This guide to the most magical Christmas lights in the East Bay is sponsored by Fourth Street in Berkeley.
We are a huge fan of holiday light displays because, so often, they are a free and lovely way to enjoy time together for mixed generations. Yes, please!
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 that is totally low cost or even FREE. Here are our picks for light-peeping this year, sponsored by Berkeley’s Fourth Street shopping district.
Best Christmas Lights in Berkeley and North
Fourth Street in Berkeley
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 5 pm rice and beans dinner at Tacubaya feel special. They’re on display nightly through the new year, three blocks worth of sparkling color!
Special For 2021: A Drive-Through Holiday Parade on Saturday, December 4 and December 11 from 5-7 pm will make this outing even more special. Stay in the car and watch as costumed characters line the sidewalk to wave at your passengers. Visit the Fourth Street website for all the details.
More Christmas lights in Berkeley
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.
Shadi Nativity Scene
Not actually in Berkeley, but rather El Cerrito, the life-sized Shadi Nativity scene is a sight to see. With more sheep than a Bethlehem-based shepherd can shake a stick at, this Christmas display is an East Bay tradition. The display is minimal for 2021, but will return in 2022.
Learn more about this nativity scene >
Tilden Park Merry Go Round
Decked out for the holidays, the Carousel in Tilden Park has evening hours so you can appreciate the festive lights. Santa has hours onsite, too. Learn more >
Best Christmas Lights in Alameda
Parts of Alameda are so fabulous that we flock from all around to enjoy a stroll or a slow drive.
Alameda’s Christmas Tree Lane
A must-see for East Bay families, we love the slow stroll to appreciate every detail. In 2020, this dedicated block of homes comes to life from Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021 through New Year’s Eve. Learn more about Alameda’s Christmas Tree Lane here >
Lighted Yacht Parade
The boat owners of Jack London and Alameda will sail through the Estuary, on Saturday, December 4, making it possible to see their lights from either side. No watercraft too small for this fun parade! Learn more about this holiday boat parade!
Temple Hill (Oakland)
Beginning Saturday, November 27, the grounds of the LDS Temple are beautifully lit and available to explore until 9.30 pm when they close. Learn more about their beautiful gardens and holiday light display.
Picardy Drive in Oakland
In the Mills College neighborhood on Picardy Drive between Seminary and 55th Ave., you can visit storybook-style houses all decked out in twinkling lights, 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.
More Christmas lights in the East Bay
Best Lights in Walnut Creek & Concord
We assembled this driving guide in 2020 to ten spots in a small radius between Walnut Creek and Concord. We’ll double-check the addresses in December. Buckle up and follow our Walnut Creek map >
Drive-through neighborhood: Crippsmas Place (Fremont)
This community rallies together every year to display hundreds of wooden cutouts of favorite characters such as Stomper from the Oakland A’s, Charlie Brown and Friends, and the Scooby-Doo gang along with thousands of lights. Starts on Saturday, December 11, 2021. Get the details on Crippsmas Place lights >
Walking through Garden of d’Lights (Walnut Creek)
This is a paid admission event at a huge outdoor garden that will light up acres of lights for walking through. Now through December 23, 2021. Learn more about Ruth Bancroft Garden’s holiday lights event >
Drive-through Christmas lights: Candy Cane Lane (Pleasanton)
Just a couple blocks off Main Street in Pleasanton, from 5-8:30 pm nightly beginning December 4, 2021, families can enjoy the festive music and lights of Candy Cane Lane. Start on Walnut Drive. Get the details on Candy Cane Lane lights >
Deacon Dave’s Display (Livermore)
This impressive house will wow anyone who visits. Make it an outing that goes along with Pleasanton and it will be worth the drive! Learn more about Deacon Dave’s Livermore spot >
Christmas lights in San Francisco
Golden Gate Park’s Entwined Exhibition (San Francisco)
A free public art exhibition in Golden Gate Park bringing botanical-themed lights to us for dark winter days beginning Thursday, December 2, 2021. Learn more about Entwined >
Individual Well-lit Houses in San Francisco
- 45 Upper Terrace
- 68 Castro (Santa hanging out the window)
- 3650 21st Street (famous Tom and Jerry house)
IlluminateSF (San Francisco)
More than 40 light installations throughout the city invite visitors to stay in their cars and drive on their own route. This program includes Entwined (mentioned above) and other experiences you may want to get out and walk closer to. See the full list >
More Christmas Lights in the Greater Bay Area (worth the drive!)
Christmas Tree Lane (San Carlos)
Our South Bay friends cannot believe you haven’t visited their Christmas Tree Lane yet. Point your GPS to the 1900 block of Eucalyptus Ave. and you can drive by or walk through. Google Maps says it’s forty minutes from Berkeley.
Where: 1900-2000 Eucalyptus Ave, San Carlos
When: December 1-25
Filoli Gardens (Woodside)
A beautiful garden setting will light up, host a distanced Santa, and offer a special evening experience for families who buy advance tickets. Learn more about the holiday lights in Filoli Gardens >
Magical Holiday Moments (Fairfield)
Magical Holiday Moments is presented by a home at 2132 Calder Place in Fairfield that puts on a Disney-themed lights-and-music show. Tune your radio to 88.3 FM to enjoy the full experience. It looks worth the drive! See pics and the address on their Facebook page.
Where: 2132 Calder Place, Fairfield
When: From Thanksgiving through Christmas from 6 pm to 10 pm
Rombeiro House (Novato)
We hear that a family in Novato goes all out with a number of complex light displays that you have to see to believe. MarinMommies.com has the low-down on those.
Where: 34 Devonshire Drive, off of Center Road, in Novato
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.
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