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Los Angeles Dec 17–23: Lightsaber Battle in Downtown

The best things to do in and around L.A. this week

May the force be with you in Los Angeles this week, as Downtown L.A. hosts an all-ages lightsaber battle between Jedis and Sith. If you need to pick up some last-minute Christmas gifts and want something a little quirky, try the Bunker Hill Holiday Odd Market. And jazz saxophonist Steve Coleman begins an L.A. residency; he'll be performing and also running educational workshops. 

December 15–20 | Music
Steve Coleman Residency 
Steve Coleman is an alto saxophonist with an eclectic sound that nods  to Charlie Parker’s inventiveness and spontaneity. But Coleman is just as interested in educating others and giving back to the community that nurtured him as he is in entertaining listeners. His Los Angeles residency will include nightly performances and educational workshops for high school and college students, aspiring musicians, educators, and professionals. 
9 p.m. | The Blue Whale, 123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St., Suite 301, Los Angeles (213) 620-0908 | $10 | website

December 18 | Holiday shopping
Bunker Hill Holiday Odd Market
You’re getting awfully close to crunch time if you’re still looking for unique and interesting Christmas presents. But this curated collection of handmade gifts is sure to delight and inspire you. You'll find handmade jams, art, ceramics, and other items that don’t fit easily into any category (hence the “odd” designation in the name). There are more than 35 vendors to browse, and a DJ to keep you entertained while you shop.
10 a.m–4 p.m. | Bunker Hill, 330 S. Hope St., Los Angeles | (323) 630-9795 | Free | website

December 18 | Lightsaber battle
The Light Battle
Star Wars fans have waited patiently for the newest installment of the franchise from J.J. Abrams. But if seeing the flick is just not enough, there's also a lightsaber battle in downtown L.A. After you see the film for your first (or third) time, head to The Light Battle. It’s exactly what you think it is, an all-ages Jedi vs. Sith lightsaber clash that is sure to draw huge crowds. You pick your team—Dark Side optional.
8 p.m. | Pershing Square, 532 S. Olive St., Los Angeles | Free if you bring your own lightsaber, $10 to reserve one | website 

AFAR Local is published every Wednesday, so check back for insider updates on restaurant openings, festivals, exhibitions, shows, weekend escapes, and more. Planning a trip? The AFAR guide to Los Angeles has you covered.

New menu | Holiday drinks
Birch
Birch serves innovative dishes inspired by Chef Brendan Collins’ childhood in England alongside his equally ingenious cocktails. Now Birch is debuting new “special projects” menus that will change frequently. The Holiday Project is a drinks menu that includes such concoctions as the #001, which boasts pannetone, brandy, madeira, whole egg, and nutmeg. If you’re in the mood for a spiked hot cocoa, consider #003, with Dutch chocolate, mezcal, chartreuse, crème fraiche, and chili. And if tea is more your speed, aim for #004, made from jasmine, sake, green tea, chamomile, honey, and pepper—and served hot.
Birch, 1634 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles | (323) 960-3369 | website

Weekend escape
Ace Hotel, Palm Springs
Palm Springs is the perfect place to warm up after the unusually cold and windy days we’ve been experiencing lately. Stay at the Ace Hotel and enjoy the desert club vibes. Make use of the outdoor jacuzzi and take in the picturesque scenery so stunning it feels like a movie backdrop. There’s a spa and fitness center on the premises, and, since pets are welcome, a dog park, too. This weekend you'll also enjoy crazy-good tunes from renowned DJs Ladypills and Bettie Blue, and friends.

Eva Glettner is a writer and a native Angeleno. She loves art, travel, coffee, and skateboarding.