Los Angeles has always been a town of lights, but during the holiday season, the displays get even brighter. From Marina del Rey to the OC and as far east as Indio, here are the most dazzling holiday light displays around LA that are worth your time and money
There’s something about twinkling lights that gets us in the holiday spirit—that is, after we’ve picked up the best Christmas tree and made an initial pass through LA’s best toy stores for gifts. And while Los Angeles may not have the winter weather charm of those cities that actually see a white Christmas, our palm trees sure can prop up Christmas lights just as magically as their evergreen cousins can. From the sprawling sea of bulbs at Descanso Gardens to festive local neighborhoods layered in all things merry and bright, LA’s got its share of impressive holiday light displays.
This article is sponsored by Kidspace Children’s Museum, a children’s museum located in Pasadena, CA with over 40 unique hands-on exhibits that engage for kids 10 and under emotionally, intellectually, and physically. Now through January 7, Kidspace is transforming into a winter wonderland with the return of “Kidspace Winter Frolic,” where little ones can enjoy imaginative, cold-weather activities—without the snow!
Where to See the Best Holiday Lights in Los Angeles
Marina del Rey Boat Parade
For a different take on the traditional light display, check out the shimmering boats of the Marina del Rey boat parade—a moving spectacle that kicks off with a spectacular fireworks show! Be sure to bring a blanket and some hot chocolate so you can get nice and cozy while you take it all in. The boat parade features 70 boats adorned with holiday light, all vying for top categories, which include Best Power, Best Lights, Best Spirit, and Best Yacht Club. Recommended viewing areas are Burton Chace Park (3650 Mindanao Way) and Fisherman’s Village (3755 Fiji Way).
Good to Know: Marina Lights will cast a festive glow on Burton Chace Park throughout Dec., nightly 4–10 p.m., and the family-friendly GLOW party returns to Burton Chace Park on Dec. 31, from 7 p.m.-midnight along with fireworks over the water at 8:59 p.m.and 11:59 p.m.
Dates: Dec. 9 from 5:55-8 p.m. Fireworks kickoff at 5:55 p.m.; the boat parade is from 6-8 p.m.
13737 Fiji Way
Marina Del Rey.
Winterlit Santa Monica
Walk beneath a canopy of lights as you make your way through an illuminated Third Street Promenade to admire the 24-foot Christmas tree. Santa Monica's annual "Winterlit" celebration lights up the street of downtown Santa Monica with tens of thousands of colorful lights and holiday decor. The celebration also includes a special tree-lighting ceremony on Dec. 1 with Santa...and snow! Add to that a pop-up ice rink (located at Fifth & Arizona Ave.) that's open through Jan. 15.
Dates: Nov. 10- Jan. 15
Cost: Free to walk through the display; ice rink is $20 for skate rental and all-day admission
Third Street Promenade (between Broadway & Wilshire)
L.A. Zoo Lights
Your munchkins will be dazzled by the glow around every part of the L.A. Zoo. The annual light show transforms the daytime zoo into a parade of colorful light displays, which will enchant your littles all night long. Guests will experience spectacular lantern sculptures of animals as well as flowers and trees adorned with lights. Go on a weekend for additional entertainment and activities for the whole family.
Good to Know: For sensory-sensitive guests, the zoo offers a "Sensory-Inclusive Night" on Dec. 5 that will feature smaller crowds, quieter music, available sensory bags with noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards, and weighted lap pads (supplies limited, first, come, first served), and an online Social Story (coming soon) that provides a preview of what to expect while enjoying the event.
Dates: Nov. 17-Jan. 7; 6-10:00 p.m.
Cost: Tickets start at $29 for adults (13+); $18 for children
5333 Zoo Dr.
Upper Hastings Ranch in Pasadena
This expansive Pasadena neighborhood gets transformed into a Winter Wonderland every year, with block after block having its own holiday theme. Established in 1951, this neighborhood's annual extravaganza dazzles with its extensive light displays. We’d recommend driving through as there is a lot to see.
No trip to Hastings Ranch would be complete without visiting the Harbeck Christmas Light Show (1215 Tropical Ave.), featuring an animated Christmas light show synced to fun tunes on 99.1 FM. Check the website for the most up-to-date information. And keep an eye on your TVs! The Harbeck light show will be featured on ABC's Great Christmas Light Fight—a decoration competition that's bound to be enlightening, airing on Mon., Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. either on ABC7 or Hulu.
