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  • Pamela Froman

Cool Holiday Activities


The holidays are upon us and it's the perfect excuse to celebrate with friends and family. These seasonal-themed activities are sure to please everyone on your gift-giving list.

For a winter wonderland take a jaunt to the The Magical Lantern Art Festival which is transforming the Arboretum in Arcadia. Stunning lantern art depicts cute animals, gorgeous flowers, sweet pandas, dragons in flight and other themes that create the spellbinding experience of Moonlight Forest. Runs through Jan. 6. www.arboretum.org/moonlight-forest-magical-lantern-art-festival

You can glide into the holidays by ice skating in Pershing Square! The Bai Holiday Ice Rink offers winter fun surrounded by art, the impressive city skyline, and entertainment under the sun and stars. Grab family and friends and visit for festive fun. Runs until Jan. 21. https://holidayicerinkdowntownla.com

Enjoy new traditions mingled with good old-fashioned Christmas cheer on the stunning Queen Mary! You'll stroll the beautiful decks of this legendary ship. There are tons of twinkling lights, carolers, musical performances, an outdoor skating rink and meet and greets with Santa! www.queenmary.com

The Wine Winter Wonderland is taking place at Hotel Constance in Pasadena. They’ve teamed up with the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra and fifty percent of each ticket will be donated to fund music education and young musicians. The event will feature exclusive food pairings plus local beer, wine and spirits. Nov. 30. https://hotelconstance.com

Los Angeles SantaCon is a convention of Santas – festive men and women dressed like jolly old St. Nic. The con is filled with cheer, shenanigans, and a whole lot of Christmas. The start location is announced the day before the event. Make sure you’re on the e-mail list or check Twitter. Dec. 8, at 10 a.m. www.santacon.info/Los_Angeles-CA

It’s the most wonderful time of the year ! You can celebrate the holidays with an annual selection of treasured carols and songs sublimely sung by the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Over 100 classically trained carolers will perform. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S Grand Ave., Los Angeles. Dec. 8, 15. www.lamasterchorale.org/festival-of-carols

Los Angeles’ largest multicultural holiday celebration is the 59th annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration. Come together to experience and honor dynamic cultures. Diverse artists and community groups showcase their talent, artistry and traditions on the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion stage. The live production features instrumental music, choral music and dance performances. Dec. 24. www.musiccenter.org/holidaycelebration

It may not snow in Los Angeles, but the holiday light shows shine! Candy Cane Lane in Woodland Hills is perfect for families to enjoy. These homes get into the spirit with thousands of Christmas lights, life size Santas, carolers, and much more! Located at Lubao and Oxnard Streets in Woodland Hills.

Every holiday season Santa Monica brings ice to the beach, transforming the corner of Fifth Street and Arizona Ave. into a winter wonderland known as Ice at Santa Monica. It's an 8,000-square-foot ice-skating rink where you can glide into fun. Don't know how to skate? No worries. You can book private or group skating lessons. Want to host a party? There are cabanas and catering options. Runs through Jan. 21. www.downtownsm.com

Downtown Burbank’s most festive holiday tradition returns for outdoor ice skating, fundraising, and special performances at The Rink in Downtown Burbank. It's also just steps away from more than 400 shops and restaurants, and the recently renovated Burbank Town Center. Dec. 13 – Jan. 6. https://dtnbur.com/event/the-rink-in-downtown-burbank-2018

For detailed Christmas themed animatronic characters, as well as a thrilling light show with holiday music you can't go wrong with Lights of Display in Sherman Oaks. The show is put on by resident Mike Ziemkowski, who absolutely loves the holidays! Runs through Jan. 1. www.lightsondisplay.com

For spectacular family fun and charm visit Winter Fest OC. Ice tube, play in the snow, slide and ice skate under the stars. There is a nightly Christmas tree lighting celebration with a parade of characters, fireworks, plus Santa and his reindeer. An all new Alpine Village features a light maze and attractions, carnival rides, festive entertainment, seasonal eateries and more. Runs through Jan. 6. https://winterfestoc.com

The beloved Bob Baker Marionette Theater adaptation of the Nutcracker is coming to the Pasadena Playhouse! For the first time, the imagination dwells in a space specially outfitted for optimal holiday and puppetry joy. Over 100 handcrafted puppets to take you on an adventure through the wizardry of strings and into the enchanted world of the fantastic. Nov. 24 - Dec. 30. www.pasadenaplayhouse.org/event/bob-bakers-nutcracker

Feel as though you've escaped with the Marina Del Rey Boat Parade. Gather around Fisherman’s Village or Burton Chace Park to watch 70 boats glide through the marina with holiday lights and decorations. Competition categories include Best Theme, Best Animation, Best Band, Best Lights and more. The festivities begin at 5:55 p.m. with fireworks, and the boat parade starts at 6 p.m. Dec. 8. https://mdrboatparade.org

