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Things to do at the Santa Monica Pier during Winter Break

Published on December 19, 2019

Winter break begins when local Los Angeles schools let out for the holidays. The Santa Monica Pier offers great activities for kids, families, and those playing host to guests from out of town. 


Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier is the best place to visit over the holiday break. Free entertainment, holiday specials, and extended hours make the Park and Pier an easy and fun stop during your winter break schedule.

Rides at the Pier are open later during winter break

Pacific Park opens earlier and closes later during the winter break. The amusement park opens at 11 AM every day from Saturday, December 21st 2019 to Sunday, January 5th 2020. Closing times vary: the rides will close around 11 PM on Sundays, by 9 PM Monday – Thursday, and around midnight on Friday and Saturday. Pacific Park is open 11 AM – 9 PM on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Operating hours are subject the change with the weather, so be sure to check the latest times by visiting or by calling (310) 260-8744, ext 0.


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Free holiday musical performances by the Noelles

The all-female a cappella quintet, The Noelles, will sing your favorite holiday carols in their signature 1960’s doo-wop style on Saturday and Sunday December 21 & 22 at 4, 5, and 6 PM outside the Merry-go-round on the East end of the Pier. This free event is open to the public so swing on by and sing along to holiday classics like Run, Run, Rudolph, Santa Claus is Comin to Town and All I want for Christmas is You.

View the candied-winter window art by Pip & Pop at the Merry-go-round building

Reminiscent of department store window displays that teased holiday shoppers in the mid 20th century, the windows of the historic carousel building on the Pier, The Charles Looff Hippodrome, are all decked out for the holidays. Australian artist Tanya Schultz works as Pip & Pop to create immersive installations and artworks from an eclectic range of materials including sugar, glitter, candy, plastic flowers, everyday craft materials, and found objects. The colorful and imaginative artworks will remain on display through January 6th.


See fun, larger-than-life holiday-themed icons, emojis, and winter designs on the Pacific Wheel’s nightly light program

From December 13th to 30th, Pacific Park will showcase a holiday light program on the world-famous Pacific Wheel. The program features fun and festive holiday icons like a Santa Clause Emoji, festive wreath, happy snowman and a running reindeer. The lights go on nightly around dusk (4:30 PM) and run until 11:30 PM or later. Share a photo of your favorite holiday design on Instagram and tag us @pacpark to be featured in our holiday photo gallery. If you can’t make it down to the Pier, check out the lights on our live-streaming web cams.


Go ice skating under the shade of palm tree

Every holiday season Downtown Santa Monica brings a little ice to the city streets, transforming the corner of Fifth Street and Arizona Avenue into full-fledged ice skating rink known as Ice at Santa Monica. Open 2 PM – 10 PM weekdays, open til midnight on the weekends. Rent skates and enjoy the ice all day for only $15.


Visit the Annenberg Community Beach House and take the Polar Bear Plunge

Start a new holiday tradition by taking a chilly dip in the Pacific at the 3rd Annual Polar Bear Swim at the Annenberg Community Beach House. Dip your toes, take a plunge or go for a 300-yard or 500-yard buoy swim in the great Pacific, then warm up in the heated Beach House pool. Festivities start 9 AM Saturday, December 28th. $10.


Count down the new year on the beach watching the lights of the Pacific Wheel

The Pacific Wheel will count down to 2020 just a few minutes before midnight on New Years Eve. The Ferris wheel will display an illuminated countdown 130 feet over the Pacific Ocean. Skip the busy concerts and crowded parties by taking in the sand, salty air, and calming waves of the Pacific from the beach by the Pier – the countdown can be seen up to a mile away. If you can’t make it to this side of Lincoln, you can always see the wheel lights on our live-streaming webcams.


Photos courtesy of, cherryslush1966, and @90s_hector.