Whether you live in Los Angeles or know someone who will be visiting in the next year, a gift of a special experience that shows you know the tastes of the recipient is a great way to make someone's holiday. Whether your friend or loved one would appreciate a surfing lesson, a luxury spa treatment or a discount coupon book will depend on who they are.
You already know which ones have what kind of taste, so you know which frugal friend will appreciate the constant savings of a 2014 Entertainment Book (on sale now 2/$35 so you can keep one for yourself) and which one will be impressed by spa treatment gift certificate or just really deserves a little pampering. Even your frugal friend may appreciate a massage if they know you got a discount and didn't pay full price (you don't have to tell your diva friend that part). For your more intellectual acquaintances, a Go Los Angeles Card with pre-paid museum admission to a selection of LA's most high-brow museums like the Huntington Library, MOCA, Museum of Tolerance, Autry National Center, to name a few, might do the trick. (Groupon LA also currently has some great deals on museum admissions, among other things). For the extreme adventurer who has done everything, a live fighter pilot experience might still get the adrenaline pumping.
Here are some more LA Experiences You Can Give for all ages.
I had the pleasure of being the guest of the Center Theatre Group to see their production of Peter and the Starcatcher, which opened this week at the Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center. The show got a mixed response, most likely due to unclear expectations. For those expecting the inn0ocent charm of the 1960 Mary Martin Peter Pan and all its emulators, musical or not, there was a bit of a disconnect. Some of those folks left at intermission. For fans of irreverent sketch comedy and cross-dressing pirates, there were a lot of laughs, and still plenty of charm.
The story takes the plot thread from the children's book Peter and the Starcatchers, and introduces back-story elements that turn an unnamed orphan boy into the Peter Pan created in 1903 by James Barrie. But it's not really a children's show, unless your kids are used to watching Saturday Night Live. There are a few songs in the show, but it's not a musical in the traditional sense. The script is packed with puns and snide modern references that pull you out of the historic fantasy and take some getting used to, but once my brain adjusted, I was able to appreciate how the show weaved in such alternate details as how Peter got his magical powers and how the pirate "really" lost his hand.
The predominantly male cast is talented, from the swishy pirate captain played by John Sanders to Joey de Bettencourt, who evolves from the nameless Boy to become heroic Peter. I especially enjoyed Megan Stern, the sole female actor, who played the spunky heroine Molly, the Starcatcher. But I was even more enchanted by Donyale Worle's set design, which created a variety of spaces from cramped ship's quarters to wild ocean waves with creative use of recyclables and a lot of rope, and the staging that used actors as set pieces.
If you're a traditionalist who wants to preserve the classic Peter Pan vision you know and love, this might not be the show for you, but if you enjoy a good farce and pirates that turn into singing mermaids, you'll probably enjoy Peter and the Starcatcher.
Photos by Jenny Anderson courtesy of the Center Theatre Group
Just about every local bar and nightclub in LA will be hosting a New Year's Eve Party, but for the grandest of them all, check out my guide to the Biggest New Year's Eve Celebrations Around LA. There are events listed for every budget. Ticket prices on some events go up closer to the date and some events sell out, so get your tickets now.
The AAA usually offers Tipsy Tow service on New Year's Eve. If you're too intoxicated to drive home, you can call for a Tipsy Tow and the driver and car will be driven home up to 7 miles for free. Beyond 7 miles the driver will be charged for the tow. Passengers are on their own. Call 1-800-400-4AAA.
If you don't have a designated driver, consider taking the Metro. The press release hasn't come out yet for this year, but usually Rides are free on New Year's Eve from 9 pm to 2 am.
You might also consider catching a ride from Uber. I'm not convinced that they're more economical than a standard taxi, but it's easy to book and pay with a smart phone. LA City Cab also has a iPhone app, but I think it's only for booking, not paying.
Since 1995, Bob's Holiday Office Party has been an LA holiday theatrical tradition. It's one of over 30 Holiday Plays in LA this year. Roaming from theatre to theatre over the years, the show has developed a cult following. The zany party takes place this year at the Pico Playhouse Theater.
When: Fri-Sun Dec 4-22, 2013, Wed-Sat 8 pm, Sun 7 pm
Where: Pico Playhouse Theater, 10508 W. Pico, LA 90064
Cost: $20 Wed & Thu, $25 Fri-Sun
Info: www.bobsofficeparty.com, (323) 960-7735
Read a previous Review of Bob's Holiday Office Party.
- Christmas Plays and Musicals in LA (over 30!)
- The Nutcracker Performances Around LA (16 venues!)
- Holiday Concerts and Spectaculars (over 20!)
- Christmas Caroling and Sing Alongs in LA
- LA County Free Holiday Concert
- LA Christmas Traditions
© 2007 Ed Krieger, courtesy of Bob's Holiday Office Party
Decorating boats - from kayaks to yachts - and parading them through Southern California's waterways is a long time Holiday tradition. The first two floating Christmas parades are LA Harbor Holiday Afloat Parade in the LA Harbor this Saturday and the multi--weekend Dana Point Boat Parade of Lights. Get full details in my LA Holiday Boat Parade Guide
Disney's Christmas Fantasy maybe more well-know, but just down the street Knott's Merry Farm puts on it's own holiday showcase with A Charlie Brown Christmas. The month-long event includes twinkly lights, a festive parade, Snoopy on Ice, Peanuts characters, carolers performing throughout the park and a Christmas Craft Fair. In between holiday activities, the parks thrill rides are open. Read more about Knott's Merry Farm.
