We’re throwing down with the jolly and the holly and have Santas galore (with Mrs. Claus’ giant cookie house, breakfast with the big guy, a Santa sighting in the ‘bu and a party train with the man and his elves) but if you need a little variety, you can also catch the coolest Nutcracker in town, a crazy Christmas puppet show in Chinatown, a solstice hike, fish printing and a field trip to the beach. And the movie of the year hits theaters. It’s almost too much. Almost.

Reindeer 2


The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker
It’s the hippest Nutcracker in town, with new music and spectacular dancing. Even non-toe tappers will love the three wisecracking mice (Harvey, Schmink and Buckey) who narrate the tale. Fri. & Sat., Various times. Downtown. $45-$95. Ages 4 & up. Event details.

SparkleBlob’s Holiday Puppet Show Musical Extravaganza
Seriously, after reading that title, you need more information? Ok. Silverlake’s most well-adjusted family stresses about how to impress for hometown holidays. With live music from the Dinglebell Hollies. Fri.- Sun., Various times. Chinatown. $17-$20. All ages. Event details.

Las Posadas on Olvera Street
This nightly presentation of the nine-day journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem is portrayed with singing, entertainment, ballet folklorico and a candlelight procession on Olvera Street. There will also be a piñata breaking for the kiddos, because kids like to whack things. Fri.-Sun., 5:30-8:30 p.m. Downtown. Free. All ages. Event details.

Holly Jolly Celebration
Take a private spin on the rink, meet Kung Fu Panda then dive into a sweets station and hot chocolate laboratory. Cao the day with a tour Mrs. Claus’ life-size gingerbread house made of 1,300 lbs. of dough and stick around for pictures with the Jolly Elf couple. Sat., 1-5 p.m. Downtown. $5-$20. All ages. Event details.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens
So, you’ve probably had your tickets to Star Wars this weekend for over a month. But it’s worth planning for viewing #2 right now, and this is the place to do it, because: Laser light show. Costumes from the movie. Not to mention the Wurlitzer… Fri.-Sun., Various times. $15-$28. Rated PG. Event details.

Beverly Hills

Winter Solstice Hike
Welcome the arrival of winter in Franklin Canyon with a hike. Look at seasonal changes, and learn to identify plants and constellations. Sat., 3:30 p.m. Beverly Hills. Free. All ages. Event details.

San Gabriel Valley

Breakfast with Santa in the Garden
Visit with the man in red and nosh on a gourmet breakfast created by the Patina chefs. Kids can get up and do crafts and activities while you rest and relax, take pictures with Santa and then the whole family can stroll through the gardens. Sun., 9:30 & 11:30 a.m. La Canada. $24-$66. All ages. Event details.


It’s A Wonderful Life, On Stage & For Kids
Spend your holidays in Bedford Falls with George Bailey and his loved ones as they take you through the heartwarming tale of his life. This family stage production was created with kids in mind and is just 90 minutes with a strategically placed potty break, er, intermission. Sun., 4:30 p.m. Santa Monica. $20. Ages 5 & up. Event details.

Family Field Trip to the Beach
Explore slimy seaweed, sand crabs, beach hoppers, kelp strands, gulls, snowy plovers and grebes with Audubon Society guides who bring binoculars and field guides for all. Sun., 10:30-11:30 a.m. Santa Monica. Free. Ages 4 & up. Event details.

Santa Comes to Malibu
Santa and his reindeer make a layover in the land of sunshine and movie stars, and you can meet them at the Malibu Country Mart. Strolling carolers complete the perfect scene. Sat., noon-4 p.m. Malibu. Free. All ages. Event details.

San Fernando Valley

The Science of Gingerbread
As they learn about the science that goes into making everyone’s favorite spicy sweet holiday treat, kids can have their picture taken with Santa, decorate (and devour!) holiday cookies, create a cookie car to race in a Gingerbread Derby, and enjoy the Matter of Taste stage show. Fri.-Sun., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Hansen Dam. $10. All ages. Event details.

South Bay

Gyotaku at the Aquarium
Gyotaku is fish printing, and kids can create one-of-a-kind gifts using this Japanese art form. Just bring fabric or clothes to print on and go home with something totally unique. Sat., 9:30 a.m. San Pedro. $18. Ages 6 & up. Event details.

Worth the Drive

North Pole Express Train Ride
Hop on a real vintage train for a trip north. Come in your pajamas & bring your teddy bears–elves make the exciting trip with you to the “North Pole,” where Santa is awaiting your arrival. Fri.-Sun., 6 p.m. Fillmore. $19-$29. All Ages. Event details.

How do you spend the weekend before Christmas? We’d love to see your holiday celebrations: meet you on instagram!

—Meghan Rose

photos courtesy of Malibu Country Mart and Gordon via flickr