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Get Festive: 5+ Free Holiday Haps at LA Shopping Centers

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Don't let this week's scorching heat fool you—the holidays are nigh, bringing many merry and free winter-ish happenings to LA's many shopping malls and retail stretches. Weary shoppers, kiddos, and miserable male companions have plenty of mid-spree entertainment options to keep their spirits bright during the prezzie-shopping season; from star-studded concerts to epic light shows to towering Christmas trees (including one that beat the Rockefeller Center's sky-high evergreen), see the free sights and events to hit up now through December. Check back again as this list will be updated.

1. The Grove (189 The Grove Drive; 888-315-8883):
As mentioned, the LA shopping center's annual boy band-backed tree lighting show takes place Sunday, November 16th at 7:30pm with performances by Aloe Blacc, Pentatonix, and legendary group Earth, Wind, and Fire. The Grove's towering 100-foot white fir will be illuminated with 15,000 lights and 10,000 ornaments; it'll be on display through the end of the year.

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2. Beverly Center (8500 Beverly Blvd; 310-854-0070):
Bring your four-legged pals and join stars (and their furry friends) in welcoming Santa to the upscale shopping center on Level 6's Center Court on November 13th. Shoppers can take snaps at an Art Deco-inspired holiday set, complete with an oversized gold Santa chair and a backdrop of LA's iconic skyline. Plus, the first 50 guests score a free Santa pet portrait and will be entered to win a $500 Beverly Center shopping spree.

Khloe Kardashian with Shrek and Santa at Thursday's event kick-off. Image via

3. Glendale Galleria (100 W Broadway; 818-246-6737)
Kids of all ages can take a magical trip to the North Pole with Shrek at the recently renovated mall's interactive Adventure to Santa. Created by DreamWorks Animation, the holiday experience includes virtual flight on a fancy customized sleigh a tour through Santa's 2,000-square-foot cottage, cool light shows, photos with Santa and Shrek, and more fun activities. Sched your free sleigh ride here and purchase photo packages here.

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4. Americana at Brand (889 Americana Way; 818-637-8982):
Like its sister shopping center The Grove, the Glendale retail hub is also readying its massive Yuletide tree. Its grand illuminated debut is set for Wednesday, November 19th; stay tuned for details.

Photo by Vince Bucci/AP Images via via

5. Two Rodeo Drive (Rodeo Drive b/w Dayton and Brighton Ways):
Beverly Hills's annual Rodeo Drive Holiday Lighting ceremony takes place November 23rd at 6pm. In addition to illumating the famous 90210 boulevard with nearly 150,000 lights, the glitzy event will bring 16 full-sized Baccarat chandeliers, decked-out palm and birch trees, hundreds of red poinsettias, and more. A fireworks show and a confetti "snow" shower will cap off the festivities.

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6. Citadel Outlets (100 Citadel Drive; 323-888-1724):
Home of the largest Christmas bow in the world, the Commerce outlet center will light its record-breaking 115-foot-tall Christmas tree during its 13th annual holiday tree lighting ceremony on Saturday, November 8th from 5 to 7pm. The outdoor event also includes performances by The Voice's Christina Grimmie, X Factor's Josh Levi, country singer Jana Kramer, YouTube star Cimorelli, and pop boy band After Romeo. Attendees are also encouraged to bring unwrapped toy donations to benefit the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles.

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7. Woodland Hills Ice at Westfield Promenade (6100 Topanga Canyon Blvd; 818-854-4151):
The Valley mall's 7,000-square-foot ice rink kicks off sixth season on Saturday, November 15th at 11am with a full day of family-friendly activities. Enjoy free face painting, live performances, and more; food trucks will also be in the house. Skating sessions including rentals are available in two-hour increments ($13 for kids 8 and under, $15 for ages 9 and up, and $20 for an all-day pass).

Added 11/11:

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8. Westfield Century City (201 N Los Angeles St; 310-277-3898)
Remember those artsy reindeer that decked out the soon-to-be-renovated mall last season? They're trotting (flying?) back into the shopping center from December 1st through 24th, when shoppers can admire the works painted by local artists. Throughout the month, Santa and his Merry Makers will be roaming around the retail hub for photo ops, while Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Pink Taco, and other restos will be offering treats for shoppers.

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9. Westfield Culver City (6000 Sepulveda Blvd; 310-390-5073):
The family-friendly Chanukah Festival lights up the Dining Terrance from on Tuesday, December 16th from 5:30 to 7pm, when shoppers can enjoy a Lego Menorah lighting ceremony, face painting, grub, music, and more. Then on Thursday, December 18th, meet Santa at the Center Court for bites, crafts, story time, and photo ops from 9am to 10am. The jolly man of the season returns to the mall December 23rd from 9am to 10am, when families brunch over a prix fixe breakfast for four from Creme de la Crepe ($30; reserve your seats by calling 310-390-7833).

Added 11/17:

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10. Santa Monica Place (395 Santa Monica Place; 310-260-8333)
Santa sleighs the beach during the upscale coastal shopping center's Tree Lighting Ceremony, taking place November 20th at 6pm. The event kicks off with a parade down Third Street Promenade at Wilshire Boulevard, followed by live music at SaMo Place's Center Court at 6:30pm and the tree lighting at 7pm.

The Grove

189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90036 323-900-8080 Visit Website