Your complete guide to the most spectacular events, decked-out neighborhoods, glowing gardens, and more must-see holiday light displays in San Francisco and the Bay Area
Twinkling lights sprouting up all over town are the hallmark of the holidays, and nothing beats grabbing one of the best hot chocolates in the Bay Area and walking around these world-class holiday light displays to get into the spirit. From strolling through your neighborhood to driving through a festive light display at your local park, holiday lights illuminate San Francisco. The best part? Most are free. You can save your money to purchase the perfect Christmas tree at a farm nearby.
Where to See the Best Holiday Lights in San Francisco
Illuminate SF Festival of Lights
Nov. 9-Jan. 31: This urban lights festival will feature 50 dramatic, eco-friendly light art installations—including new iconic works in the Mission Bay and SoMa neighborhoods. See San Francisco shine as a gallery of light and learn about the artists that have brought these installations to life during the event.
Entwined in Golden Gate Park
Dec. 1-Mar. 12: The illuminating art installation "Entwined" will return to Golden Gate Park, transforming Peacock Meadow into an enchanted forest of otherworldly shapes and ever-changing light. Created by San Francisco artist Charles Gadeken, the display helps to commemorate Golden Gate Park’s 150th Anniversary.
Festive Houses & Streets that Light Up for the Holidays in San Francisco
- 68 Castro St.
- Rainbow Christmas Tree: 18th & Castro in the Castro District
- 1960 10th Ave.
- 1929 7th Ave.
- 363 Wawona St.
- 515 Crestlake Dr.
- 488 Gallert Dr.
Where to See the Best Holiday Lights in the East Bay
Garden of D'Lights
Nov. 24-Jan. 6 (select dates): Gardens of cacti, succulents, and trees will shine bright at the Ruth Bancroft Garden's annual Garden of D’Lights. Guests of all ages are in for a holiday treat as they stroll through the garden’s 2.5 acres of beautiful greenery transformed into magical and colorful botanical sculptures by thousands of lights.
Oakland Temple Hill Days of Christmas
Nov. 24-Dec. 31: Enjoy a wonderful night of peace and Christmas enchantment at Temple Hill. The 2022 Days of Christmas festivities will include holiday lights, Nativity tours, and more. The Oakland Temple Christmas Lights will shine every evening from dusk to 9 p.m.
Dec. 9-31: The 80+ homes of Crippsmas Place are on Cripps Place, Asquith Place, Nicolet Court, Wellington Place, Perkins St., and the stretch of Nicolet Ave. between Gibraltar Dr. and Perkins St. in Fremont. Enjoy the spectacle from 6-10 p.m. and either walk or drive through this year. Don’t forget to get your free candy cane!
Glowfari at Oakland Zoo
Various dates Nov. 10-Jan 28: Walk through a mile-long journey to be dazzled by hundreds of larger-than-life animals lit up by lanterns in this unforgettable holiday lights display! Ride the gondola to the Land of Bugs, hop on the Express Train through Winter Wonderland, and finish the evening with a visit to Santa!
Christmas Tree Lane in Alameda
Dec. 2-31: Christmas spirit comes to life on this lively, lit-up block in Alameda that has the whole package: beautiful lights, friendly neighbors, and people strolling galore—and it's been going on since 1938! While Santa's visit isn't confirmed yet, Christmas Tree Lane will continue to bring holiday cheer for all.
More Houses & Streets that Light Up for the Holidays in the East Bay
These houses are known for their amazing decorations so be sure to check them out!
467 Knottingham Circle
Tunnels of Joy: La Costa Dr. and nearby houses are expected to be illuminated this year. This display is also a fundraiser for a child with cancer.
6716 Fontaine Ave.
145 Onxy Ct.
219 Rock Oak Rd.
- Union City:
32247 Valiant Way
This Disney-inspired musical house can be found at 2132 Calder Pl.
Where to See the Best Holiday Lights on the Peninsula & in the South Bay
IlluminOdyssey Winter Light Experience
Nov. 10-Jan. 28: This dazzling exhibit with its lit-up floors, walls and ceilings will electrify little imaginations! Colorful lanterns will light the way as kids dance in a laser light show, wander under an illuminated canopy, and create refractive rainbows with a wand. Thurs.-Sun
Holidays at Filoli
Nov. 18-Jan. 7: Gather your friends and make a reservation to experience Woodside's Filoli Historic House and Gardens all lit up for the holiday season. Take a stroll and enjoy the beauty of the winter garden adorned with lights and colorful decor or cozy up to a fire pit under twinkling lights.