Dates: Nightly from Dec. 9-31 (lights go on at 6 p.m. and turn off at 10 p.m.)
Sierra Madre Blvd. & Michillinda Ave., Hastings Ranch Blvd. & Riviera
Holiday Light Festival Ride at Griffith Park & Southern Railroad
What’s even more fun than a train ride? How about a train ride dressed up with thousands of lights and festive details? The Holiday Light Festival Ride takes passengers on a one-mile loop for approximately ten minutes at Griffith Park and Southern Railroad. Your kids will enjoy making choo-choo and ho-ho-ho noises as they embark on this night train ride.
Related Story: Holiday Train Rides to Book Before They Sell Out
Dates: Nov. 24-Jan. 7, Mon.-Thurs. 5-8 p.m.; Fri.- Sun. 5-9:00 p.m.
Cost: $7/person, (18 months and under are free). In-person tickets can be purchased from the ticket booth at Griffith Park & Southern Railroad; online tickets (plus a convenience fee ) is available via the website
4400 Crystal Springs Dr.
Christmas Tree Lane in Altadena
The people of Altadena come together to light up their neighborhood for all to rejoice in the holiday season. Set among the 135-year-old Deodar trees that line Santa Rosa Avenue (Christmas Tree Lane) in Altadena, this tight-knit community celebrated the Centennial lighting of Christmas Tree Lane in 2020. In fact, in 1990, Christmas Tree Lane was included in the National Register of Historic Places and became a California State Landmark.
Dates: Lighting ceremony is Dec. 9, then the street lights up nightly from 6 p.m.-midnight through Christmas
Santa Rosa between Mariposa & Mendocino
Saint Albans Rd. in San Marino
Stroll by glorious pine trees adorned with bright lights along one block of San Marino St. Albans’ Ave. The neighborhood has gorgeous stately homes with plenty of room to walk on the sidewalk with your little elves holding your hand. If you fancy staying in your car, the traffic flows nicely so you can get a nice view while you cruise by.
Dates: Nightly the entire month of Dec.
Saint Albans Rd. & Huntington Ave.
8. Lightscape at the Arboretum
A light extravaganza like no other, Lightscape brings sound, color, and art to the lush 127-acre Arboretum—and this year it's promising a show that's "bigger, bolder, brighter." Look for the U.S. premiere of three installations: Will-o’-the-wisp, Whole Hole, and the biggest and best Laser Garden. The Lightscape experience includes 15 other new displays as well as the fan-favorite Winter Cathedral. This is a fully-walkable event that gets you and your little elves close to the lights, with a newly expanded trail lighting up even more of the San Gabriel Valley destination. Originally from London, this fully-immersive glow experience will bring smiles and lots of oohs and ahhs throughout the night.
Dates: Nov. 17-Jan. 2; 5:30-8:45 p.m. in 15-minute intervals (closes at 10 p.m.)
301 N Baldwin Ave.
Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Magic Mountain
The best part about the light show at Six Flags Holiday in the Park is that it's not the only thing there to dazzle you—all the rides are open during the event, too! Meander through tunnels of light and festive forests as you make your way across the park among millions of twinkling lights. The event also features a slew of tasty holiday sweets and treats (Peppermint bark! White chocolate candy apples! Holiday turkey poutine!), a Santa's cottage where good little boys and girls can rattle off their Christmas wishes to the Big Guy, and a holiday market filled with handcrafted trinkets made by local artists.
Dates: Nightly Nov. 23-Dec. 31; Times vary
Cost: Included with park admission
26101 Magic Mountain Pkwy.
Holiday Road in Calabasas
This immersive walking trail takes you through a dazzling winter wonderland featuring larger-than-life holiday-themed installations. Kids will get to meet Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the elves. A pre and post-show area let you grab yummy bites from various food trucks, sip a seasonal cocktail (or nonalcoholic drink) at the full bar, buy some holiday gear, and take photos against an array of photo backdrops.
Good to Know: The walking trail is two-thirds of a mile long and strollers are welcome.
