Top 5 Things to Do in L.A. This Week

Installation view photo by Brian Forrest, courtesy of MOCA

As 2013 ticks over to 2014, we might take a moment to reflect on the passage of time. This week presents New Year's traditions both old and new, from a century-old parade and sporting spectacular to an all-new outdoor public party in the heart of the city. There's also a celebration of an iconic American artist, including a look at some of his paintings before they're rotated out for conservation, and a marathon screening of everyone's favorite time-traveling film trilogy. Finally, speaking of time, ours is up for now, as this will be the last weekly events roundup for now. We hope you've enjoyed them. Read on for this week's picks.

Top 5 Things to Do in L.A. This Week

Todd Robbins in "Play Dead." Photo by Michael Lamont

There's no place like home for the holidays, as the old song says. But while that may be true, there are also plenty of legitimate reasons to get out of the house. Perhaps you need a break from visiting family members. Perhaps you're looking for something to do with time off work. Or maybe you just like the sound of Woody Allen playing jazz, the start of a new horse racing season, a music-and-dance-filled holiday program, a macabre magic show, and a classic hip-hop concert. Read on for more.

Top 5 Things to Do in L.A. This Week

One of the puppets from Bob Baker's Holiday Spectacular

Welcome to a very special holiday edition of our weekly roundup. With Christmas, New Year's, Kwanzaa and Festivus around the corner (and Hanukkah just in the rear view), it's no surprise that there's plenty of spirit, singing and celebrating to go around. This week's top events include a fantastical puppet show with more than 100 characters; an "extra, extra cozy" violin concert; a showcase of seasonal cinema; a pair of holiday sing-alongs; and a 5K run with an amusingly unattractive twist. Read on for more.

11 Places to Check Out at the December 2013 Downtown L.A. Art Walk

The Globe (left) and The Orpheum (right) by Teale Hatheway

Big Changes to Art Walk

Art Walk is back this Thursday, December 12, and the recent transition of power was quiet compared to past management changes. Qathryn Brehm is now the official Executive Director and she quickly made the rounds to restore Art Walk's official hours from Noon to 9 p.m. "Ever since I assumed interim role, I heard over and over about having earlier hours from gallery directors, residents, business owners and community leaders," said Brehm. "We have had two gallery meetings since September, and the group asked to make it official -- so that's what we are doing. So far, the news has been very well received." Brehm was operations manager under previous director, Joe Moller, who resigned his post in September.

Beware of the LAPD

They are out in force to hand out tickets for jaywalking. It's their version of seasonal tidings since they have been using downtown's pedestrian culture to make a statement about public safety each holiday season. This year, tickets can be up to $250 and you can be nabbed if you step off the curb when the walk light is counting down. "In the interest of precision, we have posted specific text from the California Vehicle Code below regarding pedestrian violations. In the interest of brevity, no you cannot cross during a flashing red hand or during the countdown," states a post on the Central Division Facebook page (which is getting an earful in the comments and from other bloggy locations).

Recommendation: Start Your Art Walk Experience Here

In the Downtown Art Walk Lounge, where you can get maps to the self-guided tours of galleries, Eric Rosen is the featured artist, the Downtown Center BID will showcase spin art, and The Gloss is the musical guest at the Art Mart. Now, I don't make a big deal about the artisan craft angle, but being the holiday season, I'll make a seasonal nudge to shop. Of course, there is art to purchase in the galleries, which helps directly support the brave curators that have been hanging in while downtown grows. This week, some galleries are jumping on the Noon to 9 p.m. bandwagon, but it's always good to check hours when planning your tour.

Other downtown connection: The city of Los Angeles Department of Transportation in collaboration with Gallery Row Organization (GRO), presents the LADOT TAP Card Design Competition. The deadline is December 18.

Downtown Art Walk Lounge I 634 S. Spring Street

Top 5 Things to Do in L.A. This Week

The Echo Park Craft Fair showcases local artisans this weekend. Photo by Kimberly Genevieve

What do Peter Pan, Dorothy Parker, arts and crafts, tamales, and Amanda Palmer have in common? Any other time, the correct answer would probably be "not much," but this week they just so happen to represent some of the Southland's best events. Read on for more information on where and what to eat, drink, buy, see and listen to over the next seven days.

Top 5 Things to Do in L.A. This Week

Inside the new exhibition "Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic." Photo by Fredrik Nilsen © Calder Foundation

This week is one of many happy returns. There are some homecomings, including that of the Florida-based crime novelist and former Los Angeles Times crime reporter Michael Connelly, who is in town with his new book, and that of the art of Alexander Calder, who is focus of a new exhibition at LACMA, where one of his iconic sculptures has resided for decades. This week also marks the reappearance of such seasonal staples as "The Nutcracker" ballet and Unique L.A.'s Holiday Show. Read on for details on these and more interesting events.

Mission Inn's Massive Festival of Lights Begins Friday

Mission Inn Festival of Lights 2012 I Photo: Courtesy Bebe Kropko

With the Festival of Lights 2013, The Mission Inn once again becomes Riverside's holiday epicenter when its huge lights display are switched on at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, November 29. The streets are likely to be packed with people to witness four million little lights and 400 animated angels, elves, and carolers come to life.

The holiday display, now in its 21st year, has become an annual gift to Southern California from property Owners Duane and Kelly Roberts, who saved the historic landmark from destruction in 1992 and keep it as a hotel and spa today.

Festive marching bands (and speeches by civic leaders) lead into the flip switch on Friday. But if you miss it, the lights are staying up until January 4, so there will be plenty of time to get (or stay) in the Holiday mood.

Top 5 Things to Do in L.A. This Week

Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro, used under a Creative Commons license

This week's roundup comes with an asterisk, because the top thing to do this week is almost certainly to spend Thanksgiving with your loved ones, eat entirely too much food, fall asleep on the couch and then wake up to make a turkey sandwich. That said, there's plenty more to do, including burning off some calories before the big meal, helping the homeless, touring the tastes of downtown L.A. by bike, catching a movie while chowing on leftovers, and, of course, getting ready for Christmas.

Top 5 Things to Do in L.A. This Week

Lawrence Brownlee as Tamino in a scene from "The Magic Flute." Photo by Robert Millard

Thanks to a rare calendrical coincidence, Thanksgiving falls on the first day of Hanukkah this year, which should make for some festive holiday fusion. The Skirball Cultural Center, for example, will incorporate Thanksgiving themes and flavors into its annual Hanukkah celebration. But Thanksgivukkah isn't the only interesting combination on the horizon. This week the L.A. Opera presents a fantastical, silent-film-inspired production of "The Magic Flute"; Thomas Dolby performs a high-tech ode to an old English lighthouse; and Ed Fornieles mines the tropes and trash of Hollywood for a pool party like no other. Read on for more.

10 Places to Check Out at the November 2013 Downtown L.A. Art Walk

Mira Schor I CB1

Downtown Art Walk is Thursday, November 14, and the night offers yarn bombing, a one day only exhibition of visual works from Indonesia, and a long-time Art Walk participant showcasing new paintings. The crafts and trucks are still part of Art Walk, and you can get details at the website. For a preview on how you can make it a full day of downtown art beyond Gallery Row, and want links where to check hours, read on.

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