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Best Of LA: Week Of December 15

cupcake 610 header
(credit: Ari Perilstein/Getty Images)

This week brings with it a Christmas and holiday season filled with fun, family-friendly festivities and much more. Bring the kids along for puppet shows, boat parades, and visits with reindeer, or make it a night on the town with great food, fabulous drinks (don't miss National Sangria Day!), and stellar Christmas performances. Here's what's happening this week for you to do!

Monday, December 15
(credit: Komodo)

Anniversary Special: Komodo Truck
Various Locations

To commemorate the 5th anniversary of Komodo, the food-truck California Asian food cuisines that has landed itself in two brick and mortar locations, a month-long list of specials are being featured at their trucks. As part of the promotion, Executive Chef Erwin Tjahyadi and Komodo truck's chef David Moreno created a unique fusion Chile Relleno Burrito as a throwback homage to old school loncheras. The truck's first ever taco creation, the Komodo 1.0 taco, made with Achiote marinated steak with homemade guacamole and cheese, will also be available among other food specials. Enter their Instagram contest with hashtag #Komodo5Year to win Komodo Truck swag, gift cards, and more.
magnolia cupcakes
Celebrate National Cupcake Day
Sprinkles Cupcakes
9635 S Santa Monica Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 274-8765
Multiple Locations

Start your week off with something sweet! Today is national cupcake day, meaning that you have an excuse to stop by any one of The Best Cupcake Shops in Los Angeles to sample from a wide variety of delicious flavors.

Tuesday, December 16
(credit: Jamie Pham)

LA Zoo Reindeer Romp
Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens
5333 Zoo Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 644-6042

With the only live reindeer offering in Los Angeles, take the whole family to the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens for the return of the LA Zoo Reindeer Romp, running now through January 4, 2015. Four visiting reindeer, Jingle, Belle, Noel, and Velvet, are on view daily at the zoo, in addition to other festive offerings including seasonal decorations, craft projects for kids, chats and photos with Santa.
The LA Zoo, located on 113 acres, features a collection of 1,100 animals from 250 species in addition to the reindeer, so there is something to see for everyone.

Wednesday, December 17
(credit: David Johnston)

Handel's Messiah
Walt Disney Concert Hall
111 S. Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 972-7282

The Los Angeles Master Chorale wraps its holiday season with two performances of Handel's Messiah this week (featured tonight and Sunday evening). Artistic Director Grant Gershon will conduct the famous Christmas masterpiece, with soloists including soprano Christina Bristow, mezzo soprano Niké St. Clair, tenor Arnold Livingston Geis, and baritone Chung Uk Lee among forty other members. This critically acclaimed chorus will bring life and light to Handel's 1741 oratio, one of the most performed classical works of all time.

Thursday, December 18
(credit: Blue Cotton Photography/Newport Beach Christmas Parade)

Newport Beach Christmas Parade
Newport Harbor
Newport Beach, CA 92663

The 106th Newport Beach Christmas Parade, the nation's longest running lighted holiday boat parade, returns with a fun and festive theme for 2014: "Deck the Hulls with Bows of Jolly." The parade, which features over 100 vessels of all sizes decked out with lights, decorations, dancers, music, and animated displays, sails through the 14-mile stretch along Newport Harbor, with free viewing spaces throughout the Harbor area. Many of the restaurants in the neighborhood will be offering special menus for the event, providing parade view dining. Try A&O Kitchen + Bar; Billy's at the Beach, offering a special three-course prix-fixe menu and 4 seatings that guarantee viewing of the entire parade; Newport Landing; Waterline; or Hornblower Cruises, offering a dinner cruise and unique view from onboard a Hornblower yacht.

Friday, December 19
(credit: City Ballet of Los Angeles)

The Nutcracker Swings
Wilshire Ebell Theatre
743 South Lucerne Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90005
(323) 292-1932

City Ballet of Los Angeles presents their tribute to the famous holiday ballet with "The Nutcracker Swings," set in WWII's 1942 in Hancock Park and the iconic Cocoanut Grove nightclub. The sounds of Tchaikovsky and Duke Ellington converge in this version, where Maria, the heroine, falls in love with Jim, a WWII hero, who gives Maria the Nutcracker doll that begins the Christmas wonder. CBLA was founded with a mission to reflect the diversity of LA's multicultural community, and offers low or no-cost ballet training and educational outreach programs to children.

Saturday, December 20
(credit: Rouge Artists Ensemble)

Family Puppet Show
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90039
(213) 596-9468

Los Angeles' award-winning art collective, Rogue Artists Ensemble, is bringing together two of its most popular family-friendly, educational puppet shows this weekend. Based on the award-winning books, "The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone" and "Zen Shorts" will spark imagination, creativity, and fun for kids of all ages, brought to life through the puppet mastery of the Rogue Artists Ensemble. Directed by Sean T. Cawelti, both shows will be presented, with holiday cookie decorating and kids activities from Sparkleblob Collective between shows.

(credit: Rockefeller)

Celebrate National Sangria Day
Napa Valley Grille
1100 Glendon Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 824-3322

This fun national holiday can seem to get lost in the busy holiday schedule, but pencil in a night on the town with friends to celebrate the fruity concoction that first appeared at the 1964 World's Fair, 50 years ago. Napa Valley Grille is highlighting their Red Apple Orchard Sangria, prepared Brandy, Cinnamon Sticks, and Apple Juice; Happy Hour and Reverse Happy Hour specials are offered, including $14/carafe. Additionally, The Rockefeller, located in Hermosa Beach, will be offering a $16.95 bottomless deal on its house-made sangria with the purchase of food.

National Sangria Day: Our Picks For The Best Spots To Celebrate National Sangria Day in Los Angeles

Sunday, December 21
(Credit: Los Angeles Ballet)

The Nutcracker
Royce Hall, UCLA
10745 Dickson Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095
(310) 998-7782

Set in 1913 Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Ballet's production of the Nutcracker features exceptional dancing, dramatic sets, beautiful costumes, and the beloved Tchaikovsky music that creates holiday family memories to last a lifetime. Founded in 2004 by Artistic Directors Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary, and Executive Director Julie Whittaker, Los Angeles Ballet is known for its superb stagings of the Balanchine repertory, stylistically meticulous classical ballets, and its commitment to new works.

Umami Burger
(credit: Umami Burger)

Celebrate National Hamburger Day
Umami Burger
500 Broadway
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 451-1300

What could be better than celebrating National Hamburger Day on your day off? If you haven't tried an Umami burger yet, there's no better time to try it than on this classic American food holiday. Dusted with a signature umami dust and placed on a slightly sweet bun, the pattie reveals a subtle mushroom flavor and come out insanely juicy. Everything on the menu excels but "The Original" is always a good idea; boasting parmesan frico, roasted tomato, shitake mushroom and a smattering of house ketchup, the end result offers balanced intensity and showcases the magic behind the Umami burger. Try pairing it with a glass of wine or beer, and the double-fried "Smushed Potatoes" or tempura-style onion rings if you're really ready to splurge.

Check out our list of the Best Hamburgers Of 2014

Katie Bodell is the Blog Editor for Trekaroo, the largest family travel website in the U.S. She is also a freelance writer, a happy wife to her best friend, and a mom to three sweet California girls. See more on: Trekaroo | CheapOair | Google+ | Twitter.
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