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Costuming for the Winter Holidays

for Los Angeles (and beyond) 2009

The winter holidays season - Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Solstice and beyond  - is a time of family gatherings, crafts, celebrations and admit it... shopping.  Often places re-make themselves into an old-fashioned world or create a picturesque fantasy to help with the mood. 

Many places add the wonderful ambiance of Yuletide costumes to their holiday events.  Here is a highlight of some of Los Angeles's events.

Whether you dress up or just want to go to watch costumed folks in Los Angles and celebrate. (Check Other Sources for hints on how to find more events.)

bulletThe Romance of Dance though the ages
bulletStreet Fairs, Museums and Celebrations
bulletAmusement Park Makeovers as Winter Wonderlands
bulletShop 'till  you drop - pre and post
bulletOther Sources for Holiday news and events
bulletCheck out more events on our standard event page

The Romance of Dance though the Ages

Historic dace can be the highlight of the entire holiday season.  In costume, it certainly is the most romantic.

Most of these dances require tickets be purchased in advance and most require at least, an attempt at the costume of the period.  However, first time out, most will allow modern formal wear.  There are other dances throughout the year where you can learn.

Miss Haseltine's Drum

Regency ballroom dances are charming, and  not very difficult. Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven all wrote dance music.  Select dances for all levels. West side of Los Angeles.  Light refreshments.

bulletSunday, November 7 & December 5, 2009
bulletTickets $5   -  7:30-11:00
bulletLindberg Park
bullet5041 Rhoda Way, Culver City (Near the 10/405 freeways)
bulletCostume of about the year 1800 is welcome, but not required.

English Country Dance - Monrovia

Dances for 1650 to present day are taught.  Beginners welcome, no partner required.

bulletInfo:626-397-2202 or
bulletFriday, November 13, 2009
bulletSt Luke's Episcopal church, corner of Foothill Blvd. & California Ave, Monrovia
bulletTickets $5 -  7:30 - 10pm
bulletWear comfortable clothes and soft shoes

English Country Dance - Annual Harvest Ball

Honoring this year’s bountiful autumn Harvest.  Sup at a sumptuous feast and dance with our friends from villages near and far.  Formal attire please.

Earlier in the day with be beginner and intermediate dance.  Box lunches may be purchased.

bulletSaturday , December 12, 2009.
bulletDinner starts at 6pm
bulletTickets $35, include dinner.  Buy tickets early, may sell out.
bulletLunch separate
bulletSouth Pasadena Woman's Club
bullet1424 Fremont Ave
bulletFormal attire required,   from 1700-1820 preferred but not required
bulletEnglish Country Dancing and Instruction on the second and fourth Thursdays of every month.  See website for location and more details

Social Daunce Irregulars Grand Ball

bulletInfo: , tickets $25, may be purchased on line.  Note: they also hold dance classes in advance of all balls.
bulletUpcoming balls:
bulletWinter Ball, November 28, 2009  
bulletPasadena Mason Hall
bulletSpring Ball, March 6, 2010
bulletPasadena Masonic Hall
bulletSummer Ball, June 13, 2009
bulletThorp Church, Pasadena
bulletTo add to the ambiance, we suggest, but do not insist that our patrons wear the formal attire or military uniforms (any nation) of the 19th Century



Museums, Street Fairs and Celebrations

Homestead Museum

A Southern California Christmas

"Experience southern California Christmas traditions from the 1840s, 1870s, and 1920s at an afternoon fair with music, historic house tours, theatrical performances, crafts, food, and much more. Santa Claus will also be on hand for the festivities!"

bullet15415 East Don Julian Road, City of Industry
bulletSunday,  December 13, 2009
bulletFree but bring spending money for food and shopping

Evening Holliday Tours

"Visitors to enjoy the period decorations by moonlight! Tours will focus on how the celebration of Christmas in southern California changed from the 1840s through the 1920s. Following the tour, visitors can enjoy cider and some sweet treats in the Pio Pico Gallery."

bulletSaturday, December 19, 2009 - 4-8pm
bulletAdmission $5, $3 seniors/students/children
bulletTickets on sale Nov 1
bulletAdvance purchase recommended.

