22 Best Things to Do in L.A. This Week

Mariachi los Camperos de Nati Cano plays Fiesta Navidad at the Sergerstrom Center in Costa Mesa on Friday.
Mariachi los Camperos de Nati Cano plays Fiesta Navidad at the Sergerstrom Center in Costa Mesa on Friday.
Armstrong International Cultural Foundation/Reese Zoellner

A stop-motion classic comes to life, a singles ball for single Jews, a run-in between Santa and some extra-terrestrials, and more to do and see in L.A. this week.

fri 12/23

Nothing will live up to the whimsical 1964 stop-motion TV classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but a new stage production based on it, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical, comes so close, it's sure to make kids and adults alike shout with glee. All the characters from the holiday favorite come to life with fun costumes, familiar songs and a modern choreography twist (courtesy of dancer and Broadway vet Dana Solimando). Hermey the Elf, Yukon Cornelius, the Abominable Snowman and the residents of the Island of Misfit Toys will all be onstage (repped by both live actors and puppets) and backdrops faithfully re-create the vibrant, cartoony atmosphere of the beloved TV special. The national touring show has recently partnered with an anti-bullying initiative, ensuring the Christmas tale's message of individuality and friendship shines as bright as ever. Dolby Theatre, 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Fri., Dec. 23, 1, 4 & 7 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 24, 10:30 a.m.; $38-$104. (800) 745-3000, dolbytheatre.com/events/details/rudolph_the_rednosed_reindeer. —Lina Lecaro

A Very Salsa Christmas is the latest installment in Union Station's inaugural Cocoa Concert Series, and it's your refuge from all the Christmas music you may be sick to death of by now. L.A.'s very own LA Picante — led by Pablo Alemann — unveil their salsa stylings as they accompany dance lessons in the constitutionally brilliant acoustics of Union Station. There's also the Elftenders' Cocoa Bar, an Ugly Christmas Sweater contest (hopefully it's the sweater that's ugly, not the Christmas itself), holiday crafts and cookie decorating and scintillating selfies with Santa Claus. Union Station, South Patio, 800 N. Alameda St., downtown; Fri., Dec. 23, 6 p.m.; free. (213) 683-6875, unionstationla.com/happenings/cocoa-concert-series. —David Cotner

The Segerstrom Center's Fiesta Navidad pumps up the holidays with a dash of grand romantic passion courtesy of one of the United States' most distinguished mariachi ensembles, Mariachi los Camperos de Nati Cano. Founded by Mexican bandleader Natividad Cano, who died in 2014, the local Grammy-winning group has been around for more than 50 years and is currently led by Jesus "Chuy" Guzman. Unlike most brass-centric mariachi bands, Los Camperos string together a richer, warmer blend of violins, guitars and harp crested with dramatic singing by multiple vocalists. They have recorded and toured with Linda Ronstadt and imbue even the simplest holiday tune with serious dramatic panache. Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa; Fri., Dec. 23, 8 p.m.; $29-$89. (714) 556-2787, scfta.org. —Falling James

Don't let the fact that you've watched bits and pieces of It's a Wonderful Life on TV more times than you can count stop you from seeing it on the big screen. Frank Capra's brand of movie-magic optimism feels especially vital this holiday season, which caps off a year in which the Mr. Potters of the world repeatedly won. Maybe it's all been a terrible vision of what could have been and we'll soon return to real life? Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Fri., Dec. 23, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine

Remember when comically evil cartoon villains were only in power onscreen? Batman Returns remembers. The second of Tim Burton's contributions to the Caped Crusader mythos screens on 35mm at midnight, the perfect time to descend into the shadowy realm of Gotham as it's overtaken by Danny DeVito's Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman. And though Batman's always been the moody sort, there are certainly more moments of levity here than there were in Batman v Superman. Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.; Fri., Dec. 23, 11:59 p.m.; $11. (310) 473-8530, landmarktheatres.com. —Michael Nordine

