Christmas Weekend: Best Activities for LA Kids Dec 22-25

Storytime with Santa himself at the Queen Mary. Photo by Mathew Martinez courtesy of The Queen Mary
Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, County Holiday Celebration, and Last Minute Santa Claus

Happy Holidays, folks! We're smack dab in the middle of a festivity frenzy, with Christmas and Kwanzaa coming on strong. (Those of us who are been-there, dreidel'd-that, done with Hanukkah can turn our attention to the Baby New Year's impending arrival. And Mary Poppins!)

This weekend offers the last chance to put the finishing touches on Christmas, before the big guy comes down the chimney late Monday night. Across Southern California, lights are twinkling, nuts are cracking, and reindeer are romping, as moms and dads scramble to buy last minute gifts (while finding time for a seasonal spectacle or two).

And then comes Christmas. No doubt many of you plan to spend Christmas Day at home with friends and family. For those of you looking for activities outside the home, good news: we're here to help. First up, we offer 25 Things To Do on Christmas Day. And if your kitchen closes on Christmas Day, we present a list of restaurants that are open. Christmas is the gift that keeps on giving, and after the presents are all exchanged we can still enjoy the gift of other people being gone. (Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the freeways much more bearable.) For holiday cheer that continues on into next week, might we suggest some of LA's finest Christmas light displays, or some in Orange County (and, if you're willing to spend a little, some holiday light displays are worth the ticket price). 

And this year we have a special surprise under our tree: Mommy Poppins has just launched sites in Washington, DC and Chicago!  Thank you, Santa, it's exactly what we wanted!

Meet Rudolph's cousins at the LA Zoo's Reindeer Romp. Photo by Jamie Pham/GLAZA 


Las Posadas - Downtown
Christmas Eve is the last night of this Olvera Street procession depicting the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. Complimentary champurrado and pan dulce!

Mary Poppins Returns - Hollywood open Xmas Day
She's practically perfect in every way and now she's back for more! (And this time Lin-Manuel Miranda is along for the ride!)

Let's Make a Comet - Griffith Park
Comets in LA? It must be Christmas break! 

Kiddee Matinees - Hollywood
The best movies teach important life lessons. Like the only way to prove your love for your kids is to get into a brawl buying their Christmas gifts. Our former governor stars in Jingle All The Way.

Reindeer Romp - Griffith Park
The snow leopards and the river otters made the nice list: they're getting gifts from Santa this weekend.

Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream - Anaheim    
Disney’s latest holiday gift to us is this ice extravaganza, this year with the ice debut of Moana.

Lythgoe Family Panto's The Wonderful Winter of Oz - Pasadena
Lions and tigers and frogs, oh my!  The latest Lythgoe Panto ventures down the yellow brick road to the Emerald City of Pasadena, with Mackenzie Ziegler, Tony award winner Marissa Jaret Winokur, and Kermit the Frog!
Lythgoe Family Panto's Beauty and the Beast - Laguna Beach
Beauty tames the Beast in an enchanting production at the Laguna Playhouse. 

Disney On Ice presents Dare To Dream. Photo courtesy of Feld Entertainment  

Bob Baker's Nutcracker - Pasadena
More than 100 handcrafted puppets take audiences on an adventure into the enchanted world of the Nutcracker.

Queen Mary Christmas - Long Beach open Xmas Day
Celebrate Christmas on the Queen Mary with an old time flair (and ice skating!). Santa shores up for his big day with a family breakfast on Saturday.

The Nutcracker (Long Beach Ballet) - Long Beach
The Long Beach Ballet's Nutcracker features a full symphony orchestra, a flying sleigh, a real horse, onstage pyrotechnics, and a cast of more than 200. Check out how our reviewing mom and kids liked it!

The Nutcracker (Los Angeles Ballet) - Westwood
Los Angeles Ballet's Nutcracker jetés through UCLA's Royce Hall through Monday.

Winter Fest Costa Mesa open Xmas Day
How do they celebrate winter in Orange County? With ice tubing, ice skating, holiday film viewings, and nightly snowfall.

Holiday Fun at the Farmers Market - Fairfax
The Farmers Market’s lead up to the holidays continues with the Dickensian strolling carolers, then a Mariachi festival on Monday.

2nd Annual Holidays Around the World - Costa Mesa
The Segerstrom offers international seasonal fun with a touch of snowfall.

It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play - Pasadena 
The Christmastime classic comes to life onstage in a 1940s-style radio broadcast, with Big Bang Theory's Simon Helberg in the lead role.