Heritage Square Museum Lamplight Celebration

This year's program includes a special 40th Anniversary theme. Guests will dance and experience an 1890s ball featuring the first Grand Marshall of the Rose Bowl Parade in the grand parlor of the Perry Residence, screen-test for silent movies in 1910 inside the beautiful Hale House, and see the beauty of other holiday traditions bringing families together in the 1930s inside the Valley Knudsen Garden Residence/Shaw House. Costumed hosts transport visitors from house to house while warm apple cider and tasty treats await museum visitors at the end of their tour.

bulletInfo:  or  323-225-2700

December 4-5, 2010 - Starts at 4pm, every 20 minutes, continuing to 8:30pm


Heritage Square Museum, 3800 Homer Street (Exit 110-Pasadena Freeway at Avenue 43)


Tickets $20/$10 for children 12 and under, member discount


Heritage House: A Southern California Christmas

"Join Heritage Square Museum as we chronicle how Christmas was celebrated in the Southland from the late 19th through the mid 20th centuries.  Over fifty historic images offer a glimpse of the culture, commerce and art of Christmas in Southern California from 1880 to 1950, capturing the core details of holiday celebrations in each era".

bulletInfo:  or 323-225-2700

Heritage Square Museum, 3800 Homer Street (Exit 110-Pasadena Freeway at Avenue 43)

bulletA Southern California Christmas
bulletSaturday and Sundays, November 20 to January 15,
bulletTickets $10
bulletDesigner Holiday House Tour
bulletSaturday and Sundays, November 27 to January 3,

Victorian Christmas, Fireside traditions - Banning House Museum

Canceled for 2009, back in 2010

Much research has been done to ensure that the Museum will reflect realism in decor and display a re-creation of "A Victorian Christmas, Fireside Traditions". In addition to tours of the Museum, you will enjoy free transport on a horse-drawn trolley between the Museum and Drum Barracks as well as specially planned old fashioned activities.  Light refreshment provided, lunch available for purchase.

bulletInfo:   or (310) 548-7777
bulletDecember 6-7, 2008. 11 to 4, $5 donation
bullet401 E. "M" Street, Wilmington, South of the Pacific Coast Hwy, E of Avalon Blvd.

"Navidad in Early California" Christmas Candlelight Tours / Christmas Open House - Rancho Los Cerritos

"Christmas 1850 at Rancho Los Cerritos and explore holiday traditions and life in early California with the Temples, their guests and ranch workers.  The 160-year-old adobe house will come to life with the sights and sounds of holidays past, including Christmas greenery and decorations authentic to the period."  Holiday music and refreshments after the tour.

bulletInfo: or 562-570-1755
bulletRancho Los Cerritos, 4600 Virginia Rd, Long Beach
bullet"Navidad in Early California" Christmas Candlelight Tours
bulletSat & Sunday, December 23-13, 2009  6:30-8:30
bullet$8 members, $10 non-members, reservations required, sells out
bulletChristmas Open House
bulletSunday December 6, 2009,  1-4
bulletFree, reservations not required
bulletRefreshments, Santa, Piñata

Gilded Age Holiday in the Mansion

Gather family and friends for a Gilded Age Holiday in the Mansion tour and enjoy the beauty and history of Edwardian-style holiday décor in the 100 year-old Fenyes Mansion, one of the few remaining grand residences that once lined Orange Grove Boulevard -- Pasadena's famed "Millionaire's Row."  Trained docents will weave stories of long-ago holiday celebrations with details of the decorating styles of the early 1900s and the genesis of many of today's cherished traditions.  

Complete your festive afternoon with a special tea beginning at 1:45 pm at one of the city's signature dining spots, The Raymond Restaurant. Originally the caretaker's cottage of the famed Raymond Hotel, the restaurant is located at 1250 S. Fair Oaks Ave.

bulletInfo: or 626 577-1660, ext. 20
bulletThursdays, December 4, 11, 18, 2008, 12:15 pm
bulletFenyes Mansion
bullet470 West Walnut Street,  Pasadena

Tour $8  (advance payment required);


Tea $25 (payable at restaurant; 20% percent of your restaurant bill will be donated to the Museum).


Sunday, December 14, 2008 - 1-4pm

Free holiday open house

Old Riverside Foundation Victorian 12th Night Celebration

Progressive Dinner in the Heritage Square Historic District, Riverside.  Horse drawn carriages take guests to 3 vintage homes decorated in holiday splendor. Delicious gourmet food, elegant but fun. Live music and carolers. Victorian dress encouraged or dress festive, but for a carriage ride.  Fundraiser for Old Riverside Foundation historic preservation group.

bulletInfo: Old Riverside Foundation: or   951-683-2725
bulletFriday & Saturday, January 9 & 10, 2009
bullet6:30 & 8:30 pm
bulletTickets $85
bulletRiverside Historic District, exact address w/ tickets

Ice Skating at Pershing Square

Looking for a chance to ice skate out doors????  Pershing Square Into a Winter Wonderland.  Not quite a costume event, but you could wear your Victorian's for an old fashion skate.  Youth hockey clinics, concerts and entertainment for kids are all at no cost.  (See site for specific events.)

