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 6 pm rice and beans dinner at Tacubaya feel special. They’re on display nightly through the new year, three blocks worth of sparkling color!
New for 2020: A Holiday Parade on Saturday Nov. 28 from 5-7 pm will make this outing even more special. Visit the Fourth Street website for all the details. (Please note, there was a second parade scheduled for Dec. 12 and it has been cancelled)
Christmas lights in North Berkeley
A walk or drive through different parts of North Berkeley will reward you with some pretty impressive Christmas light displays. Here are just a few we love.
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.
Candy Cane Lane hosted by Pinole Police
One Day Only: Thursday, Dec. 17 from 5 pm-7 pm, start at 880 Tennant Avenue in Pinole for a lighted drive down “Candy Cane Lane”. Wave to Santa and his helpers, and pick up a sweet treat at the end. Details on Facebook >
Six Flags’ Holiday In The Park Drive-Through Experience (Vallejo)
From December 14 to January 4, guests will drive through Six Flags which is lit up with millions of lights, and characters waving from six feet apart. Approximately $20 per person in vehicle. Reservations are required >
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. 5, 2020 through New Year’s Eve. Learn more about Alameda’s Christmas Tree Lane here >
Best Christmas Lights in Oakland
If you’re willing to pay admission prices for a glorious display of lights, you can’t go wrong with Oakland Zoo’s Glowfari event (Nov. 20 – Jan. 1) or Fairyland’s Fairy Winterland (December 18-23, and 26-30). (Both of these events is now closed between December 7 and January 4, 2021 adherence to the updated stay-at-home order for Alameda County)
Temple Hill (Oakland)
This free outing must be done before 9:30 pm when access to the grounds of the LDS Temple 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.
Best Christmas lights in the Bay Area (Worth the drive)
Best Lights in Walnut Creek & Concord
We’ve assembled this driving guide to ten spots in a small radius between Walnut Creek and Concord. Buckle up and follow our 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. 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. 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, families can enjoy the festive music and lights of Candy Cane Lane. Start on Walnut Drive. Get the details on Candy Cane Lane lights >
Walk through Golden Gate Park’s Entwined Exhibition (San Francisco)
A free public art exhibition will be installed in Golden Gate Park bringing botanical-themed lights to us for dark winter days. 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 >
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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East Bay holiday lights traditions we will miss this year include The Lighted Boat Parades, Tilden Park Carousel, Shadi Holiday Display, Mountain View Cemetery, and Vallejo Christmas House. As of December 7, additional favorite Oakland light events have been paused through Christmas: Fairy Winterland and Glowfari at the Zoo.