Holiday Celebration - A Gift to the People of Los Angeles

Each year, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors sponsors a free holiday-themed show for the people of Los Angeles. Every December 24 since 1959, the free HOLIDAY CELEBRATION has delighted audiences. The first annual celebration, then called the Christmas program, took place in the Los Angeles Sports Arena – the event the brainchild of the late Kenneth Hahn, Supervisor of the Second Los Angeles County district from 1952 to 1992. When Dorothy “Buffy” Chandler came to him seeking his support for the proposed Music Center, he told her that he would support it only if he could be sure that The Music Center would be open free to the residents of the county for at least one day each year. Since it was opened in 1964, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of The Music Center has hosted the annual HOLIDAY CELEBRATION.

The celebration began as a 12-hour event which was gradually whittled down to a three-hour live event which is also live-screened on public television. Over 500 Los Angeles performers demonstrate their considerable talents in this nonstop show. For the past 10 years, HOLIDAY CELEBRATION has been produced by Adam Davis for the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. In his role as Managing Director of Productions, Davis coordinates multiple events in Los Angeles including 60 to 70 free concerts at L.A. public sites, 30 to 35 arts engagements, and programs at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre.

National In Choir - Photo by Gennia Cui

On December 15, 2016, Adam Davis was interviewed about this year’s HOLIDAY CELEBRATION at The Music Center. Davis characterized his eleventh upcoming holiday show as “a lot of work…and a lot of fun.”

Colburn Children's Choir and Young Men's Ensemble - Photo by Gennia Cui


The selection is really a process. The artists are all L.A. County-based who apply to the Arts Commission to be part of the show. With their application, they send a video of the number they would like to perform and an explanation of why the holiday performance is meaningful to them. If they are accepted to the program, they are given 5 to 6 minutes each to perform in the show.

This year, on December 3, each group came to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and met in rehearsal rooms with our experienced team of producers, designers, technical advisors and the show’s director. The team is about 20 people and has been working on these holiday events for a number of years. I consider myself very lucky to be working with such a talented and efficient group of people. After the team watches each group do its piece, which the director records, they discuss how to best present the group’s performance and all the technical issues that entails. On December 22 and 23, each group will again return to the theater, where we will do sound checks and spacing rehearsals. The first time the production and design team sees the show end-to-end is on December 24 during the live presentation.

We try to present performing arts groups from all over Los AngelesCounty. We want an eclectic show which includes both traditional and modern elements. There’s so much talent in Los Angeles, and this is a great opportunity to put on a new show every year.

California Feetwarmers - Photo Courtesy of L.A. County Arts Commission


To bring up to 700 individuals backstage is a real logistical puzzle. We have five holding spaces, and we call in each group to get ready about an hour and a half before they’re due to perform. I’m lucky that my team is incredibly organized and efficient, and we also have had the same television producer for 10 years. Above everything, we want to keep everything fresh and exciting.

Los Angeles Chamber Choir - Photo Courtesy of the Artist


We have chosen a real spectrum of talented Los Angeles performers. For example, we have an all-female mariachi band, some great children’s choruses, a taste of contemporary dance, a couple of gospel choirs, and an all-brass band playing holiday music. We do the best we can to represent as many cultural groups and holiday traditions as possible. This is really a celebration of what Los Angeles’ many communities do for the holidays.

Co-Host Cheryl Burke - Photo Courtesy of L.A. County Arts Commission


I love celebrating Los   Angeles. There’s so much good in L.A., and this is a way to help magnify it. We’re coming together for a good cause. It’s an opportunity for all the people of the region to come together for a day of peace. We try to make sure that everybody is represented; but, of course, we’re bound by who’s applying. This program was started by Kenneth Hahn 57 years ago because he loved the holidays. His daughter Janice Hahn, who is now a CountySupervisor, vowed to carry on the tradition. I have such a good time organizing this event; and, besides, it’s really fun.

Co-Host Brian White - Photo Courtesy of L.A. County Arts Commission

This year, HOLIDAY CELEBRATION will be hosted by Cheryl Burke and Brian White. In addition to the live audience, the show will be broadcast live on PBS SoCal KOCE. This free three-hour holiday show is perfect for the whole family. Reservations are not required.

The 57th ANNUAL L.A. COUNTY HOLIDAY CELEBRATION is performed free at The Music Center from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, December 24, 2016. At the same time, a live broadcast airs on PBS SoCal KOCE. The telecast is repeated from 9 p.m. to midnight, again on December 25 at noon, on PBS SoCal Plus on December 25 at 3 a.m., 6 a.m., 7 a.m., and finally on December 26 at 11 a.m. For further information, call 213-972-3099 or go online.

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