Musical entertainment includes weekday lunch shows, everything from disco to reggae, Friday evening is tribute bands, Saturday 1-3 is kids, Sunday afternoon is country, swing, jazz.  Thursday evening is for rock bands.

bulletInfo: and more fun details at 
bulletEvery day -  November 19, 2009 - January 18, 2010
bulletPershing Square
bullet532 S Olive, LA
bullet$6 admission plus $2 skate rental
bulletSpaceland on Ice
bullet8-10 Wednesdays, Dec & Jan
bulletRock around the Rink
bullet8-10, Thursday, Dec 3, 10, 17
bulletFriday Freeze Zone
bullet8-10, Fridays
bulletSwing Sundays
bullet8-10, Sundays
bulletWinter Holliday Festival
bulletSat & Sun, Dec 12-13, 11-6pm
bulletFree entertainment, Snow, Kids Crafts
bulletKids programs
bulletSaturdays, 1:30 & 2:30

Ships in Costume!

There are a couple of holiday spectacular in the Harbor.  The boats will be all decked out in their best lighting.  Dress on the crews will vary.

bulletMarina del Rey Boat Parade, one of the largest boat parade on the west coast
bulletDecember 12, 2009  Saturday 6-8 pm (Fireworks at 5:55)
bulletBurton Chance Park and Fisherman's village
bulletInfo: (310) 670-7130
bulletParade of 1000 Lights
bulletDecember 12, 2009 -  Shoreline Village, Long Beach
bulletInfo: (562) 435-4093
bulletShoreline Yacht Club
bullet Naples Boat Parade, one of the longest running boat parades in So Cal.
bulletDecember 12, 2009 - Canals in Naples Island, Long Beach
bullet Holiday boat rides, Dec 1-28
bulletInfo: (562) 570-5333
bullet Redondo Beach Christmas Boat Parade
bulletDecember 12, 2009, 5:30 - Kings Harbor

More Local City Street Fairs and Local Celebrations

I'm not going to try and catch these.  Some communities with get elaborate during Yuletide, others leave it to the malls, while even others will quietly celebrate.   Check your local paper for special events.  (If you think your group merits singling out, contact us.)

bullet Social Dance Irregulars Vintage Dance and History Events Calendar
bulletEven more groups and blogs with events - Victorian Dance
bulletLos Angeles Almanac list a lot of family friendly activities for December  including parades, tree lightings, street fairs and  museum days.
bulletCity Event Guides
bulletLA Times - The Guide


Amusement Park Makeovers as Winter Wonderlands

Most of Southern Californian's theme parts will do a holiday makeup this December.  If you're a regular to the parts, you know it's always fun to see the twist on the costumes.  This is the only time of the year, the characters outfits are specially designed to help get you in the mood.  Though 90 degree days do seem incongruous with the characters' winter wonderland dress!  Here I'm only going to highlight the biggest costume changes.


Disneyland always remakes their amusement parks into a winter wonderland.  Many of the costumed characters change costumes representing the season.  Victorian Dress is a theme for many of the characters, street bands and singers.  The stage shows, remade for the holidays, show some of the most magical revisions of the costumes of the entire year.  I is well worth the crowds to enjoy.

Haunted Mansion Holiday  is also billed as When Holidays Collide.  Disneyland has remade over their famous Haunted Mansion in the style of "Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas".  The somber New Orleans styled house has been redecorated as Jack Skellington and the other residents of his world descending for some delightful twists on the mix of Christmas and Halloween. Runs though January 6th only.

bulletInfo:  Runs  though January 4th only.  Included with regular admission.
bullet Event detail

Knots Christmas Craft Festival

Giant Victorian-era crafts fair in the western Ghost town inside the park  Snoopy Ice show  and the rollercoasters for a bit more

bulletThanksgiving Day to Christmas Eve


Shop 'till  you drop - pre and post

Stats Floral

bulletThe famous after-Christmas sale for Costumers looking for shinny bits!
bulletCheck out the whole story <here>.


bulletBuilding your own historic costume for the holiday?  Want something beyond the patterns you can find in the fabric stores?
bulletThis store in San Gabriel specializes in historical patterns (and books).
bulletAlso carry a number of hard to find costume accessories including hoop skirts, gloves, spats, top hats, corsets and boning.
bulletTheir web site ( ) has a few examples of their patterns, but they have many more in store.
bulletMoved, visit by appointment only, 626-569-9919


Other Sources for Holiday news and events

Use search engines for events around Los Angeles. Note: no search engines have everything, so dig for info.

bulletCheck out  
bulletLos Angeles Almanac list a lot of family friendly activities for December  including street fairs and  museum days.
bulletWant to check out more costuming around this site:
bulletCostume Links
bulletGeneral Events


If a search engine brought you to this page, you may want to prowl the rest of the Alley Cat Scratch site.  Most of it is about  costumes and resources for them... so if you like dress-up,  come play with da Cat.

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This page last updated 08/23/10