I’m sad to announce I didn’t make it to Beyoncé’s Club Renaissance over the weekend, but from what I’ve seen on social media, it was a night to remember. Luckily, I’ve kept my spirits up with this TikTok from the Los Angeles Public Library. I never expected a silly video from the library to put a smile on my face! Anyway, let’s get to this week’s recommendations from the crew.
1. L.A. County Holiday Celebration
Have a holly jolly Christmas with the Music Center on Christmas Eve. This year marks the 63rd annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration, which will bring together more than 20 Los Angeles-based performing artists — from gospel singers Lorenzo Johnson & Praizum to Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre performers. If you can’t make it to the Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Downtown Los Angeles, don’t worry. The experience will also be broadcast live on PBS SoCal. Free tickets will be given out on a first come, first served basis. The art extravaganza takes place from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday. Additional details can be found on the Music Center’s website.
2. Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Christmas Eve”
You’re most likely familiar with Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” but have you seen Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera “Christmas Eve”? Times classical music critic Mark Swed recommends this “wonderfully wonderland-ish” alternative to get you into the Christmas spirit. The opera, which premiered in 1895, takes place in the Ukrainian village of Dikanka. It follows a blacksmith named Wakula, who must find the Russian empress’ golden shoes and gift them to the woman of his dreams before she will marry him. The best part: You can dig into this festive tale from home. Oper Frankfurt’s 2021 performance of the opera is available to stream for free on Operavision for the rest of the month. Sung in Russian, subtitles are available in English, German, French, Japanese and Korean. The DVD and Blu-ray can be purchased through Naxos.
3. “The Immersive Nutcracker: A Winter Miracle”
If you still haven’t had enough of “The Nutcracker,” take it to the next level with “The Immersive Nutcracker: A Winter Miracle” in Hollywood. This recommendation from The Times’ Deborah Vankin brings the holiday classic to life with projections and a life-size nutcracker, while maintaining dance performances and Tchaikovsky’s music. Tickets cost $30 and can be found on the event website. If you can’t make it this weekend, schedule your trip in advance before the show closes at the end of the month.
4. “Scandinavian Design and the United States, 1890-1980”
This year has really flown by so it’s easy to have missed some great art exhibitions, even those at L.A.’s major museums. Take a step back from the holiday hubbub and visit Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s “Scandinavian Design and the United States, 1890-1980” exhibition on display until Jan. 13. This colorful exhibit explores the cultural and design exchanges between the United States and Nordic countries. The gallery, recommended by The Times’ art and design columnist Carolina Miranda, is separated into six thematic sections: “Migration and Heritage,” “Teachers and Students,” “Travel Abroad,” “Selling the Scandinavian Dream,” “Design for Diplomacy” and “Design for Social Change.” It goes through four decades of design, showing how immigrants have shaped today’s furniture, toys and other domestic objects. According to Miranda, the installation design by Barbara Bestor elevates the experience. LACMA is usually closed on Wednesdays, but is open today and next Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in addition to its regular hours (11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday). However, they will close early on Saturday and only be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are free with a valid California ID.
5. Robert Vargas Square and Mural Scavenger Hunt
Last Friday, the City of Los Angeles named the intersection of 1st and State streets in Boyle Heights Robert Vargas Square, in honor of the renowned artist and muralist. Vargas grew up in Boyle Heights and has created murals in Dubai, London and Tokyo, in addition to Los Angeles. If you’re looking to traverse the city this weekend, embark on the Vargas mural scavenger hunt. A few of his mural locations are noted on his Wescover page and on his social media. End the day with a look at his work-in-progress in Pershing Square on South Hill and West 5th streets. When it’s complete, he hopes to break a Guinness World Record for the largest mural in the world by a single artist. Vargas finished the first panel in November and it’s already an incredible glimpse into Los Angeles culture.
Bonus round: “EXHIBIT,” a Beastie Boys Exhibition
You gotta fight for your right to party, but no need to fight for a look behind the curtain at the iconic Beastie Boys. Beyond the Streets and Goldenvoice present “EXHIBIT,” a comprehensive survey of the band’s nearly 40-year musical career. The free exhibit displays Beastie Boys memorabilia, including instruments and personal items. Take a look at what shaped the sound of the New York City band — which mixed punk rock with hip-hop — at Beyond the Streets and Control Gallery on La Brea Avenue. The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Details can be found on Beyond the Streets’ website and tickets are available on AXS.
Your L.A. weekend, all mapped out
For a more comprehensive roundup of exhibitions, concerts, screenings, festivals and other events, check out Matt Cooper’s “Culture Guide.” The mapped list is a go-to for those of you who make plans based on the commute, and it also can be filtered by type of event and by price.
And for a more festive round-up, check out Cooper’s ultimate guide to holiday shows, listing where to see everything from “A Christmas Carol” to “The Nutcracker Suite.” Find the extensive list, broken down by date, here.
On my mind
Last Wednesday, I went to see Rogue Machine’s world premiere of “Little Theatre” by Justin Tanner and it was worth the hype. The tell-all play goes behind the curtain of Los Angeles theater. It is based on Tanner’s real-life experience working at the Cast Theatre (renamed El Centro Theatre in the play) as he discovers his talent as a playwright and navigates 1990s Los Angeles.
What stuck out to me was how quintessentially L.A. “Little Theatre” is. In between comedic jabs, characters referenced venues like the Mark Taper Forum and Fountain Theatre and publications like The Times and Stage Beat. It’s a crash course on the culture of the city.
