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Whether you are celebrating Christmas with Aloha in the Hawaiian Islands, while taking in the sunshine on the west coast, or while snuggling up in the Northwest, U.S., Christmas lights brighten up the skies to celebrate the season. By land and sea, there is plenty of jolly, holly and Christmas light spectaculars and events. From boat parades, to Christmas tree lightings, Winter Wonderlands and evening snow falls, not to mention light up nights, there is no shortage to Christmas cheer. Following are some of the best places to enjoy Christmas lights displays in California, Hawaii and the Northwest.
Admiring Christmas lights displays is among the fun things to do during the holidays. In California, themed boat parades and sparkling attractions brighten up harbors and cities. The state of Washington has the largest drive-through Christmas lights display in the Northwest. And in Hawaii, you’ll feel the aloha spirit with unique island festivities. No matter where you go, you’ll find an abundance of holiday celebrations in the West, Northwest and California.
Christmas Lights Displays: Hawaii
Feel the aloha spirit at the 24th Annual Festival of Lights at the Historic County Building Park. Billed as Kauai’s largest holiday celebration, the festival features dazzling lights from 6-11 p.m. Thanksgiving 2021 to New Year’s Day 2022 at Lihue County Park. Visit Santa and Mrs. Claus outside on the Historic County Building Porch, Friday, December 3, 10, 17 and 31, from 6-8pm.
More than 20 years ago, artist Elizabeth Freeman purchased a collection of eco-crafts from Auntie Josie Chansky to create Festival of Lights. Today, more than 65 percent of the festival displays represent Elizabeth’s own designs. Free admission.
Themed “Let’s Celebrate Together,” Honolulu City Lights 2021 will continue to share the holiday spirit but in a different way due to the pandemic. For residents, the city is planning a King Street drive-by viewing experience.
This sale is valid until 6/4/2023.
Other activities will be shared online to complement drive-by viewing. These will include Shaka Santa and Tutu Mele at the festively decorated Honolulu Hale. In addition, viewers can see the city’s 50-foot Christmas tree, and the oversized displays and lighted trees on King Street. Plus, kids can interact with Santa online.
Christmas Lights Displays: Oregon
The Oregon Zoo’s annual ZooLights features illuminated animal displays with more than 1.5 million colored lights November 19, 2021 – January 9, 2022. In addition to the traditional walk-through winter wonderland, there’s a new drive-through experience on certain nights.
Learn more about what to expect at this year’s ZooLights and purchase tickets online.
Portland International Raceway Winter Wonderland
The 27th Annual Safeway Winter Wonderland spans the eight miles of track at the Portland International Raceway. See more than 250 colorful set pieces and many fully animated scenes from the comfort of your car at this drive-through Christmas lights show. The event takes place Nov. 26, 2021 – Jan. 1, 2022. Hours: 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. Sun. – Thu, and 5 – 11 p.m. Fri. and Sat. Tickets per car start at $35. No tire chains or studded snow tires allowed.
Christmas Lights Displays: California
Coronado Island, San Diego
Hotel del Coronado put San Diego on the map in 1904 with the first electronically lit, outdoor Christmas tree. This year’s Home for the Holidays at the Hotel del Coronado includes socially-distanced Santa photos on Dec 1, 9-11, 16-18 & 22-24 and the cost is $25. Reservations required. You can also enjoy Skating By The Sea, or try the Jingle Roast any evening from December 15-December 25. Enjoy your own private beach bonfire (complete with Santa hats) and choose food from a menu ranging from s’mores to fireside franks. Or if your family loves movies check out Holiday Movies on the Beach (December 4, 11, 18, 31). You can select a private bonfire complete with a daybed or sand chairs. And you can also enjoy a Victorian Tea, Gingerbread Houses, and more!
Dana Point, Orange County
Plans are pending for the City of Dana Point’s annual Winter Festival & Tree Lighting. The family event usually takes place from noon – 5:30 p.m. at La Plaza Park, 34111 La Plaza. The tree is officially lit at 5:15 p.m. And the event includes free hot chocolate and cookies. Activities include a visit from Santa, reindeer and snow. In addition, crafts for kids, cookie decorating, tree lighting and a holiday movie.
