Guides and Tips

Guide to the Holidays at Universal CityWalk Hollywood

November 17, 2023
Holiday milkshake from Toothsome Chocolate Emporium at CityWalk.

There’s something so special about the holidays in SoCal. Between the palm trees strung up in twinkle lights, the Angelenos donning parkas when it’s 60 degrees out, and the visions of Santa on a surfboard, no place does the holidays quite like LA. And Universal Studios Hollywood gets especially festive for the holiday season — check out our Guide to the Holidays at Universal Studios Hollywood for proof of merriment. 

And Universal CityWalk does, too! At CityWalk, all that California holiday charm gets packed into one place. With seasonal drinks, treats, decor and live entertainment, CityWalk is the ultimate place to eat, drink and be merry during the holiday season. 

Whether you’re a local Californian or just visiting the City of Angels, no holiday season in LA is complete without a trip to CityWalk at Universal Studios Hollywood. Here’s what you can expect to find at CityWalk throughout the holiday season.

DECOR & PHOTO OPS

Christmas tree outside Universal Cinema at CityWalk.

Get your cameras out, because CityWalk gets dressed to the nines over the holidays. Stop to admire the gigantic wreaths welcoming you to the promenade and the festive garlands decking the walkway. And you certainly can’t miss the 40-foot Christmas tree strung up in 200,000 LED lights — it’s positioned right outside the Universal Cinema. If this twinkling centerpiece doesn’t get you excited for Santa’s arrival, we don’t know what will. 

King Kong sign hanging off a building wearing a Santa hat at Universal CityWalk in Hollywood.

And don’t forget to look up! There are so many great decor details during this time of year. My personal favorite is the red Santa hat topping King Kong’s noggin, plus the mistletoe in his hand. You can catch him hanging off of IT’SUGAR, right across from Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. And just beyond King Kong is the dancing water fountain, which will be lit up in a red and green holiday light show.

FOOD & TREATS

Holiday bread pudding from NBC Sports Grill and Bar.

If you’re not having dessert for every meal from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, I’m not sure what, exactly, it is you think you’re doing. 

First things first: beeline for The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen for a milkshake. It always feels like a special occasion here, with an irresistible lineup of heaping, decadent milkshakes to choose from. Get your hands on the appropriately-named Tis the Season Milkshake. This perfectly over-the-top dessert is made with vanilla ice cream, brown sugar, cinnamon, caramel, whipped topping, holiday sprinkles, buttercream frosting, white chocolate, and topped with a gingerbread cookie. It’s basically every Christmas flavor packed into one delicious jar. Get yours at the dessert foundry so you can take it to-go and keep on strolling CityWalk.

Voodoo Doughnut always delivers with the fun seasonal pastries, and this holiday is no exception. Throughout the month of December, the to-go eatery is serving up doughnuts as delicious as they are Instagrammable. There’s the Peppermint Mocha doughnut — covered in chocolate frosting and dipped in hot chocolate powder, covered in crushed peppermint and a chocolate-peppermint drizzle. The Gingerbread donut is dipped in maple and covered in vanilla frosting, and the Holiday Sprinkle Cake doughnut is slathered in vanilla frosting and topped with holiday sprinkles. There just might be additional items for sale during the month, too —keep your eyes peeled, doughnut-heads. 

If you’re looking for a sit-down dessert, head to the NBC Sports Grill & Bar for the Cinnamon Bread Pudding, topped with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate sauce. It comes out piping hot, making it the perfect way to warm up on a chilly December evening. 

Holiday stromboli from VIVO at CityWalk.

The holidays are all about the sweets, but we love a special, savory feast, too. At VIVO, The Stromboli Boat — a savory baked turnover stuffed with three Italian cheeses, bell pepper, zucchini, and cherry tomato — is a delicious, decadent Yuletide treat. They also serve a delicious Minestrone Soup to warm you up during the chilly winter months.

DRINKS

Holiday cocktails from various locations at CityWalk.
From left to right: the Mistletoe Mule; Chestnut Horchata; and the Cider Margarita, all from Antojitos.

Want to celebrate with a festive cocktail? Look no further than Universal CityWalk. Several restaurants along the strip have delicious holiday beverages available throughout November and December. 

The holidays are a great time to do the most, and nothing says “extra” quite like a martini. Luckily, CityWalk has a jolly lineup of limited-time martinis for you. Stay classy over at VIVO with a Winter Martini (vodka, Chambord, Luxardo cherry syrup) or an Apple Cheer Martini (Vodka, apple liqueur, simple syrup, lemon juice). Or, if subtlety isn’t your style, toast the holidays at NBC Sports Grill & Bar with the Peppermint Martini — that’s made with vodka, peppermint schnapps, crushed peppermint, simple syrup, and grenadine. ‘Tis the season, right? 

Of course, you can always escape the chilly weather and flee to the tropics. If that’s your winter mood, head to Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville for a Co-Co Colada, which is made with mango rum, vanilla rum, pineapple juice, and coconut milk. Or, head to Antojitos Cocina Mexicana. Where you’ll find Yuletide spins on classic Mexican cocktails: the Apple Cider Margarita (El Charro Reposado tequila, apple juice, lime juice, honey and agave) and the Chestnut Horchata (rum, kahlua, horchata, cinnamon, hazelnut whipped topping). You also can’t go wrong with Antojitos’ delicious Mistletoe Mule (vodka, ginger beer, cranberry juice, rosemary simple syrup, lime juice). 

Or maybe you’d like to just keep it classic. If that’s you, grab a Hot Apple Cider over at VIVO. It comes in non-alcoholic and alcoholic forms — the boozy version includes spiced pear liqueur and rum.

ENTERTAINMENT

Holiday decor at CityWalk Hollywood.

The holidays wouldn’t be the holidays without the music, right? That’s why CityWalk is putting all kinds of musical performers onstage throughout November and December. Whether you’re visiting with friends, family or a date, tap your toes to all the holiday classics at CityWalk this season. This year’s musical offerings include:

  • Local DJs spinning their favorite festive tracks at CityWalk all throughout the holiday season, starting the day after Thanksgiving. (November 24, December 1, 8, 15, 6-9pm; November 25, 7-10pm)
  • A bilingual holiday show from LA MERA, a woman-fronted, Caribbean salsa/cumbia project. (December 2, 7-10pm) 
  • A swingin’ good time from Nat and her Tinsel Tigers Holiday Swing, who will get you on your feet with upbeat jazz tunes from the ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s.  (December 9, 7-10pm)
  • Smooth Yuletide tunes from singer-songwriter-saxaphonist — now that’s what I call a triple threat! — Sean Kellz. (December 16, 7-10pm)
  • Our roaming bevy of Holiday Carolers, singing a capella holiday tunes throughout the promenade. (December 19, 20, 21; 7-9pm)

That’s what CityWalk has to offer over this holiday season! What are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below. 

Please note that menus and shows are subject to change throughout the season. 

Must be 21 years and older with valid photo identification to purchase or consume alcoholic beverages. Drink responsibly.

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