The Elf on the Shelf’s Magical Holiday Journey. Photo by Alex J. Berliner/ABImages

What Wonders Does the Yuletide Hold for Us This Year?

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Wishing someone happy holidays may be a more complicated affair this year. No family, no friends, no holiday gatherings, no parades, no white elephant gift circles. I heard even Krampus is staying home this year. Still, if you need just a little bit of magic to get you through December, there are a few drive-thru and outdoor events out there to lift your wanting spirit. But remember to wear your mask lest the Ghost of Christmas Future head your way next!


WonderLAnd is a drive-thru affair from Experiential Supply Co., the group behind Haunt’owen, the Hollywood-based pop-up carnival for “IT: Chapter 2,” as well as many other immersive experiences. Families can wind through a path lined with lights synchronized to music, holiday vignettes and cheerful elves bearing candy canes, all from within the comfort of their vehicles. Tickets cost $70 per car and include a stocking stuffed with goodies. This Christmas adventure is open now through Dec. 30 in Woodland Hills (closed Dec. 24-25).

Miracle on Main Street

Downtown Santa Monica’s Miracle on Main Street takes place on Dec. 5, 13 and 20 from 4-6 p.m. Enjoy a tree made out of over 80 shopping carts at the Edgemar building, a traditional noble fir decked out in colorful lights at the Heritage Museum, socially distant appearances from Santa Claus and carols from the Jingle Jangle Rockers (we’re like 99% sure this is not a “Riverdale” reference).

Winter Lit

As of Nov. 27, the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica has been decked out in tens of thousands of lights for Winter Lit. Families can visit the official City of Santa Monica Christmas tree, take a self-guided art tour along the Promenade or use a new augmented reality app to place holiday elements over the surrounding scenery. Kids can also drop off letters to Santa at a dedicated mailbox. If they include a return address and are sent by Dec. 13, Santa will write back. From Dec. 10-18, you can also enjoy nightly menorah lightings. See all of the Winter Lit activities here.

Santa’s Speedway Christmas Lights Drive-Thru Spectacular

If you’ve ever wanted to cruise along a NASCAR track, now is your chance to do so — very slowly. Now through Jan. 10, Santa’s Speedway Christmas Lights Drive-Thru Spectacular offers visitors an experience full of North Pole characters, tons of Christmas lights and other festive displays. Tickets are $59 per car and concessions are available for pre-order.

Reflections at Descanso

Descanso Gardens has replaced their annual Enchanted Forest of Light with the day-time “Reflections at Descanso.” Now through Jan. 10, guests can enjoy artist Kaz Yokou Kitajima’s “Wishing Tree,” floral arches and other contemplative artworks. General admission remains $15 for adults, $11 for seniors and students, $5 for children 5-12, and free for children under 5. No additional fee is required to enjoy Reflections.

The Jen Kirkman Dysfunctional Xmas Show

Comic Jen Kirkman’s holiday show usually takes place in-person, but this year, she’ll stream it from her home to yours on Dec. 4 at 6 p.m. The program includes music, “fucked up stories” and more from Kirkman and special guests. Tickets are $21, which includes an additional 48 hours of access if you can’t catch the show live.

The Skirball Hanukkah Celebration

The Skirball Hanukkah Celebration streams on YouTube on Dec. 13 at 3 p.m. It will feature performances from the klezmer band Mostly Kosher, psychedelic funk singer Gili Yalo and a puppet show version of the Hanukkah story. Other Hanukkah events from the Skirball Center include cooking and art classes, plus you can pre-order potato latkes and desserts.

Elf on the Shelf’s Magical Holiday Journey

“The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition” is a mildly terrifying children’s book about an elf that spies on you to report your good and bad deeds to its master, Santa. But the Elf on the Shelf’s Magical Holiday Journey is a glistening in-car experience full of dancing elves, wintry spectacles and holiday effulgence. Guests will arrive to find that the lack of Christmas cheer this year has caused Santa’s sleigh to run out of Yuletide fuel. To get the holiday back on track, families must pitch in to restore the Christmas spirit. Sounds heartwarming! The event takes place at the Pomona Fairplex through Jan. 3. Tickets start at $19.95 for children and $24.95 for adults. Narration is available in English and Spanish.

