Holidays 2011: Family events and festivals
Family holiday fun across Southern California
A mother and daughter take in the scene on Christmas Tree Lane. (Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles may not get any snow in its holiday season (except for Kidspace Museum's annual Snow Days, that is), but we have plenty of holiday entertainment options to liven up the season. From festive train rides to the North Pole to sparkling nighttime boat parades — even a chance to visit with real, live reindeer — here's a round-up of the season's best and brightest entertainment options for young and old alike.
Santa's Cool Holiday Film Festival: Midnight screenings of "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" and other kitschy flicks. The Regent Theatre, 1045 Broxton Ave., Westwood. Dec. 9-10. Contact theater for admission prices. (310) 281-8223, http://www.landmarktheatres.com.
Sawdust Art Festival: Winter Fantasy Works by artists and crafts people, holiday entertainment, art projects, food, and daily visits from St. Nick. Sawdust Festival Grounds, 935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach. Dec. 9-11, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Adults $6, children 6-12 $3. (949) 494-3030, http://www.sawdustartfestival.org.
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Twelve Days by the Seashore Holiday Program: Inspired by the holiday hit "Twelve Days of Christmas," this fun and educational class looks at 12 popular seashore animals. Children can take home a special keepsake book created in class. Aquarium of the Pacific, 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach. Dec. 10, 9:30-11:30 a.m. $42 for child/adult pair. (562) 951-1630, http://www.aquariumofpacific.org.
Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade: A rousing fireworks display is followed by a twinkling parade of festively decorated boats at this 48-year-old coastal tradition. The festooned vessels will circle the main channel of the Marina del Rey Harbor in hopes of taking home one of 14 category titles. Burton Chace Park, 13650 Mindanao Way, Marina del Rey. Dec. 10, 5:55 p.m. Free. (310) 670-7130, http://www.mdrboatparade.org.
"A Christmas Carol" with Charles Dickens: The Independent Shakespeare Company uses a dash of artistic license to re-create a public reading of "A Christmas Carol" given by Charles Dickens himself. Based on the author's own adaptation of his famous story of Christmas redemption, the program features David Melville as the author, with musical and dramatic accompaniment by Mary Guilliams. Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino. Dec. 10, 7-9 p.m. $20. (800) 838-3006, http://www.huntington.org.
Silver Bells & Golden Gossip Scavenger Hunt: Solve clues while marveling at Rodeo Drive's holiday decorations. This high-fashion hunt includes the store that banned MJ, shady lanes, go-go boots and an iconic movie bubble bath. Prizes awarded to the winning team. Rodeo Drive Area, Beverly Hills. Dec. 10 and 17, 2 p.m.; Dec. 24, noon. $25. (323) 799-1374. outoftheboxevents.com.
Dickens holiday celebration: Immerse yourself in a Dickens-era world of caroling, performing and manual printing presses with the International Printing Museum's annual Dickens Day Celebration. International Printing Museum, 315 W. Torrance Blvd., Carson. Dec. 10-11 and 17 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. $15. Sold out. (714) 529-1832, http://www.printmuseum.org.
Victorian Christmas: The vintage 1894 Heritage House on the grounds of the arboretum will be decorated in a traditional Victorian holiday theme. Members of the Fullerton Victorian Society will greet guests in costume. Fullerton Arboretum, 1900 Associated Road, Fullerton. Dec. 10-11, 3-5 p.m. Adults $15, children $5. (714) 278-3407, fullertonarboretum.org.
Christmas Tree Lane: The majestic exotic deodar trees on the "Mile of Christmas Trees" are strung with 10,000 lights for the oldest large-scale Christmas lighting spectacle in the United States. Santa Rosa Avenue between Woodbury Avenue and Altadena Drive, Altadena. Dec. 10-Jan. 1, from dusk to 10 p.m. weekdays, dusk to midnight weekends. Free. (626) 403-1123, http://www.christmastreelane.net.
Festival of Lights: The Silverlake Independent JCC invites the community to share in a celebration of light during the shortest days of the year at its annual Festival of Lights. Includes family-friendly concert by the Hollow Trees and other local bands, a petting zoo, a gift boutique, games, crafts, and food. Silverlake Independent Jewish Community Center, 1110 Bates Ave., Silver Lake. Dec. 11, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. $15 with a can of food for charity; adults enter free. (323) 663-2255. http://www.sijcc.net.
A Singing Cowboy Christmas: A day of holiday cheer inspired by America's favorite singing cowboy, Gene Autry, featuring children's crafts and activities based on classic carols from Gene Autry's Christmas CDs, screenings of episodes of "The Gene Autry Show," and more. Autry National Center of the American West, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Griffith Park, Los Angeles. Dec. 11, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Adults $10, children $4. (323) 667-2000, theautry.org.
