Guide to Celebrating the Holidays at Universal Studios Hollywood

I always enjoy watching Los Angeles light up with festive décor for a few months each year. I knew all about Universal’s highly rated Halloween Horror Nights (you won’t ever catch me there though), but what I didn’t know is that they have special events for Christmas too. So on December 12, I decided to kick off the holidays at Universal Studios Hollywood.

What’s going on for the holidays at Universal Studios?

The highlights include Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Grinchmas. There are also special seasonal foods, decorations galore, and festively dressed characters throughout the park.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter holiday event runs from November 17 until January 6. Grinchmas starts the first two weekends of December, then is held everyday from December 14 to 30. You don’t want to miss the holiday magic, so plan ahead!

Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

A visit to the Wizarding World is an entirely different experience during the holidays. The shop windows and snowy eaves are decorated with garland and lights that make for beautiful backdrops and the frog choir’s holiday medley travels through the air. Potterheads will love perusing the house stockings, ribbons, and multitude of themed ornaments ranging from Hedwig and the Hogwarts Express to miniature outfits from the Yule Ball.

Holidays at Universal Studios Harry Potter Stockings

It’s not really Christmas in Hogsmeade without the snow now is it? Forget for a minute that it’s Southern California. As magic hour hits, flurries begins to fall and everyone including the adults are full of smiles.

Shortly after snowfall is the magical light show on Hogwarts castle, which is reason enough to drop by the park (it was why I visited). During the dazzling magical experience, the castle comes to life with Quidditch players whizzing around on broomsticks, a giant Christmas tree, twirling Yule Ball dancers, and a few surprises too. Oddly, show times aren’t posted so you’ll have to ask a team member earlier in the day for more info.

Holidays at Universal Studios Hogwarts show


I must say right off the bat that I’m not a Grinch fan. Also, the Grinchmas event wasn’t going on during my visit, so I didn’t get to see the full Whobilation festivities. Even without the spectacle and characters, the area was still really cool.

On select days there is a tree lighting ceremony and show with Martha May herself. The entire area is “who’d out” with vehicles from the films and characters like Max and the Grinch appearing for photo ops. For Grinch gear, visit the Studio Store near the entrance for apparel, stockings, quirky santa hats, and toys.

Holidays at Universal Studios Grinchmas

Special Holiday Treats

I was disappointed by the seasonal offerings in the Wizarding World. What a missed opportunity (I’ll just have to make my flaming Christmas pudding at home). However, I did try the English Holiday Dinner at The Three Broomsticks and it was great. It consists of a slice of turkey with gravy, roasted veggies, stuffing, and a bacon wrapped sausage. Plus they serve hot Butterbeer, which is a bonus.

In and around Grinchmas is really where the special dishes are. Think Grinch themed cotton candy, cupcakes, and donuts. There’s even Who Hash (tater tots, corned beef, and gravy), gingerbread hot chocolate, and an eggnog milkshake topped with a Christmas tree cake.

Holidays at Universal Studios Grinch desserts


  • Pack a jacket for the evening. I even brought a light scarf but you know, I’m from Hawaii.
  • Arrive early to everything, especially the Hogwarts castle show. If you’re at least inside the Wizarding World an hour prior, you’re fine. Remeber, they close off the entire area when it gets too crowded.
  • Also, up on the stage is the best place to watch the show for full effect. The surrounding trees light up!
  • It doesn’t snow near the castle, only within the shops and streets of Hogsmeade. So if you want to see the snow, you know where to be.
  • Bring a bottle of water or stop for free tap water at the Three Broomsticks or a fountain.
  • Visit on a weekday. There are way less people earlier in the season and on weekdays if you want to bead the crowds.
  • Some say the later castle show is less crowded. In my case there were two shows that day and they were equally crowded, so not sure on that one.
  • Universal Hollywood is hosting a special New Year’s Eve party that goes until 2am! It’s included with normal park admission on December 31, so it’ll be crowded, but you can see everything at once.

Tell me about your Universal Studios holiday experience in the comments below. What was your favorite part?

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