Silicon Valley's Best Holiday Light Displays

Nancy Dinshaw
November 25, 2022
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One of our favorite holiday activities is driving through neighborhoods glittering with holiday lights. So we’ve rounded up the best light displays around the Bay Area. Featuring twinkling displays, these holiday light destinations offer a brilliant holiday experience for the whole family. Walk or drive through holiday displays featuring millions of magical lights, ride a train past sparkling decorations, experience Christmas lights in a snowy landscape, or participate in a menorah lighting. There are so many displays to explore!

Along with lights, many also offer food (and hot chocolate!), entertainment, and a visit with Santa himself. We’ve also included neighborhoods famous for their homes decorated to the hilt. Whether you prefer a refined light display or a drive-through LED spectacle, here are some of our favorite places to celebrate the holiday season and enjoy some festive cheer!

Check out my blog post Silicon Valley's Best Christmas Tree Farms and my upcoming events page for more holiday fun!

Santa Claus is coming to town!

Santa will be making his annual visit to the Bay Area at a number of different locations this season. Save your spot here.

Fairmont San Francisco Christmas Gingerbread House

Every year, the lobby of the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill is beautifully lit with a giant Christmas tree and life-sized Gingerbread House on display from Thanksgiving through the New Year. With hundreds of bricks of real gingerbread baked by their pastry team and many pounds of See’s Candies, their Gingerbread House display is a sight to behold!

While you're at it, create a new holiday tradition with Fairmont San Francisco’s Holiday Tea. Enjoy the ambiance of Laurel Court’s sophisticated charm with family and friends over steaming pots of fine loose-leaf tea, house-made scones, tea sandwiches, luscious pastries and sweets (see their menu). Visit OpenTable to reserve a table.

Address: 950 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94108
Date: Now to Jan 1st, 2023
Price: Free to look around the lobby. Fairmont Holiday Tea is $149/adults and $89/kids under 12 plus of 20% service charge and 8.625% tax. Special buffets on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve.

Holidays at Filoli

Start a new tradition with Holidays at Filoli! Enjoy a stroll around the winter garden, beautifully adorned with festive lights and decorations. Cozy up to the firepit, and sip on hot cider or mulled wine. You must make a reservation in advance since capacity is limited. Filoli’s historic house is open to visitors from 10am – 9pm.

Santa will be visiting the beautiful Woodland Garden Court on select dates. You are invited to take a photo with Santa himself on his festive golden throne, and enjoy a hot drink and holiday treat! Reserve your spot at the Filoli website.

Address: 86 Cañada Road, Woodside, CA
Date: Nov 19th – Jan 8th from 10am – 4pm (daytime) and 4pm – 8pm (evening)
- Daytime: $36 (adult), $26 (child 5-17 yrs old), Free (under 5 yrs old); members receive 20% off
- Evening: $42 (adult), $28 (child 5-17 yrs old), Free (under 5 yrs old); members receive 20% off

Christmas Tree Lane

Christmas Tree Lane celebrates its 81st lighting this year! Get into the spirit of the season with a leisurely walk or drive through the Christmas displays, with the carolers, vintage lawn displays, and thousands of holiday lights. Open to both pedestrians and car traffic.

Address: 1700 – 1800 Fulton Street, Palo Alto, CA
Date: Sat, Dec 10 – Fri, Dec 31th, 5pm – 11pm
Price: Free

Los Altos Festival of Lights Parade

An annual Los Altos tradition, this parade includes Marching Bands from local schools, plenty of floats like the Teddy Bear, Mother Goose, and Ferris Wheel, plus dancing elves, and last but not least Santa Claus himself. Can't make it this year? Watch the replay here.

Address: Downtown Los Altos
Date: Nov 27th, 6pm
Price: Free

Holiday Carriage Rides

Enjoy a fabulous carriage ride with your loved ones through the festive streets of Los Gatos! The ride includes homemade cookies and hot chocolate. Advanced reservations are required. Book soon!

Address: Downtown Los Gatos, Los Gatos, CA
Date: Select dates and times from Dec 8th - 23rd, 5pm+
Price: Regular carriage is $125, max 6 people, up to four adults and two children under 8 years old, and large carriage is $150 for up to six adults. 

Fantasy of Lights

The 24th Annual Fantasy of Lights has become a cherished holiday tradition. It is a spectacular 1.5 mile drive-through (or walk-through on the Dec 3rd & 4th) extravaganza of holiday lights and displays for the entire family. Expect to be dazzled by the lights as you make your way through the winter wonderland. Tune your car radio to the indicated station to get the full effect of the show. You must purchase your ticket online in advance.

