Turn on the lights and crank up the holiday music. It’s time to celebrate. It doesn’t matter if it’s Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, or happy hour at Casa Vega. This is a time for friends and family to come together and hug it out. It’s also time for some holiday magic
And where there is magic…there are lights, lots of lights. And decorations. And cookies. And, oh let’s cross our fingers and hope we get us a cold wind blowing into L.A. Not Twin Cities cold, but something that calls for a nice scarf and warm hot chocolate in my flask. I don't mind seeing my breath in the night air.
Of course, the magic of the holidays is about more than freezing temperatures. It’s also about flying reindeer and tiny elves, blue lights and dreidel, mistletoe, Charlie Brown, and See's Candies. For me, it’s mostly about re-discovering my 12-year-old self as I venture out into the world to discover the lights and music of the season. Good thing I don’t have to be home before dark.
And it is in this spirit that I offer up my up 2016 top 5 Holiday magical places for the kid inside us all:
#1: The Los Angeles Zoo
I bet you didn’t know that they are “ZooLAbrating” the LA Zoo's 50th Anniversary. They are, and they’re doing it with the help of fantastical light animals that welcome visitors on a tour of the Zoo. We’re talking giant glowing snowflakes, a disco-ball forest, glittering light tunnels, and a spectacular water-and-light show. And that’s just for starters. I loved it and, yes, Virginia, they do serve adult beverages.
The L.A. Zoo Lights runs from 11/18-1/8 and tickets can be purchased on-line at http://www.lazoolights.org/
#2 Candy Cane Lane in Woodland Hills
If you live in L.A., and haven’t been, I think it’s about time you go. If it’s been awhile, now is the time to go again. It’s eight square blocks in Woodland Hills turned into Candy Cane Lane, which features millions and millions of lights. Homes covered in lights and holiday decorations, along with Mickey Mouse, Elmo, SpongeBob Squarepants and Charlie Brown. Sit in your car or walk the streets. Either way, it's an amazing event. If you go, don’t forget to turn your lights off at your house. You don’t want to waste the electricity. It’s free.
Directions from the 101 freeway in the West part of the San Fernando Valley in Woodland Hills.
Exit at Winnetka Avenue. Drive north on Winnetka Ave, then just across from Pierce Junior College turn right on Oxnard Street. If there is a traffic jam, try parking and walking. The display runs till 10:00 PM each night through the end of the year.
#3 L.A. Live, Downtown
Who says there’s no holiday magic in L.A. Come downtown and discover it for yourself. Play in the snow. Throw virtual snowballs. Make your own holiday crafts. Take photos with your favorite Disney and Nickelodeon characters. You can even ice skate on the L.A. King's skating ring. Maybe you’ll be the next Dustin Brown of the LA Kings! And best of all, the whole downtown skyline is all lit up for the Holidays. The area is filled with people enjoying themselves. Trust me; it’s a really great vibe for all
L.A. Live is located across from The Staples Center and is open till 12:00 A.M. There are some free concerts so go to www.lalive.com for the holiday schedule.
#4 Descanso Gardens, La Canada
This is the 1st year for the Enchanted Forest of Lights at Descanso Gardens, and it's a hit! A major hit! Starting November 25th, the entire gardens are bathed in gorgeous colors for 43 nights. Descanso’s hallmark oak trees and botanic collections will be the stars of this exciting holiday season light show event. But it doesn’t stop there. There’s also 10 unique lighting experiences that will illuminate some of Descanso’s most beloved locations, including the Oak Grove and the Camellia Forest. You can stroll along a one-mile walk through the Gardens to see these large-scale light displays. Three of these displays will be interactive, allowing visitors to manipulate the lights and sounds, and let me tell you…it’s fun! You must buy tickets in advance for this is a very popular event and many nights are selling out. Go on-line at www.descansogardens.org for tickets.
#5 Christmas Tree Lane, Altadena
Every Christmas season for more than 80 years, the majestic deodars on the "Mile of Christmas Trees" are strung with 10,000 lights. This is truly a magical scene—lights as far as the eye can see. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. Bring a thermos of hot chocolate and do it up "old school" in Altadena.
This season's lights will be on from 5:30 PM to midnight—from December 10, 2016, to January 2, 2017 & also on January 6, 2017. Christmas Tree Lane in Altadena (Santa Rosa Avenue, between Woodbury Avenue and Altadena Drive) is the oldest large-scale Christmas lighting spectacle in the United States.
And that’s my list. If you have a special place of your own, email or message me. I would love to know where you go for your own magic.
Until next year, Happy Holidays, my friends.
May your celebrations be filled with love, joy and a healthy dose of magic.