sat 12/24

Keep it breezy on Christmas Eve by going to Beverly Hills and drinking some wine. Heritage Fine Wines specializes in French quaffs and other elegant French comestibles; the tasting event Santa Claus's Selections: Christmas Eve Tasting gets you a flight of six wines and a cheese platter, accompanied by bread from Poilâne, the bakery that made rustic loaves all the rage a few decades back and is still leading the carb pack. The store will be open, should you need last-minute gifts of tea from Mariage Frères, Peugeot salt and pepper mills, mustard from Dijon, sardines from Brittany, jam from Lyon, honey from Burgundy or olive oil from Provence. Heritage Fine Wines, 467 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills; Sat., Dec. 24, 3-6 p.m.; $25, $20 in advance. (310) 888-8042, heritagebeverlyhills.com/pages/events. —Katherine Spiers

It wouldn't be Christmas Eve without the L.A. County Holiday Celebration, now in its 57th year. This year's program features music and dance groups that have appeared in previous shows — Harmonic Bronze Handbell Ensemble, Vox Femina L.A. and Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles, among them — as well as first-time performers, like the all-female stringed mariachi band Las Colibrí, playing the Vince Guaraldi classic "Christmastime Is Here" and Jose Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad"; the Dixieland blues band California Feetwarmers performing "Christmas in New Orleans" and more; and the American-Mexican-Brazilian singer and violinist QVLN performing "The Little Drummer Boy." As always, if you can't make the live show, you can watch live on PBS SoCal KOCE and pbssocal.org. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown; Sat., Dec. 24, 3-6 p.m.; free. lacountyarts.org/holiday.html. —Gwynedd Stuart

Hanukkah starts tonight — maybe you'll get some gelt or maybe you'll snag a significant other at this year's edition of the MatzoBall. Now entering its 30th year of bringing Jewish singles together across the nation, the MatzoBall welcomes the coming year by pushing the unhitched to get together with like-minded — and like-faithed — individuals. If you wind up with a hangover, don't worry — Christmas is the perfect day to stay in bed. The Association, 110 E. Sixth St., downtown; Sat., Dec. 24, 9 p.m.-2 a.m.; $30. (212) 389-9922, matzoball.org. —David Cotner

Celebrate Christmas Eve with what some consider the worst movie ever made: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. The panned sci-fi/comedy/holiday whatsit was first released in 1964 and has enjoyed a second, largely ironic second life thanks to Mystery Science Theater 3000; anyone who delights in so-bad-it's-good fare will consider this an early gift from Santa himself. Anyone alarmed by the so-called War on Christmas, meanwhile, will have their paranoia fulfilled by the film's vision of Martians scheming to claim St. Nick for themselves. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; Sat., Dec. 24, 2 p.m.; $6. (323) 938-4038, thenewbev.com. —Michael Nordine

sun 12/25

You might think that bunnies at holidays are reserved specifically for Easter or Mel Blanc's birthday, but Christmas at the Bunny Museum hops all over your furry preconceived notions. The final Christmas event before the museum moves to its new location in Altadena in March — "the Grand Hoppenin'," museum founders Candace Frazee and Steve Lubanski call it — today's farewell to the old homestead is a nostalgic, bittersweet one. With around 30,000 bunny-related items — as well as a passel of real bunnies for which you can bring fruits and vegetables — the Bunny Museum is a priceless paragon of singular, visionary Americana. The Bunny Museum, 1933 Jefferson Drive, Pasadena; Sun., Dec. 25, 2 p.m.; $5, members and kids under 4 free. (626) 798-8848, thebunnymuseum.com. —David Cotner

In his 2009 special, Don't Make Him Angry, comedian Jo Koy went into extraordinary detail about his then-5-year-old son's habit of playing with this "ting ting." He yanks it, squishes it, exposes it to unsuspecting houseguests and, on one occasion, colored it green with a Magic Marker (hence the punch line "Don't make him angry"). The comedian, former Chelsea Lately panelist and host of podcast The Koy Pond (get it?) — who got his start in a Vegas coffeehouse — is headlining a string of gigs at the Ice House in Pasadena, including two shows on Christmas night. Hope his son approves. The Ice House, 38 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena; Sun., Dec. 25, 7 & 9 p.m. (also Dec. 28-31); $30. (626) 683-8584, icehousecomedy.com. —Gwynedd Stuart

