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  • Pamela Froman

Christmas Holidays

The holidays are upon us! It's truly one of the most exciting and fun-filled times of the year. There are so many ways to celebrate across Los Angeles – everything from tree lighting and menorahs, to sweet pics with Santa, parades and gorgeous light shows. Get out there and have fun!

HOLIDAY PARADES

55th Annual Marina Del Rey Holiday Boat Parade is a favorite that embraces the holiday season. The parade features festively decorated boats. Start your day at the Snow Wonder event in Burton Chace Park, 12 p.m. - 6 p.m. which leads to a tremendous fireworks show from 5:55 p.m. – 6 p.m., and then a perfect view of the parade. Experience snow, sledding, arts and crafts, face painting, live DJs and food trucks. Popular viewing spots are Fisherman’s Village or one of the many waterfront restaurants. Dec. 9, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. www.mdrboatparade.org

Kick off the holidays at the 52nd annual holiday Parade of Lights in the Channel Islands Harbor, 12 p.m. - 8 p.m., Dec. 9, with the parade beginning at 7 p.m. This year’s theme is “Fairy Tales Afloat.” Play in the snow falling in Harbor View Park. Take pictures with Santa, play with holiday arts and crafts, and go shopping at one of the many vendors on display. When Santa and his reindeer take to the sky at 7 p.m. it marks the beginning of the parade. There are tons of viewpoints from parks and walkways that line the route as well as from Harbor restaurants. Boat charters are available for watching the parade from the water. www.channelislandsharbor.org

HOLIDAY FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

El Pueblo Historical Monument is a holiday tradition put on by merchants on Olvera Street for nine consecutive evenings before Christmas. There are two downtown posada processions. "Posada," means "inn" in Spanish, and is a reenactment of Mary and Joseph's search for lodging. Each night the processions make their way onto Olvera Street with traditional songs, colorful costumes, and vibrant music. The procession is presented in English and Spanish, stopping at different businesses each night in a symbolic search for lodging. Afterward, traditional Mexican foods, including sweet bread and champurrado will be served. Dec. 16 – 24, 6 p.m. www.olveraevents.com

This year’s Hanukkah Festival at Skirball Cultural Center explores the themes of Hanukkah through the traditions of Los Angeles’s rich and diverse Latin American communities. Musical performances by Latin Jewish bands Klezmer Juice and Pan Felipe. Learn dances like salsa, cumbia, mambo, hip-hop, and more. Enjoy delish foods with special Hanukkah dishes such as latkes and sufganiyot. And don't forget the Mexican chocolate gelt! Dec. 10, 11 a.m.– 4 p.m. www.skirball.org

The Ventura Winter Wine Walk & Holiday Street Fair takes place in Ventura. Start things off with the Holiday Street Fair at 12 p.m. with vendors and live entertainment. Shop artists, crafters, non-profits, and food vendors. At 4 p.m., the Ventura Winter Wine Walk begins and will showcase world class wineries. You'll receive a tasting cup and a map of the participating sites where you can sample the delicious wines! www.venturawinterwinewalk.com

The Winter Celebration at the Leonis Adobe Museum in Calabasas offers activities like holiday arts and crafts, feeding the ranch animals, live music with Craig Newton and more. Dec. 3, 2 p.m. - 5 p.m. www.leonisadobemuseum.org

Come experience a true Winter Wonderland as The Village at Topanga celebrates the season. Performances by the Sugar Plums, MUSYCA, and the LA Dance Academy, live ice sculpting, holiday stilt walkers, interactive photo experiences, live sketching, children’s craft stations, exclusive retailer celebrations, and a real snow play area! Dec. 3, 17. Westfield Topanga at The Village, 6250 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Woodland Hills. www.westfield.com/topanga

HOLIDAY LIGHTS

L.A. Zoo Lights is a thrilling nighttime holiday light experience that is truly magical. Explore a wild wonderland of light, with fantastical glowing animals which guide you on a magical tour. Stunning giant illuminated snowflakes, a disco ball forest, glittering light tunnels, a spectacular water and light show, and much more will shine through on your journey. Your final destination is a kaleidoscopic savanna featuring animals that are examples of the L.A. Zoo’s work to save species here at home and around the globe. Enjoy a Santa photo op, water show with exciting new music and lasers, and an all-new “Wild Wonderland” finale. Runs through Jan. 7. www.lazoolights.org

Enchanted: Forest of Light is an interactive, nighttime experience unlike anything else. Descanso Gardens is transformed into a forest with whimsical displays and interactive exhibitions. Take a one-mile walk through unique lighting in some of the most beloved areas of Descanso Gardens, the Oak Woodland, Camellia Forest, Japanese Garden, and Rose Garden. Runs through Jan. 7. Advance ticket purchase is required. www.descansogardens.org

The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa kicks off the holiday season with the 25th Annual Festival of Lights celebration beginning on Nov. 24, a free, six-week-long holiday extravaganza. This fun-filled tradition creates a magical experience and attracts more than 500,000 visitors each year, commencing with the famous “Switch-On” Ceremony, a stunning event where the castle-like hotel is instantly illuminated with 5 million holiday lights followed by a full fireworks display. Highlights include 200 animated figures – angels, elves and Dickens carolers; Santa Claus; the world’s largest man-made mistletoe; horse-drawn carriage rides; elf tuck-ins; fresh snow, decorated Christmas trees; and delectable confections at Casey’s Cupcakes. Make a weekend of it – Festival of Lights Hotel Packages are available from $279! www.missioninn.com

Drive onto Candy Cane Lane in Woodland Hills! Centered on the intersection of Oxnard St. and Lubao Ave. in Woodland Hills this holiday spot features stunning homes with tons of lights and decorations. As well, several homeowners sell hot chocolate and holiday snacks. Check out this amazing display!