Meanwhile, Dana Point’s 46th Annual Holiday Boat Parade of Lights is on course for features about 90 decorated boats vying for awards. Watch the boats light up the night at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 10 and 11, 2021 and 5:30 p.m. on December 12, 2021 at the Dana Point Harbor. Decked out with festive Christmas lights displays, boats compete for awards in various categories. These include Best Theme, Best Use of Lights, Best Animation and Most Colorful.
Find a good spot to watch or join the parade aboard the Dana Wharf Whale Watching cruise boats. You can watch from shore or book a cruise with Santa on board and be part of the parade. Passenger capacity is limited by 50 percent this year due to the pandemic.
61st Annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration
During the free event, many diverse L.A.-based artists and community groups showcase their talent, artistry and traditions on The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion stage. The event is scheduled for 3 – 6 p.m. Dec. 24. However, due to current COVID-19 conditions and the Safer-at-Home order, the Holiday Celebration may be produced in a different manner this year.
The Holiday Ice Rink Pershing Square
Skate under the sun and stars at the 23 Annual Downtown on Ice in Pershing Square in Los Angeles. It’s L.A.’s biggest outdoor rink, located in the heart of the city at 532 South Olive, Los Angeles. Details for 2021-22 are not yet released. However, plans are tentatively underway for holiday celebrations at Grand Park, Los Angeles.
Last year, the 45-foot tree was the focal point of beautiful Christmas lights in downtown L.A. Afterwards, visitors could enjoy a stroll to see the city’s twinkling lights.
Sixth Annual L.A. Zoo Lights
Mark your calendars to see the world’s largest illuminated pop-up storybook at the Los Angeles Zoo next year. At the entrance, a 90-foot-long shimmering wall of lights features snowflake displays set to music. From 6 – 10 p.m. November 19, 2021, to January 9, 2022, the zoo puts the jingle in the jungle with a spectacular Christmas lights display.
The light show features a high-tech interactive display where dancing lights respond to guests’ voices. In addition, the light show features giant glowing animals and wildlife-inspired displays. More festivities include holiday treats, food and visits with Santa.
COVID-19 has changed but not canceled holiday festivities along Rodeo Drive. Count on posh Beverly Hills to ring in the holidays in style. During the third annual BOLD holidays, Rodeo Drive sparkles with light displays and seasonal activities from 5 – 8 p.m. through Dec. 22. The kick off celebration takes place on November 18, 2021, from 5-8 p.m.
The BOLD Holidays opening ceremony features the unveiling of Rodeo Drive holiday decor and live performances. In addition, enjoy interactive art, food trucks, fireworks and photos with Santa.
The 11th Festival of Lights at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is taking place November 26, 2021 – December 19, 2021, rain or shine each Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening.
The traditional Festival of Lights features thousands of lights in a brilliant coastal garden. In addition, there’s a decorated tent with live music, and local brews and wine. The Holiday Sweets Café offers hot cocoa, cider and homemade goodies. $10 adults, free for ages 16 and younger. Free parking. A shuttle is available each night of the Festival of Lights. Shuttle pick up is at the Mendocino Community College.
Watch decked out boats cruise along Monterey Bay’s scenic coastline during Monterey Yacht Club’s Brighten the Harbor Boat Parade from 5 to 8 p.m. typically on the first Sunday in December. There is no information about the 2021 event at this time. The boats will start at historic Old Fisherman’s Wharf and turn around at Hopkins Point, just after the Monterey Bay Aquarium to compete for the “Best Decorated Boat” award. Onlookers should maintain physical distance and wear face coverings. Also, please note that the event is subject to change.
Mrs. Claus comes to town to ring in the 35th Annual Downtown Holiday Lighting Ceremony on November 26, 2021. Festivities take place from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at the Paso Robles Downtown City Park Gazebo. Enjoy Christmas lights, live music and caroling. Free cookies, and hot chocolate round out family fun. Free admission.
Historic Mission Inn Hotel & Spa sparkles with more than 5 million lights during the 29th Annual Festival of Lights. Among the nation’s largest Christmas lights displays, the event takes place Nov. 26, 2021 – Jan. 6, 2022. Themed Winter Wonderland, Festival of Lights features 200 animated figures including angels, and elves and Dickens carolers. Plus, indulge in holiday confections.
