From the Third Annual Skid Row Xmas benefit to the Chinese Lantern Festival, here are the 12 best things to do in Los Angeles this week.

fri 12/20


Skid Row Benefit

Cynicism evaporates like a puff of smoke at the Third Annual Skid Row Xmas, a benefit for the homeless community that continues to burgeon throughout the greater metropolitan Los Angeles area. As communities find themselves increasingly in the thick of the dilemma — as did Dub Brothers dispensary founders Barry and Brent Walker — the call to do something about it grows increasingly louder. Speaking of loud: Tonight’s showcase performance features B-Real of Cypress Hill, no slouch when it comes to community and cannabis himself. The problem may not be solved in one night — but addressing it has to start somewhere. The Mayfair Hotel, 1256 W. 7th St., Westlake; Fri., Dec. 20, 8 p.m.; $25-50. (213) 632-1200,—David Cotner


Sonic Zen

Even if you’re a sound bath skeptic, the case can be strong for acknowledging the winter solstice and the energy of a new year with a shared experience of contemplative sound-based meditation. Whether you come to the aural light of singing bowls and symphonic gongs with a whole thing about greeting 2020 with clarified intention, or just need a relaxing vibe to make it through the holidays, Mary Frances Spencer and Gongphoria are here for you inside CFAER’s historic, creativity-filled halls. Center for the Arts Eagle Rock, 2225 Eagle Rock Blvd., Eagle Rock; Friday, December 20, 8 p.m.; $25.—Shana Nys Dambrot

sat 12/21


A Christmas Cinemeland

Heritage Square Museum marks its 50th anniversary this year. With eight Victorian homes on its property, the museum works to preserve the history of Southern California’s development from the late-19th century to the early-20th century. But the museum has more reason to celebrate this month. Hosted by Street Food Cinema, the annual Yuletide Cinemeland will have two outdoor screenings of classic Christmas movies on select nights throughout December, including Home Alone (Dec. 20), Gremlins (Dec. 21, with an appearance by actor Zach Galligan), The Muppet Christmas Carol (Dec. 22), Elf (Dec. 23), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Dec. 27), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Dec. 28) and Edward Scissorhands (Dec. 29). The evenings also feature tours, carolers, candlemaking, a holiday light tunnel, piano sing-a-longs in the William Perry Mansion ballroom and Victorian dance lessons in the Lincoln Avenue church. Of course, the holidays are synonymous with food, so look for food trucks selling everything from lobster rolls, tacos and kabobs to s’mores, vegetarian and vegan options, as well as an outdoor bar stocked with mulled wine and craft beer. Heritage Square Museum, 3800 Homer St., Montecito Heights; Dec. 20-29, doors 5 p.m., movies 6 p.m. & 8 p.m.; $30, $14 children, 5 & under free. (323) 225-2700,—Siran Babayan


Frightmare Before Christmas

Miracle on 34th StreetA Christmas Story? Meh. The best Christmas movie of all time, for fans of dark fare anyway, is Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. And for the past 10 years, goth-industrial dance club Batcave has been celebrating the film with dark holiday hijinks straight from the wonderfully macabre Disney movie. Frightmare Before Xmas: A Tim Burton Ball invites guests to dress up as their favorite Burton characters or in hot holiday attire for a night of (oogie) boogie-ing to DJs spinning darkwave, ’80s, ’90s, goth and synthpop. “Halloweentown” VIP ticket holders will get a collector’s badge, early entry, pre-event mixer and express lane access for photos with “Sandy Claws.” Midnight performance by Dani Divine, and there will be fetish performances and play area. Belasco Theater, 1050 S. Hill St., downtown; Sat., Dec. 21, 10 p.m.-2 a.m.; $8-99$ (18+).—Lina Lecaro

Ub Iwerks (Courtesy of Disney Editions)


The Other Name Behind Disney

Ub Iwerks co-created Mickey Mouse with Walt Disney in 1928. The Disney Legend and Oscar nominee helped revolutionize Disney film and animation, though the public knows little about his career. Walt Disney’s Ultimate Inventor: The Genius of Ub Iwerks, which son and author Don discusses today, is an exhaustive look at Iwerks’ life and relationship with Disney, first as friends in Kansas City and then as partners at Walt Disney Studios. (Iwerks even ran his own animation studio for a time, but later returned to working with Disney.) Don, a former Disney executive, includes in the book photographs, story sketches and movie posters. He also pays particular tribute to his father’s mechanical inventions in special effects, such as cameras and printers, as well as his work on several Disneyland attractions, namely Pirates of the Caribbean, It’s a Small World and the Haunted Mansion. Gallery Nucleus, 210 E. Main St., Alhambra; Sat., Dec. 21, 1-4 p.m.; free. (626) 458-7482,—Siran Babayan

sun 12/22


Light Up the Night

You’ll be sure to start living in interesting times at the Chinese Lantern Festival, a celebration of all things brilliant and bright. These lanterns are more than just sources of illumination – they’re glowing beacons in sculptural form, labored over and tirelessly perfected for your entertainment and amusement. Chinese dragon lanterns! Massive python lanterns! Frightening cactus lanterns! Brought to you by the great folks at Hanart, these lanterns (some several stories tall, others interactive, all gorgeous) celebrate the simplicity of  life, a concept that seems difficult to grasp – until you find out where to see how it glows. Through December 28. The Fairplex, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona; Sun., Dec. 22, 9 p.m.; $16-27. (909) 623-3111,—David Cotner

