Dec. brings Yuletide cheer

In the Loop


December brings Yuletide cheer both near and far. Find festive fun and frolic in this month’s roundup of tips for short hops and longer trips around California

Down below in Los Angeles at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, “Antarctic Dinosaurs” command the Lost Continent through Sunday, Jan. 5 (; 213-763-3466). At the California Science Center, discover the hidden talents of man’s best friend with “Dogs! A Science Tail” also closing Jan. 5 (; 323-724-3623).

At the Geffen Playhouse in L.A., now extended through Sunday, Dec. 15, Academy Award nominee Andy Garcia stars as mobster Johnny Rocco in the world premiere adaptation of “Key Largo” (; 310-208-5454).

To the south in Costa Mesa, Friday-Tuesday, Dec. 13-24, Segerstrom Hall enchants with American Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker.” For another take on the classic, the Duke Ellington Orchestra combines Tchaikovsky’s original themes with jazz interpretation in “Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker” on Sunday, Dec. 15 in the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. At the South Coast Repertory on the Segerstrom Stage, “A Christmas Carol” continues through Christmas Eve (; 714-708-5555).

In Garden Grove through Saturday, Jan. 11, near life-sized reproductions of 34 frescoes convey mastery and majesty with “Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition” at the Cathedral Cultural Center (323-908-0607;

To the southwest on the coast in Santa Barbara’s Granada Theatre, the Santa Barbara Symphony presents “Holiday Pops” and an audience sing-along on Saturday, Dec. 7, and “New Year’s Eve Pops” celebrating the music of Carole King, Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin and more, on Tuesday, Dec. 31 (; 805-899-3000).

Ventura Harbor’s 43rd Annual Parade of Lights and Fireworks on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 13-14, “pays homage to all things imaginary and magical – SEAing is believing.” The breathtaking boat parade and Harbor Village activities include Santa and Mrs. Claus, whirling carnival rides for youngsters, boutique gift shopping and dining. Arrive early for best parking. Return the next weekend, Saturday, Dec. 21 from noon-4 p.m., for the Winter Wonderland & Holiday Marketplace accented by carolers, photos with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, live reindeer, faux snowfall, shopping and kids’ crafts (; 805-477-0470).

Head to Riverside’s Mission Inn through Monday, Jan. 6, for the inn’s famously spectacular display featuring five million dazzling lights and 200 animated characters (; 951-784-0300). To cut down on time in traffic, drive to Lancaster, leave your car at the Metrolink station and board the train to Los Angeles Union Station. From there, go to the Riverside Downtown Station, and hop on the free Riverside Transit shuttle on Fridays and Saturdays through Saturday, Dec. 21 ($7 round trip, reduced rates for children; details at

Closer to home across the Sierra in Bakersfield: CALM (California Living Museum) evenings through Saturday, Jan. 4, twinkles and glows thanks to three million lights festooned around the grounds (; 661-872-2256).

Story First Published: 2019-12-06