Winter Swell 2014 Photo Contest

winter-swell-photo-contestSurf’s up! To celebrate the first winter swell of 2014, Downtown Manhattan Beach is holding a photo contest to showcase the best big wave photo.

To enter, take a winter swell photo and share it on the Downtown Manhattan Beach’s Facebook page or on Instagram with the hash tag #mbswell. To qualify, photos must be of the surf from somewhere between the El Porto jetty and the Redondo Beach break wall. Entries are open until January 29 (enter as many times as you like).

Once you enter, go to the Facebook page or to to vote for your picture or any picture you like the best. The photo receiving the most votes will win a Nikau Kai prize basket with a $50 gift certificate, a Nikau Kai hat, and a Nikai Kai t-shirt.

Winners will be announced at the Downtown Manhattan Beach site on February 8 at noon. Good luck and surf safe!

New Year’s Eve in the South Bay

25Ready to usher in 2014 with a bang? There are plenty of ways to celebrate right here in the South Bay!

Shade Hotel: Shade Hotel continues its glamorous New Year’s Eve tradition with a Great Gatsby party starting at 8 pm. The $75 ticket includes hors d’oeuvres, cigars on the roofdeck, gaming chips, party favors, a Champagne toast at midnight, and more. Proceeds benefit the Steve Nash Foundation for the benefit of underserved children. For reservations, click the link or call 310-546-4995. Shade Hotel, 1221 N. Valley Drive, Manhattan Beach.

Hermosa Beach Pier: Hermosa Beach’s New Year’s Eve celebration takes place at Pier Plaza and admission is free. Entertainment includes Lou Giovannetti and His Big Band; there will 9×12-foot video screens showing ball drops at 9 p.m. and at midnight. Hermosa Beach Pier Plaza, Hermosa Beach.

Portofino Hotel and Marina: Berry Bly Productions hosts its annual New Year’s Eve Gala at the Portofino Hotel and Marina in Redondo Beach. The $45 ticket includes live entertainment from Usef, dangerhouse, Adam Nello and more; as well as feathered samba dancers and percussionists. Tickets: Click on the link or call 310-350-4927. Portofino Hotel and Marina, 260 Portofino Way, Redondo Beach.

Samba Brazilian Steakhouse: Samba invites you to a White Brazilian New Year’s Eve Party, ringing in the year of the World Cup in Brazil. Regular standing-room admission is $45; a $55 ticket gets you all-you-can-eat meat, a gourmet salad bar, and a glass of champagne. Entertainment includes authentic samba music and dancers. Dress code is all white. Call for more information: 818-566-1111. Samba Brazilian Steakhouse, 207 N. Harbor Drive, Redondo Beach.

champagne bucketTerranea: Terranea’s annual Club Countdown Celebration from 9 pm to 2 am includes live music entertainment by DJ Quasar, an open bar, and a late night buffet from 11 pm to 1 am featuring a slider station, an Italian pizza station, and a full dessert station. Tickets are $150 per person before December 26 and $195 per person thereafter. Terranea also offers a New Year’s Eve Family Celebration from 8 pm to 1 am with a plated dinner, dessert bar, and special kids’ menu. Tickets are $150 for adults, $120 for young adults (ages 11 to 20) and $60 for kids ages 5 to 10. Terranea, 100 Terranea Way, Rancho Palos Verdes.

Downtown Long Beach: Further south, Downtown Long Beach hosts a free family-friendly celebration at Rainbow Harbor from 5 pm to 10 pm with live music and a fireworks spectacular. On Pine Avenue, there is a street party at Broadway, with live entertainment on three stages and a full New Year’s Eve countdown at midnight. Tickets for the Pine Avenue party are $15 in advance and $20 at the gate. Long Beach Transit will be offering free rides from 5 pm to 2:30 am. For information, call the Downtown Long Beach Associates at 562-436-4259.

Terranea Holiday Traditions

terranea treeLooking for seasonal events in a scenic setting? Look no further than Terranea Resort, where the 5th annual Terranea Traditions celebration is now underway.

If you’re staying at the resort, there are plenty of hard-working elves who want to make your visit extra special. Throughout the month of December, you can arrange for your child to receive an “Elf Tuck-In” with a holiday treat and a special bedtime story. At the Little Elf’s Workshop, a.k.a. the Tide Pool Kids’ Club, kids can make a variety of holiday crafts including a Gingerbread Sand Castle. And daily in the lobby living room you can hear Terranea’s elves sharing holiday stories and cheer (from 5:00 to 6:00 pm).

Want to do some private, after-hours shopping? Through December 24, you can reserve a private shopping session at marea boutique and select your holiday gifts during non-business hours. (Minimum 7 shoppers required.)

Upcoming special events include Santa’s Holiday Breakfast on December 21 (seatings at 9:00, 9:30, and 10:00 a.m.) that includes a ballroom breakfast buffet and a special visit from Santa.

If you’d like someone else to do the Christmas cooking, you can order a special Christmas Meal To Go from Sea Beans, with curbside pickup times available on December 24 and 25.