Address: Vasona Lake County Park, Los Gatos, CA
Date: Walk-through: Dec 3rd to Dec 4th; Drive-through Dec 6th to Dec 30th, 6pm – 10pm (closed Christmas day)
Price: $20 per vehicle, $50 for oversized vehicles (capacity 13+)

California's Great America WINTERFEST

Immerse yourself in some holiday cheer as California’s Great America is magically transformed into a winter wonderland and holiday festival. Take in the dazzling lights of the Bay Area's tallest Christmas trees adorned with thousands of lights; ice-skate on Snow Flake Lake in front of the iconic Carousel Columbia; sip on crafted hot chocolate while you marvel at spectacular live shows; ride one of the more than 60 rides or write a letter to the North Pole, check out Santa’s workshop and bake cookies in Mrs. Claus’ kitchen—WinterFest has something for the entire family. There is also live entertainment including the popular, Jingle Jazz, Cool Yule Christmas and a scrumptious holiday menu to treat your taste buds, including savory mains, delicious desserts, and irresistible snacks.

Address: 4701 Great America Pkwy, Santa Clara, CA 
Date: Select nights Nov 25th - Jan 1st
Price: From $29.99

Enchant Christmas

Enchant Christmas, billed as the World’s Most Magical Christmas Light Maze & Village, will be hosted at PayPal Park, home of the San Jose Earthquakes, from Nov 25, 2022 – Jan 1, 2023. From trees that sparkle 80 ft. in the air, to enormous Christmas ornaments, a narrative-driven maze adventure and millions of shimmering lights, Enchant brings a variety of holiday-themed activities to PayPal Park this holiday season:

The Christmas Light Maze – “The Great Search” will take visitors on a journey through a twinkling wonderland in search of Santa’s Missing Reindeer.

The Christmas Market – Guests can taste seasonal delights and shop for holiday gifts from dozens of local vendors, showcasing home décor, jewelry, gourmet foods, and more.

Meet & Greets with Santa and Mrs. Claus – Santa will be ready for holiday photos, while Mrs. Claus will lead story time for the little ones.

Ice-Skating Trail – Enchant Christmas features an Ice-Skating Trail adorned with spectacular light displays. Guests can rent a pair of skates at the event and skate to their hearts’ content with their loved ones by their side.

Enjoy holiday-themed food and beverage that are sure to surprise and delight even the foodies in your family. For more information about Enchant, visit

Address: PayPal Park, 1123 Coleman Ave, San Jose, CA 95110
Date: Nov 25, 2022 – Jan 1, 2023 
Price: Tickets starting at $44 Adult and $25 Child. Night Owl Tickets $25.

Santana Row Holiday Events

Explore the unique holiday decorations while partaking in Santana Row's Holiday Events.

Sip & Stroll the Row: Grab your favorite to-go cocktail from Dumpling Time, Momosan, Zazil, El Jardin, EMC Seafood, Left Bank Brasserie, and Vintage Wine Bar to enjoy while strolling Santana Row between Olin Ave. and Olsen Dr. Sip on Margaritas, Moscow Mules, Sangrias, Champagne, and more! Wed through Fri 4pm - 9pm | Sat through Sun 12pm - 9pm.

Humane Society Silicon Valley Holiday Pop-Up: Bring your furbabies to meet the Silicon Valley Humane Society in the Oak Tree Lounge at Santana Row near Blue Bottle Coffee on Sunday, December 11th from 11am-1:30pm. Take your photo in front of the Humane Society holiday backdrop to share with your friends and family! 

Santana Row 2022 Kids Club: Take the kids to the Monthly Special Themed Kids Club events at Santana Row! Each play date is from 10am-12pm and has live entertainment, face painting, balloon twisting, strolling characters and so much more. 

Santana Row Menorah Lighting: Join a festive Hanukkah Celebration at Santana Row in Park Valencia (in front of Maggiano’s). There will be a menorah lighting, kids activities, live music and more. Visit Chanukah SJ for more information.

Santana Row Snow Showers: It’s snowing on The Row! Santana Row brings the North Pole to San Jose for a fun, holiday celebration. Enjoy outdoor snow showers & holiday tunes every 30 minutes in Park Valencia in front of Maggiano’s. Every Wednesday & Saturday starting November 26 – December 19, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Every night from December 19 – 23, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm.

Spirit of the Row: Dance, cheer, and sing during the holiday season on The Row. Enjoy guest performances by local community groups and schools including excerpts from The Nutcracker too. Spirit of The Row performances take place in Santana Row Park in front of the holiday tree every Tuesday evening starting November 29th through December 20th from 6pm-7pm.