The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa will kick off the season with a free, six-week-long holiday extravaganza featuring one of the nation's largest holiday light collections. This magical, Disneyland-like experience in the heart of Riverside attracts more than 500,000 visitors from all over the world. It commences with the famous “Switch-On” Ceremony, a spectacular event in which the castle-like hotel is illuminated with 5 million holiday lights followed by a full fireworks display. Highlights include 200 animated figures including angels, elves and carolers, Santa Claus, the largest man-made mistletoe, horse-drawn carriage rides, elf tuck-ins, fresh snow, decorated Christmas trees, and holiday confections at the famous Casey’s Cupcakes. www.missioninn.com/festival-of-lights-en.html

The LA Kings Holiday Ice brings outdoor ice skating to Westfield Topanga! Skate your way into the holiday season and don't miss out on this entertaining family activity, romantic date night, or fun way to pass the time. The rink will be open through Dec. 14. http://lakingsholidayice.com/westfield-topanga

The Lakes in Thousand Oaks is bringing back their annual holiday ice rink! Get ready to skate this season with festive music, hot chocolate, and plenty of holiday cheer. Skate rentals are available. Runs through Jan. 27. http://shoplakes.com/events/annual-holiday-ice-rink

Kick off your holiday season with the 2nd Annual Simi Valley Festival of Trees, a charity event benefiting Adventist Health Simi Valley. Enjoy food, shop the Elf Emporium Boutique and Frostys’ Sweet Shoppe for hand-made gifts and treats, take pics with Santa, view the trees, and enjoy live entertainment. Nov. 28 – Dec. 1. Simi Valley Town Center, 1555 Simi Town Center Way. simivalleyfestivaloftrees.com

The Oxnard Christmas Parade is a winter tradition. The Parade features decorative floats, vehicles, marching bands, dancers and more! The Parade is followed by the Oxnard Tamale Festival at Plaza Park. Get the tastiest tamales in town - from sweet to savory, traditional to gourmet. Learn tamale making with live demos. Enjoy the tamale eating contest, holiday crafts fair, kids activities, and live music. Dec. 1. http://downtownoxnard.org/christmas-parade

Families can join the Hanukkah Celebration at the Westfield Topanga. This free event features a menorah lighting, music, arts and crafts, food and treats, and more. Join Chabad of West Hills for a family-friendly Hanukkah menorah lighting celebration on Dec. 4, 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.

The Ventura Winter Wine Walk and Holiday Street Fair kicks off at 12 p.m. with vendors and live entertainment. Shop artists, crafters, non-profit organizations, commercial and food vendors. At 4 p.m., the Ventura Winter Wine Walk starts, showcasing world class wineries. Each guest receives a tasting cup and a map of sites. Sample the amazing wines and be surrounded by a holiday ambiance of live jazz and blues, beautiful holiday lighting and snowfall. Dec. 1. www.venturawinterwinewalk.com

The Stagecoach Inn Museum in Newbury Park hosts its annual Holiday Open House. Kids of all ages are invited. Activities include storytelling with Mrs. Claus, holiday card making and tree decorating. Music will be provided by the Newbury Park High School String Quartet and refreshments will be provided in Anderson Hall. Storytelling at the Pioneer House is at 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30 p.m. Help decorate the holiday tree! 51 South Ventu Park Rd., Newbury Park. Dec. 2, 1 – 4 p.m. stagecoachinnmuseum.org

Line downtown for the 66th Annual Downtown Holiday Parade in Santa Barbara, to cheer a colossal contingent of high-stepping marching bands, giant helium balloons, fabulous holiday floats, spectacular performance groups, local personalities, and of course, the annual arrival of Santa Claus, dispensing holiday cheer from atop his sleigh. The Holiday Prince and Fairy officially light up the night with the lighting of the large Christmas tree at State and Victoria Streets. The parade is on Dec. 7, 6:30 p.m. www.santabarbaradowntown.com/about/downtown-holiday-parade

The Westlake Village Trolley is back in service! The Trolley begins its run at Westlake Village City Hall at 3:00 pm and concludes each night at 10:00 pm. The free, fun service stops at all major retail centers, including the Shoppes at Westlake Village, hotels, and neighborhoods...a great way to get around town. Free, live entertainment on board the Trolley enhances the experience. Runs on Friday and Saturday nights through Dec. 29 . www.wlv.org/villagetrolley

Take a ride at Fillmore & Western for the holidays. Take a three-hour train adventure on the Sugar Plum Express Holiday Village and Tree Train to the Holiday Village! Santa will be onboard to visit. Once there you can select a pre-cut Christmas tree, purchase unique gifts and goodies, enjoy the new Winter Wonderland, hop on the Holiday Jolly Jumpers, visit craft vendors and see Santa's Workshop. Also view the Koi fish, goats and birds while exploring. Food and beverages will be available onboard for purchase. Or, come in your pajamas for a magical one-hour evening train ride to the “North Pole.” Meet Santa and his elves and enjoy storytelling, caroling, cookies and chocolate milk while on board. At the Fillmore Depot, visit Santa's Village to ride the Carousel and shop the Christmas Craft Booths. www.fwry.com

Happy Holidays!

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