The 10 best things to do during the holidays in L.A.

Christmas in L.A. isn't complete until you've checked these quintessential, holiday things to do off your list
Photograph: Noah Fecks

At first glance, L.A. doesn't seem like it would be a seasonal winter wonderland. But this sunny city is actually a great place to spend the holidays—we go the extra mile to bring the magic of Christmastime to life. Between whimsical, twinkly (even interactive) Christmas lights, holiday markets and ice rinks galore, we’ve got our own set of L.A. holiday traditions that just can’t be beat. 'Tis the season, and here's how to make the most of it!

RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to Christmas in Los Angeles

Things to do during Christmastime

Enchanted: Forest of Light
Photograph: Michael Juliano
News, City Life

Enchanted: Forest of Light

Christmas lights usually go hand-in-hand with over-the-top decorations: inflatable Santas, crystal snowflakes, strobing snowmen. But L.A.'s newest light-up experience has ditched the kitsch in favor of a whimsical, wondrous, curiosity-driven display that's among L.A.'s most stunning and, more importantly, most fun. The interactive, nighttime program has set up eight illuminated installations around the botanical garden grounds, from luminescent forests to free-standing hands-on art pieces. It's an absolute must-see this year.

Hollywood Christmas Parade
Photograph: Courtesy Hollywood Christmas Parade
Things to do

Hollywood Christmas Parade 2016

Every year we don our gay apparel (still too tight from Thanksgiving dinner) and head to the Hollywood Walk of Fame as it's transformed into a winter wonderland. Curbside viewing along the parade route after Highland Avenue is free, and all the action will be televised and broadcasted on the CW Network in case you can't make it in person. But we suggest trying to see it live; Olivia Newton-John will be the grand marshal of the parade, and the concert portion includes performances by Cyndi Lauper, Kenny G, WAR, Eric Benét, Scotty McCreery, The Empty Hearts, Band Of Merrymakers and more. The parade will feature plenty of balloons, marching bands, equestrians and a special magic performance.

Photograph: Noah Fecks
News, Drinking

Miracle on Santa Fe

Starting on December 1, classy Arts District cocktail spot Westbound will transform itself into something they’re calling Miracle on Santa Fe, an over-the-top holiday bar experience. Every bit of space will be covered in decorations, twinkle lights, tinsel and other assorted seasonal flair. There will be a festive performance every night, including Victorian carolers, sugarplum dancers and more surprises to be announced. Santa might stop by to drop off some boozy gifts and, if you’re very lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of fresh falling snow. That’s right. Snow. Falling inside a bar in L.A. Obviously, you can’t drink your regular cocktail at a holiday theme bar, so Miracle on Santa Fe will have plenty of on-theme libations. Expect treats like the Snowball Old Fashioned, Jingle Ball Nog or Muletide, each taking a well-known cocktail and giving it a seasonal spin.

Holiday Ice Rink Pershing Square
Photograph: Michael Juliano
Things to do, Ice skating

Ice skating rinks

Make the city your winter wonderland and add ice skating in Los Angeles to your list of must-do Christmas events this season. 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. Plus, if you're still looking for the perfect Christmas gifts, most of the rinks are located within walking distance from prime shopping destinations and holiday markets.

Photograph: Foster Snell
Things to do, Quirky events


SantaCon is a holiday celebration with a pretty simple premise. Get a whole bunch of people to dress up like Santa Claus and hit the town. They party and pub-crawl and have a jolly old time. Want to join in? You’re (really!) going to need a costume; they're mandatory—and we’re not just talking about a cute Santa hat. The expectation is that you’ll go all red, get creative and really do it up (we've also seen Christmas hams, candy canes, etc.). SantaCon is a free, open-invite, self-organizing sort of affair. Just show up!

Before you know it, it'll be New Year's Eve

Bootie LA NYE
Photograph: Joe Stewart, courtesy Bootie LA
Things to do

New Year's Eve in Los Angeles

Ready to part ways with 2016? Whether you're just visiting or a seasoned local, our guide to New Year's Eve in Los Angeles will help you find the best events and parties in the city—from family-friendly activities to adult affairs. Whatever your plans, get ready for the best New Year's ever. Hello, new year!

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