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The perpetual warm weather and sunshine of Los Angeles might not be synonymous with Christmas in the minds of many, but the city does have a number of special fun events - including ones that have live reindeer and real snow - that can celebrated throughout the holiday season and/or on the holiday itself.
The L.A. Zoo's annual holiday celebration is the Reindeer Romp, which is held from late November through the New Year. As part of the event, live reindeer are on hand for observing. Kids of all ages can get an up close look at the reindeer, talk to zookeepers about the animals, and make their own antlers and holiday crafts. Santa Claus and his helpers are available for souvenir photos during the event. The Reindeer Romp is free with paid zoo admission.
Christmas Boat Parades
Boat parades are like traditional Christmas parades, but with lighted boats parading on the water. Three significant boat parades are held within Los Angeles and in neighboring cities at Christmastime. They are: the Harbor Holiday Afloat Boat Parade at the Port of Los Angeles; the Holiday Boat Parade in Marina del Rey; and the King Harbor Christmas Boat Parade in the King Harbor/Redondo Beach area. Times and dates vary by year, but all take place on weekends in December.
Live Sporting Events
Los Angeles has a number of professional sports teams and one, the L.A. Lakers, plays on Christmas Day most years. L.A.'s other NBA team, the Clippers also occasionally plays on Christmas and throughout the holiday season, and the L.A. Kings pro hockey is active throughout the holiday season, as well. If football is your game, two L.A. college teams - the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) each usually play home games on Saturdays in Los Angeles during early December.
Free Christmas Concert
On Christmas Eve each year from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., the Los Angeles County Arts Commission presents a free performance at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion that honors many cultures and holiday traditions through music, song and dance. The six-hour Los Angeles County Holiday Celebration annually features about 40 performing groups from throughout L.A. County - including choirs, music ensembles and dance companies. The concert is funded by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Attendance and parking are free, no tickets or reservations are necessary and seating is first come, first served.
Santa's Downtown Wonderland
From Dec. 1 through Dec. 21 each year, the city of Burbank, which is just outside Los Angeles, has 12 straight days of Christmas-related events, including the kid-friendly Santa's Downtown Wonderland. Festivities include a tree lighting by the mayor, live music, face painting, pictures with Santa Claus, free gifts and more. Each day has a different event associated with it, such as Snow Day, where real snow is trucked in; and a trolley tour of local holiday-decorated houses.
Outdoor Ice Skating
An outdoor ice skating rink is set up in Pershing Square Park in downtown L.A. for the annual "Downtown on Ice" event. The exact dates vary each year, but the event is usually held from mid-to-late November to mid-to-late January, including Christmas and New Year's Day. All skating sessions are one hour and there's an admission fee, plus a fee for skate rental if you don't have your own skates.
Mark Nero has been a professional journalist since 1995 and has written for numerous publications within and outside the U.S. His work has appeared in "The Boston Globe," "San Diego Union-Tribune" and "Los Angeles Daily News" among others. Nero studied communications at San Diego State University.