Twinkle, Twinkle! Sparkling Bay Area Light Displays to See

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Nothing kicks off the holiday season better than the twinkle of festive lights while strolling through your neighborhood or driving under giant candy canes in the park. Add a frothy cup of cocoa and the smiles on your little one’s face will sparkle with cheer. Check out our favorite Bay Area light displays to create lasting holiday memories. 

San Francisco

photo: Firefly Lights

Illuminate SF Festival of Lights
Kicking off its 9th year, this urban lights festival offers 44 eco-friendly displays that are all accessible by public transportation within San Francisco's 49 square miles. Pick from 17 neighborhoods to explore and take the free guided tour to learn more about the artists that have brought these installations to life. Nov. 25-Jan. 1.

More info: https://illuminatesf.com

photo: San Francisco Recreation and Park Department

Visit "Entwined" in Golden Gate Park

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 help commemorate Golden Gate Park’s 150th Anniversary. Dec. 2-Feb. 1

More info: sanfranciscoparksalliance.org

photo: Peretz Partensky

Tom & Jerry’s Christmas Display
Editor's Note: With the passing of Tom Taylor, a fixture in the SF LGBTQ community, the status of this iconic display is TBD for 2021. Check their FB page for current info. 

You need to see it to believe it: a 65-foot tree in front of a Noe Valley Victorian, covered in lights and ginormous ornaments. Owner's Tom and Jerome (Jerry) have been delighting visitors with their big, bold and bright display for more than twenty years now. Santa usually makes a nightly appearance for the kiddos December 1 through Christmas Eve, 6:30–9:30 p.m.

3650 21st St.
Noe Valley, San Francisco
When: TBD
Cost: Free
Online: Tom and Jerry Christmas Tree

Other Houses & Streets in San Francisco to Visit
68 Castro Street (shown above)

Rainbow Christmas tree at 18th & Castro in the Castro District

1960 10th Avenue

1929 7th Avenue

363 Wawona Street

515 Crestlake Drive

488 Gallert Drive

East Bay

photo: Ruth Bancroft Garden

Garden of D'Lights
Experience the Ruth Bancroft Garden in a whole new way at this year’s Garden of d’Lights. With more lights and more lasers, this year’s Garden of d’Lights is set to be better than ever. Guests of all ages are in for a holiday treat as they stroll through the Garden’s 3.5 acres of mature cacti, succulents and trees that are transformed into magical colorful botanical sculptures by thousands of lights. Fri.-Sun. Nov. 19-Jan. 2. 

More info: www.ruthbancroftgarden.org

Temple Hill - Oakland
Come and enjoy a wonderful night of peace and Christmas enchantment at Temple Hill. The Oakland Temple Christmas Lights will shine every evening from dusk to 9:00p.m., Nov. 26-Dec. 31, 2020. This activity practices social distancing, and we invite all families and individuals to come to witness the wonder of Christmas.

4766 Lincoln Ave.
Oakland, CA
Online: templehill.org/christmas

Crippsmas Place - Fremont
The 80+ homes of Crippsmas Place are on Cripps Place, Asquith Place, Nicolet Court, Wellington Place, Perkins Street, and the stretch of Nicolet Avenue between Gibraltar Drive and Perkins Street in Fremont. They are open for 2021 from Dec. 11-31, 6-10 p.m. and will allow visitors to walk AND drive through this year. Don’t forget to get your free candy cane!

Online: crippsmasplace.org

photo: Oakland Zoo

Glowfari at Oakland Zoo
Walk through a mile-long journey and 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! November 12-24, 26-30, 2021 | December 1-23, 26-31, 2021 | January 1-2, 5-9, 12-16, 19-23, 26-30, 2022

Event details

Christmas Tree Lane - Alameda
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 won’t be making an appearance this year, Christmas Tree Lane will continue to bring cheer Dec. 4-31. Masks are required. 

More info: tinybeans.go-vip.net

photo: Mountain View Cemetery

Holiday Circle of Lights

Editor's Note: The Holiday Circle of Lights is cancelled for 2021 but they hope to host it in 2022. 

Don't let the fact this display is in a cemetery spook you, though it will take your breath away in a good way! Thousands of lights adorn the main buildings at Mountain View Cemetery. The colorful light shows have included a train full of toys, a giant nutcracker and a beautiful arch of lights. 

More info: mountainviewcemetery.org

Other Houses & Streets in the East Bay to Visit
These houses are known for their amazing decorations so be sure to check them out!

Livermore:
467 Knottingham Circle

Brentwood: 
Tunnels of Joy—La Costa Drive and nearby houses are expected to be illuminated this year. This display is a fundraiser for a child with cancer. More info

Newark: 
6716 Fontaine Ave. 

Hercules: 
145 Onxy Court

Suisun City: 
VnA's Gingy House, 340 Shoveller Drive, @vnasgingyhouse

Concord: 
219 Rock Oak Rd.

