What’s Happening: Holiday Magic and Lights in the Valley, Los Angeles and beyond

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I love the holidays. Not just because chestnuts are roasting in an open fire or because friends and family will gather to celebrate. Not even for the delicious scents of pine and cinnamon wafting through the air, or the decadent holiday sweets. Those are all good reasons to love the holidays, mind you. But I have another.

I like sparkly things.

That’s right. I admit it. I love holiday lights and décor, as much now as I did when I was a child driving around with my grandparents, oohing and ahing over the lavish holiday light displays in my favorite hometown neighborhoods. All of those shimmering twinkle lights seemed to create the kind of magic I never wanted to stop believing in.

Assuming I am not the only one with this childlike passion, I’ve put together a list of some of some wonderful holiday lighting ceremonies and community events in and around Los Angeles. You should absolutely attend your local holiday lighting festivities, but since the holidays come only once a year, why stop there? The festivities start this week…get jinglin’!


Magnolia Park Holiday in the Park Burbank

Magnolia Park presents Holiday in the Park Burbank.

Magnolia Park Partnership presents Holiday in the Park, a district-wide open house party that meanders from store-to-store and covers 16-blocks on Magnolia Boulevard between Buena Vista and Pass Avenue and on Hollywood Way between Chandler and Clark in Burbank. It’s a seasonal celebration that includes more than 100 shops and restaurants, attracts thousands of revelers and happens Friday, November 20 from 5:30-9:30 pm Holiday in the Park is free and open to the public.

Now in its 20th year, this neighborhood classic is a feast for the senses with scores of in-store events, free gifts, tantalizing treats and street caroling on every block. Attendees are invited to wander from store-to-store, or they can participate in the treasure hunt that is detailed in the special Holiday in the Park Passport and map. Featuring nearly 50 enticing events happening at Magnolia Park businesses, all that the participant needs to do is to get stamped at 15 locations in order to be eligible for grand prizes. Passports are available at any Magnolia Park merchant, or can be downloaded at www.magnoliaparkburbank.org.

In addition to the store-to-store entertainment, there will be six Fun Zones along Magnolia Boulevard including: A Main Stage with free community performances all evening at Lima Street,  Story Telling Corner with readings by professional storytellers courtesy of Burbank Public Library at Niagara Street, Free Photos with Santa at Fairview Street, Community Fun with Fire and Police Department vehicles and more at Avon Street, Holiday Food & Fun with cookie decorating courtesy of Porto’s Bakery and other activities at Cordova Street, A Kidszone where kids can learn circus treats, see stilt walkers and interact with holiday characters at Screenland Drive.

During the evening, everyone is invited to listen to live music, watch ice sculptors at work, experience roving entertainment, sample refreshments and ride the free London open-top double-decker buses that connect all of the activities.

Lights at Two Rodeo in Beverly Hills

Lights at Two Rodeo in Beverly Hills


If you can’t go over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house, why not just go over the canyon and through the hills?

On November 21, the fun begins at 3 p.m. with family activities and entertainment, and culminates with the 7 p.m. lighting of thousands of twinkle lights and the exquisite 12,000-crystal UNICEF snowflake above the Beverly Wilshire Hotel by special celebrity guest, Rebecca Mader who co-stars in the feature film, “Men Who Stare at Goats.”

Stroll amidst twinkling lights and falling snowflakes as the Golden Triangle is transformed into a magical wonderland with carolers, musicians, jugglers and artists. Don’t forget to visit Santa and Mrs. Claus, who will be on hand for complimentary photos. For a complete list of holiday happenings, including a decadent tea at Greystone Mansion, go to: www.LoveBeverlyHills.org. Details: November 21, 3- 7 p.m. 200 block of Rodeo Drive.


On November 27 at 6 p.m., Santa will make a pit stop at Pasadena’s One Colorado Courtyard to help light a 35-foot tree during the One Colorado Tree Lighting Ceremony. Spectators can enjoy holiday sing-a-longs and the official start of the Charles Cherniss’ Tournament of Toys, along with a special appearance by the 92nd Rose Queen. For more information, call: 626-564-1066 or visit: www.onecolorado.com


The Moorpark and Tujunga Village Holiday Open House is always a welcome neighborhood event.  Come down to the Village on Saturday, December 5 from 4-9 pm.   The street will be become a pedestrian walkway. All the stores and restaurants will be open with free refreshments and other exciting fare.  Strolling Dickens Carolers and bands will be featured, along with stilt walkers, bell ringers, bagpipers,  Santa Claus and more! Located at Moorpark and Tujunga Avenues in Studio City.