Santa meets some little green (painted) men on Saturday.
Santa meets some little green (painted) men on Saturday.
Jalor Productions

mon 12/26

Opening its doors in 1934, Santa Anita Park is the oldest horse racetrack in Southern California. In its heyday, it was a popular spot for Hollywood stars like Cary Grant and Lana Turner, and it provided the backdrop for the Marx Brothers' classic 1937 comedy A Day at the Races. And don't forget Seabiscuit, who won the $100,000 Santa Anita Handicap there in 1940, the legendary horse's last race. Celebrate the kickoff to another season of thoroughbred racing with the Park's Opening Day Craft Beer & Cider Festival. Choose between two packages that offer beer or cider tastings, clubhouse admission and trackside seating. If you're in a betting mood, be sure to study your racing program — you just might win the trifecta! Santa Anita Park, 285 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia; Mon., Dec. 26, noon-5 p.m.; $35, VIP $65. santaanita.com/events/opening-day-craft-beer-cider-festival. —Matt Stromberg

tue 12/27

Described by L.A. Weekly film critic April Wolfe as a "transgressive, Medievalist circus of pleasures," Belladonna of Sadness is a film that has rarely seen the light of day in the United States, or really anywhere outside of Japan, where it was released in 1973. That is until the restoration company Cinelicious got its hands on a print and restored it to its former glory at the behest of Cinefamily's Hadrian Belove. As Wolfe wrote, "For fans of bizarre cinema, groundbreaking animation and all the glorious things our technology can do, Belladonna of Sadness is a classic with a second life thanks to some good old L.A. ingenuity." Cinefamily, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Beverly Grove; Tue., Dec. 27, 10 p.m. (also Dec. 25, 26 & 28); $12. (323) 330-4412, cinefamily.org. —John Payne

The most stressful part of the holiday season has come and gone, so reward yourself with a good midday cry at LACMA. Terms of Endearment is among the quintessential tearjerkers, and one of many inexplicable Best Picture winners from the '80s (Driving Miss Daisy? Seriously?). Still, it does its thing — i.e., draw you into the decades-long mother/daughter relationship between Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger — well enough, and is nothing if not emotionally involving. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., Dec. 27, 1 p.m.; $4. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org. —Michael Nordine

Kate Berlant hosts Communikate on Wednesday.
Kate Berlant hosts Communikate on Wednesday.
Andrew DeYoung

wed 12/28

Looking for something to keep your kids occupied during winter break? The Japanese American Cultural and Community Center has your back. On Wednesday, the Children's Oshogatsu Workshop offers a day full of New Year's–related arts and crafts activities to usher in the Year of the Rooster. Kids between the ages of 7 and 14 will learn calligraphy, take a class in taiko drumming and decorate shikishi boards that will be on display in the George J. Doizaki Gallery. Plus, they'll learn how to make mochi. Space is limited, so make sure to sign up the kids beforehand. Japanese American Culture and Community Center, 224 S. San Pedro St., downtown; Wed., Dec. 28; 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; $30, $25 members. (213) 628-2725, jaccc.org. —Liz Ohanesian

Much is made of L.A.'s culinary diversity, but other reflections of L.A.'s broad cultural diversity also deserve attention, particularly this time of year when an unmatched array of holiday traditions makes it possible to segue from Hanukkah to Christmas to Kwanzaa and even extend into February with the Chinese New Year, usually with some dancing. The week following Christmas belongs to Kwanzaa, when for seven days seven laudable principles of family and community are the focus. Lula Washington Dance Theater's annual Kwanzaa Celebration has become a local tradition marking this African-American holiday with dance, live jazz and African drumming. Lula Washington Dance Studios, 3373 Crenshaw Blvd., Jefferson Park; Wed.-Fri., Dec. 28-30, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 31, 3 p.m.; $35, $25 seniors & students, $15 children on floor mats, $10 children in laps. lulawashington.org. —Ann Haskins