Union City:
32247 Valiant Way

Fairfiled: 
Disney-inspired musical house: 2132 Calder Place

Peninsula/South Bay

photo: CuriOdyssey

IlluminOdyssey Winter Light Experience
This dazzling exhibit with its lit up floors, walls and ceilings will electrify little imaginations! Colorful lanterns will light the way as kids dance among a laser light show, wander under an illuminated canopy and create refractive rainbows with a wand. Thu-Sun., November 9-January 5.
Event details

photo: istock

Holiday Lights Drive-Through at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds
Picture a 1/2 mile drive through the Santa Cruz Fairgrounds enjoying spectacular lighted Holiday displays featuring giant Christmas trees twinkling with lights – Santa – reindeer – snowmen – lighted tunnels and more. New this year is a special two-night holiday lights walk-thru. Enjoy the fun weekends Dec. 4 through Dec. 26.
 Event details

photo: Oona Cooperhill

Drive Through Christmas in the Park
Get ready to check out all the holiday lights and decked-out trees at this fun drive-through event at Lake Cunningham Park. Not to be missed, this year's Christmas in the Park features over 200,000 lights! Nov. 26-Jan. 9.
Event details

Fantasy of Lights Drive-Thru
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. Dec. 7-30 (except Dec. 25), 6-10 p.m.

More info: tinybeans.go-vip.net

photo: Ruth Ann Groves

Holidays at Filoli
Grab your masks 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. Filoli is open daily from Nov. 20-Jan 2 with daytime and evening hours. More info: filoli.org

In December, you can get tickets for Santa Saturdays and take a selfie with the big man himself. Dec. 4-5, 11-12 and 18-19

Emerald Hills Golfland—San Jose

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 running Christmas music at the end of November/early December. There are two courses but we like the course that's closer to Blossom Hill Rd. as you can hear the music better.

976 Blossom Hill Rd.
San Jose, CA
Online
: golfland.com/sanjose

Mattos Orchard Lights - San Jose
Mattos Orchard Lights span over 30,000 Square feet of apricot trees. The display includes over 90,000 LED lights, which includes a 20-foot mega tree with a full light show, over 100 blow molds, and 9 inflatables. Lights are on from 5-10 p.m. Thanksgiving night through Jan. 2.

1545 Stone Creek Dr
San Jose, CA
Online: facebook.com

photo: iStock

4454 Moran Dr. - San Jose
You'll love this San Jose house that has over 1,000 RGB lights that are all programmed by computer and synchronized to music. Be sure to sing along! 

4454 Moran Dr. 
San Jose, CA

Dave's Christmas House Benefiting Make-a-Wish
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 lights displays and Christmas trees. 

San Jose, CA
Dates: Now-Dec. 25, 6 p.m.
Cost: Free
Onlinefacebook.com

Christmas Tree Lane - Palo Alto
Christmas Tree Lane (or Fulton Street in the off-season) has been putting visitors in the Christmas spirit with their holiday lights display since the 1940s. This year they celebrate their 80th year! 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.

Fulton Street between Embarcadero Ave. and Seale Rd.
Palo Alto, CA
Dates: 2021 Dates haven’t been released, 5-11 p.m.
Cost: Free
More info: christmastreelane.org

photo: Kate Loweth

Lamore Drive in San Jose
We love this house for the epic amount of lights in its display (they even extend over the street!). There’s also two different light shows that happen every 15 minutes. Stay on the lookout for the penguins playing hockey with candy canes!

1419 Lamore Dr. in San Jose
More info: californiachristmaslights.com

Other Houses & Streets in the South Bay/Peninsula to Visit
San Carlos: 

1900 Eucalyptus Ave.

San Jose: 
Santana Row

Santa Clara:
Cathedral of Faith—They have a live show on weekends from 6-9 p.m. Dec. 1-27 except on Christmas. More info

Campbell: 
750 Harriet Ave. Tune your car radio to 92.9 for the music to go along with the show. More info.

Los Altos: 
Estate Drive at Grant Road

Marin

Holidays in Sausalito
It's no secret that the best time to visit Sausalito is during the holiday season. Anchored by the famed Sausalito Lighted Boat Parade & Fireworks (returning for 2021), 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.

Rombeiro House
Not only is this house decorated to the nines on the outside, but they also welcome visitors inside to see all the rooms decked out in different Christmas themes—trains, angels, candy canes and more. How many Santas can you spot? You may even get to see Santa and Mrs. Claus at the end of your tour! 

34 Devonshire Dr.
Novato, CA
When: 6-10 p.m. daily, Dates coming soon.
Cost: Free
OnlineRombeiro Christmas House

Tam Valley MegaTree
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 over 3000 individually controlled LED lights, 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.

340 Jean St.
Mill Valley, CA
Online: facebook.com

—TaLeiza Calloway-Appleton & Kate Loweth

featured photo by iStock

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