Oh, what fun it is to take advantage of all the ways we can celebrate the holidays in Southern California, minus the snow, sleet and freezing temperature. Here are just a few of the holiday activities planned in and around the area, but please check programming, dates and times before you head out. We wouldn’t want you to be disappointed. Now, lace up those skates!
Chill in an ice park at the Queen Mary
The Queen Mary in Long Beach will provide the backdrop for a 38,000-square foot Ice Adventure Park — billed as the first of its kind in the U.S. Expect an ice skating track, ice bumper cars, ice tricycles, an Alpine zip line, ice shuffleboard and — yikes! — a two-story, 100-foot-long Matterhorn Mountain Ice Tubing slide.
You’ll also celebrate holiday traditions (and food and drink) from around the world at an international food fair: Think, Russian perogies and vodka sips, Dutch doughnuts and pancakes, German pretzels and brats, Swiss chocolates and cheeses … do you really need to ask whether there will be s’mores?
Info: Tickets start at $19.99 for children and $29.99 for adults. VIP fast passes also available. queenmary.com
Stroll Descanso Gardens' 'Enchanted: Forest of Light'
Embark on a mile-long stroll through the Descanso Gardens in La Cañada-Flintridge, where different kinds of lighting bring a new dimension to the famed 160-acre grounds, running Nov. 19-Jan. 7.
It’s easy to call Enchanted a holiday light display, but that’s not quite right. There are no symbols of the season, no elves, no jolly St. Nicks. It’s more the suggestion of the ethereal that charms, which is why this event is a “must” on our Travel section’s “bucket list” of California adventures.
Info: Do not delay if you want a ticket. Tickets $28-$30 per person. Children under 2 are free. descansogardens.org
Outdoor ice skating — with Kings
The Los Angeles Kings are hosting three special outdoor ice skating rinks in the L.A. area, including downtown Los Angeles, Woodland Hills and Long Beach.
Rinks are open open Nov. 17 through Jan. 7 at the Pike Outlets in Long Bach and at the Westfield Topanga stores in Woodland Hills. The ice opens Nov. 25 at L.A. Live, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., and is expected to run through the holidays.
Info: Ticket prices, which include rentals, depend upon local. Details at lakings.com/holidayice
Christmas tree and Menorah lighting ceremonies at Fashion Island
Fashion Island in Newport Beach is hosting a tree lighting ceremony twice — at 6 p.m. Nov. 17 and 18. Yes, Santa will be there, and we have it on good authority that it will snow. Also in attendance: Celebrity host Mario Lopez, and a live performance by the Young Americans.
Every weekend in December will also feature holiday carolers and live music. There will also be live entertainment and sweet treats starting at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 12, when the Chabad Jewish Center celebrates the beginning of Hanukkah with a Menorah lighting ceremony.
Legendary Mission Inn Festival of Lights
The historic Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside celebrates the 25th anniversary of its famed Festival of Lights, which attracts more than 250,000 visitors each year. It all starts on Nov. 24 with a “flip the switch” ceremony that will include a fireworks show and the more than 5 million colorful lights and more than 200 animated figures coming to life.
There will be nightly strolls through the hotel’s new “Candy Lane” lit walkway that takes you past jaw-dropping window displays and, of course, a huge holiday tree. “Throughout the season, guests can look forward to visits from Santa, freshly fallen snow, horse-drawn carriage rides, the world’s largest man-made mistletoe…”
Info: Looking is free, but there are also plenty of ways to indulge a sweet tooth and more at restaurants and shops including Casey’s Cupcakes as well as rides and other activities. Parking starts at $16. missioninn.com
The North Pole at South Coast Plaza
Kids’ craft activities are planned for Carousel Court at South Coast Plaza for little ones waiting for their chance to meet Santa. (Prices vary per craft.) There are also rides aboard the Santa’s Express ($1 or free with purchase of Santa photo.) You’ll also find the mall decked out in its holiday best, gorgeous Christmas trees, carolers and live music throughout. Santa’s Village & the North Pole are unveiled on Nov. 17.
Christmas tree lightings and … snow!
Don’t blink, or you might miss it. Christmas tree lightings are scheduled for this month at Caruso properties in and around Los Angeles. Including: A California Christmas at the Grove begins at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 12 and at the Americana at Brand Tree Lighting at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16: Both events will feature the lighting of 100-plus-foot-tall white fir Christmas trees, decorated with more than 10,000 handmade ornaments and 15,000 lights. (Both trees are taller than the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, according to a representative.)
It will also snow nightly at 7 and 8 at both the Grove and the Americana at Brand. Other activities at Caruso properties: the Lakes at Thousand Oaks Ice Skating Rink (Nov. 9-Jan. 28), the Commons at Calabasas Tree Lighting (5:30 p.m. Dec. 5), the Commons at Calabasas Menorah Lighting (6:30 p.m. Dec. 13) and the Promenade at Westlake Tree Lighting (7:30 p.m. Nov. 17).