Author: Kara McVey
The Marketplace is tinseled up, wreaths bedeck neighborhood doors and some students have resorted to wearing their pashminas for more than mere fashionability. Winter is just around the corner.
Here in Los Angeles, we may not use tire chains or skis, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that Angelenos are weak on wintertime spirit. Though we’re bereft of snow, we certainly do not lack festivity.
This December, celebrate the holidays with one of L.A.’s favorite traditions: the Holiday Light Festival at Griffith Park. Every year since 1996, L.A.’s Department of Water and Power and Griffith Park have teamed up to create a spectacular display of light during the holiday season. This year, the festival’s light displays illuminate a mile-long course across Crystal Springs Drive, stretching from Los Feliz Boulevard to the L.A. Zoo.
In an effort to show support for eco-friendly practices, the DWP has decided that the course will be vehicle-free for its first few weeks, denying access to cars until “Driving Nights” start on December 18th. Before then, pedestrians are encouraged to come enjoy the course, free from smog and traffic. They warn visitors, however, that it gets fairly chilly, so anyone walking the course should dress warmly.
For those who choose to brave the cold, there is much to look forward to. The festival boasts 26 different displays, representing different scenes from L.A.’s history, landmarks and tributes to local civic and governmental organizations. Some display highlights include electric light models of the Los Angeles Aqueduct Cascades and their designer William Mulholland, a volcano and dinosaur (nicknamed by the DWP “DeWapPoSaurus”), and the surfers of Venice Beach. Between its displays, the course totals over a million energy-efficient LED lights.
A family friendly event, the festival is committed to providing people of all ages with a fun holiday experience. Griffith Park’s L.A. Zoo and Travel Town both offer fun activities for children before and after visiting the light parade. The L.A. Zoo has a herd of reindeer for guests to visit, as well as an assortment of arts and crafts available to visitors. Nearby Travel Town offers $7 train rides to visit Santa throughout most of December.
More than anything, the festival is committed to the happiness of Angeleno families throughout the holiday season.
In addition to hosting an educational “Family Fun Mini-Fair,” the Festival supports the Los Angles Fire Department’s annual Spark of Love Toy Drive, which gives presents to underprivileged children in the L.A. area. The Light Festival’s organizers ask visitors to consider bringing an unwrapped toy to donate at the festival entrance to bring a little joy to disadvantaged local kids.
Though the Holiday Light Festival is best known for catering to families and children, it offers something for everyone. Whether you go for the brilliant lights, the occasionally over-the-top displays, the family-oriented activities or just to start getting into the season cheer, this 14th Annual Holiday Light Festival is sure to please.
The festival runs from now until December 30th, daily from 5 to 10 p.m. Car traffic and shuttle bus services start December 18th. Admission is free.
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