Street Food Cinema presents outdoor screenings of classic holiday movies at Heritage Square Museum in Montecito Heights from Dec. 18 to Dec. 23. | Image by Street Food Cinema

Six fun things to do in NELA from now ’til New Year’s Day

2021 Arts & Culture December Editions Featured

By Pablo Nukaya-Petralia

The time between now and New Year’s Day doesn’t have to be a rush. Here are six ways to chill and have fun in Northeast L.A. in the days and weeks ahead.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” will screen on Dec. 19.

Holiday movie nights for the whole family

In the run up to Christmas, Eagle Rock-based Street Food Cinema and the Heritage Square Museum in Montecito Heights are teaming up to offer classic holiday movies outdoors on the museum’s expansive lawn. Outdoor movie nights also include tours of the museum’s fully restored Victorian mansions, live music, food trucks and a Santa meet-and-greet. The movie line-up features “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” on Dec. 18; a 75th anniversary showing of “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Dec. 19; “A Christmas Story” on Dec. 20; “Home Alone” on Dec. 21; “How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)” on Dec. 22; and “Elf (Encore)” on Dec. 23. General admission is $40; children ages 5 to 12 are $16; children age 4 and under are free. Here are details on showtimes, parking and Covid-19 rules.

At Leanna Lin’s Wonderland, “Small Wonders” artwork is on display and for sale. | Image by Leanna Lin’s Wonderland

Turn last-minute shopping into a hometown romp

Now through Dec. 23, local gift guru Leanna Lin is hosting “Small Wonders” an exhibition and sale of artwork at her shop in Eagle Rock, Leanna Lin’s Wonderland. Some 35 artists are participating, each contributing artwork that is 5×7 inches or smaller. A portion of the sales from the show will go to Friends of the Los Angeles River, an advocacy group dedicated to creating a swimmable, fishable, enjoyable L.A. River.

Or stop by any – or all – of the seven NELA shops that have been recognized by the L.A. Times as great places to find gifts, including Prelude & Dawn, a gift store in Highland Park and The Juicy Leaf, a plant store in Glassell Park.  

You can also enjoy the neighborhood by gift shopping at several businesses in Northeast Los Angeles that participate in Shop Small, an annual promotion of local merchants, among them the Haley Solar boutique and Comics v. Toys.

A spice kit from Miry’s List is a great gift for a great cause. | Image by Little Spread

Buy a gift that gives back

For that one remaining gift — for yourself or someone else – order a specialty Spice Kit from Miry’s List, the Eagle Rock-based refugee-resettlement nonprofit. Founded in 2017, Miry’s List catapulted to the forefront of refugee-aid organizations this year as refugees from Afghanistan began to arrive in the United States. Food – preparing meals, hosting dinners, shopping for the ‘taste of home,’ – has always been central to Miry’s List efforts to help newly-arrived families. Now, Miry’s List has teamed up with Little Spread, a market and restaurant in downtown L.A., to bring you four spice varieties — Shawarma, Za’atar, Aleppo Pepper and Sumac – in beautiful reusable wide-mouthed jars. A four-spice kit is $39.95, with all net proceeds going to help newly-arrived families resettle in Southern California. Order here.

Try the cookies at Joy on York in Highland Park. | Image by Joy

Have a cookie, help the community

Mexican wedding cookies are on the dessert menu at Joy restaurant in Highland Park – recently named one of L.A.s’ best restaurants by the L.A. Times. And all the proceeds from the cookie sales — $3 per order – go to a community group. In December, the Model UN at Eagle Rock High School will be the recipient.

A specialty coffee from Kumquat | Photo by Myung J. Chun/L.A. Times

Take a real coffee break

Shop for the coffee lover on your list – or for yourself – at Kumquat Coffee & Tea in Highland Park (4936 York Blvd.), recently named one of the L.A. Times’ 10 favorite places for caffeine in L.A. The shelves are lined with bags of coffee from around the world: Costa Rica La Cruz ‘Black Honey,’ anyone? Or how about Humbler, a Brazilian + El Salvadoran blend. Browse while you sip a single-origin pour-over or an espresso concoction like ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Peanuts.’ If you go in the morning, you can also indulge in the one food item on Kumquat’s menu, the breakfast burrito, which won accolades from the L.A. Times earlier this year as one of the best breakfast burritos in L.A.

At Jugos Fresco, one of the best burritos in L.A. | Photo by Bill Addison/L.A. Times

Shout out: Jugos Azteca in Highland Park (5213 York Blvd.) also made the L.A. Times best breakfast burrito list in 2021, for a burrito “riddled with bacon and chorizo, scrambled egg, avocado slices and splotches of Monterey jack cheese disappearing into clouds of potato.” Order it with a spicy aromatic “Café De Hoya” or one of Azteca’s fresh-squeezed juices.

The L.A. County Holiday Celebration will be broadcast on PBS SoCal and live streamed at, and

Looking ahead

Editor’s note: The following entry on the L.A. County Holiday Celebration bas been altered to reflect the County’s decision, issued 12/20/21, not to allow spectators at the event due to rising Covid-19 caseloads. The event will take place but without a live audience. 

On Christmas Eve, the L.A. County Holiday Celebration returns to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown L.A. With over 20 music ensembles, choirs and dance companies representing the neighborhoods and cultures of L.A., the 62nd annual L.A. County Holiday extravaganza celebrates talent, artistry, performance — and the joy of the season. The event is free, first-come, first-served, no reservations or tickets required; doors open at 2:30 p.m. for a 3 p.m. curtain. (If you can’t go in person, You can watch a live broadcast on Dec. 24 at 3 p.m. Click here for details. ). 

Volunteers are needed to help decorate floats featured in the Rose Parade, now in its 133rd year. Interested volunteers must apply to the individual organizations and can sign up for shifts near the end of December. More info and links to sign-up are here.


Pablo Nukaya-Petralia is a writer and editor from Los Angeles, CA. An Eagle Rock native and graduate of Occidental College. He regularly covers local art and culture while also working as the social media manager for the Boulevard Sentinel. Feel free to contact him at with tips and news.

Pablo Nukaya-Petralia
Pablo Nukaya-Petralia is a writer and editor from Los Angeles, CA. An Eagle Rock native and graduate of Occidental College. He regularly covers local art and culture while also working as the social media manager for the Boulevard Sentinel. Feel free to contact him at with tips and news.