After a year without many public holiday happenings, 2021 looks a lot brighter when it comes to events and amusements. Here are the best immersive L.A. Christmas attractions to get you all lit up again as 2021 comes to a close.
L.A. Zoo Lights – We love the furry creatures at the Zoo but during Christmas the park is something else, especially after dark and most especially for Angelenos who grew up driving through Griffith Park to see the light displays that used to be set up near the trains. Now they’re amidst the animals and inspired by them too, with whimsical production, added walk-thru tunnels and awesome bulb blankets in every color you can imagine. ticketmaster.com/la-zoo-lights-tickets
Holiday Road- King Gillette Ranch (where Nights of the Jack hosts Halloween season) is the home of Holiday Road, which due to COVID-19 was turned into a drive thru last year (like Jack was). Now it’s back to a seasonal stroll and the 2/3-mile walking trail is full of yuletide accoutrements and amusements including a Christmas village, lit-up walk-unders and more. Wear a coat as it gets chilly. tixr.com/groups/holidayroadusa
The Elf on the Shelf’s Magical Holiday Journey- Some of us find the whole “Elf on the Shelf” thing creepy, but kids today seem to love the little pointy headed guy. For them, this holiday happening should be better than even a Santa sighting. The storyline concerns Scout Elf Tiny Tinkerman who must go on a quest to build more Christmas Spirit. You “and your elf-loving crew” get magically shrunk down to elf size and embark on a fanciful Fairplex walk-thru. elfontheshelfjourney.com
Santa’s Speedway- Roll your sleigh into this NASCAR track in San Gabriel offering a two-mile light spectacular and winter wonderland that includes a 110-foot-tall tree of lights, 30 ft tall drive-thru ornaments, giant teddy bears, lit-up race cars, treats, sweets and North Pole style atmosphere. santasspeedway.com
Enchanted: Forest of Light- Descanso Gardens’ always does the holidays right and at night it becomes pretty triptastic with illuminated art installations, luminescent trees and psychedelic botanicals, and more glowing visual wonders. descansogardens.org/programs-events/enchanted/tickets
Sparkle DTLA- The Bloc in the Downtown Financial District, has one of the most beautiful purple-lit trees in town plus an oversized Christmas ornament you can enter, and a lot more. The shimmering spectacle is set to different holiday music selections on the hour, too. thebloclawith .com/event/sparkle-dtla
Lightscape- Moonlight Forest at the L.A. County Arboretum is branded as Lightscape this year and it’s a mile-long pathway of eye-popping brightness and merriment. arboretum.org/lightscape
South Coast Botanic Garden’s GLOW- We’d never been to these Palos Verdes grounds until Discoasis, but after doing so, we think GLOW will be a gas. The twinkling trek promises insane installations, set-ups and displays plus themed nights to help you get into the spirit and color-minded creations. southcoastbotanicgarden.org/glow
Plugging into L.A’s Theme Parks:
Six Flags Magic Mountain promises over 2 million(!) lights throughout the park at their Holiday in the Park, which also offers live music and dancers, smores and firepits, snow fall, and some chill thrill rollercoaster rides. sixflags.com/magicmountain
Christmas at Disneyland Resorts is undeniably even more magical than usual, with holiday makeovers of popular rides, various holiday-themed day and nighttime shows, A Christmas Fantasy Parade and the Believe… In Holiday Magic fireworks spectacular. Everything’s lit up in both parks, from Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, dripping with icicle lights, to the Haunted Mansion, done up Nightmare Before Christmas style with Jack Skellington taking over the holiday like only he can. Festive food and music add to the decked out Disneyness of it all. disneyland.disney.go.com
The Harry Potter-themed land at Universal Studios Hollywood naturally has a wintery feel and during the holidays the decor gets even more spirited, with lights and music in Hogsmeade Village and in the seasonally stocked stores. The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts projection show takes it all over the top. Also a must-see, Grinchmas, a “Who-lebration” with topsy-turvy 65 foot-tall Grinchmas tree in Universal Plaza, faux snowfall flurry, pics with the Grinch and his pooch Max, sweet treats, hot cocoa and more. universalstudioshollywood.com
This year, Knotts Merry Farm brings back all their holiday favorites: Home for the Holidays musical revue featuring classic seasonal tunes, the Merry Christmas, Snoopy! on ice show, the Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and Marley’s Wings musical and A Peanuts Guide to Christmas show, to name a few. knotts.com
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