Hang out with zoo critters and behold boat parades at nearby holiday celebrations close to L.A.
Roam through a tunnel of lights, around a 15-foot-tall gift, and among life-size cheetah, giraffe and zebra lanterns at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens’ 27th WildLights. Throughout the displays will be a s’mores station, carousel rides and animal keepers who can introduce you to African wild dogs and other zoo creatures.
When: 6 p.m. Check website for available dates through Dec. 28
Cost, info: $14. Family friendly. No dogs. (760) 346-5694, bit.ly/PDwildlights
Expect signature Danish pancakes, parades, street décor, candlelight city tours and hunts for a sneaky mythological creature called the nisse at the annual Solvang Julefest. New this year is the Skal Wine and Stein Stroll, featuring a glogg (hot spiced wine) competition and samples from more than 15 wineries and breweries, on Dec. 14-15 as well as a choreographed drone show on Dec. 21.
When: Check website for event dates, times and locations through Jan. 3
Cost, info: Events from free to $45. Family friendly, except for Skal Wine and Stein Stroll. Dogs OK outdoors. (805) 686-4056, solvangjulefest.org
Tiki holiday is the theme of the 45th Dana Point Harbor Boat Parade of Lights. Hula dancers, carolers and island-themed treats set the tropical tone before the hourlong show, when local boats, decorated with twinkly lights, play holiday tunes and cruise through the harbor.
When: Family festival at 4:30 p.m. Parade at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13 and 14
Cost, info: Free. Family friendly. Dogs OK. (949) 388-3663, bit.ly/danapointparade
Victorian carolers, costumed docents and hundreds of luminarias guide you from one 19th century building to the next at the Candlelight Walk, three evenings of history and holiday fun at Heritage Hill Historical Park. Between stops, watch puppet shows, make crafts with Mrs. Claus, and warm up with hot chocolate, apple cider and popcorn.
When: 5:30 p.m. Dec. 13-15
Cost, info: $5 (cash only). Family friendly. No dogs. (949) 923-2230, bit.ly/candlelightwalk
Marina del Rey
Kids can dance to DJs, have their faces painted and sled down a snow-blanketed hill at Marina del Rey Snow Wonder at Burton W. Chace Park. Grab a bite from food trucks, then stick around for fireworks and the 57th Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade, themed “Kids Make Holidays Bright,” in the evening.
When: Snow Wonder at 11 a.m. Fireworks and boat parade at 5:55 p.m. Dec. 14
Cost, info: Free. Family friendly. Dogs OK, though fireworks may be disturbing. (424) 526-7900, bit.ly/marinadelreyevents
Learn an Israeli dance, decorate a piece of chocolate gelt, and check out an exhibit of Jewish art and history at the Skirball Cultural Center’s Hanukkah Festival. Plentiful live entertainment includes folk tunes by a fiddle-accordion duo, Yiddish soul music by Klezmer Juice and a reading by author Alan Silberberg of “Meet the Latkes.” Advance tickets recommended.
When: 11 a.m. Dec. 15
Cost, info: $7-$12. Family friendly. Only service dogs permitted. (310) 440-4500. bit.ly/SkirballHanukkah