What To Do In Los Angeles In December 2023

The winter holidays ring a little differently in Los Angeles. Emergency parkas come out when it’s 60 degrees, and you’ll soon start spotting socks with Crocs at your local Coffee Bean. What to do in Los Angeles for the holidays is limited only by your imagination and willingness to brave a lineup of Teslas with Rudolph antlers and red noses on the way into Descanso Gardens. As we get into December, here’s how to celebrate the season in true SoCal style.

The Squid Game Gets Real

Netflix’s immersive experience Squid Game: The Trials opens in Los Angeles on December 6, bringing an IRL component to the wildly popular Korean TV series. The end game is obviously less bloodthirsty than the one on screen but you’ll need to think on your feet as you tackle a series of escalating high-tech challenges, accumulating points as you go. The on-site night market has a menu by Chef Katianna Hong, of Korean-Americana restaurant, Yangban. Tickets are limited and must be purchased online in advance by visiting squidgamethetrials.com, where you can find more details.

Holiday Glow Up

Once again, the hills of La Cañada are aglow with ethereal wonders at Descanso Gardens’ Enchanted: Forest of Light. The interactive nighttime display features a one-mile walk through luminous greenery (and blue-ery, yellow-ery, and silver-ery, too). My favorite part is the entire town of twinkling stained glass by contemporary sculptor Tom Fruin. Way across the county in Palos Verdes, Astra Lumina offers a similarly cosmic stroll through celestial holiday pathways that will make you go, ho-ho-whoa!

Ice Ice, Baby!

Let go of the SoCal dream of surfing and skiing in the same day. Nobody actually makes that schlep. A much easier combo is catching a wave and carving figure 8s. The city’s largest ice rink spreads out in front of the Crypto.com Arena, but you can also hit the ice in Santa Monica, by the sea in Palos Verdes or at Santa’s Village at SkyPark. Once you’re out of your wetsuit, check out the best places in and around town to make like Blades of Glory.

Ahoy, Mateys!

Holiday boats are the ultimate L.A. December experience. Everybody else in the country is freezing and you’re out there in a hoodie and captain’s hat singing along to the late great Jimmy Buffett. Santas on yachts can be found all around the county, starting with the Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade (December 9), the Newport Beach Boat Parade (December 13 to 17) and the Naples Long Beach Boat Parade (December 16).

Outdoor Screen Dreams

Watching movies outside surrounded by historic Victorian buildings? Yep, that’s a December-in-LA thing, too. The lineup of fun flicks at Heritage Square’s Yuletide Cinemaland starts with Edward Scissorhands (December 10), Elf (December 15), Home Alone (December 16), The Muppet Christmas Carol (December 17), a tribute to Tim Burton (December 18) and The Holiday (December 19). It’s a festive night out on Arroyo Seco Parkway in the Montecito Heights neighborhood.

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