It’s definitely looking a lot like Christmas. SoCal may be mostly sunny during the holidays, but twinkling lights at malls, neighborhoods and grand hotels make our region look merry and bright at night. Here’s a sample of where to find dazzling boat parades, illuminated holiday decorations and even some magical snow in SoCal.
Reindeer Romp and Zoo Lights, Los Angeles Zoo
Hear sleigh bells jingling, meet Santa and his reindeer and make holiday crafts through Jan. 4, 2015. Come sundown, Zoo Lights brightens the zoo with illuminated animal decorations and family-friendly activities under the stars.
Winterlit, Santa Monica
This annual event brings snow and holiday fun to Downtown Santa Monica. See it snow every Thursday evening beginning at 6 pm and enjoy free activities, such as karaoke, children’s crafts and holiday movie screenings. Don’t miss a chance to ice skate near the beach. The ICE at Santa Monica skating rink is open through Jan. 19, 2015. Winterlit takes place at Wilshire Boulevard at Third Street Promenade.
Original Farmers Market, Los Angeles
Eat, shop and be merry at L.A.’s famous market Dec. 19 – 24. Enjoy free seasonal music, strolling caroler and decorated shops and food stalls. Notice that the ornaments on the Christmas tree are miniature versions of the Farmers Market green wooden shopping cart. There’s also a Hanukkah celebration featuring songs, children’s crafts and the construction of a giant Lego menorah on Dec. 21.
Third Annual Let it Snow Festival at Four Seasons Westlake Village
The posh resort transforms into a winter wonderland complete with twinkling lights, Santa visits, a magical snowfall, holiday treats, ice skating and Holiday Express Train Rides from 5 – 8:30 p.m. every Friday and Saturday through Dec. 20. Enjoy a yummy Breakfast with Holiday Characters offered at 7:30, 7:45 and 8 a.m. Dec. 13 and 20. Breakfast: $45 adults, $25 ages 12 and younger. Let it Snow admission: $20 per person over age 2. The festival is included in the resort’s Winter Wonderland package.
Vintage Venice Reel to Real Tours, Venice Beach
Take a holiday lights walking tour through the Historic Canal District ,home to 1920s bungalows, mansions and decorated bridges. See the area’s resident ducks in the Linnie Canal Park, and lights from homes and bridges reflected in canal waters. The 3.5-hour tours operate daily (excluding Christmas and New Year’s) through Jan. 4, 2015. $40 per person. http://www.vintagevenicetours.com/site/)
Rodeo Drive Holiday Lights, Beverly Hills
This posh neighborhood celebrates the holidays with 16 full-size Baccarat chandeliers, iridescent palm trees and nearly 150,000 lights between Santa Monica and Wilshire Bouelvards. Santa and Mrs. Claus are in town to visit with kids on weekends until Christmas. A Menorah Lighting Event happens at 7:30 pm Dec. 16.
Riverside Festival of Lights
The historic Mission Inn Hotel & Spa glows with about 3.5 million lights while Dickens’ carolers sing from the balconies. More than 400 animated figures decorate the surrounding area. There’s room at the inn if you book soon. The inn offers special holiday packages for all budgets.
Holidays at the Disneyland Resort, Anaheim
Disneyland and California Adventure are even more magical during the holidays when Mickey and his pals don yuletide finery and invite guests to enjoy festive music, parades, dazzling lights and yummy treats through Jan. 6, 2015. In Disneyland, Main Street is decked out with a huge Christmas tree, Sleeping Beauty Castle’s turrets shimmer with lights and It’s a Small World Holiday celebrates global traditions. In California Adventure, catch the World of Color – Winter Dreams water show, dance to live regional music and celebrate Navidad with crafts, face painting and tasty Mexican specialties. Downtown Disney glitters with lights and features a whimsical, snowy Winter Village.
Dana Point, California
This coastal town sparkles with IlluminOcean, an innovative (free) festival featuring 22 massive sea-themed sculptures, 40 nights of lights, moving light tunnels, a 50-foot glow motion tree, special effects, carolers, crafts and photos with Santa (on select days) through Jan. 4, 2015 at the Dana Point Harbor. While in town, watch the annual Boat Parade of Lights weekends in December. Book an IlluminOcean Package at the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa and walk to the event.
Hotel del Coronado, San Diego
This iconic hotel put San Diego on the map in 1904 with the first electronically lit, outdoor Christmas tree. Today, the dashing resort is decked out with more than 100,000-plus twinkling lights along rooflines, turrets, dormers and balconies. Be sure to take a spin around California’s only outdoor ice skating rink that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Open through Jan. 4, 2015.