This guide to the most magical Christmas lights in the East Bay is sponsored by Fourth Street in Berkeley.
Whether you stay in the car and do a “drive-by” or get out to stroll, appreciating the hard work of those who put up holiday light displays is a fun winter tradition. Here are our picks for light-peeping this year, sponsored by Berkeley's Fourth Street shopping district.
Best Christmas Lights in Berkeley and North
You only have to see them once and you’ll fall in love! The holiday lights on Fourth Street are entertaining and are inspiring – on every night at dusk for the season – making even a 6 pm rice and beans dinner at Tacubaya feel special. This year, they'll light up on Friday, November 16 at dusk. It really is a sight to be seen, three blocks worth of sparkling color! Starting in December, visit with Santa and his red sleigh in a forest of snowy trees, hot cocoa, marionette shows, caroling and more! Visit the Fourth Street website for all the details, including hours for the new Maker's Row.
Another must-do each holiday season! Take a couple of spins on the carousel and admire the display of lights and decorated trees. It runs from 4 PM to 8:30 PM from the day after Thanksgiving until December 23rd. Bundle up; it's dark and cold up there at night!
Shadi Holiday Display
El Cerrito is home to this life-sized nativity scene on Moeser Lane. With more sheep than a Bethlehem-based shepherd can shake a stick at, this Christmas display is an East Bay tradition. It goes up on Saturday, December 15, 2018. More details >
Christmas lights in North Berkeley
Photo: Monterey Avenue in North Berkeley features a handful of houses – 4 or 5 on one block – with extravagant displays, near Hopkins. Grab a hot chocolate from Cafe Roma on the corner of Monterey and Hopkins and walk up the block.
Photos above: 928 The Arlington, also in North Berkeley, is spectacular, but the only house like it on the block. Visitors can walk on the short path from the sidewalk towards the home to feel more immersed in the display.
Best Christmas Lights in Alameda
A must-see for East Bay families, this dedicated block of homes comes to life from Saturday, December 2 through New Year's Eve. Learn more about Alameda's Christmas Tree Lane here >
Best Christmas Lights in Oakland and South
This special event runs every evening between 12/7 and 1/16 from 5:30 to 9 pm except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The light show is set to music in the field, and the entire Zoo is decked out in holiday bling. More about ZooLights here >
The beautiful Holiday Circle of Lights is free to visit, and it's open December 1 to January 1, 2017, from 5 pm to 9 pm every day. Go out for dinner on nearby Piedmont Avenue afterward.
In Newark, the house at 6716 Fountaine Ave includes a synchronized light show to a radio program on 88.1 FM. Look for dancing Christmas trees atop the garage and a lot of movement! (Not yet confirmed for 2018)
On December 1, bundle up and bring a picnic dinner to the waterfront in Oakland or Alameda and watch boats of all sizes, decked out in holiday lights, move through the estuary. It's fun to see the quirky DIY watercraft folks put together. You can see the parade from both Jack London Square and the Alameda side of the water. Look for parking details on the website to see where viewing takes place.
Picardy Drive in Oakland
In the Mills College neighborhood, features storybook-style houses, and the whole neighborhood gets in on the holiday decorating tradition. Like Christmas Tree Lane in Alameda, you commit to participating when you buy a home on this street.
Best Christmas lights in the Greater Bay Area (Worth the drive)
Spectacular enough to have competed on the ABC television show The Great Christmas Light Fight. Where: 817 Old Glen Cove Road, Vallejo. When: 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday thru Thursday and 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Santa visits Friday and Saturday from 6-8 p.m., arriving on a fire truck.
Christmas Tree Lane in San Carlos is the consensus from my South Bay correspondents. The street name is Eucalyptus Lane and you can drive or walk by. Google Maps says it's forty minutes from Berkeley.
Magical Holiday Moments is presented by a home in Fairfield (an hour from the 510) that puts on a Disney-themed lights-and-music show. It looks worth the drive! See pics and the address on their Facebook page.
Novato in Marin County is home to a number of complex displays. MarinMommies.com has the low-down on those.
Find more to do this holiday season in our East Bay Holiday Activities and Events Guide.
Thanks to Fourth Street in Berkeley for sponsoring our holiday light guide this year. We look forward to spending evenings on your magical street.