I don't know about you, but as soon as December 1st hits each year I find myself wanting to be immediately immersed in anything having to do with the holidays. I want to skip down streets adorned with Christmas lights, listen to holiday music on repeat, and drink hot cocoa under a huge Christmas tree surrounded by holiday cheer. The holidays can often feel magical, and I want that magic swirling around me all month long.
When I lived in places like Boston and New York City, that holiday feeling wasn't hard to find. Both are very walkable cities, and it felt like every block had the opportunity to stumble upon something holiday-related. That coupled with the fact that it's pretty cold on the east coast in December lent itself well to getting into a festive mood.
In Los Angeles, it's a little different. The weather has still been in the high 60s to low 70s this year, and since we're not as much of a walking city, if you want to find holiday cheer, you have to know where to look. I think because of all this, I tend to be a bit late in trying to figure out my holiday plans. We're already in December and I'm just now thinking, "Hmmm, what holiday events could I maybe attend in Los Angeles before I fly home in a few weeks?" I'm a planner, but something about the holidays in LA always seems to throw me off my game.
It is very possible to find fantastic holiday events without flying to a colder city with a more classic Christmas movie feel. You can find them right here in Los Angeles — and you can even find them a little last minute. This is my slightly last-minute list for the slightly last-minute holiday planners. If you're interested in finding something festive to do in Los Angeles this holiday season, here are a few events I've found that are definitely worth attending.
Handmade Holiday Market
TITO Art & Design, a business in Downtown LA that specializes in making quirky, unique art and furniture, is hosting their first holiday market this year at their space in the Arts District. There are nine other vendors listed on their site who will be in attendance, offering things like candles, rugs, pillows, bags, jewelry, and more. In addition to all of the fun shopping, there will also be caroling, games, holiday-themed food and drinks, and raffle giveways. If you RSVP to the event, you even get a free holiday cocktail. What could be better?
When/Where: Saturday, December 11th, TITO Art & Design in Downtown LA, 12pm to 6pm
Ticket Price: Free
Donna’s Holigay Market
Hot Donna's Clubhouse, an all-inclusive space for queer, lesbian, trans, and non-bianary individuals, is hosting a holiday market (or holigay market as it's so beautifully named) featuring queer owned businesses and artists. There will be over 30 queer vendors in attendance, the majority of whom represent the trans, black and indigenous communities. The lineup of stuff being offered is super unique, from organic medicine to vegan baked goods and everything in between. In addition to all the wares, there will also be games, speed dating, and even a moon bounce. All ages and pets are welcome for this wonderfully inclusive holiday market.
Where/When: Saturday, December 11th, The Old Lodge at Elysian Park, 12pm to 5pm
Ticket Price: $7
Unique LA Holiday Market
The Unique Markets, a woman and POC-owned business that aims to help small businesses grow and thrive, is hosting a holiday market this year in Downtown LA that will showcase 150 different designers, brands, and artists. The possibilties for what you can find at this market are practically endless. There will also be free drinks, DIY gift-wrapping, and free holiday portraits available, just to sweeten the deal even more. There are even VIP tickets available, in case you're feeling extra fancy, that include access to the VIP lounge, a limited edition Unique Markets enamel pin, and samples from select brands.
When/Where: Saturday and Sunday, December 11th and 12th, ROW DTLA in Downtown Los Angeles, 10am to 4pm
Ticket Price: $12
Handmade Market Collective's Holiday Market
The Handmade Market Collective describes themselves as "a community bazaar making its way through California." They specialize in bringing unique specialty goods, made by local artists and creators, to each market. While there doesn't seem to be a list on their website of the vendors attending at this time, if you head to their Instagram page, they've been highlighting some of the creators who will be there. From jewelry to Christmas cards to ceramic mugs and ornaments, everything that will be featured at this market was made with dedication and love.
When/Where: Sunday, December 12th, Hugos Tacos Parking Lot in Atwater Village, 10am to 2pm
Ticket Price: Free
Lightscape at The Arboretum
Lightscape is a mile-long installation of art, light, and music that is basically the manifestation of holiday spirit. Wander through the famous L.A. Arboretum at night and watch the place come to life with all different kinds of light displays. Make sure to wear some cozy clothing or buy a hot drink to warm you up. In the cool air under the dark sky surrounded by lights, you may even forget you're in Los Angeles for a second.
When/Where: Now through January 16th at the L.A. Arboretum in Arcadia
Ticket Price: $18 to $32
Enchanted Forest of Light at Descanso Gardens
The Enchanted Forest of Light is an interactive lighting experience that takes place throughout a mile long walk through the most beautiful parts of Descanso Gardens. While each area features bright lights glittering in the darkness, no two areas are exactly alike. There are light gardens and music and interactive light paths and stained glass lights and so much more to explore. Bring a jacket, purchase a snack or a hot beverage when you get there, and wander through a forest filled with magical lights and so much holiday cheer.
When/Where: Now through January 9th at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge
Ticket Price: $25 to $35
Santa and Snowfall at The Grove
No matter what time of day you go, holiday time at The Grove is always a sight worth seeing. Between the lights and the tree, it's such a festive, lovely experience, and if you go in the evening, you can take all that holiday cheer to the next level by watching the Santa and Snowfall event. Every night during the holiday season at 7pm and 8pm (5pm, 6pm, and 7pm on Christmas Eve), Santa Claus takes a ride on the trolley and waves to everyone watching down below. To make things even more magical, there's snow falling down as he makes his rounds, making this an event that deifnitely shouldn't be missed. Snow in LA? Imagine that.
When/Where: Now through December 24th, The Grove, 7pm and 8pm
Ticket Price: Free