A few fun ways to kick-off winter break

Tawny Gestuvo

Neil Diamond Christmas carols, downtown L.A., ice-skating and flashing lights: the holidays are here! These are a few of the things to look forward to with winter just around the corner. The first one might sound confusing to some but L.A. is doing its part to bring in the holidays like its other big city counterparts.

The days are longer and the nights are cooler, with a hint of the holidays almost everywhere it can be overwhelming. Here are a few festive ways to transition into the new season that does not involve shopping.

13th Annual Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) Griffith Park Light Festival

What you need: Warm clothes ‘amp; walking shoes to withstand the possibility of chilly weather.

Optional: A travel mug of hot chocolate, coffee or tea. A camera.

For 13 years, the DWP has hosted a spectacle of lights through the Griffith Park golf course, (adjacent to the L.A. Zoo). This bedazzled walkway is enhanced with Christmas carols the whole way through. Accompanying visitors on their one mile trek are the musical styling of a few unknowns and most distinctively, Neil Diamond. Walkers are greeted by his famous song, ‘Coming to America,’ as they walk by a patriotic light-laden Statue of Liberty. The music playlist is a little off and the Neil Diamond aspect can seem obscure, but ultimately it is not a big deal.

The best part of this event is that it is free and perfect for small or large groups and all ages. Some of the best light displays are the Griffith Park Observatory, William Mulholland’s’ water aqueduct and the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). As a tribute to the city’s water source brought to us by William Mulholland 150 years ago, DWP beautifully incorporates this theme into their production.

Promoting their ‘green’ energy saving efforts, the festival is vehicle-free until Dec. 7.

13th Annual Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) Griffith Park Light Festival

Website: www.dwplightfestival.com

‘middot; Horse enthusiasts can ride through the light path beginning Dec. 9 until Dec. 30 from 5 to 7 p.m.

‘middot; Traditional drive-through viewing will begin Dec. 8 until Dec 30

L.A. Downtown on Ice

What you need: Warm clothes, socks and $8. $6 for admission and $2 for skate rentals.
Optional: Take the Metro Red Line to the Pershing Square station to avoid finding parking which can be costly Downtown. (Disclaimer: I am currently an employee for Metro.)

In its 11th year of operation, Downtown on Ice is back and a great way to enjoy the booming of Downtown L.A. Year-round, Pershing Square is an outdoor concert and event center. Across from the Biltmore Hotel, the open-air plateau of ice is a must -see even for those who don’t want to skate.

The best time to visit is in the evening. The lights from the surrounding skyscrapers provide a wonderful ambience. In front of the ice-skating rink, there is a seating area amidst a stage where bands often perform free for the crowd (part of their winter concert series).

Gaining momentum from what seems to be word-of-mouth or research on the Internet, the Southland’s little wonderland is easily one of L.A.’s best-kept secrets. The rink is a good size but can get crowded so it is a good idea to keep that in mind while making plans.

Other places to visit while in the area for those 21-and-over are the Library Bar and Seven Grand (Whiskey bar). These places are a reasonable walking distance from Pershing Square (approximately 15 minutes).’

There are plenty of ways to get a few kicks out of L.A. and procrastinate on holiday shopping. These are a few ideas that can make holiday cheer fun without breaking the bank.

LA Downtown on Ice

Website: www.laparks.org/pershingsquare/doi

‘middot; The rink is open now until Jan. 19

‘middot; Mon. – Thurs. 12 p.m. – 10 p.m., Fri. – Sun. 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. (until Dec. 1)

‘middot; Hours will be extended from 10 a.m – 10 p.m. (Dec. 19 – Jan. 11)
‘ 12 p.m. – 10 p.m. (Jan. 12)

‘middot; To plan your time more efficiently, the website provides information regarding ice resurfacing.