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Guide: South East LA Christmas tree lightings and other holiday events

Christmas tree in front of Lakewood City Hall. Photo: City of Lakewood.


Public Christmas tree lightings have a rich history in American life, dating back as early as 1912 when Boston and New York held first-in-the-nation public tree lightings within half an hour of one another–Boston holds the distinction of being the first by a hair, as reported by  

Locally, tree lightings have long been a source of civic pride and a kick-off for the holiday season. Cities in South East Los Angeles County are hosting events with a multitude of diverse offerings ranging from churros to chili and performances ranging from a Peruvian ensemble to marching bands. 

Here is a guide to over two dozen local tree lightings and other holiday festivities. All events are free to attend!

Downey: Monday, Dec. 4, 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Location: Civic Center (11111 Brookshire Avenue)

Downey’s Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place in the Civic Center and feature live entertainment, a snow play area, food and refreshments, and of course, the big guy himself. Come take a picture with Santa Claus and write him a letter. Performances will be presented by local schools and the Downey Rose Float Association will be selling delicious treats. A vendor fair will feature local businesses. The tree itself, purchased earlier this year, is 30 feet high and 14 feet in diameter. Actual tree lighting will occur at approximately 6:30 PM. 

On Dec. 11 and 18, Downey will also be hosting a Holiday Caravan wherein Santa Claus will be making several appearances around town. Viewing points include City Hall, Ward Elementary, Apollo Park, and Furman Park.

Pico Rivera: Sunday, Dec. 3, 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Location: City Hall (6615 Passons Boulevard)

Pico Rivera’s Holiday Festival will take place at City Hall. Festivities include a snow play area, tree lighting, food, and live entertainment.

South Gate: Tuesday, Dec. 5,  4:00 PM – 08:00 PM

Location: City Hall (8650 California Avenue)

South Gate’s Winter Wonderland will take place in front of City Hall. Along with the tree lighting, the event will feature a toy giveaway, a snow play area, and a visit from Santa. Plus free churros and hot chocolate.

On Dec. 10, the South Gate Chamber of Commerce will host the 76th Annual South Gate Children’s Christmas Lane Parade and Festival which will include free toys, live entertainment, food, photos with Santa, and vendor booths.

Santa Fe Springs: Saturday, Dec. 2, 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Location: Soaring Dreams Plaza (Telegraph Road and Pioneer Boulevard)

Santa Fe Springs’s Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place at the Soaring Dream Plaza. The event will include sledding, free treats, crafts, and an opportunity to take a photo with Santa, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa’s elves. Photos with Santa are $2 each. 

Santa Fe Springs will also host a “Las Posadas,” a traditional Latin procession celebrating Mary and Joseph’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of shelter, on Dec. 8. Holiday carols will be sung in both English and Spanish and there will be performances by folklorico dancers and mariachi. Food will be available for purchase. To participate in the procession, meet at the main entrance of Heritage Park (12100 Mora Drive) by 6:30 PM.

A Santa Float will be visiting neighborhoods across South Gate from Dec. 5 – Dec. 18. Stops include Los Nietos Park and Little Lake Park. 

Paramount: Wednesday, Nov. 29, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Location: Downtown Paramount (Jackson Street and Paramount Boulevard)

Paramount is celebrating its 25th Anniversary Tree Lighting Ceremony, taking place in Downtown Paramount on the corner of Jackson Street and Paramount Boulevard. Enjoy free hot chocolate and cookies and nab a commemorative gift while supplies last. Entertainment will be provide by Columbian cumbia singer Vilma Díaz y La Sonora, Latinas Art Foundation, and Kimberly’s Dance Studio.   

Norwalk: Saturday, Dec. 2, 6:00 PM – 9 PM

Location: City Hall Lawn (12700 Norwalk Boulevard)

Norwalk’s Holiday Festival and Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place at the Norwalk Civic Center Lawn. The event will feature snowslides, food trucks, game booths, photos with Santa, and live entertainment.

Lynwood: Thursday, Nov. 30, 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM

Location: City Hall Front Lawn (11330 Bullis Road)

Lynwood’s Tree Lighting Countdown will take place at the City Hall Front Lawn. The event will feature pictures with Santa and musical performances by Bellas on Pointe, Solid Stone Steppers, Firebaugh High School Band. Lynwood will also host its Candy Cane Lane Christmas Parade on Dec. 8 and a Snow Day on Dec. 15.

Bellflower: Friday, Dec. 1, 6:30 PM

Downtown Bellflower at Friendship Square (16559 Bellflower Boulevard)

Bellflower’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place in Downtown Bellflower at Friendship Square located within Pirate Park. The event will feature Santa Claus, carolers, and snow sledding. 

