Whether you see the best of this season’s light displays by car, by foot or by boat, there are plenty of family-friendly ways to experience holiday lights in L.A. this year.
Drive-thru experiences were such a hit last year, they’re back again with immersive light-filled events families can enjoy without getting out of their car.
Join Scout Elf Tiny Tinkerman on a quest to raise Christmas spirit in “The Elf on the Shelf’s Magical Holiday Journey” Nov. 5-Jan. 1 at the Pomona Fairplex. This family-friendly immersive experience features a Christmas village with shopping and dining, an ice-skating rink, trolley ride and more. $19.95-$24.95 for adults; free for ages 2 and under.
Magic of Lights drive-thru event debuts at Angel Stadium in Anaheim Nov. 19 – Dec. 26 with dozens of displays including illuminated canopies and digital animation. $25 and up.
NASCAR fans might get a kick out of Santa’s Speedway Christmas Lights Drive-Thru at Irwindale Speedway and Event Center Nov. 26-Jan. 2. The all-ages immersive experience features Rudolph’s Enchanted Stables with illuminated race cars and themed holiday treats like Christmas cocoa. $59-$75.
If you’ve had plenty of your car (we are in L.A. after all) try one of these light displays, which are meant to be experienced on foot.
The Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden hosts its own illuminated journey with “Lightscape,” running Nov. 12-Jan. 16. Wander along the enchanting after-dark trail, filled with artistic installations that come alive with color, imagination and sound. $20-$32; free for ages 2 and under.
“Enchanted Forest of Light” returns to Descanso Gardens Nov. 21–Jan. 10 with sparkling, swirling installations from HYBYCOZO on the main lawn, Flower Power on the Promenade and, new this year, an entire town of magical “stained-glass” creations built in the Rose Garden by contemporary sculptor Tom Fruin. $35 for non-members; $28 for members; free for ages 2 and under.
For a second year in a row, “GLOW” transforms South Coast Botanic Garden into an immersive and spectacular oceanic experience with thousands of lights set to a curated soundtrack. This year’s exhibit features interactive experiences, themed nights, food and drinks. Nov. 20-Jan. 17 (closed Dec. 24-25). $24.95-$34.95 for adults; free for ages 4 and under.
Ventura County Fairgrounds will host the first-ever Snow N Glow Holiday Festival beginning Nov. 26 through the New Year. The walk-through holiday lights experience features over a million sparkling lights and free photos with Santa. The all-ages event will also have a five lane, 100-foot-long snow-covered hill for snow tubing. $19.99 for adults, $14.99 for children ages 3-10, free for ages 2 and under.
Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens come to life at night with the Casa Lumina Holiday Walk Dec. 1-22. Enjoy beautiful illumination displays, live entertainment from local community groups, a hot cocoa bar and crafts for children. $8-$12 for adults; free for children ages 12 and under.
Take a walk down Holiday Road at King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas Dec. 3-31. Guests will be transported into a winter wonderland, where larger than life holiday installations and thousands of Christmas lights spread holiday cheer. $29.99 and up, free for ages 2 and under.
On the water
The beach is a very California way to experience holiday lights and there are a few places you can spot illuminated boats on the water.
Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade returns Dec. 11 with the theme “Joy on the Water.” Watch the decorated boats sail by from Burton Chase Park or Fisherman’s Village.
A little further south, spot holiday-themed boats from Dana Point Harbor Dec. 10 – 11. The theme for their annual Boat Parade of Lights this year is “Fiesta Holiday.”
Catch the 113th annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade Dec. 15-19 from Marina Park. Nearly 100 decorated yachts, kayaks, canoes and boats will set sail along a 14-mile parade route.
Theme parks, downtowns and shopping areas light up for the holidays with seasonal displays and entertainment.
The Bloc in Downtown L.A. gets its holiday makeover Nov. 11 with Sparkle DTLA. The interactive light show featuring 18 million hues of lights synchronized to festive tunes and a 32-foot Christmas tree will run nightly Nov. 12 – Jan. 2.
Beverly Hills will transform into a magical winter wonderland beginning Nov. 18 with its annual Rodeo Drive Holiday Lighting Celebration. Three outdoor performance areas will provide live entertainment. Food and wine will be available from the Wine & Champagne Garden and food trucks. The length of Rodeo Drive will illuminate with an abundance of lights before a glittering finale of fireworks.
Dana Point Harbor will also Light up the Holidays. From Nov. 17 to the end of the year, visitors will enjoy festive light displays like illuminated palm trees, giant whale sculptures, the popular “Merry Kiss Me” arch and Candy Cane Lane. On Nov. 28 Dana Point Harbor will host a Menorah Lighting Ceremony with the Chabad Jewish Center of Dana Point. The 12-foot Menorah will remain at the pier until Dec. 6.
Downtown Santa Monica gets a seasonal transformation Nov. 19 – Dec. 24 with “Winterlit.” Tens of thousands of colorful lights will transform the downtown Santa Monica district into an immersive, festive experience. From Nov. 28 through Dec. 6 celebrate the Festival of Lights during the Hanukkah season with Santa Monica’s nightly menorah lightings.
The City of Santa Clarita’s holiday kickoff event, Light Up Main Street, returns to Old Town Newhall on Nov. 20 with a Christmas tree lighting, pictures with Santa and real snow!
Experience the L.A. Zoo as a winter wonderland from Nov. 19 to Jan. 9. L.A. Zoo Lights will feature wildlife-inspired displays, dynamic lights and projections, photo ops, holiday entertainment and more.
Knott’s Berry Farm becomes Knott’s Merry Farm from Nov. 19 – Jan. 2 with thousands of twinkling lights and miles of themed garlands on display.
Disney California Adventure Park gets into the holiday spirit with Disney Festival of Holidays Nov. 12 – Jan 9 featuring seasonal décor and Buena Vista Street’s dazzling 50-foot tree.