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The Most Stimulating Week Ahead: Holiday & More Events for December 9-15, 2023

Beautiful music in a beautiful space, the recently-restored Second Church of Christ Scientist (West Adams) will host a holiday concert on Sat, Dec 9 at 2 p.m.

Oh my gawd is there a lot to see, do, listen to, and talk about this week! We’ve got a spectacular trail mix of events for you to savor all week, which melds holiday flavor and spice and everything nice, with just the right amount of stimulating conversation, and a dash of dark comedy and dark Christmas for good measure. Keep reading for the full recipe.

Arts, Culture, and Conversations

Is there a wrong way to talk about the Holocaust? Perhaps, and perhaps not, which is the question at the center of the Short Film: The Anne Frank Gift Shop, a dark comedy about antisemitism with “a vital and timely message.” When a high-end design firm presents its plans to reimagine the gift shop at The Anne Frank House, the company’s overt appeal to Gen Z sparks a debate about collective trauma, the Holocaust, and the humble tote bag. Presented by 3G@HMLA and Reboot Studios, the Holocaust Museum LA will be hosting a screening of the film, followed by a Q & A with Mickey Rapkin, the film’s creator, along with – one of my personal favorites – actress, director, producer Elizabeth Banks, on Tue, Dec 12 from 6:30-8 p.m. Don’t miss out! Event is FREE with RSVP; kindly do so HERE

Next up, the Holocaust Museum LA will be bringing people together for important conversations again on Thurs, Dec 14 with a discussion titled, Navigating Chaos and Division Together: Finding our Shared Humanity from 6:30-8 p.m. Amidst an unprecedented surge in hate crimes, join leaders for a community conversation about improving relations and addressing shared concerns. Presented in collaboration with NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change, the evening will feature panelists Jordanna Gessler, VP of Education and Exhibits at Holocaust Museum LA and the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, Aziza Hasan, Executive Director of NewGround, and Joumana Silyan-Saba, Director of Policy and Discrimination Enforcement for the City of Los Angeles. RSVP HERE

Don’t just stand there, “cut through the haze” with Smog Check Thursdays: Literary and Performing Arts Series at The Broad! Enjoy readings, spoken word, and acoustic performances against the backdrop of John Baldessari’s large-scale artwork that inspired the title of the Museum’s latest collection exhibit, Desire, Knowledge, and Hope (with Smog). This week, on Thurs, Dec 14, Amelia Ada + Clement Goldberg + Naz Riahi will be in the house giving you “a look at what’s to come on the literary horizon of Los Angeles,” highlighting work that is experimental, work that stretches the boundaries of what defines ‘queer,’ and work that is considered “raw” by writers who are self-taught. RSVP here. And do your part to lessen the haze by taking the Metro – the new Grand Ave Arts/Bunker Hill Station takes you directly to the Broad’s East West Bank Plaza. Event starts at 7 p.m.

Next on the list is another curious conversation happening at the Philosophical Research Society, and this one’s about food – ‘holy food.’ Join author, editor, and seeker Christina Ward for a presentation of her latest book Holy Food: How Cults, Communes, and Religious Movements Influenced What We Eat. Religious beliefs have been the source of food “rules” since Pythagoras told his followers not to eat beans because they contain souls (the humble bean – who knew?). In Holy Food, Ward investigates the explosion of religious movements since the “Great Awakenings,” which birthed a cottage industry of food fads, cookbooks, and beyond, and which in turn created “sharp insights into American history” through the kitchen. The book features more than 75 recipes tested and updated for modern cooks, along with more than 100 historic black and white images. Buy a copy here.  Event takes place in the PRS Auditorium at 3910 Los Feliz Blvd. on Thurs, Dec 14 from 7-8 p.m. 

Greetings, Los Angeles – Squid Game Trials continue! Would you like to play a game with me? I have studied you closely, brought Squid Game to your city, and now I’m seeking worthy competitors for Squid Game: The Trials! You’ve seen the show on Netflix (disclaimer: I have not), now play it in real life! Six challenges will put your skills to the test in an immersive competition like no other. Sign up now and be one of the first to accept the Front Man’s challenge. Are you ready? Some games may be familiar to you, others will not. If you manage to survive, you can refuel with Korean-inspired food, have a drink at Gganbu Bar, and find yourself something nice at Squid Mart. Soon enough, it will seem as if it was all just a dream. So what do you say… game on? The Game takes place at 200 N. Fairfax Ave. through the end of Jan 2024. Tickets start at $39 VIP Package: $99. For participants age 13 and older. 

Christmas and Chanukah

Kicking off C and H this week is a chance to do some super-local holiday shopping, with an Artisan & Friends Boutique at the home of Judy Reidel on December 9, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 1121 S. Gramercy Pl.  The event will include the works of nine friends who are artisans, collectors, and creators…showing, selling, and trading their creations and collections.  There will also be light refreshments.  Entry is free.  Bring friends.  Checks & cash preferred for purchases, but cards, PayPal, etc. will be accepted, too.