Communikate is comedian Kate Berlant's gripping, disturbing mind-meld of the psychic and the comedic. As she brings willing yet unsuspecting audience members onstage to plumb their unfathomable depths, she works through new comedy by wielding the eldritch powers of the guffaw and the supernal energy of the hee-haw to bring down upon those gathered a phantasmagoria of the human experience itself. The result may frighten you, revealing unto you the fragility of your own existence. Also, three other comics are invited by Berlant to do whatever it is that they do; past guests include Claudia O'Doherty, Nick Kroll and Kyle Mooney. UCB Franklin, 5919 Franklin Ave., Hollywood; Wed., Dec. 28, 8 p.m.; $5. (323) 908-8702, franklin.ucbtheatre.com/show/5375. —David Cotner

A more lighthearted alternative can be found just a few miles west as the Aero celebrates screwball all week. The most tempting double bill on the docket has to be Bringing Up Baby and The Awful Truth, both on 35mm and both starring Cary Grant. He stars opposite Katharine Hepburn and a leopard in the former and Irene Dunne in the latter, which won Leo McCarey the Academy Award for Best Director. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Wed., Dec. 28, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com.

thu 12/29

The Food Truck Collective exists solely to put on food truck–focused events. It curates the trucks and adds the music and games. The NoHo Food Truck Collective, held Thursday evenings in the parking lot of the North Hollywood Library, always has a DJ (playing family-friendly music) and games for the kids. The trucks are subject to change, but there are some fairly reliable regulars. The seafood-centric Tackle Box, serving stuff like fried shrimp, po' boys and catfish, usually is at the event, as are My Delight, a cupcake truck, and Main Squeeze, with fancy lemonades. North Hollywood Regional Library, 5211 Tujunga Ave., North Hollywood; Thu., Dec. 29, 5:30-9:30 p.m.; free. thefoodtruckcollective.com. —Katherine Spiers

Christmas is technically over, but with Jan. 1 just around the corner, the holiday spirit is sticking around for at least another few days. Take advantage of the lingering residue of jolliness and joy at one of L.A.'s many outdoor skating rinks. Take in views of the skyline at night at the Holiday Ice Rink in Pershing Square (532 S. Olive St., downtown). Ice at downtown Santa Monica (Fifth Street and Arizona Avenue in Santa Monica) offers group classes as well as private lessons. And get in a late-night skate at L.A. Kings Holiday Ice at L.A. Live (800 W. Olympic Blvd., downtown), which is open till midnight through Jan. 7. Various locations. Holidayicerinkdowntownla.com; downtownsm.com/ice; lalive.com/events-calendar/holidayice. —Gwynedd Stuart

Most likely to her sister's chagrin, Olivia de Havilland delivers one of the great screen performances in The Heiress. William Wyler's beyond-classic film noir stars the actress as the young, moneyed Catherine Sloper, whose father (Ralph Richardson) suspects her new beau (Montgomery Clift) of having less-than- pure intentions for his daughter. The actress, who celebrated her centennial over the summer, won her second Oscar for the breathtaking transformation her character undergoes — a plaudit preceded by her sister Joan Fontaine winning an Academy Award of her own. This is said to have contributed to their well-publicized, lifelong rivalry, which ended only with Fontaine's death three years ago. Cinefamily/Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Thu., Dec. 29, 7:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 655-2510, cinefamily.org.

Santa Sangre's coming to town, namely the Egyptian. More surreal than screwball, Alejandro Jodorowsky's outré horror film uses both flashbacks and flash-forwards to tell the story of a boy who grows up in a Mexican circus and is forced to help his fanatical mother after his father cuts her arms off and commits suicide. The blood that spills in this movie — which is bizarre even by the El Topo and Holy Mountain director's standards — might not actually be holy, but it's certainly been known to cause viewers to say "holy shit." Good riddance, 2016! Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Thu., Dec. 29, 7:30 p.m.; $11. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com. —Michael Nordine


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