See some Lights!

Enchanted: Forest of Light - La Canada Flintridge   
Watch the lights and make them glow: the light show at Descanso Gardens is as interactive as you want it to be. (Spoiler: we loved it!)

LA Zoo Lights - Griffith Park 
The Los Angeles Zoo offers a festive backdrop to this annual family-friendly light show. (And, yes, we've reviewed that, too.)

Ride a Train!
Holiday Light Festival Train Ride - Griffith Park 
This holiday train explores a magically decorated mile of track through Griffith Park.

Irvine Park Railroad Christmas Train - Irvine
This weekend is your last chance to ride the Christmas train to Santa's Village.

North Pole Express - Fillmore 
Kids can take a pajama-clad ride to the North Pole to meet up with Santa, with cookies, carols, and stories along the way.

Watch the parade sail by:

Huntington Harbour Cruise of Lights - Huntington Beach
Sunday is the final night of the inverse boat parade, where viewers ride in boats to view decorated homes.

Newport Beach Boat Parade - Newport Beach
The country's oldest boat parade launches its 110th year.

It's a Wonderful Movie
Angels all over the Southland are getting their wings as the Jimmy Stewart/Frank Capra classic screens at the Egyptian (Hollywood) on Saturday and at the Aero (Santa Monica) on Sunday.  The New Beverly (Hollywood) shows the film in a double feature with A Christmas Story on Saturday.  The Vista Theatre (Los Feliz) offers a family matinee on Monday.


See what over the top really looks like! Photo courtesy of Lights on Display​

Holiday Sing-Along - Downtown
Tune up your Rudolph; Walt Disney Concert Hall wants you to sing along! 

Winter Solstice - Santa Monica
Shortest day or longest night? It's all a matter of perspective.

Marina Lights Movie Nights - Marina del Rey
Jack Skellington keeps Christmas spooky, in The Nightmare Before Christmas.

FIGat7th Kids Club - Downtown
You know what your Christmas needs? More snow globes. Make one at this free workshop at Fig@7th. (And grab a selfie with Santa while you're at it.)

AMC Theatres Sensory Friendly Films - Multiple Locations
Here's a holiday gift for folks on the autism spectrum: sensory-friendly screenings of Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse.

Very Merry Malibu - Malibu
You know Christmas is around the corner when Santa keeps his reindeer close at hand.


White Christmas Sing-Along - Downtown
I'm dreaming of a White Christmas, just like the ones where I can sing along!

Kitchen Brunch with Santa - Downtown
Sunday you can find out where the Christmas magic is made:  in the kitchen! 

Zimmer Sunday Family Programs - Mid-Wilshire
The Zimmer celebrates the season with snowflake art.


Colburn Children’s Choir and Young Men’s Ensemble at the LA County Holiday Celebration. Photo by Timothy Norris

Fiddler On the Roof Sing-a-Long - Multiple Locations
In our little village of Los Angeles, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof, trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck… Select Laemmle Theatres screen Fiddler on the Roof as a new Christmas Eve tradition. 

Christmas at the Santa Barbara Zoo - Santa Barbara open Xmas Day
The Santa Barbara Zoo is open for limited hours on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.   

59th Annual LA County Holiday Celebration - Downtown
LA Country offers up its annual gift to the people of Los Angeles: a free concert featuring performers who reflect the diversity and excellence of Angelenos.


Opening Presents - Your House
If you were a good little girl or boy all year, then the fun is at your house Christmas Day. Reap the rewards of 12 months of making your bed, putting away the dishes, and getting good grades as you sit by the tree enjoying hot cocoa and cookies. Or, if not, that coal in your stocking will come in handy on a cold night.

HO(ppy) HO(ppy) HO(ppy) Christmas - Altadena
The Bunny Museum hosts a hoppin' Christmas party in the evening.

Christmas Double Feature - Hollywood
Christmas Day treat yourself to the ultimate gift: a double feature of classic comedies at the New Beverly! First up is the Laurel & Hardy comedy classic March of the Wooden Soldiers (aka Babes in Toyland), followed by the Marx Brothers' iconic Horse Feathers

As always, there are more activities listed on our daily events calendar. Whatever you choose to do this holiday weekend, we hope you are gifted with much joy and surrounded by love. Wishing a Merry Christmas, Happy (belated) Hanukkah, and joyous Kwanzaa to all our readers!