December 2019: Los Angeles Culture Challenge (Bonus: Norwegian Christmas Series on Netflix!)

December offers many special seasonal events which highlight the diverse richness of Los Angeles! Which will you put on your calendar?

The season of Scandinavian Christmas fairs wraps up this weekend with SWEA Los Angeles’ 41st Annual Swedish Christmas Fair on Sunday, December 8, in Torrance. It’s a big one that welcomes about 3,000 visitors during the one-day event. Highlights of the fair include a multitude of vendors selling Scandinavian gifts, books, music, handmade crafts, traditional holiday foods, and baked goods as well as traditional entertainment with folk dancing and Lucia pageants.

While on the topic of Scandinavian Christmas, I’d like to give you a heads-up about a Norwegian Christmas series just added to Netflix. Home for Christmas (Hjem til jul) is a 6-episode romantic comedy series about Johanne, a 30-year-old woman who is tired of the constant reminders of her single status and suddenly finds herself on a quest to find a boyfriend in time to bring home for Christmas. It takes place in a quaint little Norwegian town (filmed in Røros, Norway) and can be watched in Norwegian with English sub-titles or dubbed in English. Two episodes in I’m really enjoying it, especially the Norwegian winter setting and the diverse characters.

And finally, so you can plan ahead, one of my favorite Scandinavian events returns next month. The Scandinavian Film Festival LA opens the weekend of January 4 & 5 in Beverly Hills and continues the weekend of January 11 & 12. The schedule will be posted soon.

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

* SPECIAL REPEATING EVENTS IN DECEMBER *

Las Posadas at Olvera Street, El Pueblo Historical Monument, Downtown LA, Monday, 12/16 – Tuesday, 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.

DTLA Holiday Lights Walking Tour, Meeting Point: Union Station, Downtown LA, Sundays, Wednesdays, Fridays, & Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. until December 26. Explore the richness of Downtown LA with the annual DTLA Holiday Lights Tour offered by DTLA Walking Tours. It is a two-hour evening tour of the festive holiday decorations and traditions in Downtown LA. The tour begins at Union Station and highlights include Las Posadas at Olvera Street, Grand Park with its illuminated fountain and Winter Glow (a month-long immersive nighttime art experience), Walt Disney Concert Hall, Broad Museum, and Pershing Square festivities. Adults $20, children ages 5-12 $5, and children 4 and under free. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit website.

Ice Breakers, Ice at Santa Monica, Downtown Santa Monica, Sundays, until January 19. This holiday season take advantage of Ice Breakers, a family-friendly live music series every Sunday from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

* WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 7 & 8 *

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 12/7, 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. (Offered every first Saturday of the month).

CicLAvia: The Valley, Sunday, 12/8, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Discover Sherman Way from Canoga Park through Winnetka and into Reseda as CicLAvia offers an entirely new, 5-mile stretch of open streets. You will find a Volta Cirque du Soleil photo booth, LA Kings hockey clinics, music performances, family-friendly games, food trucks and dozens of other activities along the route. Bike, skate, run, walk, skateboard, and enjoy the route however you want.

Ancient Cycladic Civilization: Clay Figurines (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 12/8, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Experience inspiring, innovative workshops that enrich lives and teach basic visual art skills with highly qualified artist-educators. Each workshop focuses on a global culture, and different media are explored weekly including painting, textile art, printmaking, clay, sculpture, collage, and 3D constructions. Many of the projects celebrate holidays of the diverse community in LA. The program is open to all ages, including children, families, and adults.

41st Annual Swedish Christmas Fair, Torrance Cultural Arts Center, Torrance, Sunday, 12/8, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 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.

* WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 14 & 15 *

England: Toy Theater (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 12/15, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Experience inspiring, innovative workshops that enrich lives and teach basic visual art skills with highly qualified artist-educators. Each workshop focuses on a global culture, and different media are explored weekly including painting, textile art, printmaking, clay, sculpture, collage, and 3D constructions. Many of the projects celebrate holidays of the diverse community in LA.

Hanukkah Festival, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Sunday, 12/15, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Celebrate the Jewish festival of lights, while enjoying music, dance, storytelling, art making, and tasty treats. Get in the holiday spirit with musical performances by Klezmer Juice, hear classic Hanukkah tunes and folk music by fiddler and accordionist duo Zingarella, and be dazzled by capoeira performed by Dana Maman and Friends. Take a little bit of the festival home with you by creating a one-of-a-kind art project or making a delicious treat with Maite Gomez-Rejón (ArtBites). Be inspired as Noah’s Ark storytellers recount the age-old tale of Hanukkah in both English and Spanish, and join a special Hanukkah sing-along. Then listen to author Alan Silberberg read his book Meet the Latkes.

CAAM Makers Fest – Winter 2019, California African American Museum, Exposition Park, Sunday, 12/15, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. Let your creativity flow at this all-ages affair featuring maker stations led by local artists. Learn from the pros of our community, including Nneka Gigi, who will lead a workshop embellishing clothing with retro cartoons; J. Mack, who teaches how to create music shakers from recycled materials; and Wayne Perry, who will demonstrate how to create relief portraits. Take home several creative treasures! No prior art experience necessary; art materials provided.

Las Posadas Festival, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Sunday, 12/15, 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. Experience a traditional Mexican Christmas re-enactment of the story of Mary and Joseph as they seek shelter for the birth of the Baby Jesus at an inn (posada). There will be face painting, art projects and Mexican hot chocolate and pan dulce. Enjoy performances by Rhythmo Mariachi Kids, Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center, and Folklorico RaÍces de Mexico.

* WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 21 & 22 *

Las Posadas at Olvera Street, El Pueblo Historical Monument, Downtown LA, Monday, 12/16 – Tuesday, 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.

Holiday Cards: Print-Making (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 12/22, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Experience inspiring, innovative workshops that enrich lives and teach basic visual art skills with highly qualified artist-educators. Each workshop focuses on a global culture, and different media are explored weekly including painting, textile art, printmaking, clay, sculpture, collage, and 3D constructions. Many of the projects celebrate holidays of the diverse community in LA.

60th Annual LA County Holiday Celebration, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Music Center, Downtown LA, Tuesday, 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 28 & 29 *

W|ALLS: Defend, Divide, and the Divine, Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City, on view until December 29. This is the closing weekend for this exhibit that examines the historical use and artistic treatment of walls over centuries. Across diverse civilizations, walls have been central to human history, from Hadrian’s Wall to the current debate over the U.S./Mexico border.

Feel free to add events for the current month in the comments below. If you have suggestions about future events and celebrations to include in upcoming months, please email the details. Thank you!

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