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6 Los Angeles Christmas Activities You Can’t Miss

a castle at night

Spending part of your holiday season in sunny Los Angeles? There are still plenty of ways for you to get into the Christmas spirit, despite the lack of (real) snow. Just try one of these six can’t-miss Los Angeles Christmas activities. All six of them are sure to get you in the jolly, holiday mood, and are perfect for travelers of all types, whether you’re exploring with your significant other or visiting as a family.

1. Check out the LA Zoo Lights

la zoo lights photo

Photo by channone

From Nov. 15, all the way through the holiday season, 6–10 p.m., you can catch a beautiful display of twinkling, sparkling Christmas lights at the LA Zoo. The LA Zoo Lights event is perfect for families, but the cheerful ambiance also makes this stop a unique date idea. The zoo boasts that its light show this year will include the world’s largest illuminated pop-up storybook.

2. Find a Christmas boat parade

christmas boat parade photo

Photo by emilio labrador

Christmas boat parades are no rarity in Southern California, so there’s bound to be one occurring this Christmas season near you. Check out Marina Del Rey (Holiday Boat Parade, fireworks and parade, 5:55pm December 14), Long Beach (Annual Parade of 1000 Lights, December 7 at 5pm), Newport Beach (Christmas Boat Parade, 6:30pm each night from December 18-22), Dana Point (Dana Point Harbor Boat Parade of Lights, 7:30pm December 6, 7, 13 & 14), Ventura (Ventura Harbor Parade of Lights, 6:30pm December 13&14), and Oxnard (Parade of Lights At Channel Islands Harbor, 7pm December 13&14), which all offer one or more parades. Snag a good vantage point and watch the festively decorated boats float by in their finery.

3. Revisit the true meaning of Christmas

At the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, for nine nights each year (Dec. 16–24), you can enjoy a reenactment of the story of Mary and Joseph known as Las Posadas. Apart from the reenactment, there’s music, a candlelight procession and children’s activities.

4. Enjoy the holidays at one of Los Angeles’s many theme parks

universal studios christmas photo

Photo by daveynin

No one does the holidays quite like a theme park and you have plenty to choose from when visiting Los Angeles. At Universal Studios Hollywood, you can experience Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, as well as Grinchmas. The decor, nightly snowfall, lights, photo ops and performances are sure to thrill any Harry Potter fan or anyone who’s…well, not a Grinch. Disneyland also boasts a nightly snowfall and Christmas-themed characters come out to offer a little holiday cheer. Knott’s Berry Farm likewise transforms into Knott’s Merry Farm, with Christmas entertainment, food, shopping and more.

5. Catch a show

It’s not difficult to find a holiday-themed show in Los Angeles to enjoy while you’re in town. Whether you love the classic story of The Nutcracker or you always make a point to see A Christmas Carol, you can find these and more at LA theaters of all types, running throughout the entire month of December in some cases. You can get all the deets at Theatre In LA.

6. Celebrate at Winter Fest OC

Travel to the OC Fair and Event Center to enjoy Winter Fest OC, with its mix of general wintertime and Christmas activities. Kids will love the ice tubing and ice skating, but there’s also a nightly tree lighting, Christmas-themed carnival games, a train and a petting zoo. Plus, this festival claims it’s home to the world’s largest Christmas ornament. There are even some Santa photo ops.