Los Angeles Culture Challenge for December 2017: Swedish Christmas Fair, CicLAvia, and PST:LA/LA

December offers many special events and activities. I challenge you to explore the richness of where we live. Here are some special events happening in the upcoming month. Mark your calendars, but please check suitability for family members and confirm dates and times before heading out.

A favorite Scandinavian event is here this month, SWEA’s 38th annual Swedish Christmas Fair, on Sunday, December 3. 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.

A favorite LA event takes place this month as well. CicLAvia returns to Wilshire Boulevard for its Iconic Wilshire Boulevard route on Sunday, December 10. There’s no better way to explore the city than on bike when the streets are closed to cars.

And finally, don’t forget to take advantage of the special months-long art initiative Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, an exploration of Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles, which ends in January (some exhibitions continue later). You can sort exhibitions by theme, neighborhood, venue, and media which makes the whole process of deciding what to see where less overwhelming. Some of the ones I have found most intriguing are listed below.

How will you explore the richness of Los Angeles this month?

* THROUGHOUT DECEMBER *

DTLA Holiday Lights Walking Tour, Meeting Point: Union Station, Downtown LA, nightly at 6:30 p.m. until December 30. Explore the richness of Downtown LA with the annual DTLA Holiday Lights Tour offered by DTLA 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, Grand Park with its illuminated fountain, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Broad Museum, Candle Cove at California Plaza, icicle sheets in the Old Bank District, and Pershing Square festivities. Adults $17, children 12 and under free. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit website.

Visualizing Language: Oaxaca in L.A., Central Library, Downtown LA, on display until January 31, 2018. The exhibition celebrates the rich social fabric of Los Angeles through the lens of the city’s vibrant Oaxacan community — specifically, the Zapotec communities which make up one of the largest Indigenous groups in Mexico and Los Angeles. The Oaxacan artist collective Tlacolulokos has created a series of new murals for the Central Library’s historic rotunda that explore language and culture as a key lifeline sustaining the shared experience between Mexico, Los Angeles, and beyond, with a look at how migration and the socio-political environment shape identity and cultural traditions. It is presented by The Library Foundation of LA and the LA Public Library as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.

Surface Tension by Ken Gonzales-Day: Murals, Signs, and Mark‐Making in LA, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, on display until February 25, 2018. See a new body of photographic work by interdisciplinary artist Ken Gonzales-Day examining the mural landscape of LA—from East LA to Venice Beach, from Pacoima to South LA. Featuring over 140 photographs, Surface Tension by Ken Gonzales-Day: Murals, Signs, and Mark‐Making in LA considers what the city’s walls reveal about its diverse communities. It is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.

Cuba Is, Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City, on display until March 4, 2018. Revealing complexities both on and off the island, Cuba Is explores aspects of Cuba not easily accessed by foreigners, and sometimes not even by Cubans themselves. Born from indigenous, African and European roots, divergent politics and limitations in communication and commerce, the Cuba seen in this exhibition goes beyond the folklore and offers new insight into its current reality. Over 120 photos feature subjects ranging from defiant youth known as “Frikis” to the hard-partying children of the 1%, the underground system of sharing digital content—“El paquete”—to Miami’s Chonga girls. It is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.

* WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 2 & 3 *

Edible Adventures: Little Tokyo Sushi Graze, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 12/2, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Listen to stories of the neighborhood while grazing on sushi made by Little Tokyo’s talented chefs. $64 members; $80 non-members. Food and museum admission included. Limited to 10 participants. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit website.

Transpacific Borderlands Art Workshop—Paper Flowers from the Camp Archives, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 12/2, 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Transpacific Borderlands exhibiting artist Shizu Saldamando will teach participants how to make paper roses using a flower pattern from the Manzanar concentration camp archives. For ages 11 and up. Limited to 20 participants. Included with museum admission. RSVPs are recommended.

38th Annual Swedish Christmas Fair, Torrance Cultural Arts Center, Torrance, Sunday, 12/3, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. The fair features artisans and stands presenting the best of Swedish fine art, handicrafts, 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.

Ancient Greece: Medusa Clay Masks (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 12/3, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Sunday, 12/3, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more! The 2 1/2 hour walking tour will take visitors to a number of off-the-beaten-track points of interest and will guide those interested in shopping to some of Chinatown’s best bargains and its trendiest shops. 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. Cost $20. Buy tickets at their website.

* WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 9 & 10 *

Origami with Ruthie Kitagawa: Holiday Wreath and Cards, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 12/9, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Get ready for the holidays and make cards and a wreath using origami techniques. $12 members, $15 non-members. Supplies and admission included. Limited to 10 participants. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit website.

CicLAvia: Iconic Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, Sunday, 12/10, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. CicLAvia heads back to Iconic Wilshire Boulevard as Koreatown, Westlake, and Downtown Los Angeles host the country’s largest open streets event. Streets will be closed to cars and open for cyclists, pedestrians, runners and skaters to use as a recreational space. You will enjoy the sights, music, food, and culture that make LA such a vibrant city.

Panama: Molas Winter Lights (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 12/10, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

Hanukkah Festival: LA/LA, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Sunday, 12/10, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Inspired by the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative, this year’s festival explores the themes of Hanukkah through the traditions of Los Angeles’s rich and diverse Latin American communities. Program includes music and dance, hands-on workshops, storytelling, exhibitions, dining, and shopping. For more information and to purchase advance tickets (recommended), visit website.

* WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 16 & 17 *

Jewelry Workshop—The World of Washi: Introductory Class, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 12/16, 11:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Washi is a traditional Japanese handmade decorative paper that dates back to the seventh century. Unlike machine-made paper from wood pulp, washi is made from the inner bark of plants such as mulberry, bamboo, wisteria, and hemp. The intertwining of fibers results in paper that is strong, durable, washable, and acid-free. Its thin, smooth, soft surface can be printed with vivid colors and complex designs. In this workshop led by Reiko Nakano, learn about the history of washi and how to apply it onto a variety of plumbing hardware like washers to create jewelry. Bring a shoebox or plastic case to hold materials, a pair of sharp scissors, and a lunch or snack. $32 members, $40 non-members. Museum admission included. Limited to 12 participants. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit website.

Las Posadas at Olvera Street, El Pueblo Historical Monument, Downtown LA, Saturday, 12/16 – Saturday, 12/24, 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Las Posadas has been a part of Olvera Street since its founding in 1930. Every evening beginning December 16 and continuing through Christmas Eve, the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem is reenacted with traditional songs, colorful costumes, and vibrant music. Festivities begin with a children’s piñata breaking. Free sweet bread and champurrado are given to all in attendance afterwards. While the event is rooted in Christian and Catholic traditions, it is attended by people from all religious backgrounds, and all are welcome to participate.

Mexico: Printmaking Otoni Patterns (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 12/17, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

13th Annual Los Angeles International Children’s Film Festival, Bing Theater and Brown Auditorium at LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 12/17, 10:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Presenting nearly 100 films from around the world—full-length and short animation, live action, and documentary films—the festival is organized for different age groups, from toddlers through teenagers. Select filmmakers and actors are present for Q&A sessions after each screening. Free and open to the public. Program schedule will be available at the NexGen table, located in the Los Angeles Times Central Court.

Kids in the Courtyard: Let’s Go Fly a Kite, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 12/17, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Paper plays a key role in Daoist ceremonies, as families often send petitions to the heavens using written documents that are carefully burned. Learn how to make a paper kite to share your own dreams and wishes for the New Year. Be sure to explore the power of paper in the How to Make the Universe Right: The Art of Priests and Shamans from Vietnam and Southern China exhibition.

* WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 23 & 24 *

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 12/23, 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Relive history and learn about present-day Little Tokyo with JANM docents. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Weather permitting. Cost is $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission included. Limited to 20 participants. To purchase tickets, please visit website.

58th Annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Music Center, Downtown LA, Sunday, 12/24, 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. 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 2:30 p.m. First come, first seated. People begin lining up early. The show is also broadcast live in Southern California on PBS SoCal (KOCE) and live streamed on pbssocal.org.

* WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 30 & 31 *

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 12/30, 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Relive history and learn about present-day Little Tokyo with JANM docents. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Weather permitting. Cost is $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission included. Limited to 20 participants. To purchase tickets, please visit website.

Feel free to add events for the current month in the comments below. I also welcome feedback on any events you have attended. If you have suggestions about future events and celebrations to include in upcoming months, please email me the details. Thank you!

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