Address: Santana Row, San Jose, CA
Date: Select dates to Dec 23th
Price: Free

Christmas in the Park

Christmas in the Park is an annual holiday tradition that takes place in the heart of Downtown San Jose at the Plaza de Cesar Chavez. Each year, the two-acre park is transformed into a holiday fantasy with over 40 musical and animated exhibits, glittering lights and a 50-foot illuminated Christmas Tree. Enjoy a winter wonderland of lights, songs and daily local entertainment while strolling through an enchanted forest of community-decorated trees.

After a long summer at the North Pole, Santa is back at Christmas in the Park until December 24. Bring your camera and take pictures with jolly Old Nick himself!

Address: Plaza de Cesar Chavez, 1 Paseo de San Antonio, San Jose, CA 95113
Date: Nov 25th to Jan 1st, 12pm - 10pm
Price: Free

Blinky's Holiday Drive Through

Enjoy a fantastic light show programmed to music by Pentatonix, Michael Bublé, Luis Miguel, and more! Blinky's Holiday Drive Through experience is guaranteed to create memories for all. And, your ticket purchase helps fund the traditional Christmas in the Park downtown. Purchase tickets in advance at their website.

Address: Lake Cunningham Park, 2333 S White Road, San Jose, CA 95418
Date: From Nov 26th to Jan 1st
Price: $30 per car

Dave's Christmas Lights Benefiting Make-a-Wish

For the 17 years, this Willow Glen house at 1851 Cherry Ave has been displaying Christmas Lights to raise money to support sick children.  You're invited to see the Christmas display, and leave a tax-deductible donation at one of the curbside bins or online at Make-a-Wish Foundation. Mr and Mrs Claus usually make an appearance!

Plan to make a night of it! Willow Glen is known for its holiday light displays and Christmas trees so take some time to tour this San Jose neighborhood.

Address: 1851 Cherry Ave, San Jose, CA
Date: Please check their Facebook page for updates on whether this event is taking place this year.
Price: Free

Roaring Camp Railroads Holiday Lights Trains

Get into the holiday spirit by taking the family on a 75-minute roundtrip ride on the Redwood Forest Steam Train. The trip starts at Roaring Camp depot in Felton, California and runs through Redwood forests to the top of nearby Bear Mountain, a distance of 3.25 miles. Greet Santa Claus while sipping hot cocoa. Enjoy winter themed activities while in town. See complete schedule and purchase tickets online.

Address: 5401 Graham Hill Rd, Felton, CA
Date: Departs Daily
Price: $39.95 adult (13 and up), $24.95 child (2-12 yrs old). Special Event Rates: $44.95 adult, $29.95 child; group tickets available.

Alternatively ride the Holiday Lights Train from the Santa Cruz boardwalk. Enjoy train cars adorned with thousands of colorful lights, while rolling past Santa Cruz homes. There will be a visit by Santa, hot-spiced cider, live music and a holiday sing-along. See schedule and purchase tickets online.

Address: Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, CA
Date: Nov 25- 26, December 3-4, 10-11 and 17-23
Price: Standard Class Canopy Cars: $44.95 adult (13 and up), $32.95 children (2-12 yrs old); First Class Coach Cars: $59.95 adult, $45.95 child, $3000 for up to 40 people.

Holiday Lights | Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds

Start a new family tradition at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds this holiday season! Imagine over a 1/2 mile of spectacular lighted Holiday displays all around you: giant Christmas trees twinkling with lights – Santa – reindeer – snowmen – lighted tunnels and many more magical moments. Enjoy the warmth of your car as you drive through the millions of magical lights, while listening to Holiday Carols on your car radio. After your drive through the Holiday Lights, stop at the Holiday Food Stands and pick up your favorites Fair Food Treats. Tickets for Holiday Lights are on sale now at Eventbrite.

Find that special gift for that special someone at the Heritage Holiday Craft and Gift Fair. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children (6 to 11 years old) and free for children 6 & under, and includes Holiday Lights Walk-Thru. Two days only: Friday, Dec 2nd & Saturday, Dec 3rd from noon to 9pm.

Address: Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, 2601 East Lake Ave Watsonville, CA 95076
Date: Select dates Nov 25th to Dec 25th from 5:30pm to 9:00pm
Price: $20 - $40 per vehicle (depending on size)

Gilroy Gardens Holiday

The magic returns to Gilroy Gardens! Start your visit with festive tunes at the new Winter Cabin, sing and dance along to the Peanuts gang in A Charlie Brown Christmas musical, take in the sparkling lights in the park's garden, visit with Santa, ice skate under the stars, and feast on holiday food found throughout the park. There is something for the entire family. Enjoy all your favorite traditions - and start some new ones - during Holiday at Gilroy Gardens.

Address: 3050 Hecker Pass Hwy, Gilroy CA
Date: Select dates Nov 26th to Dec 31st
Price: General Admission: Nov 25th-27th: $40.00 | Good Any Day Ticket: Dec 2nd - 31st: $50

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