Good to Know: In December, you can get tickets for Santa Saturdays and take a selfie with the big man himself. There also are special sensory days when they open early to those with sensory sensitivities.
Holiday Lights Drive-Through at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds
Nov. 24 through Dec. 25 (Friday-Sunday): Imagine being surrounded by lights on a 1/2 mile drive through the Santa Cruz Fairgrounds. Families can enjoy spectacular lighted holiday displays featuring giant Christmas trees twinkling with lights, Santa, reindeer, snowmen, lit tunnels, and more.
Drive Through Light Show at History Park
Nov. 29-Jan. 1: Twinkle, Twinkle! Get ready to check out all the holiday lights and decked-out trees at this fun drive-through event at History Park. This event supports the non-profit Christmas in the Park
Fantasy of Lights Drive-Thru
Dec. 5-30 (except Dec. 25): Be sure to buy your ticket in advance (required) and enjoy your slow cruise through 1.5 miles of twinkling lights. Dinosaurs, pirate ships, and all sorts of animals join Santa and his crew in the many light displays.
Emerald Hills Golfland in San Jose
Nov.-Dec.: Looking for an activity to go with your holiday lights this year? No problem. Emerald Hills Golfland gets even more festive with Christmas lights and Christmas music. There are two courses but we like the course that's closer to Blossom Hill Rd. as you can hear the music better.
Dave's Christmas House Benefiting Make-a-Wish Foundation
Start Date TBA-Dec. 25: For many years this Willow Glen house has been decked out in thousands of lights, all in the name of helping children who are battling illness. Swing by to visit and leave a donation to support the Make-a-Wish Foundation. The San Jose neighborhood of Willow Glen is well known for its light displays and Christmas trees.
Christmas Tree Lane in Palo Alto
Dec. 9-31: Christmas Tree Lane (or Fulton Street in the off-season) has been putting visitors in the Christmas spirit with its holiday lights display since the 1940s. This year it celebrates more than 80 years of bringing holiday cheer! For the two weeks leading up to Christmas, you can drive or walk through this display to see carolers, vintage lawn displays, and lights, lights, and more lights. Lights can be seen 5-11p.m. on Fulton St. between Embarcadero Ave. and Seale Rd.
Lamore Dr. in San Jose
Start Date TBA: This light display is one for all ages and has such variety of colors and sparkles. The amount of lights is EPIC as they even extend over the street. There are also two different light shows that happen every 15 minutes. Stay on the lookout for the penguins playing hockey with candy canes! The address is 1419 Lamore Dr. in San Jose.
More Houses & Streets in the South Bay/Peninsula to Visit for Epic Holiday Light Displays
- San Carlos:
1900 Eucalyptus Ave.
- San Jose:
- Santa Clara:
Cathedral of Faith: They have a live show on weekends from 6-9 p.m. in Dec. except on Christmas.
750 Harriet Ave.: Tune your car radio to 92.9 for the music to go along with the show.
- Los Altos:
Estate Dr. at Grant Rd.
Where to See the Best Holiday Lights in Marin
Dec. 9-10: Winterfest packs the fun for the holidays with the beauty of water as its backdrop. It's well known that the best time to visit Sausalito is during the holiday season, and this year is no different. Anchored by the famed Sausalito Lighted Boat Parade & Fireworks, Sausalito is also the perfect venue from which to view the Lighted City Skyline and the Bay Lights installation on the Bay Bridge, which is easier to see in the winter courtesy of earlier nightfall.
Dates for 2023 are TBD: Bringing new meaning to the phrase "deck the halls," this house has Christmas spirit on the inside AND outside. Bonus: Visitors can come inside to tour the different holiday-themed rooms. Christmas themes include trains, angels, candy canes, and more. Can you spot Santa? You may even get to see Santa and Mrs. Claus at the end of your tour!
34 Devonshire Dr.
Tam Valley MegaTree
Nov. 24 through end of Dec.: This tree performs a lovely musical show every night and is a great spot to visit this holiday season. A 30-foot tree of lights with more than 3,000 individually controlled LED lights is synchronized to your favorite holiday music via 96.1 FM on your radio. Operating daily after Thanksgiving from 5-10 p.m. through New Years Day. Check their Facebook page for additional updates.
340 Jean St.