Christmas activities 2013: Holiday events in Los Angeles

Your guide to the best Christmas activities and holiday activities in 2013, from festive concerts to seasonal shopping across Los Angeles.



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Photograph: Courtesy Los Angeles Ballet

You won't find snow-covered trees and below-zero temperatures in LA, but there are still plenty of holiday events and Christmas activities to get you in the festive mood—even when it's 70 and sunny in December. From meeting Santa and his (real) reindeer in Malibu to singing Christmas carols and scooping up crafty gifts at holiday markets—our list of the city's best events and things to do this season will help make LA a winter wonderland all month long.

RECOMMENDED: More Christmas events in Los Angeles

Malibu Country Mart Winter Wonderland

  • Free

This December the Malibu Country Mart is transforming into a one-stop holiday destination for all your Christmas and Hanukkah needs. Besides its extensive roster of luxury retailers (with in-store specials so you can start checking people off your shopping list), every Saturday before Christmas there will be free, fun activities for families to start getting kids excited for the holidays. Get into the holiday spirit in sunny Malibu, with dreidel playing and stocking decorating on Dec 7; photos with Santa and a cookie decorating party on Dec 14; and visits with Santa and his real (yes, real!) reindeer on Dec 21 at the event's grand finale.

  1. Malibu Country Mart 3835 Cross Creek Rd
  2. Until Sat Dec 21
More info

Go ice skating

Make the city your winter wonderland with an ice skating outing. Sure, the temperatures in LA rarely qualify as "winter" to most people, but that doesn't mean you can't throw on a scarf and pretend. Plus, these family-friendly rinks offer more than just skates—from wintry food and drinks to ice tubing and meeting Santa, there's something for everyone.

Holidays at the Getty

  • Free

Look out upon the twinkling lights of LA from the festively decorated Getty Center as it keeps its doors open late on Saturday nights. Sip on complimentary apple cider and scope out stained glass windows and illuminated manuscripts in the exhibit Canterbury and St. Albans: Treasures from Church and Cloister—to celebrate, the restaurant at the museum is serving up a holiday, prix-fixe Canterbury-themed menu with steak, Yorkshire pudding and a warm apple crumble served with a glass of Ruby Port.

  1. Getty Center 1200 Getty Center Dr
  2. Until Sat Jan 4
More info

Shop at a holiday market

Fed up with mass-produced merchandise and stuffy, crowded stores? Fortunately, LA has a wealth of holiday markets and craft fairs that you can browse if the big department stores just aren't your bag (or don't carry the stylish bags you want to gift this year). These seasonal marts are great for filling gift-list gaps and finding unique gifts handmade by local artisans. As a bonus, showing up at one of these markets is an easy way to get into the Christmas spirit. Just add hot chocolate and you'll be on your way.

LA County Holiday Celebration

  • Free

While Santa may still be working with his elves to load up his sleigh, you can relax and enjoy a pre-Christmas Eve celebration at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Gather up your friends and family and go hear LA's biggest holiday show, which includes more than 20 choirs, music ensembles and dance troupes from all over the city. The free three-hour show offers such varied pieces as dances that celebrate the sunny weather during an LA winter, a choral presentation of a traditional Mexican Christmas song that blends the ancient Aztec language of Nahuatl with Spanish and acapella arrangements of holiday classics.

  1. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion 135 N Grand Avenue
  2. Tue Dec 24
More info

The Nutcracker

  • Rated as: 2/5
  • Price band: 3/4

Relive your childhood theatergoing experiences this Christmas with Uncle Drosselmeyer, Clara and her beloved Nutcracker at the LA Ballet. The timeless show will travel all over LA, from Glendale to Northridge, from Westwood to Redondo Beach over the 2013 holiday season, performing their classic pirouettes and Mouse King battles for all LA County to see. Tickets start at $30 ($24 for students, seniors and kids under 12). Reserve your ticket early online or by phone.

  1. Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center 1935 Manhattan Beach Boulevard, at Aviation Boulevard
  2. Until Sun Dec 29
Buy tickets

The Whiskey Sour Mistletoe Jam, hosted by Ed Helms

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

The one-time Daily Show correspondent's singing voice isn't much of a secret anymore thanks to the pop culture domination of The Office and The Hangover (what do tigers dream of?). The banjo-wielding comedian occasionally mounts the bluegrass-inflected Whiskey Sour Radio Hour, his own take on old-time, radio variety shows with plenty of comedians in tow to up the chaos.

  1. Largo at the Coronet 366 N La Cienega Blvd
  2. Until Fri Dec 6
Buy tickets

Culver City Downtown Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration

  • Free

Downtown Culver City lights up the holiday season at Town Plaza (Culver Blvd and Van Buren Pl). The city flicks the switch on its respectably "green" tree: a 22-foot artificial Rocky Mountain pine with over 7,500 LED lights. Stick around for hot cider, hot cocoa and cookies, along with a special visit from Santa. Park free for two hours in the nearby municipal lots.

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