Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas in Los Angeles: Our Traditions

No snow? No problem. We'll be dreaming of a White Christmas for a long time to come here in L.A., but it doesn't matter: There are plenty of places to find Christmas in L.A., and we try to make the most of it every year.

The snow is here, of course -- but safely ensconced above 7,000 feet. Back down here, the weather cooperated -- making for a sunny, mild Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. (The rain returned for a visit on Christmas night, but we were cozily cooped up back at home by then.)

Christmas Eve in Downtown L.A. has become an annual tradition for us, starting with the 4 p.m. family mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Yes, the "Taj Mahony," decked out for Christmas, offers up a Christmas Eve mass that's perfect for the little ones: Not too long, and with a homily, music and prayers geared toward the little ones.

After mass, it's a quick walk across the street to the Music Center, to catch the 51st Annual Los Angeles County Holiday Celebration. The annual free event, featuring choirs, dancers, bands and more, is one of L.A.'s great Christmas staples.

This year's event was cut by half (from six hours to three) due to budget cuts. That turned out to be serendipitous for us. Last year, the line was too long for us to try to get inside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to catch the show.

But this year, we got to the Music Center at 5:30 -- and with the show about to end, the standby line was minimal. We managed to get inside in time to see the two final acts: the Palmdale High School Choral Union and Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jose Hernandez, which closed the show. After that, the crowd sang along to "Silent Night," and then we were back in the Music Center plaza.

On Christmas day, we were back downtown for one of our favorite L.A. holiday attractions: Downtown on Ice in Pershing Square. The ice rink was crowded, yet not too bad. It was kind of nice to be there with a cross section of Los Angeles, all skating under the shadow of downtown's skyscrapers at dusk.

After our hour-long ice skating session, we dashed across the street to check out the Biltmore hotel, dressed up for the season.

Pics from our Christmas in Los Angeles:

Cathedral entrance.

Art exhibit at the cathedral.

Exiting the cathedral.

Cardinal Mahony's final Christmas before his February retirement.

Nativity scene at the Our Lady Queen of the Angels cathedral.

Outside the Music Center and Dorothy Chandler Pavilion as the L.A. County Holiday Celebration winds down.

It's a real-life 'Glee': Palmdale High School Choral Union performs at the L.A. County Holiday Celebration.

At the L.A. County Holiday Celebration; final act, Mariachi Sol de Mexico (led by Jose Hernandez), above.

Inside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Christmas tree at the Music Center.

Ice skating at Pershing Square's Downtown on Ice.

More ice skating at Downtown on Ice.

Biltmore lobby Christmas tree.

Blogger Kid (newly 6!) and Blogger Baby 2.0 stroll down the Biltmore's main corridor.

Gingerbread houses at the Biltmore.

Staircase at the Biltmore.

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