The Studio City Parade  Photos: Barry Wise/Gary Leonard  Courtesy: Studio City Chamber of Commerce

The Studio City Parade Photos: Barry Wise/Gary Leonard Courtesy: Studio City Chamber of Commerce

The Studio City Residents Association (SCRA) is presenting this year’s Studio City Holiday Parade with the theme “Stars Shine Bright,” on Sunday, December 6, 2009 at 5:30 p.m. The parade will take the traditional route down Ventura Blvd., from Whitsett to Laurel Canyon. According to the SCRA, this year’s parade will be bigger and better than ever with more floats, music – including area high school bands and performance groups – VIPs and participation from schools, community groups, retailers and more. “Stars Shine Bright,” honors both the heritage of Studio City in the film industry as well as all of the people who make Studio City a great place to live, work and shop. Studio City’s community “stars” make the neighborhood shine, from educating children to protecting property to helping our neighbors, just to name a few ways. The parade typically attracts 2,500 attendees or more so parade watchers are encourage to come early to park and grab a place along Ventura Blvd (between Whitsett and Laurel Canyon) to get the best view. Check it out on Facebook www.studiocityresidents.org


Griffith Park Festival of Lights

Griffith Park Festival of Lights

December 4 through December 30, Griffith Park will become a dazzling wonderland with millions of twinkle lights in the annual The DWP Festival of Lights, sponsored by the LA Department of Water and Power. This year, to demonstrate a commitment to a “greener” LA, the light festival will be a pedestrian only (vehicle-free) event from December 4-December 17. Vehicles may drive through and shuttles will be available Dec 18-30. Visitors may park at the L.A. Zoo parking lot on a first-come, first-served basis. If you are walking, make sure to wear comfortable shoes and dress warmly – it is a full one-mile route each way. Location: 4730 Crystal Springs Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027 Directions: To drive through the Light Festival, Exit the Golden State Fwy. (5) at Los Feliz. Go west on Los Feliz and turn right onto Crystal Springs Drive and proceed to the entrance of the Light Festival. To view the Light Festival by foot on the walking path, park at the south end of the L.A. Zoo parking lot (follow signs for the LA Zoo off the 5 Freeway). Closer to the holidays, shuttles are provided from the parking lot. Note: During peak hours, the wait to drive through can be over an hour. Monday to Thursday have shorter wait times. Visit www.dwplightfestival.com or call (213) 367-1255 for the most current information.


The Mission Inn and The Riverside Festival of Lights  Photo: www.riverside.ca

The Mission Inn and The Riverside Festival of Lights Photo: www.riverside.ca

With one flip of a switch on November 27 at 6:15 p.m., Riverside’s downtown is instantly illuminated with more than three and a half million twinkling lights and spectacular fireworks! The “Switch On Ceremony” of the 17th annual Festival of Lights is presented by Duane and Kelly Roberts, owners of The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, and coordinated by The Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce and the Festival of Lights Committee, which is made up of community volunteers and local businesses. The magic continues at an outdoor ice skating rink, located on Main Street Riverside between University and Mission Inn Avenues. Ice rink hours from November 27 to December 19 are 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday; noon to 11 p.m. on Saturday; and noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday. Starting December 20, the ice rink hours will be noon to 11 p.m. everyday. In addition to the lighting ceremony and ice-skating, there is also shopping and dining along the quaint Main Street Riverside. Santa Claus will be out every night from November 27 to December 24. Photos with Santa Claus will be available for purchase. For more information visit www.RiversideFestivalofLights.com.


The annual Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade and fireworks will be held on Saturday evening, December 12 between 6 and 8 p.m. The parade boats will circle the Marina main channel several times. As in previous years, the parade boats will be judged on Saturday evening. The main viewing point is at Burton Chace Park, 13650 Mindanao Way, but you can also see the parade from any number of restaurants in the Marina. For more info on viewing points or entry fees for boats, go to: www.mdrboatparade.org/home.htm


The Venice Canals Holiday Boat Parade  Photo: yovenice.com

The Venice Canals Holiday Boat Parade Photo: yovenice.com

Speaking of boat parades, if you miss the one in Marina Del Rey, you can still check out the 28th annual Venice Canals Holiday Boat Parade on Sunday, December 13, starting at 4 p.m. There you can soak in the colorful display of small boats, canoes and kayaks in this miniature mirror-image of Venice, Italy. For more info: www.venicechamber.chambermaster.com

And if  you can’t hit one of these neighborhood events, there are some great lighting events at the following malls…


110 foot Tree at the Americana at Brand.

