It’s Thanksgiving week and here in Southern California the temperatures are reaching the mid 90’s. Admittedly this makes it hard to imagine getting bundled up and sipping hot chocolate. Despite the summer-like temperatures I want to make sure to get out enjoy what Los Angeles has to offer during the holiday season. Viewing holiday lights is a tradition for my family and there is no shortage of ways to enjoy these displays here in the L.A area. Whether it be strolling through a garden, driving through a neighborhood or watching boats float along the water, Los Angeles provides ample opportunities to get into the holiday spirit.
An Enchanted Evening at Descanso Gardens
Enchanted at Descanso Gardens is certainly worth a visit. I went for the first time last year with high expectations and was not disappointed. As you stroll along a mile long path in the gardens you’ll pass through various light displays, some interactive and others just beautiful to view. There are various food options available in the garden, everything from hot chocolate to the dinner package offered at Maple Restaurant which must be pre-purchased. Wear comfortable shoes and plan to bundle up as it can get chilly. During my visit last year in mid-December the temperature dipped into the low 40’s which, as any Angelino will tell you, is exceptionally cold! Tickets are $28 for timed entry and must be purchased in advance. The display runs through January 7, 2018.
Los Angeles Zoo Lights
Zoo Lights at the LA Zoo is another a popular holiday attraction. Like Enchanted this is a self-guided walking tour through a holiday light display, much of which is naturally animal themed. They offer hot cocoa as well as other holiday treats and visits with Santa on certain days (check the schedule). The experience takes approximately 60-90 minutes with ticket prices ranging from $10 – $19.95 per person. Zoo Lights runs from November 17th – January 7, 2018.
Boat Light Parades
What originally began as a Fourth of July lighted boat parade in 1908 still exists today as The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. 109 years ago nine canoes decorated with Japanese lanterns set out to become the first lighted boat parade. Now dozens of illuminated boats cruise the Newport Harbor drawing over a million viewers to see this floating light show. Visitors can view the parade from a variety of locations including Marina Park, strolling along the route or by dining at any number of restaurants which offer optimal viewing. The parade runs from December 13-17th and begins at 6:30 pm daily.
Marina Del Rey also offers a boat parade but for one night only, Saturday, December 9th. The parade is preceded by Snow Wonder which is a day of events taking place at Burton Chance Park including real snow, music, food, arts and crafts. The event culminates with fireworks and the boat parade from 6-8pm.
Drive Through Light Show
The area of Northeast Pasadena and Altadena offers a great drive for viewing Christmas lights. Beginning in Altadena is Christmas Tree Lane (Santa Rosa Ave. between Woodbury and Altadena Drive). This almost mile-long stretch of deodar trees was planted in 1885 by Altadena’s founder John Woodbury to line the driveway of his mansion (which was never built). In 1920 the 134 trees were lit for the first time, a tradition that is carried on by a group of volunteers who maintain the 10,000 lights for all to enjoy each Christmas. According to the Christmas Tree Lane Association, the lane holds the distinction of being the oldest large-scale lighted Christmas display in the world. The 97th annual lighting ceremony takes place on Saturday, December, 9th at 6 pm and the lights are illuminated throughout the holiday season.
From Christmas Tree Lane it’s a short 5-mile drive to Upper Hastings Ranch in Northeast Pasadena (East of Michellinda Blvd. and north of Sierra Madre Blvd. This neighborhood light display dates back to 1957 with each block having its own theme. The light display usually begins in mid-December and lasts until New Years.
Across town, you’ll find Candy Cane Lane in Woodland Hills which is another neighborhood light display put on by the residents. Drive through and enjoy the lights beginning on the second Saturday of December and lasting through the end of the year.
These are but a few of the places in the Los Angeles area where you can enjoy some beautiful decorations and light shows. Happy Holidays!