Twelve Holiday Family Treats in Los Angeles

Genie Davis November 16, 2011 No Comments


Yes, those twelve days and that Partridge in the Pear Tree are already being sung repeatedly over the audio system at the shopping mall. But we’re talking about holiday treats starting from Halloween through Thanksgiving to Christmas and Hanukkah, events that are different, engaging for kids of all ages, and reason enough to visit the Southland – if our mild climate wasn’t reason enough – or to celebrate spending the sprawl of holiday happenings right here. These are not in any particular must-do order, and nor are they chronological – they’re just great holiday happenings.

El Capitan Theater in Hollywood

Children of all ages love The El Capitan Theater in Hollywood and The Nightmare Before Christmas

Number twelve: With the holidays more and more being treated as one long celebration, what better place to experience an edgy and fun look at just that kind of festive combination than a screening of Tim Burton’s classic for children of all ages, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Annually presented either around Halloween or Thanksgiving, the movie is screened at the glorious art deco El Capitan on Hollywood Boulevard. With the theater itself decked out in Halloween and Christmas decorations, an organ concert before the movie screens, and fake snow falling from the ceiling, this is a wonderful musical movie going experience for all ages.

Number Eleven: Holiday Boat parades. Take your pick: from a week long extravaganza of sparklingly decorated boats in Orange County’s Newport Beach to a single evening of small water craft circling Redondo Beach‘s King Harbor just south of the airport, or a larger scale evening of boats plying Marina Del Rey‘s channel, you can see a Los Angeles tradition of holiday music and lights on the water. Kids are gonna love it – be sure and dress warm. We like to pretend we live in Hawaii, but we really don’t.

Number Ten: Las Posadas. Held in downtown LA on the historic Olvera Street plaza – the oldest street in Los Angeles – you can follow the figures of Mary and Joseph as they search for a place to stay right up to Christmas Eve. And enjoy browsing in the Mexican shops and eateries lining the plaza, too.

Number Nine: The Skirball Museum. Located in the scenic hills above Los Angeles this wonderful museum is filled with history and kid-friendly, interactive exhibits year round. Seasonal exhibits about Hanukkah traditions make this a must stop for learning and fun this time of year.

Number Eight: Day of the Dead Celebration in Hollywood Forever Cemetery. While the Day of the Dead is traditionally celebrated in November, this wonderful family friendly art show honoring Dia de los Muertos moved this year to a week before Halloween. Check the calendar and don’t miss this colorful event with face painting, fun snacks, and Mayan dancing.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery California

A surf board SoCal theme to this Day of the Dead altar at Hollywood Forever Cemetery's family festival.

Number Seven: A drive through light show. Los Angeles Department of Water and Power puts on a splendid series of electric light holiday tableau in Griffith Park at the east end. While While the DWP Holiday Festival of lights does have slow moving traffic that will have you idling, relax and enjoy the view – your kids will – and this attraction, too, is free.

Number Six: You won’t need grandstand seats to enjoy the Hollywood Christmas Parade the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Lots of open curb space makes this evening event – replete with Santa on his sleigh – a fun and easy way to end the Thanksgiving weekend.

Number Five: The Manhattan Beach Fireworks Celebration. Held two Sunday evening’s before Christmas, there’s live music, wonderful fireworks, and a whole beach to spread out on and enjoy this colorful California tradition. The event is free but the glow sticks and whirly toys you’ll find sold temptingly on every corner are not.

Number Four: West Hollywood’s Halloween Carnaval. Go early and you’ll find great costumes, easy parking, and a family friendly crowd – some of the costumes have taken months to create, and look it, too.

Number Three: If your kids are old enough to skate, or young enough to enjoy watching skaters spin, check out the downtown Los Angeles public ice skating rink in Pershing Square. There’s hot chocolate, too.

Fireworks in Manhattan Beach CA

Fireworks in Manhattan Beach CA are a holiday tradition

Number Two: Hanukkah on City Walk in Universal City. Yes, it’s fun even if you don’t go in the actual amusement park of Universal City Hollywood – which is also decked out for the holiday season. There’s live music and dancing, delicious kosher snacks, and the lighting of the largest menorah in Southern California. You’ll find other menorah lighting ceremonies on Santa Monica‘s Third Street Promenade and at the Skirball Museum.

Number One: The Bob Baker Marionette Theater in downtown Los Angeles. This amazing little theater in an obscure part of town is a true labor of love. Each year the staff  presents an annual holiday spectacular with beautifully designed marionettes and ice cream after the show. A timeless charmer that kids love at age two and want to take their college dates to enjoy years later.

avatarAbout the Author:

Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling.

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