As tempting as it may be to curl up by the fireplace during the holidays, everybody needs a chilly day out — and how many Southern Californians use the fireplace, anyway? Here are a few fun and festive ways to spend a day or night off around Los Angeles this holiday season with friends a family, from ice skating to lights shows. Double check dates and times before you go. And if we missed your favorite holiday event, let us know about it at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we may include it in a Saturday section.
Hit the ice in downtown Santa Monica
Show off your best skate tricks at Ice Presented by Plaza at Santa Monica, an 8,000-square-foot ice skating rink at Fifth Street and Arizona Avenue. It’s open daily through Jan. 21.
Info: $15 for all-day skate rental, $5 for locker. downtownsm.com
‘World’s tallest Christmas tree’
The Citadel Outlets outside DTLA say they’ve got bragging rights this year with the world’s tallest live-cut tree: They are turning the holiday lights on Nov. 10 on what they describe as a record-breaking 110-foot white fir, sources from the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. (Citadel representatives are quick to point out that the tree was cut down as part of a “forest manicuring process,” and that 12 replacement trees were planted in the wake of its removal.) The incoming tree will be decorated with more than 18,000 twinkling LED lights and 10,000 ornaments and bow. Festivities for the 17th Annual Tree Lighting Concert begin at 4:30 p.m., and will include a 30-person caroling performance by The All-American Boys Chorus. Attendees are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy for Chips for Kids.
Info: Free. citadeloutlets.com
Skate like a Los Angeles King
The L.A. Kings are once again hosting three outdoor ice skating rinks — in downtown L.A., Long Beach and Canoga Park. Lace up your skates at L.A. Live Nov. 10 through Jan. 6. The rinks at the Pike Outlets and Westfield Topanga shopping center open Nov. 16 and 17, respectively, and both run until Jan. 6.
Info: Ticket prices vary at each location. Watch for details at lakingsholidayice.com
Caruso Christmas tree and menorah lightings
Catch tree lightings at four Caruso shopping centers, including The Americana at Brand (7:30 p.m. Nov. 15), The Promenade at Westlake (7:30 p.m. Nov. 16), The Grove (7:30 p.m. Nov. 18) and Palisades Village (7 p.m., Nov. 25). Menorah lightings will be held at Palisades Village (6 p.m. Dec. 2), The Grove (6 p.m. Dec. 3) and The Commons at Calabasas (6:30 p.m., Dec. 5).
Ice skate in Pershing Square
The Bai Holiday Ice Rink opens for business at Pershing Square in downtown L.A. Nov. 15 through Jan. 21. Attention, “Wicked” fans: Cast members of the Broadway musical will break the ice Nov. 15 with a performance (accompanied by dancing ice skaters), and every following Wednesday will be dedicated to the show with green lights and “Wicked” songs.
Info: Tickets $9, skate rentals $5, lockers $3. holidayicerinkdowntownla.com
Meet Santa at South Coast Plaza
Costa Mesa’s South Coast Plaza shopping center will light its 96-foot tree on Nov. 15. The evening, which draws 3,000 people a year, also marks the night of Santa’s arrival, and the Orange County School of the Arts will welcome him with a performance. In the weeks that follow, little ones can make holiday crafts and take photos with Santa (from $10) at the decked out shopping center, and embark on $1 rides aboard Santa’s Express and a reindeer carousel, enjoy complimentary cider and cocoa on weekends and musical performances Thursdays through Sundays. The winter wonderland runs Nov. 16 through Dec. 24.
Romp with reindeer at the L.A. Zoo
Meet Santa’s favorite furry friends (and learn about them from zookeepers) at the L.A. Zoo’s Reindeer Village Nov. 16 through Jan. 16. Watch other animals unwrap special gifts, make holiday crafts and take photos with Santa on weekends. When the sun goes down, take a stroll through the award-winning L.A. Zoo Lights to see a disco ball forest, a twinkly tunnel, a water show and a “Northern Lights” exhibit with animal constellations. The show runs Nov. 16 through Jan. 6.
Wander Descanso Gardens’ “Enchanted: Forest of Light”
Take a nighttime stroll through the Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge Nov. 18 through Jan. 6: Mesmerizing light displays and effects will transform a one-mile route through the 160-acre grounds. You’ll see lots of illuminated pathways, twinkling bulbs and patterned spotlights in just about every color. New to this year’s show are a whiskey bar by Lightwave Lake and food options by the Aqueous display on the main lawn.
Info: Tickets $28-$30 per person. Children under 2 are free. descansogardens.org
Big Bear greets Santa
There might even be snow when Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive at Big Bear Village (in an antique firetruck, no less) at 5:45 p.m. on Nov. 23, ready to hear little ones’ wish lists and take photos. At 6 p.m., Mayor David Caretto will light the tree. The event starts and ends with caroling.
Info: Free. bigbear.com
Gaze at the Mission Inn Festival of Lights
The Festival of Lights at the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside attracts 250,000 people a year for a reason: It’s awesome. A fireworks display brings the festival to life on Nov. 23, when 5 million colorful lights and 200 animated angels, elves and carolers illuminate the grounds, there to stay through Jan. 6. Walk inside the hotel for more eye candy, which includes faux snow, a 12-foot-tall gingerbread house and Santa’s workshop, where elves build snowmen, decorate a Christmas tree and load St. Nick’s sled with toys.
Info: Free admission, $17 parking, missioninn.com
Climb aboard a Christmas-y Queen Mary
Take to the sea with the Queen Mary’s Christmas in Long Beach, which promises family-friendly activities, interactive performances, nightly tree lighting ceremonies and more on the hotel ship. Runs Nov. 23 through Jan. 6.
Info: Watch for details at queenmary.com
Grand Park will hold a lighting of its 30-foot-tall tree on Nov. 26, set to live music by Brass Pacifica quintet and a local community choir. Word on the street is that there will be free refreshments and even some early-season snowfall. Festivities start at 5 p.m.
Info: Free. grandparkla.org
El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument
Mariachi singers and folklorico dancers will celebrate the lighting of the tree on Paseo de la Plaza near Olvera Street on Nov. 30. Festivities start at 5:30 p.m. Once the lights are on, enjoy children’s workshops, face painting and free champurrado (the beloved Mexican chocolate drink) and pan dulce (sweet breads!).
Santa Monica Christmas tree and menorah lightings
Catch both Christmas tree and menorah lightings on Third Street Promenade. Santa Claus will light the tree on the 1200 block on Nov. 30 at 6 p.m., and then he’ll be available for complimentary photos (just bring your own camera). Bands to perform live. Menorah lightings, hosted by a different local synagogue each evening, will take place on the 1300 block at sundown Dec. 2 through 10.
Storm the ice rink in Burbank
End a day of gift shopping at Burbank Town Center with ice skating at the Rink in Downtown Burbank, running every day Dec. 13 through Jan. 6.
Watch holiday movies in Marina del Rey
Catch live music and a holiday movie every Saturday Dec. 15 through 29 at Burton Chace Park. Festivities start at 4 p.m. Expect a capella caroling and 1950s-style music, followed by winter favorites “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Frozen.” There will be a heating station, but dress warmly.
Info: Free. visitmarinadelrey.com