Or if you’d like to enjoy a special holiday meal at Terranea, you can choose from Christmas Eve dinner at mar’sel, a Christmas Eve buffet at Catalina Kitchen from Spain and Italy, a Christmas Day Grand Ballroom buffet, a Christmas Day brunch at Catalina Kitchen, a Christmas Day beer dinner at Nelson’s with locally brewed beers, an elegant Christmas Day dinner at mar’sel served family-style, or a Christmas Day dinner at Catalina Kitchen also served family-style.

Traditions-Spa-2013-FeetDoes it all sound overwhelming? You can always relax with a special holiday treatment at the spa, such as a Holiday Bliss treatment ($295 for 90 minutes) that uses sea algae, concentrated silk, bamboo sap and plum wine to leave your skin purified, energized and delicately scented. You could also go for the Holiday Rescue Package ($250 for 120 minutes) that includes one hour of personal training or Pilates, followed by a one-hour massage.

And if you’re just looking for a fun spa treat with some friends, go for the Mint Chocolate Mistle-Toes ($80 for 60 minutes) for a pedicure that includes a butter brulee whole milk soak, followed by a hot chocolate mask and then minty shea butter. What’s more, when you finally emerge from your spa treatment, you’ll be able to enjoy the beautiful holiday decorations that light up Terranea every night this season.

Terranea Resort, 100 Terranea Way, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275. Reservations: (866) 802-8000.

Bel Bambini Outlet #Giveaway

Update: Congrats to our winner Brigitta and thanks to all who entered!

Happy holidays! We’re kicking off the holiday season with a wonderful giveaway to an amazing store. Bel Bambini, known to many celebrities and modern parents as Southern California’s premiere high-end baby and kid boutique , has just opened an outlet store behind the Citadel Outlets in Commerce, CA. We’ve got a $100 gift certificate to the Bel Bambini outlet to give away to one of our lucky readers! Interested? Read on:

bel bambiniBel Bambini is famous for offering the very best in gear, designer clothing, nursery furniture, and baby essentials. Its celebrity customers include Charlize Theron, Shakira, Drew Barrymore, Adele, Jessica Alba, Selma Blair, Halle Berry, Jamie King, Jamie Lynn Sigler, Bruce Willis, Kim and Kourtney Kardashian, Jessica Simpson, and Busy Philipps, among others.

bel bamini doorwayThe outlet store features a 50 percent discount on floor models, discontinued, and overstock merchandise every day – so you can do your high-end baby shopping and get great bargains at the same time! (One recent deal featured a beautiful espresso-colored Allegro cradle that retails for $390 – and with additional discounts at the outlet you could get it for $146.)

To enter to win the $100 gift certificate, all you have to do is leave a comment at the end of this post by midnight Pacific time on Wednesday, December 11th. Want an extra bonus entry? “Like” South Bay Sparkle on Facebook and come back and leave a second comment telling us you liked us (or that you already like us). On Thursday the 12th, we’ll draw a name from the comments using

And now for the official rules and fine print:

  • Only residents of the U.S. over the age of 18 are eligible to enter.
  • Duration: Thursday December 5 through Wednesday December 11, 2013 at 11:59 PM Pacific Standard Time.
  • Leave a comment below to enter. You may enter a second comment if you “like” South Bay Sparkle on Facebook.
  • The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
  • Winner will be selected by South Bay Sparkle, by using on Thursday, December 12, 2013. Winner will be contacted by email. Winners have 24 hours to respond to their notification email to claim their prize. If they do not respond, another winner will be chosen by
  • We are not liable for technical failures or typographical errors, or resolving identity disputes related to the winner.
  • Prize description: One $100 gift certificate to the Bel Bambini outlet store, 2057 Hoefner Avenue
    Commerce, CA 90040.

The Bel Bambini outlet is located at 2057 Hoefner Avenue, Commerce, CA 90040. It is conveniently located off Interstate 5 at Atlantic Blvd North, and easy to reach from the greater Los Angeles area and international and local airports. Its hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 9am – 6pm, and it is closed for lunch between 1pm-2pm.

Manhattan Beach Yuletide 5K

RunnersPierBGRunning at night on the beach, surrounded by colorful lights? Sounds like a great Manhattan Beach tradition! The Manhattan Beach Yuletide 5K is by far the coolest race in town.

The Yuletide 5K takes place at 5:30 pm on December 21, the Winter Solstice, also known as the longest and darkest day of the year. But you don’t need to worry about darkness: The course is lit by luminarias, and all pre-registered runners (and same-day registrants while supplies last) receive glow necklaces.

LitPierThe race starts and finishes under the Christmas lights of the Manhattan Beach Pier. Runners heat out north to the jetty at 45th Street, and then back. The super-low tide creates a perfect running surface of hard packed sand like a dirt road so running with or without shoes is an option (track spike are OK too!), as are baby joggers.

