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winter activities in LA

Ice, Snow, and Skating: Where to Find Winter in LA

By / October 26, 2018

Here in Los Angeles, we’re blessed with near-perfect weather year-round, but sometimes that endless stream of sunny days and cloudless skies can get a little boring.

After all, who doesn’t love curling up by the fire when it’s snowing outside? It doesn’t even need to be snowing — a little rain or sleet would do from time to time. Even the occasional cool breeze.

While any seriously cold weather in LA seems unlikely in the near future, there are still plenty of places where you can enjoy a more traditional winter in LA. From ice skating to fake snowy mountaintops, here are a few of the best places to escape the palm trees and sunshine and enjoy your very own winter wonderland.


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Pershing Square Holiday Ice Skating Rink

Downtown LA

November 15, 2018–January 21, 2019

It may not be quite as romantic as gliding along the ice in New York’s Central Park on a crisp winter evening, but hitting the ice in Pershing Square in the middle of Downtown LA has its own quirky charms. Along with general skating sessions, the season also features special events like DJ nights, silent skate parties, and curling classes. It’s the perfect activity for a date night or simply whiling away a few hours on a not-so-cold LA winter’s night.


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Ice at Santa Monica

Santa Monica

November 3, 2018–January 21, 2019

If you want to go ice skating somewhere a little more “LA,” try this ice skating rink near the beach in Santa Monica. Take a surreal spin on the 8,000-square-foot ice rink as palm trees sway above you and waves break on the beach a few blocks away. If you’ve never skated before, private and group lessons are available, but you’ll need to book in advance.


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Snow Day LA

Elysian Park

November 9–December 30, 2018

Often, the best things in LA are completely fake, and Snow Day LA at Elysian Park is no exception. During November and December, the hills of The Old Lodge at Montecillo De Leo Politi Park will be covered in synthetic snow, so get ready for a high-speed tube ride. The event also includes a bar, food trucks, a photo booth, and an interactive light show, so you can a make a (snow) day of it.


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Enchanted Forest of Light

La Cañada Flintridge

November 18, 2018–January 6, 2019

It may not include snow, ice, or Santa, but every year Descanso Gardens transforms into a glittering winter wonderland with its Enchanted Forest of Light. Walk through an impressive mile-long interactive light and sound show that includes rainbow forests, psychedelic groves, electric lakes, and luminous lawns. It’s a truly magical way to spend a winter’s evening.


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SoCal Winter Fest

OC Fair & Event Center

December 20, 2018–January 6, 2019

For 18 days over the holiday season, the OC Fair & Event Center is transformed into a winter wonderland including a 150-foot snow mountain, an outdoor ice skating rink, snow play areas, ice tubing, and plenty of other winter activities. If that’s not enough, you can expect snow flurries, fireworks, and regular visits from Santa.


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Holiday Sing-Along

Walt Disney Concert Hall

December 22, 2018

Sing along to all your favorite holiday songs with accompaniment from Walt Disney Concert Hall’s massive pipe organ, a choir, and a jazz combo. This sing-along is the perfect way to celebrate the season for music lovers or those who’d like to feel the rush of winter via a song rather than a snowstorm.


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Six Flags Holiday in the Park

Santa Clarita

November 18–December 31, 2018

Along with the usual rides and attractions, the added bonus of making the trek to Six Flags during winter is that the park transforms into a colorful wonderland with ice sculptures, marshmallow roasting, light shows, visits from Santa, and a special steampunk-inspired “Gleampunk District,” where you can experience Industrial Revolution vibes with a holiday twist.


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Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios

Studio City

November 17, 2018–January 6, 2019

If the LA sunshine is getting you down, retreat into the wintry world of Hogwarts Castle with Harry Potter and friends at Universal Studios. Along with elaborate sets that look as if they’re taken straight from the successful film series, you’ll be treated to nightly snowfalls, light shows, and live music from the Holiday Frog Choir. Oh yeah, you can grab a (non-alcoholic) mug of Butterbeer to keep you warm, too.


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Winter Solstice at the Soundbath Center

Eagle Rock

December 21, 2018

In colder climes, people may celebrate the changing of the seasons with a hot toddy by the fire, but here in LA, we acknowledge the winter solstice with a spirit-cleansing sound bath. Clear away the debris of your summer partying with the restorative sounds of crystal bowls and 11 gongs, and regain your psychic balance just in time for the holidays.


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L. Ron Hubbard’s Winter Wonderland


December 1–25, 2018

Scientology and Santa Claus may seem like strange bedfellows, but since its beginnings in 1983, L. Ron Hubbard’s Winter Wonderland has become an oddball LA tradition. On the surface, the event doesn’t look that different from your usual Christmas display, as it includes a “magical Santa house surrounded by a forest of real evergreen trees,” but look closely and you’ll notice some odd details, like festive signs with eerie quotes about peace on Earth from Hubbard himself. Though the Church of Scientology denies that it uses the event to recruit new members, if you sit on Santa’s lap, you may be gifted a book of Hubbard’s interminable ramblings. Still, it’s worth a visit for those who have an appreciation for the more unusual experiences LA has to offer.

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Matthew O’Shannessy is a writer living in Los Angeles. He grew up in Tasmania, Australia and moved to LA via Melbourne where he joined an art collective and worked for the Melbourne International Film Festival. His work has been published in various magazines and he’s currently co-editing an arts anthology. He lives in Echo Park, but you can often find him scouting out the San Fernando Valley.

More articles by Matthew O'Shannessy



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