food & drink · music & nightlife · attractions & tours · outdoor activities ·
Published October 26, 2023
LA's Ultimate 2023 Winter Bucket List
Lean into the winter chill with our top picks of events and activities in LA this season.🎄✨
by Los Angeles Bucket List
As the City of Angels dons its winter coat, Los Angeles transforms into a wonderland of unique seasonal experiences, from cozy mountain getaways to holiday parades and a dazzling array of holiday lights that rival the stars in the sky.
Check out our curated selection of the most enchanting, offbeat, and heartwarming activities in our not-so-wintery metropolis. Whether you've been here forever or are looking to escape to LA for some sun this winter, prepare to immerse yourself in a world of festive magic and unforgettable moments. See our top picks below!
The Best Things to Do in LA This Winter
Grab Drinks at The Holly Jolly Bar
Get into the holiday season with some festive spirits (the alcoholic kind) at the Holly Jolly Bar. The halls of EP & LP will be decked from top to bottom, and you’ll feel like you just stepped into a Hallmark movie. Enjoy good vibes, entertainment, and a welcome cocktail from November to January!
Where: EP & LP: 603 N La Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood, CA
Go Skating at LA Kings Holiday Ice
The annual LA Kings Holiday Ice is back, bringing outdoor ice skating to the City of Angels! Stop by before or after a concert or a game, grab a bite to eat at one of the many surrounding restaurants, and skate your way into the holiday season surrounded by twinkling lights and the centerpiece Christmas tree. It’s only open from November 24 through January 7, so grab tickets before it’s too late!
Where: 800 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
Visit Winter Fest OC
This epic winter festival in Costa Mesa brings the magic of winter to Southern California November 24, 2023 – January 7, 2024, with over a million lights, massive holiday decor, a tree lighting show, and more. Explore an immersive North Pole Journey, enjoy ice skating at the enchanting Ice Trail, play in a new Snow Play area, whiz down a thrilling 150-foot ice tubing slide, indulge in carnival fun and festive food, shop at the holiday market, and more! This is your one-stop shop for all-things holiday this winter!
Where: 88 Fair Dr, Costa Mesa, CA
When: November 24, 2023 – January 7, 2024
Check Out Squid Game: The Trials
Starting December 6th, step into the world of Squid Game: the Trials! With six exclusive games, participants navigate fan favorites and unique twists while earning points for a chance to emerge as the ultimate winner. Once you exit the trials, you'll get to explore a neon-drenched Korean Night Market with a menu of authentic and Korean-inspired items. Here fans are free to explore, grab a bite to eat, play games, and purchase exclusive Squid Game merch.
Where: 200 N. Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, CA
Watch Your Favorite Festive Movies at Yuletide Cinemaland
This festive celebration centers around a Charles Dickens-style town square that combines the nostalgia of classic holiday movies with Christmas carolers, food trucks, mulled wine, craft beer, hot chocolate, and more. Explore picturesque Victorian-era homes dressed for the holidays, join piano sing-alongs, and watch classic holiday movies like Elf, Home Alone, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and more!
Where: Heritage Square Station: 3545 Pasadena Ave, Los Angeles, CA
See Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" Musical
Looking for something to do with the kids, in-laws, best friends, etc., during Christmas week? This is it. Featuring hit songs from the original animated series like "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch" and "Welcome Christmas,” you'll see the classic holiday tale unfold on stage at this beloved show.
Where: Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Segerstrom Hall: 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA
Hit The Slopes At Big Bear Mountain
We're living for that beach time in the AM, slope time in the PM life. Get out of the city for the weekend and head to Big Bear Mountain, about a 2-hour drive from LA. Winter operations at Big Bear Mountain Resort typically begin in November and conclude in March/April, conditions permitting.
Where: 880 Summit Blvd. Big Bear Lake, CA
Watch The Hollywood Christmas Parade
A festive staple of Tinseltown for over 80 years, the Hollywood Christmas parade is making its iconic return on November 26 at 6 PM. Come watch the floats, marching bands, celebrities, and downtown celebrations!
