Here we have compiled seven places or neighborhoods in greater Los Angeles and one in Orange County that we consider to be the best places to see the Christmas light show and enjoy it with the whole family. There’s plenty of holiday cheer if you know where to see Christmas lights in Southern California so take the time to check out these twinkling neighborhoods and events. Just make sure to bring along an extra sweatshirt and some patience with the traffic.
- Marina Del Rey Boat Parade
Except the usually massive crowds, this is a great location and FREE event. Bring a blanket and gather around the Fisherman’s Village or Burton Chace Park on December 9 to watch as 70 boats glide through the marina with holiday lights and decorations in competition. Categories include Best Theme, Best Animation, Best Band, Best Lights and more. The festivities on December 9 begin at 5:55pm with fireworks, and the boat parade starts at 6pm, rain or shine.
- Venice Beach Canals
Venice is best known for its boardwalk’s grunge and funk zone but the Venice Canals are an idyllic slice of L.A. living made all the more charming by the Christmas lights that line its bridges each year, and yes, FREE. Leave your car a few blocks away to avoid the narrow, one-way Dell Avenue, and take a stroll through the shimmering neighborhood. The long-running and gleefully irreverent boat parade typical floats along the first or second weekend of December. Dell Ave (Venice Beach. )
- Beverly Hills Christmas Decoration
We can admit that Los Angeles has no true holiday counterpart to the festive windows of New York’s 5th Avenue, but Beverly Hills knows how to add a bit of opulence to the holidays. This year’s decorations on Rodeo Drive light up starting Nov 16. Elsewhere in the area, you can usually expect to see lights swirl around the palm trees, up the steps of Via Rodeo, over the span of Wilshire Blvd and onto the extravaget Beverly Wilshire Hotel (Julia Roberts and Pretty Woman). Beverly Drive, too, typically gets covered in white lights, along with a willow tree decked out in gold decor at Beverly Cañon Gardens. Rodeo Dr, between Santa Monica Blvd and Wilshire Blvd (Beverly Hills), and FREE.
- Sleepy Hollow Christmas Lights Extravaganza
Sometimes you simply want to see as many lights as possible, and Torrance’s Seaside neighborhood (Sleepy Hollow) surely delivers, and FREE. Follow the stream of brake lights overflowing from Robert Road for a trek through this visual overload. Starting in early December, seemingly every tree, house and lawn becomes blanketed in an electric bill-dizzying degree. The displays typically run every night from 6 to 10pm, up until New Year’s. But there’s no parking on one side of the street on weekends, so you’ll more than likely have to walk the few blocks. Robert Rd, off of the Pacific Coast Hwy, and surrounding streets (Torrance)
- Woodland Hills Candy Cane Lane
We all like showing off to our neighbors, but the homeowners behind Candy Cane Lane take it to the extreme. There are actually two neighborhoods in L.A. that go by that name: One in El Segundo, on East Acacia Avenue, the second in Woodland Hills. Here, we’re talking about that Valley Neighborhood, eight blocks centered around Lubao Avenue and Oxnard Street that have been blanketed in lights for more than six decades, and FREE. Lubao Ave and Oxnard St (Woodland Hills)
- Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade
In 2023, this traditional boat parade in Orange County completes its 115th year! Expect over 100 decorated yachts and ships parade around a 14-mile circuit in the Newport Harbor. You can see the parade for FREE during each of the five nights from any bay-facing point along the harbor (Marina Park, which also hosts a holiday market, is the go-to spot), but there are also reserved seats, dining packages and cruises available for purchase. Balboa Fun Zone, 600 E Bay Ave, Newport Beach. More info
- Pasadena Upper Hastings Ranch
This decades-old tradition of coordinated holiday displays among homeowners smakes the sloping grid of ranch-style homes in Upper Hastings Ranch a scenic year-end destination. Each block of the Pasadena neighborhood decorates according to a different theme; one street might be lined with light-up candy canes while another is flanked by an army of inflatable Santas. Look out for a lighting typically on the second Saturday in December; you can cruise around the twinkling foothill community nightly from 6 to 10pm until the new year. Yes, FREE fun, North of Sierra Madre Blvd and east of Michilinda Ave (Pasadena).
- Altadena Christmas Tree Lane
This grand, mile-long driveway of cedars in Altadena becomes blanketed in lights each holiday as it transforms into Christmas Tree Lane. Take a majestic cruise down the hill after it lights up- the lighting ceremony takes place December 9 in 2023, and going down. The traffic can get pretty gridlocked during peak holiday season, but it moves a bit better if you start at the top and head south (or just visit later in the evening, before the lights flick off at 10pm. FREE, Santa Rosa Ave, between Woodbury Rd and Altadena Dr (Altadena).
We finish this article reminder you that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and much more than a holiday or a Christian festival or an occasion to decorate our houses. It is an opportunity to pause and give thanks for the true love and joy with families and friends. Enjoy the holidays!