The Most Unusual Los Angles Christmas Traditions

  • 01 of 11

    LA's Most Unusual Christmas Traditions

    Rock 'n Roll Santa at Universal CityWalk
    Photo © 2011 Kayte Deioma, licensed to

    In compiling my list of LA Christmas Traditions, there were some that struck me as a little out of the ordinary, so I decided they deserved their own list. From visiting a cemetery to watching other people's old Christmas slides, Angeleno's have some unusual ways of celebrating the holidays. They might just make your December visit to Los Angeles a little more interesting.

    From least to most out of the ordinary, here are my picks for LA's most unusual Christmas traditions.

    Get more ideas for Alternative Things to Do in LA.
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  • 02 of 11

    Surfing Santa Contest in Dana Point

    Surfing Santa Contest in Dana Point, CA
    Photo courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel

    One of the earliest of Southern California's unusual Christmas traditions is the Surfing Santa Contest that takes place every year in Dana Point in Orange County on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. It is a fundraiser hosted by the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel to benefit Surfers Healing.

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  • 03 of 11

    The Santa Speedo Run in Long Beach

    Santa Speedo Run in Long Beach
    Photo courtesy of the Long Beach Santa Speedo Run

    The Santa Speedo Run is a bunch of nearly naked men (and women) in red speedos running through the streets of Long Beach every year to benefit the LGBTQ Center of Long Beach youth programs. It usually takes place the first Sunday in December. 

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  • 04 of 11

    Weird and Wacky Holiday Plays in Los Angeles

    Bob's Holiday Office Party
    Photo by Michelle Pedersen courtesy of Bob's Holiday Office Party

    Weird and wacky goes over well, so one of LA's holiday traditions is the recurrence each year of some out-of-the-box holiday plays and musicals. From rewriting classics, like innumerable humerous variations of A Christmas Carol to originals that become standards like the vaudevillian antics of Nativity! The Musical, the annual chaos at Bob's Holiday Office Party, and the revelations of the SantaLand Diaries, LA's holiday theatre fare is good for a laugh.

    See the full list of LA Holiday Plays for this year.

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  • 05 of 11

    The Bob Baker Marionette Theater Holiday Show

    Bob Baker Marionette Theater
    Photo © 2009 Kayte Deioma, licensed to

    The Bob Baker Marionette Theater presents their annual seasonal puppet show. this year it's The Nutcracker performed by marionettes. The show runs from mid-November through early January.

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  • 06 of 11

    Admire Christmas Lights by Gondola

    A Gondola Tour of Christmas Lights around Naples Island in Long Beach, CA
    Photo © 2010 Kayte Deioma, licensed to

    Take a Gondola Ride to admire the Christmas and Hanukkah lights on Naples Island in Long Beach, Marina del Rey or Newport Beach. There are other more economical boat tours available, but snuggling under a blanket while a gondolier serenades you with O Sole Mio or O Holy Night is the most romantic way to see the festive holiday decorations around Naples Island in Long Beach. It's not quite as romantic, but still fun if you hire a gondola for 10 instead of two.Note: Not all gondoliers sing, but you can do your own caroling through the canals.

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  • 07 of 11

    A Kiss Under King Kong's Mistletoe

    Kissing under King Kong's Mistletoe on Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles
    Photo © 2016 Kayte Deioma, licensed to

    Share a kiss under the mistletoe dangled by the King Kong cutout looming over Universal CityWalk, outside Universal Studios Hollywood. Of course it's giant mistletoe, so it better be some kiss! 

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  • 08 of 11

    Charles Phoenix's Retro Holiday Slide Show

    Charles Phoenix Retro Holiday Slide Show
    Courtesy of Charles Phoenix Retro Holiday Slide Show

    View other people's vintage holiday slides at Charles Phoenix's Retro Holiday Slide Show. This year Phoenix will be presenting his off-beat collection of other people's New Years, Easter, 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas slides from the 1950s and 60s at shows in Pasadena, Pomona and Hollywood.

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  • 09 of 11

    Debbie Allen's The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker

    The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker
    Photo courtesy of The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker

    The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, created by actress, dancer and choreographer Debbie Allen, has become a Los Angeles holiday tradition since it debuted in 2010. The Nutcracker story has been rewritten in a cultural context, given a new contemporary score and danced by a cast of primarily African-American dancers, many from the Debbie Allen Dance Academy.

    Tchaikovsky,s score has been replaced by original music from performers such as Arturo Sandoval, Mariah Carey. Similar to the classic ballet, Kara (instead of Clara) receives a magical nutcracker filled with hot chocolate that puts her to sleep. The nutcracker turns into a prince that takes her on a journey to distant lands. In this version, narration is provided by a trio of wise-cracking rats.

    Allen appears in the production with other special guests.

    Get info at Look for discount tickets at

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  • 10 of 11

    Scientology Santa at L. Ron Hubbard Winter Wonderland in Hollywood

    The L. Ron Hubbard Winter Wonderland in Hollywood
    Photo © 2006 Kayte Deioma, licensed to

    Take the kids to visit the Scientology Santa at the L. Ron Hubbard Winter Wonderland on the south side of Hollywood Boulevard between N. McCadden Place and N. Las Palmas Ave. I don't know if undergoing a personality test is a requirement to see Santa, but you can be sure someone will be around offering to give you one, and Santa will be handing out Scientology comic books.

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  • 11 of 11

    Get your photo taken with Rockin' Santa

    Rockin' Santa at Universal CityWalk
    Photo © 2011 Kayte Deioma, licensed to

    Rockin' Santa holds court every year outside the Hard Rock Cafe on Universal CityWalk. For years, rock n' roll fans could pose for photos holding colorful guitars with Rockin Santa in his sleigh, but for 2016, although Santa is still there, the special guitar holster on the side of Santa's Sleigh is empty. Apparently, the guitars were sponsored by Gibson, and when the Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal closed, the guitars also went away. I'm not ready to remove this tradition from the list. Someone needs to step up and sponsor Rockin' Santa's guitars! Or at least one fun one.