A Danish holiday, Julefest is celebrated in California’s Little Denmark, Solvang. Pronounced Yule-fest, the holiday is celebrated throughout December. This year, it runs from November 27, 2021 – January 2, 2022.
The Julefest parade is scheduled for Saturday, December 4th. Check the Solvang Julefest website for updated information on times.
Traditional Julefest events include a tree lighting ceremony in Solvang Park (Mission Drive & First Street), which will happen this year on December 3. The following day, a holiday parade marches along festively decorated streets.
In addition, the Christmas Market Light Show features lights choreographed to music on Copenhagen Drive. The annual wine and beer tasting event features a glogg (hot alcohol drink) competition. Sample the entries and vote for your favorite.
Christmas Lights Displays: Idaho
Caldwell: 14th Annual Tree and Creek Lighting
The 14th Winter Wonderland Festival will take place with some modifications from 6-9 p.m. Nov. 19-21, 2021. Due to Covid-19 there will be no creek lighting ceremony. However, families can still visit Winter Wonderland to see Santa, go ice skating and enjoy holiday treats. In addition, the event features food trucks, vendors and entertainment.
The event usually features a tree and creek lighting that illuminates Indian Creek’s bridges, railings, lamp posts, trees and character displays with about 500,000 lights .
Coeur d’Alene: Christmas Parade & Lighting
Pick your spots for the 29th Annual Lighting Ceremony Parade Nov. 26, 2021 in Downtown Coeur d’Alene from 6-9 p.m, which includes a parade, fireworks and turning the lights on!
The Holiday Light Show illuminates the resort and downtown area with more than 1.5 million lights Nov. 26, 2021 – Jan. 1, 2022. The resort’s signature Journey to the North Pole Lake Cruise visits Santa’s North Pole Toy Workshop. There, see one of the world’s tallest Christmas trees. A fleet of cruise boats depart every evening through the holiday season to view the magic of the Christmas lights across the lake.
Sun Valley Tree Lighting Ceremony
Due to COVID-19, holiday events are currently TBD for 2021 and can be viewed here.
Festivities usually include a tree lighting, and free hot chocolate in the Sun Valley Village. Activities include ice carving and Santa visits.
Christmas Lights Display: Washington
Christmas lights and a nightly snowfall and parade make Snowflake Lane a magical place for families Nov. 26 – Dec. 24, 2021. While the event will take place, modifications will be in place due to Covid-19. For updates, visit the website.
Catch the snowfall at 7 p.m. every night Nov. 26 – Dec. 24, 2021. Snowflake Lane takes place along Bellevue Way between NE 4th and NE 8th streets. In addition, the Bellevue Collection features more than 300 live toy soldier drummers, costumed characters, lights and music. Come back for the New Year’s Eve celebration featuring music, lights, confetti and bubbles.
Annual Garden d’Lights: Bellevue Botanical Garden
Mark your calendars to visit the gardens from November 27-December 31, 2021 to see half a million sparkling lights in whimsical shapes. These include plants, flowers, birds, animals and cascading waterfalls. The holiday event takes place 4:30 – 9:30 p.m. in the gardens.
The 26th annual Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Park is the Northwest’s largest drive-through display. Featuring an LED light tunnel, the display includes thousands of lights and nearly 300 figures along the two-mile drive along Spanaway Lake. Fantasy Lights is open from 5:30- 9 p.m. Nov. 26, 2021 – Jan. 2, 2022. While driving through, tune your car radio to FM 95.3 to hear a selection of special holiday music.
The Fantasy Lights WALK has been canceled. Visit in 2021 to stroll through two miles of animated displays in Spanaway Park.
Christmas Lights Displays: Wyoming
For western-style fun, hop aboard the Holiday Lights Tour on the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley from Dec. 10, 2021 – January 2, 2022. View city and residential holiday lights displays. Tours take place at 6 and 8 p.m. departing from Sears at Frontier Mall. Tickets must be purchased in advance. $15 adults, $7.50 children. 307-778-3133.
More Ways to Celebrate Christmas
Best Drive Through Christmas Lights Across the USA
Christmas Lights Displays in the Northeast U.S.
Christmas Lights Displays in the Southeast U.S.
Christmas Lights Displays in Texas and the Southwest U.S.
Christmas Lights Displays in the Midwest
Christmas Traditions Around the World – Fun and Funky Celebrations in Other Countries
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