4 ways to celebrate the winter solstice

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The winter solstice marks the longest night and the shortest day of the year. There are more ways to celebrate than you might think — from a yoga class under the stars to rock climbing in the dark. 

But, let's start with the basics — what actually happens during the solstice might not be common knowledge. To find out what exactly happens on what's also the first day of winter, head over to the Griffith Observatory for a better understanding. An astronomical lecturer will be on hand at sunset (around 4:40 p.m.) to walk you through it all.

It boils down to this: Today in the Northern Hemisphere, we're pointed directly away from the sun, the Observatory's David Reitzel told KPCC — hence the cooler sunlight and shorter day. 

“It’ll continue to cool off, because we’re receiving less energy from the sun than we’re able to hold on to at the moment. It’s called 'winter'. It comes every year, of course," Reitzel said.  

Astronomy enthusiasts will  be able to track the sun as it sets by seeing if it follows a projected path marked on the concrete of the observatory. It should set the farthest to the south, he added. 

The cloudy weather might hinder that a bit, though. If necessary, they'll use a flashlight to simulate the path.

A Winter Welcome 


Treat the family to a celebration of the incoming season with Princess Anna and Elsa from Disney's "Frozen" at Pico Rivera Towne Center. After they've belted out their iconic songs, kids can enjoy free face painting, balloon art and even write a last-minute letter to Santa. Holiday carolers will also be strolling through the shopping center.

WHEN: Wednesday, Dec. 21, 6-8 p.m. 
WHERE: Pico Rivera Towne Center | MAP 
COST: Free 

Winter Solstice Flow 

iStockphoto | NPR

It's the longest night of the year, so there's plenty of time to meditate and reflect. Join in on this yoga class held under the moonlight for a quiet night. Don't let the chilly weather stop you — outdoor heaters will be on hand. 

WHEN: Wednesday, Dec. 21, 5:30-6:30 p.m. 
Bay Club Santa Monica | MAP 
COST: Free 

Rockreation's Winter Solstice 

Bob Stefko

If you're looking for a more active way to usher in the first day of winter and get a head start on that New Year's resolution, this one's for you. There won't be any carolers or hot cocoa here — strap on that headlamp and climb in the dark. It's a bit of a splurge, but climbing gear is included! 

WHEN: Wednesday, Dec. 21, 6-9:30 p.m.
WHERE: Rockreation Climbing Gym, Costa Mesa | MAP 
Tickets are $25 

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