Tournament of Roses Float Decorating: It's Southern California tradition: Once the balled-up wrapping paper and empty candy boxes of the holiday are swept away, the ready-to-be-adorned Rose Parade floats hove into view. Dozens upon dozens of pros and volunteers will gather around the massive vehicles over five busy days to apply wee seeds, petals, grasses, bits of flowery fluff, and more decorations straight from nature. You can watch the process, which is as hallowed and interesting as all get-out, at a number of spots around SoCal. Really, those big, big floats really are layered with the itty-bittiest of buds. Watch it live, from Dec. 27 through 31.
Kwanzaa Heritage Festival & Candle Lighting Ceremony: Kwanzaa encompasses several days of reflection and celebration, opening in 2014 on Friday, Dec. 24 and ending on Thursday, Jan. 1. The Kwanzaa Heritage Foundation will honor all the principles behind the holiday -- including unity, creativity, and self-determination -- in one joyful, daylong happening in Leimert Park Village. Look for "Live Music, Traditional Dancing, Drum Circle" and more heart-nice, community-sweet doings, including kid activities, delish eats, and a marketplace.
Santa Anita Opening Weekend: Not too far from the Rose Parade floats, and also very much about beautiful horsey action (as is the Rose Parade), this annual kick-off at one of the West Coast's most fabled tracks boasts a few big opening niceties up its sleeve. A first-day calendar giveaway, a brewfest with a wintry bent, and more merry happenings are going down -- or, rather, are clip-clopping at a very impressive pace -- at the Arcadia landmark. Opening day is Friday, Dec. 26.
Aquarium of the Pacific Late-Night Discounts: The crabs aren't wearing Santa suits -- we don't think -- and the sharks haven't practiced their carols, but when the late-night deals arrive at the Pacific-snug Long Beach institution, you know that the holiday week is in full swing. If you still have out-of-towners in the house, and you're searching for an oh-so-local evening out, at lower price, well helloooo jelly fish. (And if your relatives don't live near an ocean, doing the aquarium is probably high on their list, we'd imagine.)
The Holidays Outdoors: Christmas never quite wraps on the 25th, with several lighted structures and neighborhoods and gardens remaining all a-twinkle through the start of the new year. Need to get your out-of-towners -- or just yourself and your own busy mind -- out of the house and into some brisk evening air for a glow-y show? The LA Zoo, the San Diego Botanic Garden, the Living Desert, and Christmas Tree Lane are looking lovely and lively the weekend after Christmas.
For more on float decorating, check out Fiesta Parade Floats.