Kids are welcome to participate in the 5K, or else they can take part in age-specific kid runs: The Elves Dash 1K starts at 6:30pm (age 7-12); the Little Elves run 400 meters at 6:40pm (age 3-6); and Crawlers race 50 meters at 6:50pm (age 2 and under).

Registration is now open, so get in early and get ready to run (and glow!) on the 21st.

Knott’s Merry Farm

Calico Peanuts GangThe holidays are just around the corner, which means it’s almost time for Knott’s Berry Farm to transform into Knott’s Merry Farm. Starting November 28, Knott’s Merry Farm will be a place to make memories with the entire family – with live entertainment, a crafts fair, lavish holiday decorations, Santa, and of course Snoopy. Snoopy is the star of the “It’s Christmas, Snoopy!” ice show performed in the 2,100-seat Charles M. Schulz Theatre, and will also serve as host of a Christmas tree lighting ceremony each night at Calico Stage.

Other features include Lucy’s Wish List at the Camp Snoopy Theater, where guests are invited to join Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, their pal JT, and Snoopy as they contemplate the meaning of Christmas. Also the Ghost Town is transformed into the Christmas Crafts Village, with artisans offering handcrafted jewelry, soaps, ornaments, and more. You can even watch artists in action including a chainsaw sculptor and a glass blower.

KBF_Merry-Farm13_6781-EditFood-wise, there is something for everyone. New for 2013, the Wilderness Dance Hall in Ghost Town has been transformed into Santa’s Christmas Cabin for the holiday season. There you can have a photo taken with Santa and then indulge in holiday delights like Santa’s homemade cookies, sundae bar, hot chocolate topped with hand carved chocolate shavings, winter wine and craft beer tastings, and more. Across the park you’ll find other famous holiday treats, including fresh made-to-order Maple Lollipops in Ghost Town’s Main Street; churros from the Churro Factory; and cakes, cookies, muffins and gingerbread men in the Farm Bakery.

KBF_Merry-Farm13_6271And that’s still not all…One of the highlights for our family was Christmas on Engine 41, where you can ride a vintage train and hear costumed characters telling you all about their Christmas plans. Our group was entertained by a young man from the 1800′s giving a rousing one-man, five-minute performance of “A Christmas Carol.”

Sound like a lot? We spent six hours there and we feel like we didn’t even scratch the surface of what we could do!

Knott's Merry Farm and Santa If you’re headed to Knott’s this month, this is also the time to buy your 2014 Knott’s season pass. Season passes, which offer unlimited visits with no blackout dates in 2014, can be purchased online starting at $78.00 or with six installment payments of $13.00, for a limited time. Those purchasing Knott’s Season Passes will receive one FREE visit during the 2013 season; additional visits for just $9.99 each through December 31, 2013 (per pass holder/non-transferable); access to Knott’s great seasonal offerings, including Knott’s Merry Farm, Knott’s Berry Bloom, and Camp Spooky; discounts at select food and merchandise locations; discounts on Knott’s Scary Farm Tickets; early ride time on select rides during summer season; and special Season Pass Holder events.

Knott’s Berry Farm Theme Park, located at 8039 Beach Blvd. in Buena Park, is open daily (except for Christmas Day) from 10:00 am.  For more information, call (714) 220-5200 or visit

Blogger disclosure: We received complimentary tickets but did not receive compensation for this post. All opinions expressed are our own.

Nightmare Before Christmas – Second Screen Live

You love playing games on your iPad, and you love going to the movies – What if you could do both at the same time? That’s the idea behind “Nightmare Before Christmas – Second Screen Live” – a crazy/fun family movie experience showing in select theaters around the country right now.

Many Tim Burton fans know the general premise behind Nightmare Before Christmas – Jack Skellington, king of Halloweentown, discovers Christmas but doesn’t quite understand the concept. There’s plenty of song, hidden jokes, detailed animation, and visual fascination throughout the movie. And that’s why it makes for the perfect movie to combine with puzzles and games.

second screen liveTo see “Second Screen Live” you’ll need an iPad or iPad mini running iOS 5.0 or higher (it won’t work on the iPhone) and you’ll need to download the Nightmare Before Christmas Second Screen Live app (it’s free) before you get to the theater. Once you’re sitting in the theater, you’ll get instructions on how to get started.

As the movie plays, there’s a running commentary on the bottom of the screen that gives you instructions for puzzles and games to play on your iPad (your “tombstone”). You’ll play several rounds of “bones” (xylophone), winning points for how well you memorize the pattern. There are multiple choice quiz questions, several “find what’s different in this picture” puzzles, and opportunities to earn points in the “casino.” Of course the favorite game for our younger kids were the quick-touch games such as touching as many snowflakes as you can during a snowstorm to earn points.

At the end of the movie, your points are tallied and you can find out who’s the winner on your “team.” It’s fun to do with the whole family, and it’s a great opportunity to make the big-screen experience more engaging and interactive.

To find where the movie is playing near you, click on the Second Screen Live page.

Blogger disclosure: Disney gave us passes to preview the movie. We did not receive compensation; all opinions expressed are our own.

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