Where: The parade begins on Hollywood Blvd. at Orange Drive. The U-shaped parade route will travel east to Vine, south on Vine St. to Sunset Blvd., and west on Sunset Blvd. back to Orange Drive.
Visit Santa Village Skypark
Is that the sound of sleigh bells we hear? Santa has landed, and he's set up shop in LA with a nostalgic holiday village. It's the perfect setting for cookie decorating, exploring the winter lights, ice skating, and a photo with the big guy himself.
Where: 28950 CA-18, Skyforest, CA
Eat Your Heart Out at the Long Beach Tamales Festival
The Long Beach International Tamales Festival is back for its third year on December 9! This all-day holiday-inspired fair features tamales from different regions of Latin America, Latin-inspired dishes, drinks, tequila tastings, live music, art workshops for kids, performances, a best homemade tamales contest, shopping, and more!
Where: Long Beach City College (Pacific Coast Campus): 1305 E Pacific Coast Hwy. Long Beach, CA
Make Spirits Bright at the SANTA Monica Pub Crawl
The 15th annual SANTA Monica Pub Crawl returns Saturday, December 16! Dust off those antlers and Santa hats and join thousands of crawlers and dozens of Santa Monica bars to raise money for the Westside Food Bank and help those in need for the holidays. Tickets include free entry into participating bars, exclusive food and drink deals, one free drink, scavenger hunts, costume prizes, priority entry into Santa’s after-party, and more!
Where: Various locations. Check route options for details.
Go to the Music Center LA County Holiday Celebration
Christmas is a magical time for shows, so don’t miss the 64th Annual LA County Holiday Celebration! The show will feature music ensembles, choirs, and dance companies from the many cultures that make up LA, all meant to celebrate the artistry and diversity of our city. See the epic show on December 24th at 3 PM for a special Christmas Eve event. Admission is free!
Where: 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA
Sing Carols at the Holly Jolly Singalong Piano Bar
Step into a winter wonderland of music and merriment at the Holly Jolly Piano Bar Singalong! If you’ve ever dreamed of celebrating the holiday season in a cozy, festive atmosphere where you can sing your heart out to everything from "Jingle Bells" to Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas," this event is for you. Enjoy one themed cocktail with entry, and soak up all the holiday cheer!
Where: Three Clubs: 1123 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA
Catch the Rodeo Drive Holiday Lighting Celebration
Don't miss the holiday lighting celebration in Beverly Hills on November 16, when the street comes alive with dazzling palm trees, hot-air balloons, and holiday gifts wrapped in sparkling festive colors. The event kicks off at 5pm, and you can enjoy live performances across three stages, roaming performers, delicious food options, a wine garden, and more. The evening culminates with an appearance from Santa Claus and a spectacular fireworks display!
Where: Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, CA
Volunteer Or Donate To The LA Food Bank
Many people in our community are still recovering from the pandemic and the related economic fallout. One of the most rewarding and vital things you can do during the holidays is to volunteer or donate to a worthy cause, like LA's Food Bank. It’s an amazing program, with every dollar donated distributing enough food for four meals to hungry children, seniors, and families.
See The Lights on Christmas Tree Lane
Altadena's historic Christmas Tree Lane is back for its 103rd year! This event holds the distinction of being the oldest Christmas lighting tradition in the United States. Catch the opening night and lighting ceremony on December 9 with thousands of revelers from around the area, local choirs, marching bands, solo performers, and, of course, Santa Claus himself! The lights are typically lit daily through the first week of January.
Where: Santa Rosa Avenue, between Woodbury Avenue and Altadena Drive in Altadena, CA
Celebrate Christmas on the Farm
Get into the spirit with Christmas on the Farm at Underwood's Family Farms in Moorpark! From December 2 through December 24, enter the festive farm and visit the animals (including Reindeer viewings on select dates), write letters to Santa, take sleigh rides, and much more.