Dates: Nov. 24-Dec. 27, 5-10 p.m. (last entry at 8:00 pm)
Cost: $25 & Up
King Gillette Ranch
26800 Mulholland Hwy.
Lilley Hall in Toluca Lake
On a quiet street in the heart of Toluca Lake, you'll find the most enchanting 1927 Tudor revival home named for musical composer/arranger/director Joseph J. Lilley. This festive home pulls out all the stops with holiday decorations galore, including the most magnificent toy soldier tree lighting ceremony on Thanksgiving! Once in the neighborhood, venture around with your family to explore the surrounding streets as they all get into the holiday spirit with an extra dose of merry.
Dates: Nightly, Thanksgiving night to Christmas Day
10104 Moorpark St.
Yolanda Lights in Reseda
Located on the 7300 block of Yolanda Ave south of Valerio, this unique celebration of lights features an expansively lit tunnel shining on almost the entire block on both sides of the street. The kids will love to walk (and run too!) through the tunnel again and again to soak in all the beauty of the holiday-decorated neighborhood.
Dates: Nightly from Thanksgiving night through New Year's Eve
7300 block of Yolanda Ave.
Enchanted Forest of Light at Descanso Garden
The whole family will love this interactive one-mile walk through Descanso's sprawling annual glowing garden. Popular returning favorites include an entire town of magical “stained glass” built in the Rose Garden by contemporary sculptor Tom Fruin, sparkling geometric installations from HYBYCOZO on the Main Lawn, Flower Power on the Promenade, and exquisite lighting effects in the "Ancient Forest."
Dates: Nov. 19-Jan. 7, 5:30-10 p.m.
Cost: $34–$40 for non-members
1418 Descanso Dr.
La Cañada Flintridge
Christmas Lights at Universal Studios
Join the Grinch and the people of Who-Ville as they turn on the lights of Universal’s topsy-turvy Christmas tree as a part of the park’s annual “Grinchmas” celebration. Watch as the Grinch’s heart grows a few sizes bigger and he gives in to the spirit of the holidays to light the 65-foot-tall tree. Expect more than just a lighting ceremony: There's a whole story here, with the Grinch himself telling his tale along with snowfall, songs, and plenty of seasonal Grinch-themed snacks, and merchandise (unlike The Grinch's heart, your wallet may grow a few sizes smaller by night’s end).
The Grinch and his faithful dog Max (a real dog actor!) will be available for photo opportunities throughout the day. In addition, littles can gather round as Cindy-Lou Who leads daily story time for young visitors looking to learn “How the Grinch Stole Christmas." And, the Who-ville post office will be accepting postcards with holiday messages
When you're all Seussed out, head over to the Wizarding World, where the holidays are in full effect with special seasonal performances and treats. Plus, enjoy a spectacular nightly spectacle in which the massive Hogwarts Castle comes to life in a dazzling light projection show featuring stunning imagery, music, and sounds from the Harry Potter film series.
Dates: Holidays Shows & Activities start Nov. 24 and run through Jan. 1
100 Universal City Plaza
Newburgh Lights Show in Glendora
There are some houses that are just worth the drive to visit because they’re that fantastical. This Newburgh Lights Show House in Glendora is a single home that puts on a majestic display of lights and sound. With over 20,000 lights meticulously choreographed to traditional holiday music, you and your little ones will be enthralled by the light show while you enjoy the 14-song concert. The website lists the complete playlist so you can listen on your drive to Glendora and jam out holiday-style!
Dates: Nov. 26 through Christmas; Opening night, the show lights up at 7 p.m. after that, the show starts at 5 p.m.
609 E. Newburgh St.
Festival of Lights at the Mission Inn
This celebrated winter wonderland display has been lighting up this historic hotel landmark for 30 years. Voted "Best Public Lights Display" by USA Today, the holiday celebration will be even bigger this year with 400 animated figures, including angels and carolers; the world’s largest man-made mistletoe, and an animated Christmas tree light show programmed for a four-minute magical animated display. New additions include a nativity scene; the Anton Clock in the Spanish Patio featuring a new show that rotates every 15 minutes; as well as a new North Pole Walkway dotted with Santa’s Elves playing in the snow and leading to Santa’s Workshop, elves filling Santa’s sled with toys, and a life-size gingerbread house. All of the decorations can be enjoyed even without being a hotel guest (though it's a great spot for a staycation!).