Next on Saturday, Dec. 9, Music Mends Minds, which fosters bands and choirs for seniors with diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, will hold its annual free FREE holiday concert featuring seniors from its 5th Dementia and Jazzanova bands, as well as members of the Brentwood Presbyterian Church choir and a rhythmic drum circle energizer. There will also be special guests performing a holiday blend of “Mountain Music” featuring banjos, guitars and ukulele, as well as an Angel Bazaar featuring 30 vendors offering handmade items for purchase. It all takes place starting at 2 p.m. at the Brentwood Presbyterian Church, 12000 San Vicente Blvd.

And for even more holiday music, the Da Camera Society 50th Anniversary Holiday Concert, returning to LA with the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge under the breathtaking dome of the recently-restored Second Church of Christ Scientist. Come spend the afternoon of Sat, Dec 9 listening to heavenly holiday music in a heavenly space. Upon its completion in 1910, SCCS was the largest house of worship west of Chicago, and the building is spectacular inside and out. Imposing Corinthian columns decorate the facade of the structure, topped by a monumental copper dome, and the vast sanctuary becomes flooded with natural light. Wow, that does sound spectacular. The Church has been used as a temple by the Art of Living Foundation since 2008, and is located at 948 W. Adams Blvd. Tickets range from $30 – $85; students are $10. Seating is first come, first dibs; limited spots available. Concert begins at 2 p.m. 

Everyone’s getting in the holiday spirit it seems, and Hollywood Heritage didn’t want to miss out. Join HH on Sun, Dec 10 for a “A Christmas Memory” with Kathy Garver, which promises to be a very festive program in the cozy-wozy Barn. American stage, film, television, and voice-over actress Kathy Garver will do a live reading performance of Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory.” The afternoon will include a Holiday Reception on the front deck with warm cider, coffee, and festive nibbles, starting at 1 p.m.; followed by a Live Reading at 2 p.m. and Meet and Greet with Ms. Garver at 3 p.m. Seats are limited, so be sure to purchase your tickets today – like, now. The cost is $30 for members and $35 for non-members. 

And so is the Original Farmers Market, having a Chanukah Celebration of its own on Sun, Dec 10 from 3-5 p.m. Come get that holiday shopping done, eat some good food, and enjoy the fresh crisp air as you partake in some Chanukah fun with youth performances by J Los Angeles (formerly known as the Westside Jewish Community Center), Chanukah sing-a-longs, crafts, a menorah ice sculpture carving demo, and special menorah lighting ceremony with Miracle Mile Chabad. Festivities and activities will take place out on the Market Plaza. This event is FREE and open to all.

Moving on to Culver City’s Community Chanukah festivities, continuing on the 4th Night of Chanukah – Sun, Dec 10 – at Ivy Station with a Menorah Lighting at 4:30 p.m. Enjoy live klezmer music, face painting, games, delicious hot latkes, donuts, chocolate gelt, dreidels, arts & crafts, and a free raffle! This event is FREE; parking validation available at Ivy Station Lawn (8840 National Blvd). All are welcome. Then, on the 5th Night – Mon, Dec 11 – the real fun begins with a Gelt Drop. Gelt is the Yiddish word for money, and this a newer tradition, whereby gelt – usually in the form of chocolate coins wrapped in gold or silver foil – is dropped from a high place. Event takes place at Platform Park (8806 Washington Blvd) at 5:30 p.m. And you’ll get to enjoy all the goodies from previous nights as well, like music and food. And closing things out on the 8th Night – Thurs, Dec 14 – is Sushi & Soup & Latkes & Menorah Lighting at the Shay Hotel (8801 Washington Blvd) at 7:30 p.m.

Next up, The Hollywood Heritage 2023 Holiday Party is just too big for one night, so they wisely decided upon two nights, Tues, Dec 12 and Wed, Dec 13. Join the Museum and Preservation Society for an evening celebrating all of Hollywood’s centennials for 2023, as HH debuts its new exhibition, “Paramount on Parade with Jack Oakie and Friends.” What a year 1923 was for Hollywood and Los Angeles, so HH is paying homage through exhibits, historians, and presentations, that include original items relating to the Hollywoodland development and the concept of the Hollywood sign, The Biltmore Hotel, Phonofilm, and more! There will also be light snacks, drinks, and a toast to 1923. The museum will be open from 6-9 p.m.; presentations and cake cutting begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 for members and $20 for non-members. 

Since 1969, Bob Baker Marionette Theater’s adaptation of the Nutcracker has been delighting audiences young and old, and this year, the Theater is thrilled to present even more magical merriment with new surprises and enchanting additions. Go on an adventure through the wizardry of strings and into the enchanted world of Bob Baker’s Marionettes. Tickets are $25; kids 2 and under are free. Performances happening now – Jan 7. Saturday and Sunday showtimes: 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Weekday shows begin Wed, Dec 13.