- LA Christmas Traditions
- Guide to Los Angeles Theme Parks
- Things to Do Within 30 Minutes of Disneyland
Photo courtesy of Knott's Berry Farm
If you're doing your Christmas shopping while in Los Angeles, there are many unique boutiques where you'll find unusual gifts, but if you want to be sure to find something one-of-a-kind, LA's many art walks are a treasure hunter's dream. This week there are First Thursday Art Walks in San Pedro and Laguna Beach. This Friday, you can check out original art and crafts at the Abbot Kinney First Friday Art Walk in Venice Beach or at First Friday in Bixby Knolls in Long Beach, and Santa Ana is the place to be for the First Saturday Art Walk. Events will be decked for the holidays and add strolling carolers and possible Santa sightings for the kids as well as festive refreshments like cocoa and candy canes. More Art Walks continue in other areas throughout the month.
Get the details on all the art walks throughout the month in my guide to LA Art Walks and Studio Tours.
Photos: Wooden roses at the Downtown LA Art Walk; Carolers at First Fridays in Bixby Knolls © 2010 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com
No matter what time of year you are visiting Los Angeles, I always recommend Seeing a Show in LA. But if you're here over the holidays, it's another way to make your visit more festive and memorable. Whether you're taking the family to a classic or alternative version of The Nutcracker or looking for kid-friendly or adult-themed Holiday Plays and Musicals, I have a roundup of shows for every taste.
But there are also a ton of one-off holiday concerts and spectaculars worth seeing on a number of the Southland's best stages. Most of these venues also have at least event on my list of The Nutcracker performances.
In addition to their Christmas Sing Along, The Disney Concert Hall will host holiday concerts by The County Basie Orchestra, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Chanticleer 12/10, Judy Collins 12/17 and a Holiday Organ Spectacular 12/18 as well as a New Year's Eve concert with Sergio Mendes and Sheila E. Get Details
The Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa is hosting the Vanguard University Choir in A Christmas Fantasia 12/3, Fiesta Navidad with Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano 12/4; Millennial Choirs and Orchestras 12/6, the Pacific Symphony performing Handel's Messiah 12/15 and the Manhattan Transfer Christmas Show 12/16, a Holiday Organ Spectacular 12/17, three nights of Christmas with Lee Ann Rimes 12/20 - 22 and the Pacific Chorale Holiday Concert on 12/23. Get Details
The Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live will present 94.7 The Wave's Soulful Christmas with Kenny G and KEM. Get Details
KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas with Arcade Fire, Lorde, Phoenix, Foals, New Politics, Grouplove, Arctic Monkeys, Kings of Leon, Vampire Weekend, Queens of the Stone Age and more will be at Shriner Auditorium 12/7-8. Get Details
A Celtic Christmas with the Young Dubliners with be playing at the Viper Room 12/16. Get Details
LA Mirada Theatre will host the Young Americans The Magic of Christmas 12/13-15 and Fiesta Navidena Mexican Holiday show with Ballet Folklorico Costa de Oro 12/21. Get Details
The Carpenter Center in Long Beach will present the Sonos Handbell Ensemble 12/7 and A Charlie Brown Christmas with David Benoit 12/21. Get Details
I always get excited when a new Cirque du Soleil show comes to town that hasn't been here before, so I was looking forward to Totem, the latest show to visit Southern California, and it does not disappoint. I keep thinking I'll eventually become so accustomed to the amazing feats of human ability that they don't stun me, but it hasn't happened yet. I was completely enthralled. The theme of Totem is the evolution of mankind from the glittering acrobat that drops out of the sky like a falling star and the amphibians emerging from the primordial ooze to swing from a network of bars to comic cave men, and American Indian hoop dancers. The chronology gets a little lost, but the costumes and acrobatic choreography, based on traditions and origin stories of indigenous people around the world contrasted with the elements of the cosmos, are absolutely stunning. The sparkling Crystal Ladies spin and toss floppy squares so fast from all their hands and feet that they look like flying pizzas. Unicyclists representing autumn harvest toss metal bowls from head to head as they race around.
A scientist in a lab juggles balls of light inside a time machine. There's a definite erotic thread through the piece, starting with a hot-bodied duo of male acrobats on the flying rings competing for the attention of an equally hard-bodied female flyer with amazing shows of strength and form. The heat rises with the fixed trapeze duo, who flirt and sulk as they create more jaw-dropping aerial figures. The flame burns hottest between roller skaters in Native American wedding costumes, who implement intricate turns and lifts atop an Indian drum. Who knew roller skating could be so sexy?
Clowns Pippo Crotti and Mikhail Usov provide charming comic relief between the acrobatic acts, and Carl Fillion's ever-transforming set is not just an amazing backdrop or water and reeds for evolution, but is a dynamic character in itself.
Totem will be in Irvine from November 21 to December 29, 2013 at the Orange County Great Park. The final stop will be for three weeks from January 19 to February 9, 2013 at the Santa Monica Pier.
Photos courtesy of Cirque du Soleil
Hanukkah is from November 27 to December 5 for 2013, with the first full day coinciding with Thanksgiving. Festivities started last weekend at the Skirball Cultural Center in Brentwood and continue through December 9, 2013. Most LA events are just one day or evening, but the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica will have menorah lighting ceremonies for all 8 days, starting November 27. For details on these and other events check out my list of Hanukkah Celebrations Around LA.