Christmas like a Kardashian and 17 other things to do this holiday season

Skating in T-shirts: The pop-up ice skating rink in downtown Santa Monica.
(Joel Marasigan)

It’s time to get into the holiday spirit. Here are some of the coolest ideas around for getting your jingle on. Don’t see your favorite seasonal festivity on the list? Be sure to share the details in the comments below, and we may include it in an upcoming story. Just remember to call or go online to double check event details before heading out so that you’re caught up on any last-minute schedule or changes or cancellations, or pricing updates.

Ice skating at the beach

For the record:

4:01 p.m. Nov. 18, 2019An earlier version of this story said the L.A. Zoo Lights holiday experience would include a glimpse of real reindeer and a chance to learn from expert reindeer keepers. Plans have changed, and reindeer encounters are no longer on the agenda.

ICE at Santa Monica — an 8,000-square-foot pop-up outdoor ice rink — returns to the corner of 5th Street and Arizona Avenue. Through Jan. 20. Skate rentals, $15.

Start shopping for holiday gifts early, writes columnist Chris Erskine. Try decorating a cactus instead of a typical Christmas tree. Explore local holiday pop-ups and craft fairs.


Christmas like a Kardashian


Just north of Los Angeles, the outdoor holiday ice rink at the Lakes at Thousand Oaks, made famous by an appearance in “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” Watch website for pricing details.



At the Citadel Outlets, the annual lighting of what is consistently the tallest live Christmas tree in the Southland will commence with a free live concert on Nov. 9. Expect more than 18,000 lights and 10,000 ornaments. Atop the castle wall, look for a 36-foot wide by 21-foot tall bow that is said to be the world’s biggest bow. There also will be snowfall nightly through year’s end.


Winter is coming ... to DTLA

The Bai Holiday Ice Rink at Pershing Square — admission is $9, skate rental, $5 — will be open daily Nov. 14-Jan. 20.


Wild life

L.A. Zoo
L.A. Zoo Lights.
(Jamie Pham / Greater Los Angeles Zoo Assn.)

Glowing lions and tigers? Sign us up. Animal-themed light displays, 3D projections, a twinkling tunnel and disco ball forest are all part of the L.A. Zoo Lights experience. Tickets start at $11.95. Most nights Nov. 15 - Jan. 5.


Lights, camera, Santa

The annual tree lighting festivities at Caruso shopping centers kick off Santa’s arrival with a flurry of holiday activities, live entertainment and snowfall. The action happens at the Americana at Brand Nov. 14, the Promenade at Westlake Nov. 15, the Grove Nov. 17 — with fireworks — and Palisades Village on Nov. 24. Watch the website for times and added special events: Once Santa’s house is open at each location, there will be a day for pet portraits and scheduled guest appearances by Mrs. Claus, who helps guests with hearing loss to communicate with Santa via American sign language.



Descanso Gardens
Descanso Gardens’ Enchanted Forest of Light.
(Descanso Gardens)

Stroll an interactive dreamscape at Descanso Gardens’ “Enchanted Forest of Light,” a large-scale light display designed along an easy, one-mile walk featuring installations such as Jen Lewin’s “Aqueous,” “Celestial Shadows” by Hybycozo and, new this year, a magical stained glass creation by contemporary sculptor Tom Fruin. General admission, $30. Nov. 17-Jan. 5.

Welcome to our comprehensive gift guide for the 2019 holiday season. This list encompasses the most popular and best gifts for everyone in your life.


Season’s greetings

South Coast Plaza Tree Lighting
South Coast Plaza tree lighting.
(South Coast Plaza)

Students from Orange County School of the Arts will perform at the 38th South Coast Plaza tree lighting in Costa Mesa’s Town Center Park. The 90-foot white fir tree will be decked out with 94,000 LEDs and strobe lights. To celebrate, strolling carolers, a live band and St. Nick himself will be on hand. Complimentary holiday drinks and treats provided. Admission free. 6 p.m. Nov. 21.


Wait, is that snow?

Fashion Island in Newport Beach holds its tree-lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. on Nov. 22 and again Nov. 23 that includes musical entertainment by the Young Americans, a visit from Santa and a snowfall. Free.


Surfing Santa competition

Who knew Santa could shred? The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is hosting its annual surfing and stand-up paddleboarding competition at Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point to benefit Surfers Healing, a nonprofit that teaches surfing to children with autism. Dress is Christmas casual with contestants wearing their ho-ho-ho-holiday best. Come ready to sleigh. Contest registration, $60. Spectators free. Nov. 23-24.


Holiday Mission statement

Mission Inn Festival of Lights
Mission Inn Festival of Lights.
(Mission Inn Hotel & Spa)

More than 5 million lights, a lifesize gingerbread house, 200 animated holiday figures and freshly fallen snow will grace Riverside’s historic Mission Inn Hotel & Spa during the resort’s annual Festival of Lights. It was voted best public holiday lights display by USA Today readers in 2018. The “Switch On” ceremony takes place at 5:15 p.m. Nov. 29. It’s free and is followed by a fireworks display choreographed to holiday music. Lights are on display through Jan. 6.


Do it for the gram

Skate circles around a towering Christmas tree decked out for the season and standing center rink at L.A. Kings Holiday Ice at L.A. Live. Tickets starting at $15. Nov. 30-Jan. 12.


Snow Wonder Festival

Snow Wonder
Marina del Rey Snow Wonder Festival and Holiday Boat Parade.

On the Marina del Rey waterfront at Burton Chace Park, kids of all ages can enjoy real snow, sledding, arts and crafts, face painting, live DJs and food trucks at the city’s Snow Wonder Festival. A brief fireworks show at 5:55 will launch the Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade. Free admission. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 14.


Las posadas

The reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem as told in the Christian tradition, known in Spanish as las posadas, has been celebrated each season on historic Olvera Street since the marketplace’s founding in 1930. The nightly candlelight processions begin in front of the Avila Adobe, the oldest house in Los Angeles. Free champurrado (the traditional Mexican chocolate drink), pan dulce and live entertainment follow. Free admission. Nightly at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 16-Dec. 24.


Festival of Lights

Hanukkah is celebrated with a lighting of a menorah at Caruso shopping center properties starting at Palisades Village on Dec. 22, the Commons at Calabasas Dec. 23 and the Grove on Dec. 29. Free., and


A very Victorian Christmas

Bembridge House
Historic Bembridge House tour.
(Christopher Launi / Long Beach Heritage)

A Victorian Christmas is on display in Long Beach at the 1906 Bembridge House. The Queen Anne Victorian will be decorated to the tips of its pristine, gabled roof top, and docent-led tours, a garden boutique and refreshments from the Willmore Baking Co. to benefit the nonprofit group Long Beach Heritage. Dec. 3- Dec. 21. Tickets start at $15.


Journey to Christmas past

Consider road heading over the river and through the woods to San Simeon for a Holiday Twilight Tour of historic Hearst Castle all dolled up for the season with numerous Christmas trees and thousands of twinkling lights. Built in 1919, the former estate of publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst is celebrating its centennial year. Nov. 29-Dec. 30. Tickets start at $30.


Sing with Bing

Dreaming of a White Christmas? Sing along with Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney and a houseful of film buffs at the L.A. Philharmonic’s holiday screening of the 1954 classic “White Christmas.” Dress snappy and be ready to belt it out with the film’s remastered soundtrack. Tickets start at $34. Two showings on Dec. 22.