Hollywood Christmas Parade
Photograph: Courtesy Hollywood Christmas Parade

Things to do on Thanksgiving in Los Angeles

Stuff your holiday weekend with these things to do on Thanksgiving, from turkey trots to holiday marketplaces

Michael Juliano
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If you’re doing it right, Thanksgiving in Los Angeles means feasting on turkey and the best pies—and finding volunteer opportunities in your community. But what other things to do on Thanksgiving can you partake in? Enjoy the long holiday weekend with a variety of events and these things to do on Thanksgiving in L.A., from turkey trots to illuminated garden walks to parades. (We’ve made sure to specify which events are actually open on Thanksgiving itself and which ones are running the rest of the weekend.)

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Thanksgiving events in Los Angeles

  • Things to do
  • Festivals

Celebrate Thanksgiving with this catchall family-friendly event along Downtown’s Spring Street, chock-full of races, games and activities. Work off those calories in either the 5K or the 10K run/walk (there’s also a 1K “Widdle Wobble” for kids 10 and under). Costumes are always encouraged. Each year, the race benefits the Midnight Mission.

  • Things to do

Drift into the Convention Center for the 10-day L.A. Auto Show with cars that would even make Bond drool. If you’re a car nerd, get behind the wheel to test drive one of the cherry rides (including an indoor EV track), while celebrities meet and greet at the manufacturer exhibits. With world and North American debuts from a slate of manufacturers, rev up for the machines of the future.

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  • Things to do
  • Ice skating

L.A. doesn’t typically seem like much of a winter wonderland, until, that is, you create an ice skating rink right in the midst of Downtown skyscrapers. Come glide around and pretend there’s snow on the ground at Pershing Square’s outdoor holiday skating rink. Skate rentals are included in admission, though lockers and skating aids costs a few dollars extra.

  • Things to do
  • Festivals

Discovery and wonder are set to inhabit the illuminated installations once again in Descanso Gardens’ holiday tradition. The botanical garden’s nighttime experience masterfully mixes hands-on art installations with atmospheric, luminescent forests, all against a background of uplit trees and shimmery sound effects. Though the event isn’t open on Thanksgiving day, you can visit it on either side of the holiday.

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  • Things to do

Uplit trees and illuminated installations will once again dot the roughly mile-long pathway at the third edition of Lightscape at the L.A. County Arboretum. For the 2023 season, the Arboretum has announced a “reimagined” event with an expanded trail. The light cathedral will, of course, make its return, as will the fire garden, one of our standouts from Lightscape’s first year in Arcadia. It’s not open on Thanksgiving itself, but it is the rest of the weekend.

 

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  • Things to do

Riverside’s stunningly beautiful Mission Inn is bathed in 4.5 million twinkly lights and decorated with hundreds of animated figures during the annual Festival of Lights. The free seven-week-long holiday tradition starts a little early this year; typically it opens the day after Thanksgiving, but in 2023 it’ll debut on November 18.

  • Things to do

Like an Angelyne billboard on Sunset Boulevard, the Hollywood Christmas Parade is an essential part of L.A. kitsch. The nine-decade–old parade (held on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend) will feature floats, balloons, bands, equestrians and sort-of-celebrities as they ride in a U-shaped route that begins at Hollywood and Orange and ends up at Sunset and Orange. Reserved grandstand seats can be purchased, with proceeds going to Toys for Tots, but free curbside seating is also available.

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