Dates: Nov. 18-Jan. 7
3649 Mission Inn Ave.
Santa’s Speedway Christmas Lights Walk-Thru
This epic walk-through begins with Speedway’s Christmas Village and continues in a series of jaw-dropping, Instagrammable sites. Here, you'll encounter displays with 30-foot tall ornaments, a lighted statue of Santa on a rocking horse, and a tunnel of lights that delivers you into a land, filled with Christmas sweets and illuminated lollipops. Of course, the best part (besides the record-setting free-standing light tree, measuring 110 feet and constructed out of twelve miles of 100,000 programmable LED lights) is at the end—when you get to pose with Santa himself.
Dates: Dec. 1-Jan. 1; 5-10 p.m.
Cost: $29 & Up
500 Speedway Dr.
18. Candy Cane Lane
Nestled near the airport in the quaint town of El Segundo, this quiet stretch of Acadia Avenue has been lighting up for the holidays since 1949—and we mean, really lighting up! The neighborhood is so full of Christmas spirit that people come from all over the area to admire the views, and you'll almost always find a crowd mulling. Park your car and walk the streets (you can't drive up and down the streets during the event), stopping to admire each home's unique display, which includes moving reindeer, Peanuts characters, motorized trains, and hundreds of twinkling bulbs blanketing every surface, bush, and tree. You'll also usually find local carolers mingling among the crowd, belting out holiday songs to make things even merrier. Don't be surprised if you see Santa's sleigh parked at the end of the street; he loves this little piece of Winter Wonderland, too.
When: Dec. 9-Dec. 24
The 1200 block of Acacia Ave.
The Best Holiday Lights near LA That are Totally Worth the Drive
Astra Lumina at the South Bay Botanic Garden
What if you could walk amongst the stars? That's the question asked by Moment Factory, the visionary multimedia company (they do visuals for Billie Eilish!) behind Astra Lumina, a luminous night walk that uses projections, lasers, and sounds to immerse visitors in a celestial world where the stars "descend to Earth." You'll walk through dark forests bathed in twinkling lights, see stars seemingly rise and fall from the sky, and set out on a trail that features 10 distinct areas to explore, with names like "Starlit Lanterns," "Falling Stars," and "Starburst Rays." At each stop, guests are invited to mingle with the lights as they are blanketed in the projected stars.
This is the 17th of Moment Factory's Night Walk series—and the fourth American incarnation. If this walk is anything like the ones before it (Travel and Leisure called Night Walk "unlike any hike you’ve ever been on"), it's sure to wow you and all your little stargazers.
Dates: Dec. 8-Jan. 15, 6-10 p.m.
Cost: Tickets start at $29 adults; $20 for kids age 4-12. Parking on-site is $20; parking off-site with short shuttle to event is $8
26300 Crenshaw Blvd.
Palos Verdes Estates
Sleepy Hollow Christmas Lights Extravaganza
Homeowners pull out all the stops for this annual neighborhood Lights Extravaganza (which also calls itself Candy Cane Lane), where you'll see everything from soaring lights across rooftops to simple nativity scenes set on yards. Every house has its own unique theme, and you'll want to see them all. Consequently, it will take at least an hour to walk the network of neighborhoods that encompasses the event (the sidewalks are safe, and strollers are welcome). You can drive through the area, but make sure your kids use the restrooms before you get there, because traffic is usually at a slow crawl throughout (you'll appreciate this when you want to take in the view—not so much when you have a toddler who has to go potty).
Hungry? Stop at one of the many front yard bake sales, where you and your kids can nosh on cookies and cocoa (bring at least 10 bucks for a family of four, as most items are $1-2 each).
Insider Tip: Start at Roberts Rd. in Torrance (entrance at Pacific Coast Hwy.) and walk or drive around adjacent streets (including Doris Way, Carol Dr., Linda Dr., Reeese Rd. and Sharynne Ln.). If you plan on walking, park on Pacific Coast Hwy., Calle Mayor or Prospect, and walk toward Roberts Rd.
Dates: Nov. 16-Dec. 31, 6-10 p.m.
Hikari Festival at Tanaka Farms
Tanaka Farms has become the holiday family destination in Southern California, and with more than a million twinkling lights on display during the months of November and December, it does not disappoint! Take a wagon ride through the sea of lights to the "Land of a Thousand Lanterns," then get off to wander through the glittering displays. After the ride, make your way down to the festival grounds, where you can visit with the barnyard animals, grab some food from the Tanaka Grill, take advantage of photo opps, and meet Santa (all activities are priced individually). There is live music on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.
