Los Angelenos have been known to gloat when other parts of the country are buried in snowdrifts or shivering in freezing temperatures. But many would admit that when Christmas approaches, they long for the chilly weather that encourages the holiday spirit. New residents often complain that it just doesn’t feel like Christmas as they browse through shops dressed in shorts and t-shirts.
Well, there are ways to enjoy holiday season traditions in Los Angeles, even with temperatures in the 70s.
Go Ice Skating
Celebrating its 20th anniversary season, the Bai Holiday Ice Rink in Pershing Square offers winter fun through Jan. 15, with special events, music, and skate parties. There’s even a Polar Bear Skate on New Year’s Day with prizes for the skaters in the most inventive beach attire. Or skate around the huge decorated tree at the L.A. Kings Holiday Ice Rink at L.A. Live surrounded by glittering lights from Nov. 25 to Dec. 21.
Try 'Snow' Tubing
Just a few minutes away from downtown, go snow tubing down giant hills amid decorated trees, twinkling lights, and falling snow — OK, it’s synthetic snow — but lots of fun and ice skating too. Open on weekends through Dec.17, Snow Day Los Angeles at The Old Lodge in Elysian Park also has a Gingerbread House and a penguin-themed light path for great photo ops.
Get Festive With Harry Potter
Universal Studios gets into the act with Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, decorating Hogwarts Castle with dazzling lights and presenting holiday music through Jan. 7. Or visit Whoville on select dates through Dec. 31 for Grinchmas events, ornament decorating, and music from the Wholiday singers.
Relive the Journey to Bethlehem
On Olvera Street, L.A.’s Mexican marketplace since the 1930s, experience Las Posadas, a nine-night presentation of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem, depicted in songs and folklorico ballet. The nightly candlelight procession and children’s piñata breaking take place from Saturday, Dec. 16 through Sunday, Dec. 24.
Hang With Reindeer
A few of Santa’s reindeer get to spend the holidays at the Los Angeles Zoo in Reindeer Village. How nice for them — and even better for visitors who have a chance to see the animals and learn about them from their keepers. The zoo once again presents Zoo Lights, a wonderland of light with illuminated snowflakes, a disco ball forest, 3D projections, and a spectacular water and light show. (Nov. 17 through Jan. 7, closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day)
Watch a Classic Holiday Film
For a little nostalgia and family fun, the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills plays classic holiday films every Wednesday through Sunday from Nov. 25 through Jan. 7. Stop by between noon and 5 p.m. to see films like "Frosty the Snowman," "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "A Charlie Brown Christmas," and more.
Go Shopping With Santa
You can visit L.A.’s malls for more than shopping. The Grove’s holiday festivities include a 100-foot Christmas tree, Santa's Workshop, and nightly snowfall at 7 and 8 p.m. The Westfield Century City offers cocoa with Santa on Dec. 16 and 23 with surprise gifts, snacks, photo ops, and crafts. On Wednesday, Dec. 13, they will host a Hanukkah celebration with a menorah lighting, music, and more.
Join a Sing-along
If you’re missing the real music of Christmas, the Walt Disney Concert Hall’s programs will raise your spirits. On Dec.16, there’s a Holiday Sing-Along accompanied by the hall’s massive pipe organ, a choir, and a jazz combo. The always-popular Messiah Sing-Along will be held on Dec. 18.
Tour a Giant Gingerbread House
Visit the Beverly Wilshire and step inside a life-sized gingerbread house where you’ll find handcrafted gifts, edible ornaments, and gingerbread cookies. Fresh snowfall nightly along with roasted chestnuts and a lavishly decorated Douglas fir create a holiday wonderland. Cozy up around a fireplace on the hotel’s outdoor patio overlooking Rodeo Drive and sip a glass of Moët & Chandon champagne or a mug of lush Valrhona hot cocoa.
Sip Cocktails and Roast S'mores
In the spirit of the season, the Intercontinental Los Angeles Downtown is spreading holiday cheer with its Season to Soar program, donating a portion of the proceeds of select menu items to the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. Warm up with tableside s’mores at Spire 73 or sample the December special cocktail, The Intercontinental Flip, to support the cause. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day buffets will be served at Dekkadance, and La Boucherie will present a luxe Christmas Eve dinner.
Cheer on the Parade
Ringing in the New Year as the holiday celebrations wind down, everyone looks forward to the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena. Flower bedecked floats, marching bands, horses, Rose Queen Isabella Marie Marez, and this year’s Grand Marshall, actor and humanitarian Gary Sinise, will star at the traditional event. And that day, no one in Los Angeles will be complaining about the sunshine and warm weather.