Direction by Lisa James brings Tanner’s autobiographical play to life. Monica (Jenny O’Hara) dominates the stage with her relentless critiques of El Centro Theatre’s managing director Danny (Ryan Brophy) and in-house playwright James (Zachary Grant). She targets James’ mommy issues and Danny’s incompetence. Monica becomes the recipient of emotional punches in a climactic scene that puts her at odds with the two men who want more for themselves and the theater. While James had held in his concerns to maintain a sense of peace, his pent-up anger comes out in a bone-chilling proclamation of departure. Meanwhile, Danny, who spoke just as aggressively as Monica, sits in silence. The air is thick as Danny sits in the rubble, only to look at Monica one last time — pain and acceptance written all over his face — before exiting.
And yet, despite Monica’s abuse, James has the cathartic realization that their love for one another was all-enduring. “Little Theatre” runs until Jan. 8 and tickets can be found on Rogue Machine’s website. For more on the production, check out The Times’ review by Charles McNulty.
Insights: Where can you ice skate in L.A.?
Los Angeles may be known for its beaches and constant sunshine, but that does not mean you can’t find places to ice skate in the city. Put on those skates, bundle up and get ready to immerse yourself in the holiday spirit with these ice skating opportunities:
- Holiday Ice Rink at Pershing Square: In the heart of Downtown L.A., a pop-up rink offers space for first-time and experienced skaters to take to the ice. The rink is open until Jan. 8 and general admission (which also includes a skate rental) costs $20. For more details on the rink, check out its website.
- Ice at Santa Monica: The corner of Fifth Street and Arizona Avenue in Santa Monica has turned into a winter wonderland with a pop-up rink set up until Jan. 16. The rink is open from noon to 10 p.m. daily and admission (including a skate rental) costs $20. For more details and opportunities for special events, visit its website.
- L.A. Kings Holiday Ice: This rink is perfect for sports fans and amateur skaters alike. The annual L.A. Kings Holiday Ice at L.A. Live is open until Jan. 8. Tickets (which include a skate rental) range from $20 to $45 and can be found on the L.A. Live website.
- Pasadena Ice Skating Center: For a year-round skating experience, take a trip to Pasadena, where the Pasadena Ice Skating Center offers public skating sessions throughout the week. Individual tickets range from $14 to $18 and can be found on the center’s website.
Go out speed round
Go out before it closes: I know, I know, I’m recommending yet another performance of “The Nutcracker,” but this one is reaching the end of its run and it’s from the Los Angeles Ballet, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. The production is set in 1912 Los Angeles with hints of SoCal throughout the show. The ballet closes Monday and remaining tickets range from $45 to $110. Learn more on Los Angeles Ballet’s website.
Go out for free: Catch the North American premiere of “Amazônia” at the California Science Center in Exposition Park. The exhibition features 200-plus photographs by Brazilian photojournalist Sebastião Salgado and showcases the Amazon’s Indigenous cultures and people who inhabit the region. The exhibition is free and runs until February. Details can be found on California Science Center’s website.
Go out and learn: The immersive experiences continue with “Beyond King Tut: The Immersive Experience” near downtown L.A. The hour-long, self-guided journey into the archaeological discoveries of ancient Egypt, from the temple at Karnak to the Great Sphinx, travels back 3,000 years to the 18th dynasty under the rule of King Tut. Tickets range from $21 to $75. The exhibition is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday (Christmas Eve). Normal hours and ticketing details can be found on the event’s website.
Go out with the kids: Peppa Pig is in SoCal and she’s got an exciting camping trip in store. Join the beloved character and her family and friends — including Pedro Pony, Suzy Sheep and Gerald Giraffe — at the Fred Kavli Theatre in Thousand Oaks for a live musical performance with Round Room Live. Tickets range from $36 to $77 and can be found on Peppa Pig Live’s website.
Go out on a date: Get cozy with your significant other for an outdoor screening of “Love Actually” with Street Food Cinema. The classic holiday rom-com follows eight couples leading up to Christmas in London. There will be food trucks at the dog-friendly event at Heritage Square Museum. General admission costs $36 if bought in advance and $41 at the event. There are two showings of the movie on Thursday, at 6:30 p.m. and again at 8 p.m.
Go out all day: Celebrate the holidays with the Warner Bros. “Holidays Made Here” tour. The tour will center on the Midwest Street Backlot, where “Gilmore Girls” fans may recognize Stars Hollow. The special holiday tours begin Thursday and run until Jan. 1. Tickets range from $57 to $299, depending on the experience you choose, and can be found on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour website.
Go out and wander: Missing the snow? Venture to Ventura this weekend to visit the “Snow N Glow” festival. Bring along the family to dive into fun activities like snow tubing, holiday fireworks and a winter wonderland light experience. The festival takes place from 4 to 9 p.m. today through Saturday. Monday is the last day of the experience. Tickets range from $14.99 to $37.99, with additional costs for add-ons, and can be found on the festival’s website.
Go out for a late night: Please don’t stop the music, Rihanna is on! The Moroccan Lounge in Little Tokyo presents “Pon de Riri: Rave to Rihanna” on Friday. As we wait for a new Rihanna album with bated breath, the music venue/bar has you covered with a night full of her top hits. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 the day of. Doors open at 9:30 p.m. Details can be found on the Moroccan Lounge’s website.
More from the crew here
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SoCal might not have much snow, but it’s still got some winter gems to explore so take a look at the 25 best California experiences to add to your winter bucket list.
Searching for holiday cheer? Try this seasonal road trip down the California coast.
I’m all ears!
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Follow our feed of recommendations and itineraries on Instagram and Twitter, and if you have recs of your own, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.