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Itinerary / Lights Fantastic

In the dark, cool days of winter, nothing can brighten spirits like sparkling holiday lights. Here are a few places to take them in.

Today

The Century City 4 Kids “Tree of Life & Festival of Lights” is an annual holiday tradition. At 5:30 p.m., Magic Johnson and Alan Thicke will flip the switch on the giant Christmas tree and menorah at the ABC Entertainment Center and Century Plaza Towers courtyard. Scheduled to perform are the casts of “Rent” and “Ragtime,” dancers from the Los Angeles Classical Ballet performing scenes from “The Nutcracker,” Maureen McGovern and Graham Nash, artists from the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz and local choirs. Also on tap: holiday refreshments, a celebrity-autographed ornament raffle, a holiday boutique and more. The event is free, but proceeds from donations, raffle tickets and refreshment sales will go to the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Cancer Research Fund. Families and children undergoing treatment at the hospital will be in attendance. Avenue of the Stars and Constellation Boulevard. (310) 208-1294.

Friday Evening

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Check out Riverside’s historic Mission Inn for a dinner outing or for an entire weekend. The inn, built in 1876, has become the center of Riverside’s historic downtown and during the holiday season is a brightly lit crown jewel. During the “Festival of Lights” (through Jan. 5) the downtown Riverside area becomes a colorful cascade of more than 1 million lights. The inn’s facade displays an assortment of animated characters, Main Street is draped with an orchestra of animated musicians dressed in 17th century garb and conducted by an 8-foot Santa Claus, and Orange Street houses Santa’s workshop with animated elves at play within the Mission Inn’s balconies. Lights go on at around 6 p.m. Call (909) 784-0300, for information or for reservations at the Mission Inn or its restaurant.

Saturday

Catch the holiday spirit at the Griffith Park Holiday Festival and Village, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Children can play in snow, make holiday decorations and crafts, take a picture with Santa, eat holiday treats and stroll through a forest of trees decorated by Los Angeles Recreation Centers and local schools. There will also be handicrafts, gifts and clothing for sale. A tree lighting ceremony at 5 p.m. will kick off the Griffith Park Light Festival (nightly through Dec. 28) along Crystal Springs Drive. The holiday village will be in Griffith Park, exit Golden State Freeway northbound at Zoo Drive or southbound at Western Avenue and follow the signs. Free. (213) 485-8743.

While you’re in Griffith Park, check out “KBIG 104 Laser Holiday 3D,” Laserium’s latest light magic show at Griffith Observatory. Holiday songs reinvented by the likes of Annie Lennox, Bryan Adams, Enya, John Mellencamp, Stevie Wonder, Cyndi Lauper and Frank Sinatra become multidimensional in 3-D laser technology. Daily at 6 p.m., except Mondays and holidays. Ends Jan. 4. Adults, $8; seniors and children ages 5-12, $7. Children under 5 not permitted. (818) 901-9405.

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Sunday

Go to San Diego County and stop at the Del Mar Fairgrounds Holiday of Lights. The racetrack infield will be transformed with more than 150 lighted holiday displays for visitors to view as they drive their cars on the oval dirt racetrack. Turn your radio to the designated frequency and cruise down Candy Cane Lane, Toyland and the Sports Village, along with new attractions, including the 100-foot tunnel of lights. Fridays-Saturdays, 5-11 p.m.; Sundays-Thursdays, 5-10 p.m. $8 per vehicle with up to eight people; $13 per van or vehicle with six or more people; $40 per bus. 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar. (619) 793-5555. Ends Jan. 1.


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