NEWPORT BEACH CHRISTMAS BOAT PARADE: It's got one of the biggest names and the biggest reputations. It lasts for a full five nights. Thousands of bundled-up lookie-loos make for the water's edge to see vessels decked out in their outlandish best. And it has been around for over a century. Of course, many things have been around for over a century, but for something this whimsical and lovely to have sea legs is truly of note. The boats sail through Sunday, Dec. 23.
"THE NUTCRACKER" MEETS 1940s LA: The most famous ballet of Christmas -- and arguably one of the most famous ballets ever -- gets an intriguingly local update for this two-night run at the Wilshire Ebell Theater. The setting is Hancock Park of the early '40s and the music? Classic classical, yes, but some dance-ready Duke Ellington, too. Friday, Dec. 21 and Saturday, Dec. 22
MUSIC CENTER SING-ALONG: The free sing-alongs at the Music Center Plaza are synonymous with summer's long and languid nights. There's a December one, though, and it definitely has a December-y theme: the holidays. Ready to carol with your fellow LAers in a spectacular, quintessentially downtown setting? You can. As mentioned, it's free but a ticket will be required. Friday, Dec. 21
CHRISTMAS AT FARMERS MARKET: LA's beloved, stall-lined hangout greets the yuletide with five days of free caroling, kid to-dos, and country and rock bands playing sounds of the season. The place is hung with boughs and such, too. Quaint. Oh, and definitely make a date for the mariachis' arrival on Christmas Eve. It's a big, brassy sound filling the snug aisles. Through Dec. 24
OPERATION SANTA PAWS: If you love the huge-huge-huge Haute Dog parades in Long Beach, you'll love volunteering for this toy-and-treat delivery. (The parades and this volunteer drive are organized by the same people.) Shelter pets are the tail-waggy, meow-sweet recipients, and animal lovers don the red jingly hats and play the volunteers. Want to lend a hand and maybe a scratch behind the ear? It's happening in Long Beach and parts of OC on Saturday, Dec. 22.