Irish Holiday Festival: Held in the Bowers Museum's outdoor Key Courtyard, this holiday festivity sparkles with Irish culture, including music, storytelling, dance, art, hand-made Irish quilts and stockings, Irish Christmas cakes, pudding and more. Bowers Museum, 2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana. Dec. 11, noon-4 p.m. Free. (714) 567-3600, http://www.bowers.org.
Hanukkah Family Festival: The museum's annual celebration explores the art and customs of Jewish people through live music, storytelling, holiday food, and art projects. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Brentwood. Dec. 11, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. $10. (310) 440-4500, skirball.org.
Christmas Tree Holiday Train: The 2011 Holiday Tree Train will shuttle families to the Christmas tree farm to choose the perfect Christmas tree. St. Nick will be on board to greet kids of all ages. Fillmore & Western Railway, 364 Main St., Fillmore. Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. through Dec. 11. Adults $24, children 2-3 $10, children 4-12 $14. (805) 524-2546, fwry.com.
Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade: Yachts, boats, kayaks and canoes display holiday lights and decorations as they set sail around the harbor to the sounds of festive holiday music. A fireworks display closes the final night of the parade at 9 p.m. Newport Beach Harbor, 3335 W. Coast Highway, Newport Beach. Dec. 14-18, 6:30-9 p.m. Free. christmasboatparade.com.
Cruise of Lights: Narrated boat tours through the waterways of scenic Huntington Harbor give spectators a festive view of hundreds of brightly decorated homes, docks, decks and boats. Huntington Harbor, 16889 Algonquin St., Huntington Beach. Dec. 15-23. Hourly from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Adults $17, children $10. (714) 840-7542, cruiseoflights.org.
Las Posadas: This annual Mexican Christmas tradition reenacts the Christmas Eve journey of Mary and Joseph in search of shelter. The nine-night festivity includes seasonal entertainment, complimentary refreshments and a children's pinata-breaking each night. Olvera Street, downtown Los Angeles. Dec. 16-24, 6 p.m. Procession begins at 7:30 p.m. Free. http://www.olvera-street.com.
The Groundlings Holiday Show: Director Jim Rash ("Community") is joined by a cast that includes Jillian Bell ("Workaholics"), Andrew Friedman ("The Big C"), Ryan Gaul ("2 Broke Girls"), Charlotte Newhouse (Fanboy), Steve Little ("Eastbound & Down"), Lisa Schurga ("Leverage") and Alex Staggs ("Modern Family"). Groundlings Theater, 7307 Melrose Ave., Melrose district, Los Angeles. Fri. 8 p.m. and Sat. at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. through Dec. 17. $20. (323) 934-4747, http://www.groundlings.com.
Irvine Railroad's 16th annual Christmas train: The historic Irvine Regional Park's enchanting holiday train will depart from the brightly lit Train Station and drop passengers off at the North Pole. Kids can share their wish list with Santa and pose for photos. Irvine Park Railroad, 1 Irvine Park Road, Orange. Dec. 9,10 and 11, 5-8 p.m.; Dec. 15-16, 5-8 p.m.; Dec. 17-18, 2-8 p.m.; Dec. 19-23, 4-8 p.m. Train tickets: $10 for children; 2 and younger are free. Activity tickets are $4 each. Book of 15 activity tickets, $50. (714) 997-3968, http://www.irvineparkrailroad.com.
Live reindeer: Children will have a chance to interact with Santa's antlered transportation team. Other activities include decorating cookies, stockings, and dreidels, plus visiting with the jolly saint himself. Malibu Country Mart, 3835 Cross Creek Road, Malibu. Dec. 17, noon-4 p.m. Free. (310) 456-7300, http://www.malibucountrymart.com.
Charles Phoenix: Retro Holiday Slide Show: The kitsch king's beloved annual offering glorifies the spirit of celebration as he visits holidays throughout the year in a time-traveling journey. REDCAT, 631 W. 2nd St., downtown Los Angeles. Dec. 17, 7 p.m. $30. (213) 237-2800, http://www.redcat.org.
L.A. County holiday celebration: Bring the whole family to L.A.'s biggest Emmy-nominated holiday show. More than 20 choirs, music ensembles and dance companies from the many neighborhoods and cultures of L.A. celebrate the season during this free three-hour extravaganza. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave. Dec. 24, 3-6 p.m. Free. (213) 972-3099, lacountyarts.org/holiday.
