California guide to ridiculously early holiday lights

California guide to ridiculously early holiday lights
Holiday characters at the Disneyland Resort, where activities and seasonal shows run through Jan. 8. (Paul Hiffmeyer / Disneyland Resort)

Christmas seems to come earlier every year. Right now, you'll find Christmas trees decorating the marquee at Hollywood's Pantages Theater, Santa in his sleigh strung above Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, and a decorated Christmas tree in Little Tokyo.

If you're looking for more places to a jump on the holiday spirit, consider visiting these spots — even if it is sunny and 80 degrees outside.


Disneyland Resort

The theme park resort kicked off its holiday doings on Thursday, just two days after election day.

If you're visiting the Happiest Place on Earth this weekend, you'll see seasonal shows such as the Christmas Fantasy Parade in which Santa Claus joins the procession of characters.

It's a Small World changes it up with holiday songs and tunes, and Sleeping Beauty Castle will suddenly have "snow" and "icicles" during the "Believe in Holiday Magic" fireworks.

Santa Claus and his elves take up residence at California Adventure Park.
Santa Claus and his elves take up residence at California Adventure Park. (Paul Hiffmeyer / Disneyland Resort)

At California Adventure Park, you'll find the nighttime World of Color-Season of Light, which features water shooting 200 feet into the air from 1,200 fountains. Santa Claus and his elves appear here too, at the Ahwahnee Camp Circle, and there's a 50-foot-tall Christmas tree on Buena Vista Street.

Festivities continue through Jan. 8. One-day tickets to a single park costs $95, which includes anyone 10 and older. Info: Disneyland, (714) 781-4565

Legoland California

Legoland California's holiday decorations include Lego-brick Santa and trees.
Legoland California's holiday decorations include Lego-brick Santa and trees. (Legoland California)

The theme park in Carlsbad holds off on its holiday festivities until Nov. 25, the Friday after Thanksgiving. Features include a 30-foot-tall Christmas tree made of forest-green Duplo bricks, and a live holiday show at Heartlake City stables. Bluegrass music and character meet-and-greets with Lego Santa are in store too. Festivities last through Jan. 1.

The park's Sea Life Aquarium also gets into the act, offering a daily dive show with a holiday theme and another Lego Christmas tree. Holiday goings-on are included with park admission: $89 for children 3 to 12 years old and $95 for adults. Info: Legoland California, (760) 918-5346


The Macy's Theatre of Lights free light-and-sound show begins Nov. 23 and takes place around around a 60-foot-tall Christmas tree in Old Sacramento. It features a reading of "The Night Before Christmas" accompanied by props, holiday lights and "snow." The 20-minute evening performances continue through Christmas Eve on Thursdays through Sundays (except Thanksgiving) at 6:15 p.m. and 7:45 p.m and then nightly from Dec. 19 to Dec. 24. Info: Old Sacramento, (916) 442-8575

And what would the holidays be without model trains? Small Train Holiday on Nov. 25-26 sets up trains, tracks, buildings and the works — all with a holiday theme — at the California State Railroad Museum. Tickets cost $10 for adults, $5 for children 6 to 17 years old. Info: California Railroad Museum, (916) 323-9280

San Diego

Snap a photo of your kids with Santa ... Surfin' Santa, that is. This St. Nick wears a Hawaiian shirt and arrives in a speedboat. He poses on a giant surfboard for free photos with kids from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 26. Info: Seaport Village, 849 West Harbor Drive


Ice rinks

Never mind the Southern California heat, ice rinks are the thing that make us imagine that we are part of the cooler holiday tradition.

Ice at Santa Monica at the corner of Fifth Street and Arizona Avenue is open daily now through Jan. 16. Admission and skate rental cost $15.

Looking for a rink right next to the beach? The Hotel del Coronado in San Diego will open Skating by the Sea, transforming the hotel's huge lawn into a sea of ice. The rink is surrounded by holiday lights in palm trees too. It opens Nov. 24 and continues through Jan. 2. Admission and skate rentals cost $25.

The ice rink at Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles.
The ice rink at Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles. (Holiday Ice Rink)

The Holiday Ice Rink at Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles is open now until Jan. 16. This year you can skate ($9 admission), take a curling lesson ($5 per person at 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec . 11 and Jan. 8) or ice dance the night away at the Silent Night Skate Party on Dec. 1.