Dumpling Pop-Up (Courtesy of ZJZM)

mon 12/23


Come for the Selfies, Stay for the Food

Do we need another pop-up/selfie walk-thru? The people at Dumpling & Associates say yes, yes we do! Their Dumpling Pop-Up is a 90-day pop-up art experience by ZJZM that seeks to “redefine your perception of dumplings,” with immersive experiences and backdrops inside a 5,500-square-foot space celebrating the popular Asian food item but also dumplings from other cultures (ravioli, pierogies, etc). They hope the pop-up will conjure “optimism and inclusivity,” but judging from the groovy photos what it will mostly provide are some great pictures (the antigravity kitchen and giant soup bowl are fun). With 14 installations, this one joins the food-themed celebrations of ice cream, candy, fruit, pizza and tacos that have come to L.A. in recent years, and like those, it incorporates the real deal (food trucks) so your social media isn’t the only thing that gets satiated. The Row DTLA, 777 Alameda St.; daily, open through March 5.,hours vary. $32, $58. —Lina Lecaro

tue 12/24


Dancing Through the Holidays

The dance troupes, musical groups and singers lined up for the annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration continue to give Santa’s sleigh competition, traveling around the world on Christmas Eve with SoCal-based dance troupes, musical groups and singers reflecting cultures from around the world. Metro L.A. boasts many populations larger than anywhere outside the home country. The dance lineup this year includes Hawaiian hula from Hālau Keali’i o Nālani, Mexican folklorico from Pacifico Dance Company, West African dance from African Soul International, and Jung Im Lee Korean Dance Academy, plus Infinite Flow combining dancers with and without disabilities. Among the musical groups, the popular and resurgent Gay Men’s Chorus perform with their new director. Not only is the show free, parking at the Music Center is free. For those caught up in holiday prep, the show livestreams on and, along with KCET rebroadcasts on Dec. 25 at noon and 7 p.m. Music Center Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown; Tue., Dec. 24, 3 p.m.; free. —Ann Haskins

wed 12/25


Who Wants to Cook on Christmas?

In case the thought of spending all Christmas Day with loved ones doesn’t exactly fill you with tidings of great joy, why not treat yourself to Sofitel’s Christmas Buffet 2019? It’s a rich pageant of Yuletide favorites like roast goose and chestnut soup — and they’re partnering with West Hollywood’s Cattle & Claw, which means you also get such soon-to-be favorites as herb-crusted halibut with lobster velouté sauce, and their take on the Beyond Burger. Top it off with a trip to the chocolate fountain, endless desserts and high-quality comfort food and you’ve got a Christmas miracle for the ages. Sofitel Los Angeles, 8555 Beverly Blvd., Beverly Grove; Wed., Dec. 25, noon; $65 per person, $30 for children between 5-12, free for children 5 and under. (310) 278-5444, —David Cotner

Jeff & Gordon Not at the Dinner Table


Do Not Phone Home

If you’re one of those people who regard the big holiday family get-together with at least a mild sense of dread, consider taking part in this slightly classic audio performance art tradition. Jeff & Gordon’s Not at the Dinner Table works two ways — you can leave anonymous voice messages getting all that personal and/or political resentment off your chest in the hopes of keeping the party polite at home; or you can be a lurker, listening to a rotating selection of other people’s voicemails in search of comedy, empathy, and schadenfreude. The service is available 24/7 through January 1, in case you ever need to step outside and make a call. Call (785) 268-6858 until January 1, 2020. —Shana Nys Dambrot

thu 12/26


Storytelling Stones

Need some quiet time after Christmas? Suiseki are Japanese viewing stones that are meant for contemplation and reflection. They’re shaped by wind, water and time, resemble landscapes, animals and people, and are usually displayed on wooden trays. The Japanese have been gathering these rocks for centuries, but the art of viewing them to help relax the mind has become popular in America. As part of its annual Viewing Stones Shows, The Huntington hosts Gardena club the California Aiseki Kai and the American Viewing Stone Resource Center, who’ll both display examples of their suiseki stones, in addition to hands-on activities for kids. The Huntington, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino; Thu., Dec. 26, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; thru Dec. 30.; weekdays $25/weekends $29, seniors & students, $21/$24, children $13. (626) 405-2100,—Siran Babayan

Book Show’s Jen Hitchcock at the shop ( Judy Sisneros)


Book Blow Out

When it comes to books, the access afforded by the web can’t hold a candle to the experience of browsing about shelves and finding something new to read in real life. The self-proclaimed “creatively curated” Highland Park bookshop called Book Show has always been a destination for discovery that proved it, and its recently announced closure marks a sad sign of the times, indeed. In addition to carrying an amazing selection of vintage, used and new books, fanzines and gifts, owner Jen Hitchcock (a former L.A. Weekly contributor) threw some of the most unique local literature and wordsmith-driven events in L.A. (a “Utopian Tunnel Book” workshop, “Historia” storytelling events). The day after Christmas, Book Show’s Blow Out Sale offers one final op to gather and get books on the cheap. And fans fret not, Hitchock wants to make the shop a “road show” so more is hopefully to come. Highland Park Book Show, 5503 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park; Thu., Dec. 26, noon- 6 p.m.; free.—Lina Lecaro

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