If you’re looking to get a live Christmas tree this year, you can explore Big Wave Dave’s Christmas Trees on the farm.
Where: Moorpark Farm Center, 3370 Sunset Valley Road, Moorpark, CA
Attend the Winter Fantasy Art Festival
Take the holiday shopping up a notch by doing it at this one-of-a-kind art festival. Peruse the winter fantasyland of handcrafted gifts by over 165 artists, plus enjoy three stages of live music and community performances, attend art classes, and catch daily visits from Santa himself. Sawdust Winter Fantasy is open from November 17 through December 17 for five weekends of holiday magic!
Where: 935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA
Watch The Rose Parade
Born from horse-drawn carriages covered in flowers over a century ago, the now iconic Rose Parade is a 5.5-mile stretch of state-of-the-art floats woven together with flowers and all-natural materials. Catch the event live on January 1.
Where: The parade travels north on Orange Grove Blvd., then turns east onto Colorado Blvd., where the majority of the parade viewing takes place.
See the Harbeck Lights in Pasadena
This home in Pasadena goes all out for the holidays with light shows timed to music, dazzling Christmas trees, striped candy canes, over-the-top installations, and more. It actually won ABC's "The Great Christmas Light Fight" last year, so we can't wait to see the show they put on this year!
Visit Tinseltown: The Christmas Speakeasy
This Christmas-themed speakeasy is back again this year with Santa, elves, presents, tinsel, festive tunes, and lots of winter warmer drinks, including a fabulous Christmas cocktail menu! The halls are more than fully decked with baubles, bows, hanging trees, wreaths, and just about every festive goodie you can imagine.
Where: Pattern Bar: 100 W 9th St., Los Angeles, CA
Take A Ride on The SoCal Polar Express
Hosted at the Socal Railway Museum, the Polar Express Train Ride is a fantastical recreation of the classic children’s story you can experience IRL! Take the whole family aboard a real train led by a cast of talented actors, and indulge in hot chocolate and holiday treats served by dancing chefs. You’ll also get to enjoy a storybook reading of the classic tale by Chris Van Allsburg.
Where: 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA
See The Festival Of Lights At The Mission Inn
The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa's Festival of Lights is one of the nation's largest holiday light collections and was voted "Best Public Lights Display" by USA Today. Back for its 31st year, the inn's festival continues to gain popularity and draws visitors from all over the Riverside area. Don’t miss the display, which will commence the day after Thanksgiving (Friday, November 25th) and last until Friday, January 6th, 2023.
Where: 3700-3662 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA
Grab A Lavender Hot Chocolate At Cafe Demitasse
Cafe Demitasse’s decadent cocoa drinks are extra-rich and topped with fluffy, sweet marshmallows that are blow-torched to order. Try the lavender hot chocolate for a twist on the classic, topped with vanilla and lavender oil.
Where: 1149 3rd St, Santa Monica, CA
Take A Holiday Gondola Cruise
Step onto a cozy gondola to glide through a sparkling Newport Harbor this winter and enjoy a Winter Lights Cruise, which tours the lighted houses of Newport. You can also book a gondola and watch the famous Christmas Boat Parade in Newport Harbor. Your cruise will include a decorated parade boat viewing and some of the decorated homes in Newport's waterfront neighborhoods.
Where: Gondola Adventures, 200 Bayside Drive, Newport Beach, CA
Witness the Tree Lighting at The Grove
On November 13, head to ring in the holiday season with the 22nd Annual Tree Lighting Celebration. The magical evening will feature performances by David Foster, Katharine McPhee, and other special guests, plus the season’s first snowfall, a fireworks spectacular, Santa’s grand arrival, and more! The event is free and open to the public and kicks off at 7pm.
Where: 189 The Grove Dr, Los Angeles, CA
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