December is always a busy time with the winter holidays approaching, but if you have some time left over, there’s plenty of special cultural events happening. Los Angeles is one of the most diverse metropolitan areas in the United States. I challenge you to take advantage of what Los Angeles has to offer and to discover the richness of where we live. Choose one or two events and mark your calendars, but please check suitability for family members and confirm dates and times before heading out.
Another of my favorite Scandinavian events happens this month, the Swedish Christmas Fair. It’s a busy, festive one-day affair which always leaves me with a cozy Christmas feeling. If you go, make sure to time your visit so that you are there for the Lucia pageant at 12pm or 3pm.
How will you explore the diverse richness of Los Angeles this month?
* THROUGHOUT DECEMBER *
DTLA Holiday Lights Walking Tour, Meeting Point: Union Station, Downtown LA, nightly at 6:30pm until December 30. Explore the richness of Downtown LA with the annual DTLA Holiday Lights Tour, offered by Downtown LA Walking Tours. It is a two-hour nightly tour of the festive holiday decorations and traditions in Downtown LA from the weekend after Thanksgiving through the weekend after Christmas. The tour begins at Union Station and highlights include Las Posadas at Olvera Street, Broad Museum, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Grand Park with its illuminated fountain, Nutcracker Village at California Plaza, icicle sheets in the Old Bank District, and Pershing Square festivities. Adults $15, children 12 and under free. Please visit website to reserve and purchase tickets.
* WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 3 & 4 *
The Undiscovered Chinatown Tour, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 12/3, 10:30am-1pm. Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures, not to mention great bargains, to be found in Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A.’s Chinatown. You must RSVP as group size is limited. This tour is offered every first Saturday of the month.
India: Sari Designs Printing on Fabric (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 12/4, 10am-12pm. Join instructors for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured. All materials are provided.
37th Annual Swedish Christmas Fair, Torrance Cultural Arts Center, Torrance, Sunday, 12/4, 10am-5pm. The fair features artisans and stands presenting the best of Swedish fine art, handicraft, books, jewelry, toys, decorations, and much more. Enjoy a traditional Swedish lunch or “fika” (coffee break) with delicious home baked sweets. You can even enjoy an invigorating glass of hot glögg (mulled wine). The radiant Lucia pageant is performed twice during the day, at noon and at 3pm. There’s also a children’s corner with crafts, games, and a possible visit with Santa.
Kids in the Courtyard: Impressive Prints, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Sunday, 12/4, 1pm-4pm. Admire the monumental prints on view in Nkame: A Retrospective of Cuban Printmaker Belkis Ayón, and then create a printed masterpiece with foam printing plates and ink.
* WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 10 & 11 *
Los Angeles International Children’s Film Festival, LACMA, Saturday, 12/10, & Sunday, 12/11. The 12th annual Los Angeles International Children’s Film Festival will present more than 100 films from around the world—full-length and short animation, live action, and documentary films—organized for different age groups, from toddlers through teens. Select filmmakers and actors will be present for Q&A sessions after each screening.
Mexico: Colima Animal Vessels in Clay (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 12/11, 10am-12pm. Join instructors for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured. All materials are provided.
* WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 17 & 18 *
Las Posadas at Olvera Street, El Pueblo Historical Monument, Downtown LA, Friday, 12/16, – Saturday, 12/24, 6pm-8:30pm. Every evening beginning December 16th and continuing through Christmas Eve, the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem is portrayed with singing, ballet folklorico entertainment, a candlelight procession on Olvera Street, and a children’s piñata breaking.
Debbie Allen’s The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Downtown LA, Friday, 12/16, 7:30pm, and Saturday, 12/17, 1pm and 7pm. Following the idea of the original, it’s Christmas Eve and the Johnsons are having a grand party. The Christmas gifts are shared and young Kara receives a Nutcracker filled with hot chocolate – her favorite. She falls asleep and the journey begins when the Nutcracker comes alive! Kara takes the audience on a mystical, magical journey, from Candy Cane Land, Egypt, the Indian Rainforest, Bollywood, Jazzland, and the Land of the Kimono Dolls. With dazzling choreography, music and costumes, this is a holiday theater experience that all ages will enjoy. Must buy tickets in advance.
Edible Adventures: Little Tokyo Sushi Graze, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 12/17, 10am-2pm. Take a stroll through Little Tokyo and sample the many varieties of sushi, from makizushi to chirashi zushi. In between stops, listen to sushi masters tell stories that evoke the 130-year history of the neighborhood. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. $64 for members, $80 for non-members. Food and museum admission are included. Limited to 12 participants.
Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 12/17, 10:15am-12:15pm. Relive history and learn about present-day Little Tokyo with JANM docents. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Weather permitting. Buy tickets in advance. $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission is included. Limited to 20 participants.
Aloha Kalikimaka: Halau Holiday Celebration, Aratani Theatre, Downtown LA, Saturday, 12/17, 7pm. Join four beloved Southern California Kumu Hula and their award-winning halau as they come together to share this aloha and holiday-infused dance and music performance. Little Tokyo residents also join in the celebration with a special performance by Ukuleles for Little Tokyo. Discover and experience the unique spiritual connections of Hawai’i. For ticket information, visit website.
Austria: Klimt Inspired Holiday Cards Using Collage and Paint (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 12/18, 10am-12pm. Join instructors for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured. All materials are provided.
Hanukkah Family Festival: Light for the People, Skirball Cultural Center, Sunday, 12/18, 11am-4pm. This year’s festival honors the light of creativity and hope that helps the whole community achieve great things together. Revel in the spirit of the holiday with music, dance, printmaking, storytelling, and other family-friendly fun. Families of all backgrounds are welcome.
Kids in the Courtyard: Beautiful Boxes, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Sunday, 12/18, 1pm-4pm. Sometimes the box is the most special part of a gift. Explore the inventive ways artists adorned and filled boxes in The Box Project: Uncommon Threads, and then collage your own gift box for the winter’s festivities.
* WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 24 & 25 *
57th Annual LA County Holiday Celebration, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Music Center, Saturday, 12/24, 3pm-6pm. Community and professional choirs, music ensembles, and dance companies representing the diverse cultures and holiday traditions of the region celebrate the season during this free three-hour holiday show. Doors open at 2:30pm. Entertainment on the plaza begins at 12:30pm. You may come and go throughout the three-hour performance.
* WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 31 & JANUARY 1 *
It’s Kwanzaa Time, Leimert Park Village, Saturday, 12/31, 10am-7pm. Bring the family and join the community Kwanzaa Heritage Festival and Block Parade. Block Parade begins at 10am followed by a candle lighting ceremony at 12pm. There will be live music, traditional dancing, drum circle, fashion show, authentic crafts, international food court and exotic foods, children’s village, and health pavilion.
Oshogatsu Festival in Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, Sunday, 1/1, 11am-4pm. The 19th annual “Oshogatsu in Little Tokyo” celebrates the traditions of the New Year Celebration in Japan. Attendees can enjoy Taiko drumming, martial arts performances, lion dances, folk music and dancing, sake breaking ceremony, calligraphy, Mochi making, crafts and games for children, and more. Festivities occur at three locations in Little Tokyo.