Hollywood

The Nutcracker: 28 Holiday Performances of the Classic Ballet Fit for Kids

Most of the year, most of us parents don't attempt to take our children to full-length ballet productions, but Christmas just doesn't feel like Christmas without one good Nutcracker. And if one good Nutcracker begins to make it feel a lot like Christmas, then LA, Orange, and Ventura counties are evidently hitting Uber-Christmas in the coming weeks with more than two dozen professional Nutcracker productions.

Incidentally, we've got answers to the two questions posed most often by LA parents in search of a Nutcracker Ballet for their families: Yes, there is a condensed version staged specifically for kids, offered by the Festival Ballet Theatre down in Costa Mesa or Classical Ballet Theatre in Palos Verdes; and yes, there are local productions performed with full orchestra—​at the Long Beach Terrace Theater, the Broad Stage, the Dolby Theatre, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and the Grove of Anaheim. There is even the odd Nutcracker Tea or two—in case you were wondering.

And when you've had your fill of Sugarplum Fairies, we can direct you to some nifty Christmas train rides.

Zimmer Children's Museum Gets a New Name and a New Home in the New Year

The Zimmer Children's Museum, the hugely popular Miracle Mile hub for the preschool set, is making a break for the beach, picking up more space and a new name along the way. Soon to be known as the Cayton Children's Museum, it will create a whole new reason to go to Santa Monica Place, that mall with the ocean view at the end of the Third Street Promenade—giving families one more reason to spend a day in the seaside suburb

Free in November: 22 Free Things To Do with Kids In Los Angeles

With the Holiday Season fast approaching, pocketbooks can start to feel a little light. If you’re in need of some family fun but don’t want to break the bank, look no further. There are still plenty of things to do in Los Angeles this November, without ever cracking open that wallet. From the Day of the Dead to Santa’s Sled, it's time to kick off winter with a frugal bang.

Christmas Trains: All Aboard the Polar Express for Kids in LA, Ventura, & Orange County

Trains in Los Angeles are more or less novelties all year round, which means they hold onto that wonderful Thomas-the-Tank-Engine, Polar-Express mystique far longer for LA kids than for urban kids who take the A train regularly. And for anyone who loves trains, Christmas trains offer the ultimate "old world charm" rail experience. Add an appearance by Santa Claus and a few Christmas trees, and you have a recipe for a memorable holiday experience. Some of the dates are limited, though, so booking ahead when possible is the best way to make sure this train doesn't pass you by. All aboard the Santa Express!

Día de los Muertos: What Other City Has This Many Day of the Dead Celebrations?

Hauntingly close to Halloween, El Día de los Muertos – the Day of the Dead – is a magical holiday that's also a living history lesson, demonstrating the tendency of conquerors to absorb indigenous customs into their own. Christian Europeans arrived in Mexico already fans of All Hallows Eve (modern day Halloween), only to stumble upon an ancient tradition celebrated by the Aztecs on November 2, with a spookily similar theme. Day of the Dead is a time when the door between worlds is meant to open, so that celebrants can honor departed loved ones and hopefully lure them back for a visit.

Say Boo at the Zoo: 5 LA and OC Zoos with Cool Halloween Week Events

Let the record show that there is more than one way to smash a pumpkin, and handing it to a hippo is definitely one of them. A gorilla does the job pretty well, too, as does a tiger, or—well, just about any other animal at the zoo. This discovery by our nation's zookeepers has led to a peculiar Halloween tradition—that we highly recommend!

Each year Southern California's zoos (and Griffith Park is only one of the options, as you'll see below) plan Halloween events, usually treating resident critters to their favorite delicacies stuffed inside pumpkins. For some, the delicacy may actually be the pumpkin itself (chomp chomp), while the more carnivorously inclined seem to view the pumpkins more as wrapping paper (smash smash). Either way, zoo animals smashing pumpkins ups the ante on traditional pumpkin patches. Check out all the beastly fun at Southland zoos this season.

Best Neighborhoods to Trick-or-Treat on Halloween Night with Los Angeles Kids

Trick or treat! Los Angeles consistently makes the top 5 cities on Zillow's Halloween list of the country's best spots for trick-or-treating. The real estate website bases its trick-or-treat ranking on criteria like home value and crime rates. That's good, but what about special effects and Halloween decorations? If one figures in the number of film industry creatives living in a given metropolitan area, LA wins first place by a country mile. Speaking of country miles, if you've walked the distance between houses in the most expensive LA neighborhoods, you know that higher home value does not always translate to better trick-or-treating. What does? Well, keep your Halloween hats on, because we've got a list of some of LA and Orange County's most legendary trick-or-treat neighborhoods. I defy anyone in Philadelphia to beat these!

Ultimate Halloween Event List: 34 Best Celebrations in LA for Free or Spooky Fun

If you've already spent on the Halloween costume (and perhaps a second one if you bought too early), and the pumpkin (and perhaps a second one if you bought too early), and the Halloween candy (and perhaps an extra aerobics class if you bought too early), you might have reached your limit with spending money on this mother-of-all kids' holidays. That's when it's time to start sniffing out which are the key Halloween activities (and which are the free ones) that keep the mood going at this haunting time of year. The following events are the Halloween parties not to miss—the scream of the crop!

Best Home Haunts, Haunted Houses, Halloween Decorations, and Spooky Tours in LA

Our house loves Halloween—no, really loves Halloween. We reconnect with neighbors as we hang ghosts in trees, weave skeletons into the jasmine, drape pumpkin lights along the fence, and smear cobwebs all over the shrubbery. Our normally zen rock garden becomes a graveyard, and last year's Halloween costumes become its inhabitants.

One way we feed our macabre creativity is by avidly checking out other Halloween addicts' handiwork; we love the ghost trains, festivals, and pumpkin patches—we even love a good scream at the Queen Mary—but the real beauty of living in the film capital of the world is that private haunted houses frequently rival the spectacle of the big theme park spooks. Seriously. We've collected the scream of the crop below.

Weekend Fun for LA Kids: Boo at the Zoo, Coast Open Streets, and Mark in the Park

It's beginning to look a lot like pumpkins, everywhere I go. And so it begins! The Harvest. The Corn Mazes. The Hatchimals  (not sure what that has to do with the season, but just go with it). We are on a crazed, giddy run to the end of the month.

But don't get spooked! Yes, there are scary things afoot. Yes, you can choose the dark and shadowy path. But you can also choose to welcome the season with laughs (and science!). You can fear the night or you can get in on the fun. Halloween is what you make it, and LA makes it easy to choose family-friendly. Or not.

Public service announcement for purists who wait to celebrate Halloween until, well, Halloween. There's still lots to do! This weekend sees festivals Greek and Korean, Manhattan Beachian and Encinoish. You can buy a ticket to the 20s, catch a plane, train, or (very small) automobileThis land is both your land and my land, and Children's Book World is 32. (Um, me too. More or less.) The streets of Santa Monica are open wide, and you can make your mark in Grand Park. So go out there and scare up some fun.

Keep reading for our favorite treats for this weekend, no trick!

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