Official Guide to Holidays at Universal Studios Hollywood

December 13, 2022
USH Christmas

I do not know about you, but as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers are put away, my family goes into full on holiday mode. We HAVE to do all the things — bake cookies, drive around and see lights, decorate every square inch of our house and, most importantly, go to all the major holiday events in town. And in Southern California, one of the best ways to be immersed in the holiday spirit is to enjoy all the holiday festivities at Universal Studios Hollywood, otherwise known as the “Awesomest Celebration of the Season.”

Things To Do

Take In the Sights

With all there is to experience at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal CityWalk, the first thing you will notice is that the entire place is decked out for the holidays. The lights, the decorations and the holiday spirit simply take over this time of year. Make sure to have your camera ready to snap away.

Can’t Miss Moments:

  • Every holiday season, Universal Studios Hollywood is the best place to get some awesome pictures in your holiday sweaters. When arriving, make your way down the Grinch-afied red carpet featuring bright Seussian decorations where you can capture the perfect holiday image for Instagram.
  • Keep your eye out for special holiday decorations throughout the park — you may even spot characters like Illumination’s Minions dressed up in their holiday best!
  • This is a great time to work on some holiday shopping while having fun. Anything you purchase in the park can be picked up at the Universal Studio Store in the front of the park before you head home, making the day a whole lot easier.
  • The characters are also in the spirit of the season! Keep an eye out for some of your favorites wearing their holiday best.


While taking in the holiday sights, meander to the heart of Universal Studios Hollywood for Grinchmas, located in Universal Plaza. Every night a tree-lighting ceremony featuring the Grinch himself, along with the Who-ville Whos, ends with snow around the topsy-turvy 65 foot-tall Grinchmas tree decorated with hundreds of ornaments and thousands of LED lights.

In addition, throughout the day the Grinch and his faithful dog Max are available for your personal holiday photo op, and — new this year! — everyone’s favorite Who, Cindy-Lou Who leads daily story time featuring a reading of Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” You can also send a note to the Grinch listing three good deeds you’ve done and send it via the Who-ville Post Office! Universal works with the Discover a Star Foundation to make a charitable donation for each postcard to “Schools on Wheels”.


  • Make sure to grab your spot early for the tree lighting. It is always one of the most popular events of the day throughout the holiday season. 
  • Keep an eye out for props from “How The Grinch Stole Christmas!”  throughout the Grinchmas area.
  • Do not miss the Grinch, Max, and Cindy-Lou photo ops — especially if your kiddos are in tow. My daughter’s Grinch photo from when she was a toddler adorns my holiday mantle every single year. Plan to get to the line early as this is a popular spot!

Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

It would not be the holiday season at Universal Studios Hollywood without enjoying the sights and sounds of Hogsmeade against the background of snow-capped roofs, which take on an extra special holiday spirit this time of year.

Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter takes place throughout the land, where you can enjoy the sounds of the holidays with a special a capella performance from the Hogwarts Frog Choir, or shop for the special wizards in your life and pick up personalized ornaments and notebooks, as well as plenty of other Wizarding World merchandise you can only get at Universal.

The festivities continue into the evening as our favorite castle comes to life in a dazzling way with “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle.” This truly impressive spectacle showcases stunning imagery and animation projected on the castle and features music and sounds from the “Harry Potter” film series.


  • As with Grinchmas, make sure to stake out your spot in front of Hogwarts castle early (the Triwizard stage is a great place to view the show!). If you are trying to see both shows on the same night, check times when arriving and map out your strategy early in the day. There are multiple viewings of each show, so you should be set! 
  • If you plan on holiday shopping for your favorite Wizarding World fan, make sure you know their Hogwarts house! I promise, if you get it right, your gift could make their holiday season.
  • Make sure to sure to check out the 12 new wands in Ollivanders, including the exclusive wand only available at Universal Studios Hollywood.

The Rides & Shows

While the holiday offerings occur throughout the day, make sure you also plan in time to take in the rides at Universal Studios Hollywood. A few must dos include:

  • Studio Tour – Grab the best seats on the Studio Tour and enjoy this incredible experience through the back-lot of Universal Studios Hollywood. You may even catch some locations featured in your favorite holiday movies!
  • The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash – The whole family will love this special ride through the streets of New Yorkwhere they can meet their favorite characters from Illumination’s The Secret Life of Pets movies. The Pets Place store is also all dressed up for the season and a great photo op for the family!
  • WaterWorld – This unique and beyond fun stunt show is awesome  all year round, but with all new sets, cast and action as of November 2022, Waterworld will definitely add some excitement to your day in the park.

And do not forget the last celebration of the year! New Year’s Eve plans can sometimes be a struggle for my crew, but EVE at Universal Studios Hollywood is a great way to kick-off the new year. EVE is an event only Hollywood could pull off with dancing, photo ops and a midnight countdown celebration with fireworks. There’s a reason they call it Hollywood’s biggest New Year’s Eve celebration! 

What To Eat

Throughout the holiday season, there are a few special food options to keep in mind while you are planning your day at the park.

  • Feast at the Three Broomsticks:  The holiday feast at Three Broomsticks is not to be missed! This feast fit for the entire family will satisfy your hunger so you can focus on all the evening festivities in the park.
  • Savor a Butterbeer:  The holidays are the perfect time to sip Butterbeer (especially hot Butterbeer!) as you stroll through Hogsmeade.
  • Save Snack Time for Grinchmas:  A special array of holiday treats and hot chocolate are available in Grinchmas and are ideal for a sweet treat break.

Check this article out for our favorite 2022 Holiday Treats!

Universal CityWalk

Don’t forget to stroll through Universal CityWalk and take in the sites while perusing the vast array of stores. The 40-foot Christmas tree decorated with 200,000 LED lights is the ideal photo spot, and you may even catch King Kong with his Santa hat on if you look up. And if you have a holiday sweet tooth, make sure to stop at one of my favorites, Voodoo Doughnut, as they always offer up some pretty awesome seasonal flavors.

Can’t Miss Moments:

  • Two newer additions to CityWalk deserve special attention as you complete your holiday shopping list:
    • The Universal Studios Store features exclusive merchandise from across NBCUniversal. The colorful and super cool merch you can find there can be exactly what you need for the person on your shopping list who wants to be on trend.
    • SUPER NINTENDO WORLD STORE on CityWalk features unique merchandise and is a must-shop store for all Super Mario fans, especially those hoping to be decked out in merchandise for the grand opening on [insert date here].

As you can see, there is a lot of awesome to take in at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal CityWalk during the holiday season. This year the festivities kick-off Friday, November 25, 2022 and run daily through Sunday, January 1, 2023.

So, get in the holiday spirit and grab you tickets before you go dig out your favorite holiday sweater from the back of the closet.

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