LOS ANGELES — While public health officials are urging residents to continue to be cautious after identifying several cases of the omicron variant in the state, there are still many festive events returning this holiday season.
Most will continue to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines, so be sure to check their website for the latest requirements. Here are some festive happenings around SoCal.
LA Zoo Lights
The LA Zoo Lights returns with more glowing animals, the world’s largest illuminated pop-up storybook, giant glittering snowflakes, and more. This year’s event also features weekend entertainment and activities. Visitors age 12 and older are required to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of entering the zoo, and those 18 and older must also provide a matching photo ID. The tickets, which start at $15 for members, are available online.
59th annual Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade
Enjoy the festivities from popular viewing spots such as Fisherman’s Village, Burton Chace Park or a waterfront restaurant. After the COVID-19 pandemic canceled last year’s free event, the parade returns this year with the theme Joy on the Water. The parade will honor local heroes, including the doctors and nurses who have cared for the community. Fireworks at 5:55 p.m. will kick off the event, with the parade starting at 6 p.m.
From the same team that brought Nights of the Jack to the King Gillette Ranch comes Holiday Road. This year, the drive-through experience is a 2/3-mile walking trail that includes a small Christmas village, archways of lights and more. Timed tickets are available per person, and the cost depends on the day.
Elf on the Shelf Magical Holiday Journey
The holiday spirit continues to run low this year, and attendees to this immersive theatrical event must muster some cheer to help Santa get back to the North Pole. This holiday event is based on the 2005 children’s book “The Elf on the Shelf” and runs through Jan. 2, 2022, at the Fairplex in Pomona. Tickets start at $24.95 for those 13 years and older and $19.95 for children. The experience will follow social distancing rules and all current Los Angeles County and state health and safety precautions.
Dodgers Holiday Festival
The holiday celebration at the home of the boys in blue will look a little different this year. Instead of a drive-thru holiday experience, the celebration is taking place at the newly-renovated Centerfield Plaza. There will be nightly entertainment, an ice skating rink, scenic and light displays, holiday-themed food and beverage and an opportunity to take photos with Santa. The festival runs nightly from 5 to 11 p.m. through Dec. 24. Admission starts at $55 per vehicle.
South Coast Botanic Garden Glow
The botanic garden promises to make a splash after dipping its toe last year. For its sophomore year, the garden has been transformed into a colorful experience that transports visitors into an oceanic experience for its Garden Lights and Ocean Waters theme. Food, drink and music will await those attending the after-dark walk-through, which will require wearing a mask for those not fully vaccinated. Visitors will have to purchase timed tickets starting at $34.95 for non-members, $24.95 for members, and free for children under 4 years old. The event runs through Jan. 17, 2022. Note that this experience includes loud music and flashing lights.
Enchanted Forest of Light
Descanso Gardens’ popular one-mile walk display is back after a more subdued event took its place last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The colorful lights, music, interactive spaces and Instagram-worthy photo opportunities await visitors. The popular destination already has sold-out days and is closed on Dec. 24 and 25 but runs through Jan. 9, 2022. Descanso Gardens is following current LA County health guidelines. Proof of vaccine is not required, but visitors must wear masks in indoor spaces. Visitors will need timed tickets to stroll the garden from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $25 to $28 for Descanso Gardens members and $32–$35 for non-members.
Six Flags Magic Mountain’s Winter Wonder Lands
From coasters to hot cocoa, Six Flags visitors will get to enjoy it all at the park’s eight themed areas with festive music and lights. The theme park will transport visitors to Santa’s Village, Gleampunk District, Peppermint Path and more on select days through Jan. 2. New this year is HollyRock!, a ’50s rockability-inspired holiday extravaganza that includes a 22-foot tree, classic cars and festive “oldies” music. Full vaccination verification or a negative COVID-19 test with a photo ID will be required for those 12 and up from Dec. 26 to Jan. 3. Six Flags is not the only theme park that has transformed for the holidays, Disneyland Resort did so in early November.
Candy Cane Lane
Blow up festive balloons, lights and music line the streets of a Woodland Hills neighborhood that yearly puts on a show. At Lubao Avenue and Oxnard Street, residents join forces to show their holiday spirit and pedestrians and drivers can check out the festive holiday decor nightly. The residential neighborhood can get lots of foot traffic and parking is limited, so slow it down if you’re driving around the block and keep the noise to a minimum. Some of the intricate displays also have festive music to enjoy.
Knott’s Merry Farm
Through Jan. 2, Knott’s Berry Farm will be the backdrop to a host of holiday festivities, and all while decked out with twinkle lights, festive garland and giant snowflakes. Visitors will get to be crafty at the Christmas Craft Village and wish Snoopy a Merry Christmas as his ice show returns with the Peanuts. A Christmas tree also will be lit nightly. Tickets start at $64. Those who are not fully vaccinated will be required to wear face coverings indoors. Also, note that the theme park has gone cashless, so don’t forget a credit card or Apple or Google pay.
Christmas in Color at Raging Waters
This animated light show with giant snowmen, candy canes and arched pathways returns with millions of lights synchronized to holiday music that you’ll be able to hear through your radio. Advanced tickets are required, and it’s $40 per vehicle. The drive-thru event runs daily from 5:30 to 10 p.m. through Jan. 2 and will be closed on Christmas day.
Santa Ana Winter Village
This monthlong family-friendly event officially kicks off at 6 p.m. Dec. 9 with a tree lighting ceremony and special guests, including Santa Ana Mayor Vicente Sarmiento and the Anaheim Ducks mascot Wild Wing. The free event, including trackless rides and Santa Claus, runs through Jan. 2. Located at the Orange County Civic Center, it also will feature the city’s first outdoor ice-skating rink next to City Hall. The community event is part of the city’s Revive Santa Ana pandemic recovery initiative that aims to promote its historic downtown.
Christmas on the Farm
Purchase a Christmas tree, ride a tractor-drawn wagon, take a photo with Santa, participate in holiday arts and crafts, and more daily at Underwood Farms through Dec. 24. The admission cost is $9 per person on weekdays, and tickets can be purchased at the door. Weekend tickets are $12 and must be purchased online. The farm is following the Ventura County Public Health rules and does not require face masks as all activities take place outdoors.
A Nostalgic Christmas in the Woods at Santa’s Village
Through Jan. 2, Santa’s Village will celebrate the holidays, but visitors are encouraged to plan ahead, so they don’t get their “tinsel in a tangle” as it gets busy during this time. There’s so much to do, including ice skating, cookie decorating and wandering through the Fantasy Forest of Lights. Same-day reservations are also required to see the big guy. Tickets start at $59 for children ages 4-12 and $69 for adults.
Night of Lights OC
This one-mile drive-thru experience at the OC Fair and Event Center will showcase over one million lights, Christmas tree lighting and holiday music. Visitors also will get to purchase food from food trucks on-site, including Old Thyme Ice Cream, West Coast Weenies and Moms Bake Shoppe. Ticket costs are per vehicle and start at $39.99.