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🎄 Holiday Light Displays In Northern California

Holiday light shows

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“Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It’s discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values.”

– Thomas S. Monson

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Nothing says happy holidays like twinkling lights and festive décor. Luckily, there are lots of Christmas lights in Northern California that are sure to make your season merry and bright. Wondering, “What’s the best Christmas light show near me?” Well, wonder no more. We scoured the state for the best Christmas light displays in Northern California, and we think you’ll be pleased.

1. Light Up The Night (Sacramento)

This multi-cultural light festival celebrates the beauty of cold winter nights and holiday fun. Lanterns are multi-colored and lit from within, making this a vibrant and fun holiday tradition.

Subjects include traditional Christmas characters as well as fun, beautiful scenes that will take your breath away. You might even get a few giggles out of the creative lanterns, which sometimes can be huge.

2. Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens Festival of Lights (Fort Bragg)

These beautiful gardens are transformed for the winter into a magical holiday escape. Bundle up with lots of layers to suit the winter weather and take a stroll through the bright designs. And other displays are incredibly creative, like this lava stump. These winter gardens are unlike anything you’ve experienced. Some are just downright cute!

3. The Village at Northstar (Truckee)

All of California’s ski resorts are breathtaking, but Northstar takes the cake on having one of the most family-friendly, festive atmospheres. Northstar is also the host of Northern Lights, a yuletide festival that takes place every December. The evening is full of light-filled fun, including glow-in-the-dark face painting, balloon twisting, and games along with DJ’s and live music on the Village Stage. The evening’s fun culminates with a great fireworks show.

4. Winter Wonderland at Fairytale Town (Sacramento)

Each night at dusk throughout the holiday season, Fairytale Town, a beloved fantasy park in Northern California, is open late and lit up with a ton of festive Christmas Lights. The park really comes alive with the holiday spirit. 

5. Placerville

This small Northern California town has an amazing tree-lighting ceremony every year. What really makes this festive spot unique, however, is that local organizations, businesses, and schools decorate a small Christmas tree along Highway 50 for all travelers to enjoy.

It’s fun because it shows how much community there is in this small town. People come out in droves to watch the lights turn on the big tree, as well. 

6. Redding Garden of Lights

Create new and lasting memories this year with all the unique colors, sounds, and scents of the winter season throughout Turtle Bay’s curated gardens at the Sundial Bridge.


Walk down winding paths leading through 10 acres of artfully illuminated and immersive displays exhibiting world-class design. Celebrate the natural world with wildlife and plant-themed exhibits unique to our region.


Enjoy cheerful amenities and community spaces throughout the gardens, including holiday-themed drinks, gifts, and food. Warm-up by the fire with s’mores and holiday songs from yesterday and today


7. Polar Express Train

The festive train ride is offered by the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento every holiday season, giving passengers the opportunity to live out the magical journey from the beloved movie. The fun begins at the passenger station, where passengers are entertained by Polar Express characters and served hot chocolate and a sweet treat. After boarding the train, passengers are swept away to the North Pole to meet Santa Clause, who gifts each passenger a silver sleigh bell.

8. holiday festival at Children’s Fairyland in Oakland

During the Fairy Winterland festival, which is held every December, Children’s Fairyland is transformed into a “twinkling, enchanting realm of wonder.” Through songs, stories, arts, and crafts, the festival celebrates the winter holiday of several cultures, including Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas, Diwali, and the Chinese New Year.

There are many more holiday festival light displays and events throughout the entire Bay Area and Northern California. We just pointed out some of our favorite.  Enjoy!

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