110 foot Tree at the Americana at Brand.

The holiday season arrives in Glendale with the second annual tree lighting celebration on Thursday, November 19 at 7:30 p.m. at The Americana at Brand. The evening will feature live performances by music sensation OneRepublic whose sophomore album “Waking Up” was just released and is the follow up to their multi-platinum debut album “Dreaming Out Loud.” Their new single “All the Right Moves” is a current radio hit. Also performing will be talented entertainer Drew Seeley who co-wrote “Getcha Head in the Game” for the quadruple platinum “High School Musical” soundtrack and co-starred in High School Musical: The Concert and most recently Another Cinderella Story. An exhilarating tap dance performance from  twin brothers Sean and John who have appeared on “Dancing with the Stars” will light up the stage as will a live performance by the powerful Russian Tenors.

The evening will also include a special appearance by the country’s favorite adventurer and star of the hit animated television series, Dora the Explorer, eye-popping magic tricks and holiday music and Christmas favorites sung by an inspirational choir accompanied by a full orchestra.

The celebration will conclude with a visit from Santa and the lighting of the majestic 110-foot Christmas tree decorated with 10,000 lights and 15,000 ornaments.   889 Americana Way Glendale, CA 91210(877) 897-2097  www.americanaatbrand.com


The Promenade at Westlake’s 65-foot white fir Christmas tree from Mt. Shasta will make its grand debut at the annual tree lighting celebration on Friday, November 20 at 7:00 p.m. with 4,000 sparkling lights and 2,500 holiday ornaments. The community is invited to The Promenade’s spectacular holiday show, which includes the dramatic lighting of the tree, live musical performances, special guests, the arrival of Santa Claus and a breathtaking fireworks show. The Promenade at Westlake is located at Westlake Boulevard and Thousand Oaks Boulevard.


Santa's House at The Grove

Santa's House at The Grove

The annual free “Hollywood Christmas Celebration at The Grove,” on Sunday, November 22 at 7:30 p.m. kicks off the holiday season in Los Angeles. The evening will include a mesmerizing performance by the Emmy-nominated, multi-talented performing troupe, Cirque du Soleil and live musical performances by two-time Grammy-award winner and celebrated Latin singer-songwriter, John Secada, who has sold more than 20 million albums throughout his career and two-time Grammy-award winner and 80’s pop icon, singer Sheena Easton, who rose to fame with her smash hits “For Your Eyes Only” and “Morning Train.”

The celebration will continue with performances from Nick Jr.’s energetic pop performing quartet, The Fresh Beat Band; talented brothers Christopher Massey who has appeared on the Emmy-nominated Nickelodeon show, Zoey 101 and Kyle Massey who starred in the Disney Channel hit sitcom’s That’s So Raven and Corey in the House; actor and musician Devon Werkheiser best known for his role as Ned Bigby on the Nickelodeon sitcom Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide; a toe-tapping performance by country music sensation Lonestar sure to keep the crowd on its feet and holiday music performed by The Los Angeles Gospel Choir.

Celebrity appearances by well-known actor Dean Cain, who reprised the role of superman in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and soon to be seen in ABC Family’s upcoming holiday movie The Dog who Saved Christmas and talented singer and actress Della Reese, admired for her long standing role as “Tess” on the hit show Touched by an Angel will be a highlight of the evening. The festivities will conclude with a visit from Santa, lighting of the brilliant 100-foot Christmas tree followed by snow falling and a stunning fireworks display. **Public Notice: After the center has reached its maximum capacity, entry to the holiday show will be closed. Very early arrival is recommended for those wishing to get good views of the stage.**

Sherman Oaks Galleria has a Christmas Tree and Menorah lighting.

Sherman Oaks Galleria has a Christmas Tree and Menorah lighting.


The Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is taking place on Thursday, December 3 at 6pm. There’s activities and entertainment for the entire family! Free photos with Santa, musical entertainment, arts and crafts for kids, face painting, the Millikan Middle School Choir and much more!  Come back on December 14 at 6 pm for  Hannukah when the giant menorah will be lit.  Sepulveda and Ventura Blvd. www.shermanoaksgalleria.com

Jennifer Evans Gardner is a food and travel writer, cookbook author, and owner of the Little Feet in the Kitchen cooking school. Formerly Editor-in-Chief for PeterGreenberg.com, Jennifer has also written for huffingtonpost.com, ePregnancy, Eating, Santa Barbara, and Kiwi, among other publications. Watch for ther upcoming articles on cakes and cocktails in the Los Angeles Times. www.jenevansgardner.com

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.