Experience the joy this winter season with local activities to help get into the holiday spirit

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Adults and kids alike ice skate at The Lakes temporary rink in Thousand Oaks, Calif. on Tuesday, Dec. 10. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

By Cailey Monroe

Throughout Ventura County, many local activities are anticipated to take place and spread holiday cheer. Going ice skating, driving around to see Christmas lights, walking around the festival of trees and even riding the Polar Express are just some ways to get in the holiday spirit.

Simi Valley Iceoplex & Holiday Ice Rink at The Lakes

The Simi Valley Iceoplex offers a large ice skating rink for people of all ages to enjoy. On Tuesday nights from 7:30-9 p.m., the Iceoplex offers a cheap skate night for only $9, including skates. Any other night of the week, adults are $11 and children and students are $10. Putting on a big jacket, fuzzy socks and some gloves is a great way experience a Southern California white Christmas. For more information on ice skating visit the Iceoplex website.

Seeing people of all ages come together to enjoy such a fun and festive activity really makes this job worth it,” Iceoplex employee Karen Wilson said. “Every year I get to watch the joy on all the skaters faces as they do their best to keep their feet on the ice and not fall.”

In addition, The Lakes in Thousand Oaks offers a fun holiday ice rink from Nov. 7- Feb. 2. Similar to the Iceoplex, the holiday ice rink is a fun and festive activity where people are able to skate outdoors and enjoy the beautiful Christmas lights. For skating and ice skates admission costs $20, and more information can be found on the Lakes website.

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Cade Del Nostro and Angelina Parada participate in some ice skating at The Lakes in Thousand Oaks, Calif. According to the couple, they would love to see the snow and some holiday lights during the winter season. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

L.A. Zoo Lights

Another great way to enjoy the holiday season is to visit the L.A. Zoo and walk through the amazing Christmas light display. Glowing animals welcome visitors on an unforgettable nighttime journey that includes the world’s largest illuminated pop-up storybook, a magical disco ball forest, giant glittering snowflakes and a twinkling tunnel filled with dynamic swirls of color.

“The holiday lights are a special tradition I’ve done with my boyfriend the past three years,” sophomore Hakela Kamaka said. “Every year there’s something new and exciting to experience, plus a bunch of great picture opportunities that really enlighten my holiday spirit.”

The L.A. Zoo Lights are an unforgettable holiday light experience and has grown brighter each year since its debut in 2014. This year’s event features more light animals than ever before, with spectacular new additions and returning favorites. Tickets for adults range from $11.95- $19.95, for more information visit the L.A. Zoo website.

Riding the Polar Express

A wonderful local Christmas event to partake in this month involves taking a ride on the Polar Express. Set to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, passengers can relive the magic of the classic story as they are whisked away on the Polar Express for a magical one hour trip to meet Santa. Once on board, the car hosts will work their way through coach and punch your golden ticket before hot chocolate and a delicious cookie are served by dancing chefs. Passengers then read along with the classic children’s book, “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg. Each guest will take home a keepsake sleigh bell in addition to the wonderful memories made on this magical trip.

“Last year I went on the Polar Express train during Christmas time and it was an absolutely amazing experience,” junior Cassidy Jones expressed. “At first I thought my friend and I would be the only college students on the train but there was such a variety of ages and you could tell everyone was remembering how Christmas felt as a child.”

Departing from Fillmore & Western Railway, tickets range from $45-$80. For more information visit the Polar Express website.

Holiday Movie Marathon

A fun and festive Holiday Movie Marathon is taking place for free in Moorpark on Dec. 21. This special event is taking place at the High Streets Art Center starting at 10 a.m. and the last movie begins at 5 p.m. Classics like “Frosty the Snowman” and the hilarious “Elf” will be shown. For more information on what holiday movies are playing and at what time, visit the Conejo Valley Guide.

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High Street Arts Center will host the Movie Marathon as well as other holiday shows during the month of December. Photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 5. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

54th Annual Holiday Parade of Lights

If you’re looking for another free and fun holiday event with more Southern California style, there is the Parade of Lights, in the Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard. This magical event takes place on Dec. 14, from 12-8 p.m. Families can experience the feeling of a winter snow fall at the north end of Harbor View Park and take pictures with Santa. The parade starts at 7 p.m. across the harbor as several boats show off their decorations for this years theme “Musical Notes & Holiday Floats.” For more information on the Parade of Lights visit the Channel Islands Harbor website.

There is no shortage of events taking place locally to get students, friends and family in the holiday spirit. All these special events are made to create memories that last a lifetime. No matter the age, everyone could use a little extra holiday cheer.