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, from December 12 -15th.

Where: Winterlit at the 3rd Street Promenade
Santa Monica, CA
When: November 7 , 2013 thru January 20, 2013
Tickets: NA

About: Winterlit features a series of holiday themed events including kids craft days, an outdoor ice skating at ICE and Hanukkah Menorah lightings at sundown, on each day of Hanukkah.

Helpful Tips: The Santa Monica Place Kickoff party on November 23rd is a highlight. While most events end by Christmas, ICE extends past the holidays well into January of the New Year.

Riverside Festival of Lights
Where: The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa
3649 Mission Inn Ave.�
Riverside, CA 92501

When: November 29 – January 4, 2013
Tickets: NA

About: The historic Mission Inn has become a Southern California tradition that is expected to attract over 250,000 visitors. Illuminated. The mission and vicinity is lit up with over 4 million lights, 400+ animated elves, angels and other holiday figures.

Helpful Tips: This is more than just a lights show. On weekends you’ll find live performances, food vendors and if you keep your eyes peeled, you may even cross paths with a live reindeer.

Los Angeles Magazine’s Big Holiday Party
Where: 5900 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
When: December 4, 2013
Tickets: $49

About: A holiday party that you don’t want to miss. DJ spun music grooves guests into a festive mood, as they imbibe on tasty concoctions created by mixologists. A spirits tasting party, guests can sample a variety of high caliber tequilas, whiskeys, vodkas, gins and wine to go along with catered appetizers, desserts and Nespresso.

Claremont Holiday Promenade & Tree Lighting
Where: Claremont Christmas
Indian Hill & @ 2nd St.
Claremont, CA 91711
When: December 6, 2013
Tickets: NA

About: A tree lighting event in the charming Claremont Village. Festivities include performances by local musicians through the village, dance performances, carolers, an ice skating rink, a visit from Santa Claus and

Helpful Tips: The 1st Friday art walk intentionally coincides with the holiday festivities. So take in some art as you snack on holiday treats, hot cocoa and mulled wine.

Altadena Winter Arts & Crafts Festival
Where: Christmas Tree Lane (Altadena)
Santa Rosa Avenue, between Woodbury Avenue and Altadena Drive
Altadena, CA 91003
When: December 14, 2013
Festival: 2pm to evening
Ceremony: 6pm to ?
Tickets: NA

About: Each year, the great old deodar trees that line the streets of the neighborhood, are lit with over 10,000 lights. The Winter Arts & Crafts Festival marks the first day of the tree lighting season (although you can see the trees lit up anytime through Christmas). There are plenty of food trucks and arts & crafts vendors at the festival.

Helpful Tips: The tree lighting is a highlight. After the ceremony, festival goers are welcome to join the parade and follow the local high school marching band down the newly lit street.

Canals, Gondolas & Christmas Lights
Where: Italian Christmas Sleigh
5437 E Ocean Blvd
Long Beach, CA 90803
Tickets: Varies
About: Bundle up, cuddle up and take a romantic gondola ride through the canals of Naples, in Long Beach. Canal front homes, yachts and palm trees are lit up for the holidays. Think of it as L.A.’s answer to the sleigh ride.

Christmas Tree Lane, San Marino
Where: St. Albans Rd. & Huntington Dr.
San Marino, CA 91108
When: December thru New Year
About: The sister street to Altadena’s Christmas Tree Lane. There is no ceremony or winter festival, but there is a block of tall majestic pine trees, on grand San Marino homes that are worth the side trip.
Helpful Tips: Park your car and walk up and the down the block.

Las Posadas at Olvera Street
Where: Olvera Street
Los Angeles St. at Alameda
Los Angeles, CA 90012
When: December 16 – 24, 2013
6:00pm; 7:30 for the start of the procession
Tickets: NA

About: Las Posadas translates to “the inns”. This Catholic tinged event, reenacts the Christmas Eve journey of Mary and Joseph, as they went door to door seeking shelter for the night. In this case, a procession of visitors follows behind singing Christmas songs (in both Spanish and English), as “Mary and Joseph” walk from shop to shop, repeatedly being turned away. Once they find shelter, food, music and pinata breaking ensues.

Helpful Hints: Want to try some Mexican holiday treats? Try some tamales (red chile, green chile or sweet) and the pan dulce (aka Mexican sweet bread).

Newport Christmas Boat Parade
Where: Balboa Island
Newport Beach, CA 92662
When: December 18 – 22, 2013
6:30pm (parade start time)
Tickets: NA

About: Stake out a spot along the parade route (i.e. along the coast of the island or across from it) and watch as a parade of Christmas light adorned yachts, parade around the island and compete for prizes. Make a night of it and listen to the carolers on the tiny island’s cozy little downtown and have dinner at one of the local restaurants.

Helpful Tip: Live closer to Los Angeles? Huntington Harbor has a boat parade too.

Thoroughbred Lane
Where: Thoroughbred St. & Carnelian St.
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91701
When: December through the New Year
Tickets: NA

About: Every Christmas season, Thoroughbred Lane transforms into a Christmas Light wonderland. Each home has its own d�©cor running the gamut from Santa to religious to the Nightmare Before Christmas themes and more. On weekends, the vibe is that of a bustling block party, with homeowners camping out in the their front yards to partake in the festivities. You may even be treated to choral and/or other performances.

Helpful Tips: Get out of your car and walk through the Lane. You’ll have more time to stop and enjoy each home and you will have the opportunity to buy hot cocoa, pastries, popcorn, churros, tamales and a variety of other treats, provided by the homeowners.

Candy Cane Lane
Where: Lubao Ave & Oxnard St
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
When: December thru the New Year
Tickets: NA

About: A long running tradition in the valley. Candy Cane Lane also boasts well lit homes, featuring a variety of themes — the “It’s a Small World” house is a highlight.

Helpful Tips: Park, walk and enjoy.

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