Bellflower will also be hosting a Kids Christmas Party at John S. Simms Park (16614 S. Clark Avenue) from 10:30 AM – 1:00 PM on Dec. 9. The event is free but pre-registration is required.

Artesia: Friday, Dec. 1, 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Location: Artesia Park (18750 Clarkdale Avenue)

Artesia’s Winter Wonderland and Holiday Tree Lighting will take place at Artesia Park. The event will feature photos with Santa, a kids’ zone, food trucks, train rides, and 15 tons of snow.

The City of Artesia is also hosting its annual Community Holiday Party at AJ Padelford Park on Dec. 15 from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM. Children under the age 12 who live in Artesia can receive a free toy (pre-registration is required).

Bell: Saturday, Dec. 2, 4:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Location: Bell Community Center (6250 Pine Avenue)

Bell’s Holiday Village will take place at the Bell Community Center. The first 600 kids to attend will receive a small gift from Santa and his elves. The event will also feature live entertainment, food, and a raffle which will be announced at 8:30 PM. Tree lighting to occur at 6:30 PM.

Commerce: Saturday, Dec. 2, 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Location: City Hall Front Entrance (18125 Bloomfield Avenue)

The City of Commerce’s Community Tree Lighting will take place at City Hall. Santa will have a special gift for kids 12 and under (while supplies last) and delicious treats will be available to all ages. Performances by Commerce Cheer, Kids Clubs Sings, Employee’s Choir, Ballet Folklorico, and Recreation Jazz. 

Cudahy: Monday, Dec. 5, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Location: Clara Street Park (4835 Clara Street)

Cudahy’s Holiday Tree Lighting Event will take place at Clara Street Park. The event will feature food and drinks, arts and crafts, and photos with Santa (bring your own camera). Musical performances will be provided by INCA, The Peruvian Ensemble, which provides “a wonderful and colorful array of music and dances from Peru and the Andean region,” according to their website

Hawaiian Gardens: Friday, Dec. 1, 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Location: C. Robert Lee Activity Center (21815 Pioneer Boulevard)

Hawaiian Gardens’s Christmas Tree Lighting Event will take place at the C. Robert Lee Activity Center. Festivities include refreshments, musical entertainment, and an appearance by Santa.

Huntington Park: Saturday, Dec. 9, 6:00 PM

Location: Slauson Avenue and Pacific Boulevard to Florence Avenue and Pacific Boulevard 

The 72nd Annual Huntington Park Holiday Parade will begin at Slauson Avenue and Pacific Boulevard. The parade will feature professional floats, marching bands, horse carriages, antique trolleys, dance troops, and special guests. 

Lakewood: Friday, Dec. 1, 4:30 PM – 8:00 PM

Location: The Centre (5000 Clark Avenue)

Lakewood’s 10th annual Tree Lighting ceremony and community gathering will take place outside The Centre, next to City Hall. The event will include lots of falling snow, holiday musical entertainment, and carnival games and food trucks (starting at 4:30 PM). Costumed characters will help with several holiday photo scenes, including one with Santa and two large sleighs (bring your own camera). Parking will be available in the parking lot behind The Centre at the corner of Del Amo Boulevard and Clark Avenue. The official tree lighting program starts at 6:30 PM.

Vernon: Thursday, Dec. 7, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Location: City Hall Lawn (4305 South Santa Fe Avenue)

Vernon’s Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony on the Vernon City Hall Lawn. Attendees can enjoy a “Winter Wonderland” with snow, coffee, hot chocolate, and sweet treats. Transportation is available for Vernon residents. 

Compton: Saturday, Dec. 9, 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Location: Compton Boulevard and Bullis Road to Compton Boulevard and Alameda Street

Compton’s Around the World Holiday Celebration will begin at Compton Boulevard and Bullis Road.

La Mirada: Saturday, Dec. 2, 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Location: Splash! La Mirada Regional Aquatics Center (13806 La Mirada Boulevard)

La Mirada’s Chili Holiday will take place Splash! La Mirada Regional Aquatics Center. Free chili dogs, cookies, and coffee and hot chocolate for attendees. Activities include a tree lighting ceremony, snow sledding, holiday train rides, photos with Santa, and live entertainment. The city encourages attendees to bring non-perishable food items and new unwrapped toys to support local families in need. 

Montebello: Saturday, Dec. 2, 3:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Montebello’s Winter Wonderland will take place at City Hall. The event will feature a tree lighting, food and artisan vendors, live entertainment, snow slides, and Santa.

Whittier: Saturday, Dec. 2, 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Whittier’s Festive Tree Lighting and Annual Holiday Sonata will take place at City Hall. Once the 26-foot tree is illuminated (5:00 PM – 6:00 PM), which will include carolers and treats, festivities will continue throughout Uptown Whittier with kids’ holiday activities, photos with Santa, and dance, choir and band performances (6:00 PM – 9:00 PM).