Descanso Gardens’ light-up experience was the first L.A.-area one to ditch the kitsch aesthetic typical at most other venues, and its whimsical, wondrous, curiosity-driven displays are still among L.A.’s most stunning and, more importantly, most fun. (It’s also quite pricey, but that’s the unfortunate reality now of every ticketed pick in our list.) The partially interactive nighttime program sets up illuminated installations around the botanical garden grounds, from luminescent forests to free-standing hands-on art pieces.
You’ve probably had to fend off this tired question before from out-of-town friends: How can we get in the holiday spirit here on the West Coast when it’s warm in December? Well, first of all, it’s cold—by L.A. standards, at least. But second, there’s also plenty of holiday cheer if you know where to see Christmas lights in Los Angeles. In between a deluge of Christmas events, festive movie screenings and frantic shopping trips, take the time to check out these twinkling neighborhoods and ticketed events. Just make sure to bring along an extra sweatshirt and some patience: Not even Christmas lights can escape L.A. traffic.
RECOMMENDED: Christmas in Los Angeles