HOLIDAY BOUTIQUES

Sparkles & Spikes continues an annual tradition by hosting its Holiday Boutique in Thousand Oaks. Many local vendors offer amazing deals and most importantly, all proceeds go to Children's Hospital Los Angeles. After shopping come aboard a free train ride on the Holiday Express and explore Santa's Village! Janss Marketplace, Hillcrest Dr. and Moorpark Rd., Thousand Oaks. www.janssmarketplace.net

Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara will hold its 26th Annual Holiday Homes Tour on Dec. 2 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This event includes a self-guided tour of private homes in the Conejo Valley that have been decorated to display the family’s personal tastes and traditions. A holiday boutique complements the event on Dec. 2 and 3, held at St. Max O’Reilly Hall from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The tour is one of the organization’s largest fundraisers, allowing them to continue providing cancer support, education, and hope for people affected by cancer. www.CancerSupportVvsb.org

View four gorgeous homes decorated for the holiday season at the Pasadena Holiday Look in Home Tour and Boutique. Each home showcases Pasadena’s historic and modern architecture and features the floral artistry of Pasadena’s notable designers. After the tour, enjoy music by the Pasadena Symphony, stroll through the gardens, and shop at the holiday boutique for gifts and gourmet foods. Dec. 7, 8. www.pasadenaholidaylookin.org

Be the best gift-giver this holiday season and shop for one-of-a-kind items in Little Tokyo’s array of trendy and traditional Japanese shops. Gift loved ones with SEIJU’s finest Yame Matcha from Tea Master Little Tokyo. Stop by the new pop-up shop, Muni Handmade, for handmade artisan goods by Japanese and Japanese American artists including vintage Kimono fabric purses, handmade chef aprons, and barrettes made from Japanese Washi paper. www.golittletokyo.com

AROUND TOWN

Take a trip on the rails with Travel Town Railroad’s Holiday Light Festival Train Ride at Griffith Park. This evening train ride will take you around a festively decorated one mile of track. Magical scenes and tens of thousands of lights will captivate you and your family and set the mood for a wonderful holiday season. Nov. 24 – Dec. 30. www.griffithparktrainrides.com

Take a cruise with Ventura Boat Rentals California Sleigh Rides in the Ventura Harbor and Ventura Keys. You'll venture out among the brilliantly decorated boats and houses as they reflect upon the water. Enjoy complimentary hot cocoa and holiday cookies, or wintery drinks such as the famous “Reindeer Milk” from the onboard bar. Dec. 8 – 31. Reservations required. www.CaliforniaSleighRides.com

Take the North Pole Express at Fillmore & Western. This one hour train ride takes you to the North Pole to pick up Santa and enjoy cookies and chocolate milk. Sing Christmas carols and listen to a Christmas story. The whole family is encouraged to wear pajamas. Bring your camera to take pictures at Santa's specially decorated Railcar. Nov. 25 – Dec. 23. www.fwry-blog.com

ICE SKATING

The Holiday Ice Rink at The Lakes at Thousand Oaks, 2200 E. Thousand Oaks Boulevard is back again this year, through January 28. Tickets to the rink are $15 and includes skate rental. Take a sip of steaming hot chocolate, and light your way with glow sticks! www.shoplakes.com/event/annual-holiday-ice-rink-presented-by-compass

LA Kings Holiday Ice returns for its second year at Westfield Topanga for the holiday season. Located at the corner of Erwin Street and Topanga Canyon Blvd. Food Trucks will be in rotation each evening so you can grab a hot coffee, hot cocoa, or a bite to eat in between skating fun! www.lakingsholidayice.com

PET PHOTOS

Santa will be available for photos and visits with Garfield and Fido at his headquarters presented by HGTV, located in JCPenney Court in the Thousand Oaks Mall. Please be sure to have your pet on a leash or in a pet carrier. Nov. 29, Dec. 6, 13 from 6 - 8 p.m. www.shoptheoaksmall.com

Mark your calendars for Photo With Santa sponsored by the Friends of the Sepulveda Basin Dog Park! This dog friendly event will be held Nov. 26, from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. at Sepulveda Basin Off-­Leash Dog Park in Van Nuys. Admission is $15 photo alone; $25 membership includes the photo and doggie Xmas stocking. www.sepulvedadogpark.com

GIVE BACK

The 14th annual Community Christmas Shoppe Toy Drive will run from through Dec. 5 throughout Ventura County. ACTION, a local nonprofit, is collecting toys, which serves under-resourced families throughout Ventura County. The families are invited to attend one of five Community Christmas Shoppes and select for toys for their children at no cost. Drop off locations: First Christian Church, 801 Knollwood Ave., Newbury Park; Calvary Community Church, 5495 Via Rocas, Westlake Village; Orchard Community Church, 8180 Telephone Rd., Ventura. www.actionvc.org

Club Pilates in Westlake Village is hosting a Toy Drive for Operation Hope: Conejo. There are over 100 local kids that will be receiving Christmas cheer and gift from this organization. Drop off any and all contributions to Club Pilates Westlake Village, 2820 Townsgate Road, in the Gelson's Plaza. Items needed: unopened gifts, jackets, gift cards to Target, bath and skincare items, blankets, and kids pajamas. www.clubpilates.com/westlakevillage

Give back this holiday season! Go Little Tokyo provides meals and resources for the large senior citizen population of Little Tokyo. Shop Dec. 1 – Jan. 7 at participating holiday shops where you can support seniors with a cash donation. Donate online today at golittletokyo.com/supportourseniors

Happy Holidays!

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