Snow Days: Kids can play in real snow, learn how snow is formed in nature, and enjoy winter crafts, including snowflake making, cookie decorating, pine cone ornaments and more. Kidspace Museum, 480 N. Arroyo Blvd., Pasadena. Dec. 26-28, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. $10. (626) 449-9144, kidspacemuseum.org.
The North Pole Express: These family-friendly vintage train rides celebrate the holidays with storytellers, cookies and milk, and visits from Santa and his elves. Kids can bring their teddy bears and wear their pajamas for the trip to the North Pole. Fillmore & Western Railway, 364 Main St., Fillmore. Wed.-Sun. 6 and 7:30 p.m. through Dec. 26. Adults $29, children 2-12 $19, children under 2 free on a lap. (805) 524-2546, fwry.com.
Bob Baker's Holiday Spectacular: The historic puppet theater presents a winter wonderland marionette musical extravaganza for children of all ages. Bob Baker Marionette Theater, 1345 W. 1st St., Echo Park. Tue.-Fri. 10:30 a.m., Sat.-Sun. 2:30 p.m. through Dec. 31. $20. (213) 250-9995, http://www.bobbakermarionettes.com.
WildLights Holiday Festival: Enjoy after-dark displays, visits from Santa, train rides, camel rides, wildlife shows, live music and refreshments. Palm Desert Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, 47900 Portola Ave., Palm Desert. Dec, 2-3, 9-10, 16-23, 26-31 from 6-9 p.m. Adults $9.75, children $6.50. (760) 346-5694, Ext. 2000, livingdesert.org.
Holiday of Lights: Motorists can take in more than 400 lighted and animated holiday scenes, accompanied by festive music, along a 1.5-mile route. Includes carolers, hay rides, and refreshments. Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar. Fri.-Sat. 5:30-10:30 p.m., Sun.-Thu. 5:30-10 p.m. except Dec. 5 and 12. Ends Jan. 1. $14 per car, up to five people, $19 per vehicle; Holiday Hayride $10. (858) 755-1161, holidayoflights.com.
Adamson House 2011 Christmas Tours: View the historic beach-side Malibu home's many holiday charms during these docent-led tours, which include light refreshments and a special remembrance crafted for the event. Prepaid reservation required. Historic Adamson House, 23200 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. Dec. 4 and 18 at 2 p.m.; Dec. 9, 16 and 23 at 7 p.m.; Dec. 25 and Jan. 1 at 3 p.m. (310) 456-8432, http://www.adamsonhouse.org.
The Science of Gingerbread: How many gumdrops can a frosted cookie hold? Why do some recipes call for baking powder instead of baking soda? Find out at the annual Science of Gingerbread exhibition, featuring hands-on kitchen science activities, decorating demonstrations and award-winning gingerbread houses on display. Science Center, 2500 N. Main St., Santa Ana. Fri.-Sat. 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun.-Thu. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. through Jan. 1. Adults $14.95, children 3-17 $12.95. (714) 542-2823, http://www.discoverycube.org.
Holiday Festival of Trains: This playful and colorful holiday exhibit takes visitors on a magical journey of miniature trains chugging through breathtaking landscapes that include snow-covered mountain passes, Santa's Village, the Roaring '20s, a Wild West Town and the Big Apple. Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace, 18001 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda. Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. through Jan. 1. Adults $11.95, children 7-11 $4.75, children 6 and younger are free. (714) 993-5075, nixonfoundation.org.
Festival of Lights: Millions of lights and hundreds of animated characters on display, plus an ice-skating rink, live entertainment, carriage rides and vendors. Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, 3649 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside. Daily beginning at 5 p.m. Display runs through Jan. 8. Free. (951) 543-9557, riversideca.gov/fol.
Ice at Santa Monica: The 8,000-square-foot rink by the beach celebrates its fifth anniversary as a Southland holiday tradition. Lessons available. Iceatsantamonica.com. 1324 5th St., Santa Monica. Mon.-Thu. 2-10 p.m., Fri. 2 p.m.-midnight, Sat. 10 a.m.-midnight, Sun. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. through Jan. 16. Admission and skate rental $12. (310) 496-9880, iceatsantamonica.com.
Downtown on Ice: Just because it doesn't ever get really cold (by East Coast standards) doesn't mean you can't pretend it's really cold. Visit Pershing Square and ice skate, and if you squint, it'll be just like the Rockefeller Center. Pershing Square Park, 532 S. Olive St., downtown Los Angeles. Mon.-Thu. noon-10 p.m., Fri.-Sun. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. through Jan. 16. Skating session $6, skate rental $2. (213) 847-4970, laparks.org.
Holidays 2011: Family events and festivals - latimes.com
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