The Los Angeles Christmas Market

Shop for holiday goods and gifts at the Los Angeles Christmas Market now through Jan. 3. Located across the street from The Grove, the market features seasonal decorations, socially distant shopping and a contact-free photo with Santa package for $45. The market is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Knott’s Taste of Merry Farm

Following up on the park’s successful Halloween food festival, Knott’s Berry Farm is hosting the Taste of Merry Farm on select dates now through Jan. 3. Guests can enjoy an outdoor area of the park gussied up in seasonal splendor while browsing and sampling goodies from over 60 food and drink vendors. Here’s how it works: Buy a tasting card for $40 to get five tastings or a $20 “junior card for kids ages 3-11 for three tastings. Options include turkey dinner tater tots, maple-glazed cinnamon buns and more. Note, this one is selling out quickly.

Holiday in the Park Drive-Thru Experience

Six Flags Magic Mountain’s Holiday in the Park is a drive-thru experience open on evenings now through Jan. 3. Expect light shows choreographed to music, holiday characters and decorations and a display of West Coast Customs cars. Tickets start at $20 (or you can use your season pass). Snacks are also available and include hot cocoa, cookies, candy, fudge and funnel cakes.

Maccabees: A Chanuka Drive Thru

The Power of Youth’s “Maccabees: A Chanuka Drive Thru” takes place Dec. 9-13 at the HeyWhatsYourFace, Inc. warehouse in Van Nuys. The 30-minute experience includes a live re-enactment of the Hanukkah story, as well as keepsakes and photo ops. Tickets start at $99 per vehicle. Proceeds benefit Tzedakah.

Mr. Jingles Christmas Trees

If you’re in the market for a tree, Mr. Jingles Christmas Trees will have several varieties for sale, plus lights, ornaments and more. They have multiple L.A. locations, including Hollywood, Woodland Hills, West L.A. and The Original Farmers Market. Hours vary, so definitely check your preferred spot online. Pre-orders and delivery are also an option if you’d rather stay at home than venture out.

L.A. Dodgers Drive-Thru Holiday Festival

Celebrate the Dodgers’ World Series win at the team’s Holiday Festival at Dodger Stadium. This drive-thru event includes a light show, LED videos, “snow” flurries and displays commemorating the team’s first championship win since 1988. You may also bring a new toy, a pair of socks or gently used baseball equipment for a contact-free donation. The festival is open through Dec. 24 from 5-11 p.m. Tickets start at $55 per vehicle.

Visions of Holiday Glamor

The City of Beverly Hills hosts a fashion installation on Rodeo Drive between Santa Monica and Wilshire boulevards. Ten mannequins will be decked out in holiday-inspired garb, while nearby palm trees will be wrapped in white lights meant to mimic snowfall. See it starting Nov. 21 through Jan. 3.

Our Lady of Guadalupe at Forest Lawn

Forest Lawn will celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe with a Facebook livestream on Dec. 6 from 2-4 p.m. The ceremony will include service led in English and Spanish by Father Mario Juarez from Christ Cathedral in Orange County and performances from Mariachi Juvenil Herencia Mexicana and Ballet Folklorico Internacional. Watch on Forest Lawn’s Facebook page here.

Peek-a-Boo Stroll Thru: Winter Wonderland

The Bob Baker Marionette Theater’s Peek-a-Boo Stroll Thru: Winter Wonderland is a walk-through holiday event open now through Jan. 3. Lighting and sound cues will guide you through the holiday vignettes, though there will be no live puppetry or performers for a contact-free experience. Tickets are $60 (includes six people) for a private, 20-minute experience. Masks are required.

Vintage Surfari Wagons

If you’re looking for a socially distant way to take a Christmas card photo this year, Vintage Surfari Wagons in Costa Mesa is offering shoots with their vintage VW buses decked out in holiday decor. Sessions are available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 3-5. Santa will be available for cameos from noon to 3 p.m. You may take your own photos or bring a photographer, use their props or bring your own. Each 25-minute session is $65. Guests may also enter to win a two-night/three-day camper rental in 2021.

Clara’s Nutcracker Tea Party

Guests at Los Angeles Ballet’s holiday fundraiser on Dec. 20 will enjoy an interactive tea party featuring dance, music and crafts, as well as performances from “The Nutcracker.” This unique holiday experience has the added bonus of helping the city’s one and only classical ballet company as they prepare to bring dance back to the stage next year.

Los Angeleno