And, finally, the holiday season wouldn’t be complete without Creepy Christmas with Krampus Night at PRS. Join the mysterious Philosophical Research Society on Fri, Dec 15 for an Evening of Folkloric Holiday Traditions with author Al Ridenour (The Krampus and the Old Dark Christmas); featuring a pre-show cocktail hour, live German holiday songs, costumed Krampuses, and screenings of quirky, European Krampus shorts. Ridenour’s book is the only in-depth English-language study of the folkloric creature, and reveals how this often misunderstood figure is connected to an older, darker understanding of the Christmas season as a time offering access to the spirit world. Bonus: Krampus merch, crafted by local artisans, will be for sale in the Gift Shop during cocktail hour. Creepy apparel and folkloric costumes are encouraged. Event will take place from 7-9 p.m. in the PRS Auditorium at 3910 Los Feliz Blvd.

Ongoing Seasonal Entertainment

Meanwhile, many of the multi-week holiday entertainment opportunities continue this week, too.  For example, bring your friends to or plan your date night at the annual LA Kings Holiday Ice at L.A. LIVE! enjoy the ice rink before and after a game or concert. General Admission tickets are only available for purchase on-site at the ice rink box office during hours of operation. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for kids, seniors, and military. A limited quantity of Fast Pass tickets will be also available, but online only for $45 per person. Open now open through Dec 31. Pricing includes skate rental. Hours now – Dec 18: Daily 5 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. (4 sessions); Dec 18-31: Daily 4 p.m. – midnight (4 sessions).

And more ice skating! Get in your favorite form of seasonal exercise/making a fool of yourself at the Holiday Ice Skating Rink in DTLA’s Pershing SquareNow – Jan 7, get as close to a winter wonderland in LA as you can, cruising along the ice among skyscrapers, while you picture yourself surrounded by trees, on a lake, in a forest, somewhere far far away. Anyhoo, back to reality now, be sure to lookout for special events happening throughout the month as well. Skate rentals are included in admission ($20 per hour). Lockers and skating aids for the kiddos are $5 extra. Rink opens at 11:30 a.m. daily; closing times vary. And will be open on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve/Day, and New Years Eve/Day.

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and the L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow experience is giving us those holiday feels with another season of lighting up your world! Come explore an immersive landscape filled with dazzling new lantern sculptures of animals, blooming flowers, towering trees, and more, for a nature-focused holiday celebration! Ticket prices vary depending on day of the week, check website for deets (and see the Buzz’s cool photos here). Zoo Lights on display now – Jan 7. 

Also lighting up our lives this season, is the third edition of Lightscape at the L.A. County Arboretum. Located a little east of LA in Arcadia, the Aboretum’s uplit trees and illuminated installations will once again dot the roughly mile-long pathway for the 2023 season, which has been “reimagined” this with an expanded trail. The light cathedral will, of course, make its return, as will the fire garden, one of events favorite highlights. Santa will also be there on select dates! Tickets range from $29-$35 and $14-$18 for kids (under 3 are free).  Lightscape will be yours to behold from now – Jan 2.

And even more magical light displays for your sight to see. Now – Jan 7, you’ll have the chance to immerse yourself in a shimmering nocturnal wonderland at Descanso Gardens Enchanted Forest of Light; an interactive, nighttime experience, featuring a one-mile magical route through the garden. There will be returning favorites, including an entire town of “stained glass” creations by contemporary sculptor Tom Fruin; sparkling geometric installations from HYBYCOZO; Flower Power on the Promenade; and exquisite lighting effects in the Ancient Forest, as well as fresh delights to keep you in awe (click here for a preview). Advance tickets are required for entry and will NOT be sold on-site. Entry times start at 5:30 p.m. and end at 8:30 p.m. Gardens close at 10 p.m. Tickets are $35-$45 for adults and $25-$30 for kids ages 2-12.

Community and Local Government 

Omg – have you heard?! It’s the first ever Snow Day on Larchmont!! On Sun, Dec 10 from 12-5 p.m., the Page Academy parking lot will be turned into a snowy wonderland, courtesy of the fine folks at the Wilshire Rotary Club with support from the Rotary Foundation, the LBA, The Beverly Press/Park La Brea News, and Adam Rubenstein of The Beaumont Company. There will be sledding, hot apple cider, baked goods, and snow, of course!  Admission is free with an unwrapped game or toy for Santa, who will make sure it goes to a deserving family in Los Angeles via the Red Shield and the Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood. Page Academy is located at 565 N. Larchmont Blvd. And if you haven’t picked up your tannenbaum yet, you’re in luck, because the Rotary’s Christmas Tree lot is conveniently located right across the street.

Next up, the Mid City West Neighborhood Council will come together for its last Board Meeting of the year on Tues, Dec 12 at 6:30 p.m. So come join the MCW in-person at the Pan Pacific Park Senior Center (lunch room) located at 141 S. Gardner St. and see what it’s all about. Check Mid City’s website for details, agendas, and full schedule. 

Lastly, the cool cats of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council will hold its monthly Board Meeting the next day, on Wed, Dec 13 at the Ebell of Los Angeles, 743 S Lucerne Blvd, starting at 6:30 p.m. Check the GWNC website for details, agendas, and supporting documents.

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Julia Christiansen
Julia Christiansen
Julia is a native Angeleno and jack of all trades, having worked in television, visual effects, professional sports, health and wellness, and custom design. She currently resides in El Segundo.

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