Pasadena is known far and wide as a great destination for holiday shopping. That fact is borne out by the existence of not just one but two major shopping districts — South Lake Avenue and Old Pasadena — which are both coming alive this season with a dazzling array of sales and special events. 


Old Pasadena kicks the festivities off with Small Business Saturday this weekend, in which local shoppers are encouraged to support more than 200 independent businesses in the district. The LA Master Chorale Carol Bus will be making stops at 7 p.m. at Mercantile Place and 7:20 p.m. at One Colorado Courtyard to sing songs of holiday cheer in two free performances. 


Also starting this Saturday and continuing on weekends through Dec. 20, Old Pasadena’s Ambassador Guides will be assisting Santa and surprising random shoppers by paying up to $100 of their purchases at independent stores. Lucky shoppers will be given the chance to draw a chip out of a bag held by an Ambassador and, depending on what they pick in amounts from $25 to $100, the Ambassadors will pay for that portion of their purchase. 


There will also be “Surprise & Delight Programming,” in which fun pop-up activities will take place starting Saturday through Dec. 20 throughout the district. Other special events include the One Colorado Happy Holidays Party from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 5 (complete with live music provided by the band Leftover Cuties, and Santa’s Mailbox, which enables kids to leave letters for Santa that will receive personal replies), Pet Day photos with Santa on Dec. 13, and a “Wacky Winter Adventure” for kids from 4 to 8 p.m. at One Colorado Courtyard. 


Not to be outdone, South Lake Avenue kicks off its holiday festivities with its annual Holidayfest from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. The fun event, packed with special themed happenings and complimentary festive activities, takes place at The Shops on Lake Avenue, located at 345 S. Lake Avenue. 


Presented by the South Lake Business Association, Holidayfest will feature in-store specials and promotions at over 50 South Lake Avenue merchants. Additional seasonal activities include photos with Santa, roaming characters, horse and carriage rides, live musical performances, carolers, holiday crafts, kids’ activities, a themed scavenger hunt and giveaways.


Among the highlights of this year’s celebration are special outdoor musical performances from some of Southern California’s most popular acts, including indie synth pop group DWNTWN, and the unique bluegrass, blues soul collective The Dustbowl Revival. The free event also includes a performance from famed group Magic Giant, which has been named as Artist on the Verge by Billboard and featured on NPR’s “Songs We Love.”  


“Our holiday celebration definitely gets event attendees in the holiday spirit and invites everyone to explore the district while sharing memories with friends and family,” says Gina Tleel, executive director of the South Lake Business Assocation. “Guests can tackle their holiday shopping lists by taking advantage of special in-store promotions offered on the day of the event.” 


The full list of stores taking place in Holidayfest includes: Aaron Brothers, Alexandria II Bookstore, Arnold’s Fine Jewelry, B.Luu, Bravo Spa & Salon, Carnelian Salon, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Coldwell Banker, Contessa Collections, Corner Bakery Café, Craft Fair Gift Shop, Culture Salon, Custom Comfort Mattress, Diamond Vision Optometry, Drapers & Damon’s, DRYBAR, Du-par’s Restaurant & Bakery, 18|8 Fine Men’s Salon, European Wax Center, Fish Dish, Float, Giggle, Green Street Restaurant, Jamba Juice, Keller Williams Realty, LA Fitness, Lemonade, Little Kuts, Magnolia House, Massetti Caffe, MeriEducation, Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio, Monaco Audio Video, Nekter Juice Bar, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Orvis Sporting Traditions, Pasadena Towers, Pet Food Express, Pie ’n Burger, Pieology Pizzeria, PokeMix by Flour + Tea, Pottery Barn Kids & Teen, Premier Care Dental Group, Real Food Daily, Right Start, Salon Yuriy, Salutations Home, Sanrio, SanSai Japanese Grill, SECO New American, SoulCycle, Souplantation, Starbucks (Lake/California), Talbots, Ten Thousand Villages, The Bee Cottage, The Counter, Tiny Universe, Togo’s Sandwiches, Veggie Grill, Which Wich Superior Sandwiches, Williams-Sonoma, Winchell’s, Woody’s Home, WundaBar Pilates, Yogurtland and Yuan Lyu Boutique.


South Lake Avenue Holidayfest takes place from noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 5 at 345 S. Lake Avenue, Pasadena. Admission is free, plus there is free parking at the Corporate Center Pasadena parking structure located at 251 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena. Visit 


For more information about holiday events in the Old Pasadena area, visit or