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Now that the holidays are underway, 8 places where you can celebrate in Southern California

If you think Thanksgiving was tough to plan, Friday may present a bigger challenge.

You have Black Friday shopping and sales, and #optoutside activities to consider. And it's the official kickoff to the Christmas/Hanukkah season too.

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Holiday lights, ice-skating rinks, real reindeer and a 1,300-pound gingerbread house are among the holiday happenings in Southern California that open Friday.

Here are eight places where you can start the celebrations with your family in tow.

1. Festival of Lights at the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside

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

This is the granddaddy of all holiday light shows. The extravagant show that started in 1992 has become a full-on community event with decorations and an ice rink extending to Main Street.

The 4 million twinkling lights are to be switched on at 5 p.m. Friday, illuminating the huge Spanish Revival-style hotel and downtown buildings. Fireworks follow the first night of the Festival of Lights, which continues through Jan. 3.

2. L.A. Zoo Lights at the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens in Griffith Park

The image of a sea lion projected during L.A. Zoo Lights.
The image of a sea lion projected during L.A. Zoo Lights. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

The zoo opens at night during the holidays to showcase glittering tunnels of light as well as light sculptures and 3-D projections of monkeys, elephants, a 150-foot coiled snake and more.

Lights are set to go on at 6 p.m. Friday and remain through Jan. 3. $13 to $16 for adults and $11 to $14 for children 2 to 12 years old.

VIP nights include a Happy Hour cocktail party on Dec. 10 ($75 per person) and a Family New Year's Eve celebration with a DJ dance party and crafts for kids ($65 for adults and $35 for children).

3. Reindeer Romp at the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens

Reindeer Romp at the L.A. Zoo & Botanic Gardens
Reindeer Romp at the L.A. Zoo & Botanic Gardens (Jamie Pham / L.A. Zoo & Botanic Gardens)

Four reindeer will appear Friday in the zoo's Eucalyptus Grove to give that North Pole feel.

Kids and their parents can see them and occasionally Santa Claus (check the website for dates) starting Friday at Reindeer Village from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through Jan. 3. Crafting workshops and photo ops will be available.

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The village is included with zoo admission, $20 for adults and $15 for children 2 to 12.

4. Mrs. Claus' Life-Sized Gingerbread House at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live

The 1,200-pound gingerbread house at JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live opens Monday.
The 1,200-pound gingerbread house at JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live opens Monday. (JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live)

New this year amid L.A. Live's decorations is this gingerbread house made of 1,300 pounds of cookie dough.

Furnishings such as picture frames and chocolate Santas are made of sweets too.

It will be open Monday through Dec. 31, and Santa will appear for photos from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 19.

5. The Hollywood Christmas Parade

Members of the PAVA Korean Traditional Band will perform at the 84th Hollywood Christmas Parade.
Members of the PAVA Korean Traditional Band will perform at the 84th Hollywood Christmas Parade. (Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images)

It's the 84th year for the parade, whose grand marshals this year are magicians Penn & Teller.

The parade, which starts at 5 p.m. Sunday, will honor boxer Oscar de la Hoya with a humanitarian award for his charity work.

Marching bands and equestrian units share the route with celebrities, Grumpy Cat and elected officials too.

6. Walk of the Inns in Palm Springs

This is a self-guided walking tour around neighborhoods between Ramon Road and Tahquitz Canyon Way from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 10.

You can tour decorations at Casa Cody, Old Ranch Inn, Calla Lily and other hotels. Grab a fee map to the inns and flashlights at the Palm Springs Art Museum to start you on your way.

7. Festival of Lights Parade in Palm Springs

Tony Hawk, from the Stacy Peralta documentary "Bones Brigade: An Autobiography."
Tony Hawk, from the Stacy Peralta documentary "Bones Brigade: An Autobiography." (Sundance)

Skateboard mogul Tony Hawk leads this parade as grand marshal from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 5.

You'll see lighted floats, huge holiday balloons as well as Santa and reindeer.

It starts at North Indian Canyon Drive; arrive early to get a good spot as thousands of people turn out each year to watch.

8. Wild Lights at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert

The 1,200-acre zoo and preserve gets decked out with holiday lights, a light tunnel, rides on a camel and on a carousel, and a trackless train ride.

Wild Lights is open 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. selected evenings through Dec. 31; tickets cost $10 for adults and $8 for children.

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