Dates: Nov. 24 through Dec. 30, 4:30 p.m.-10 p.m. Entry gates close at 8:30 p.m.
5380 ¾ University Dr.
Holidays at Disneyland
It's hard to talk about holiday lights in Los Angeles without mentioning Disneyland. Sure, the Happiest Place on Earth is already sky-high in "wow factor," but the resort ups its merriment ante big-time over the holidays. From a wintery light projection that makes Sleeping Beauty's castle look like it's dripping in high-def icicles to the "It's a Small World" facade transformed into a wall of colorful twinkling lights (and its insides adorned to reflect the season), Disneyland shines in a whole new way this time of year! Everywhere you turn, you'll experience holiday joy, with decor and lights strewn all over the park and the"Believe in Holiday Magic" fireworks display ending the night with stirring music, snow showers, and a spectacular light show.
The lights also dazzle at California Adventure, where the streets are similarly adorned. And it's not just for Christmas: Across the park, you'll find tributes, cuisine, and activities related to the season's other holidays, including Navidad, Hanukkah, Diwali, Kwanzaa, and Three Kings' Day. Several rides are totally done up for the season (including a transformed Cars Land featuring Luigi's "Joy to the Whirl" and a decked-out Mater's Jingle Jamboree. And the nightly World of Color light show also changes for the holidays with the "Season of Light" show using music to captivate park-goers.
Dates: Nov. 10-Jan. 7
1313 Disneyland Dr.
Brea Eagle Hills in Orange County
If you’re searching for a neighborhood as excited as you are that Santa Claus is coming to town, visit the Brea Eagle Hills neighborhood in Orange County to get all the holiday feels. Drive or leisurely stroll through the hood, which is packed with glistening homes and plenty of Christmas cheer. It is a popular destination so plan for larger crowds and some traffic as you make your way through. Parking is available at the Brea Sports Park just east of the lights on Birch St.
Dates: Dec. 1-Dec. 30; Sundown to 10 p.m.
2960-2970 Primrose Ave.
Magic of Lights
If you're headed to Palm Springs with kids and seeking some holiday spirit, take a drive to the Empire Polo Club, where the Magic of Lights celebration is transforming the 1,000-acre site into a vibrant drive-through holiday-themed light display. From the comfort of their cars, guests can tune in to the Magic of Lights’ classic holiday playlist while they drive through various light structures, including a 200-foot-long tunnel of lights, a Blizzard Light Tunnel, the Snowflake Tunnel, and a Candy Cane Light Tunnel. Other displays include a 32-foot-tall animated waving Christmas Barbie, "Prehistoric Christmas," featuring life-sized dinosaurs celebrating the season, and BIGFOOT® Monster Trucks.
Dates: Nov. 17-Dec. 31, 6-10 p.m.
Cost: $15 per vehicle on weekdays; $20 per vehicle on weekends
Empire Polo Club
81-800 Ave. 51
Lights at Sensorio
The New York Times featured Lights at Sensorio as one of the top 50 places to visit and there is a glowing reason why. This garden made of bright bulbs is home to two installations by internationally acclaimed artist Bruce Munro. With a 15-acre immersive walk-through experience, this Field of Light contains more than 58,000 stemmed spheres (lit by fiber optics) shining colorful lights on the expansive landscape that one has to see in person to believe. Additionally, there are 69 illuminated Light Towers composed of more than 17,000 wine bottles all nestled in the vibrant vineyards combined with a musical score.
Dates: Nov. 5-Dec. 31; Times var
4380 Highway 46 East
Christmas Lights at Knott's Berry Farm
Rollercoasters, rides and... snow! Knott's Berry Farm becomes "Knott's Merry Farm" during the holidays, with thousands of twinkling lights, miles of themed garland, and the songs of the holidays ringing out through the park. To get your dose of holiday spirit, pronto, head to Ghost Town, where a magical "Snow and Glow" experience features thousands of lights dancing to the beat of Christmas music while snow gently falls down. Guests can also watch as old-time carolers gather round the giant bedazzled Christmas tree and sing holiday favorites before (and after) the lights flick on to welcome the season.
Other holiday happenings include a Snoopy On Ice Christmas show, a Christmas Crafts Village, and Santa's Christmas Cabin where kids can meet the Claus couple themselves.
Dates: Knott's Merry Farm runs Nov. 17 through Jan. 7
8039 Beach Blvd.