Christmas tree lighting ceremonies launch the official start of the holiday season. For many families, it’s a tradition to visit places decked out with holiday lights. All around the country, neighborhoods, hotels, malls and other venues offer beautiful holiday light displays. Here are some top places to enjoy holiday lights displays in California, Hawaii, and the Northwest.
Checking out holiday lights displays is among the fun things to do during the holidays with kids. In California, themed boat parades and sparkling attractions brighten up harbors and cities. The state of Washington has the largest drive-through holiday lights display in the Northwest. And in Hawaii, you’ll feel the aloha spirit with unique island festivities. No matter where you go, you’ll find an abundance of holiday celebrations in the west, northwest and pacific.
Holiday Lights Displays: Hawaii
The 21st Annual Festival of Lights kicks off with a lighting ceremony and Santa’s arrival. Festivities begin at 6 p.m. Dec. 1. Kauai’s largest holiday celebration, the event happens from 6 – 8 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 24. Located in Lihue’s Historic Park, the festival spotlights illuminated Christmas folk art. The unique creations are made from recycled materials and displayed inside the Historic County Building. Twenty years ago, artist Elizabeth Freeman purchased a large collection of eco-crafts from Auntie Josie Chansky. She then created Festival of Lights. Today, more than 65 percent of the festival displays represent Elizabeth’s own designs. Free admission.
The whole family can kick off the holiday season on Dec. 2 with the 33rd Annual Honolulu City Lights. The family-friendly event features the City of Honolulu’s official tree lighting ceremony and downtown parade. An Oahu Christmas tradition, the festival features Christmas trees, décor, and larger-than-life, Hawaiian-style Santa displays. Plus, experience the ultimate holiday outing on a tour with Ward Village’s Honolulu City Lights Trolley Tour.
Holidays Lights Displays: Oregon
Portland: The Oregon Zoo’s annual ZooLights features illuminated animal displays. Things to see with kids include 3D reindeer, hippos, monkeys and elephants. In addition, there’s a 100-foot-long rainbow-colored tunnel of light. Explore on foot or ride the decorated zoo train. ZooLights runs from Nov. 24, 2017 – Jan. 7, 2018.
Holidays Lights Displays: California
Themed Super Hero Holiday, the 43nd Annual Holiday Boat Parade of Lights features about 90 decorated boats in Dana Point. Decked out with festive holiday lights displays, boats compete for awards in various categories. These include Best Theme, Best Use of Lights, Best Animation, and Most Colorful. Find a good spot to watch or join the parade aboard the Dana Wharf Whale Watching cruise boats. The boat parade takes place Dec. 8, 9, 15 and 16 at the Dana Point Harbor. You can watch from shore or book a cruise with Santa onboard and be part of the parade!
Hotel del Coronado put San Diego on the map in 1904 with the first electronically lit, outdoor Christmas tree. The DELights holiday show features 100,000-plus twinkling lights Nov. 23, 2017 – Jan. 2, 2018. A light show will project daily from the historic balconies onto a multi-faceted tree. Themed A Winter of Whimsy, Wishes and Wonder, holiday festivities include Skate by the Sea, an outdoor rink. Take a spin on the seasonal rink from Nov. 23, 2017 – Jan. 2, 2018.
L.A. County Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
See L.A. sparkle for the holidays, beginning with a tree lighting ceremony at 5 p.m. Nov. 27, 2017 in the Music Center Plaza. The 45-foot tree is the focal point of beautiful holiday lights in downtown L.A. Afterwards, take a stroll to enjoy the twinkling lights of the season from 5:50 – 10 p.m. Nov. 25 – Dec. 25 at Grand Park.
BOLD Holidays features holiday lights and entertainment beginning Nov. 16, 2017. Iconic Rodeo Drive will once again stay open later every Friday and Saturday evening from Nov. 16 to Dec. 23. Festivities kick off with Rodeo Drive’s Holiday Lighting Celebration and a special performance by Robin Thicke. Family fun includes a fireworks display, lighting display on city streets, and Santa visits. The city glows with geometric and iridescent light installations along North and South Beverly Drive, Canon Drive and Rodeo Drive. A special installation of sculptures by HYBYCOZO takes place at Beverly Canon Gardens and Two Rodeo Drive.
Wander along luminaria-lined avenues and enjoy spectacular garden views at the 8th Annual Festival of Lights at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. Thousands of lights create a brilliant coastal garden from 5 – 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday Nov. 24 – Dec. 16. Next, relax in a decorated tent complete with live music and local craft brews and wine. The Holiday Sweets Café offers hot cocoa, cider, and homemade goodies. $10 adults, free for ages 16 and younger. Free parking; shuttle available.
Mrs. Claus gets the holiday party started at the the 31th Annual Holiday Lighting Ceremony in downtown Paso Robles. Live music, caroling and holiday treats round out family fun at the free holiday event. Ideal for the entire family, the event takes place at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 24.
Historic Mission Inn Hotel & Spa glows with more than 5 million lights during the 25nd Annual Festival of Lights. Among the nation’s largest holiday lights displays, the event runs from Nov. 24, 2017 – Jan. 6, 2018. Things to do with kids include Santa visits, carriage rides, and more.
A Danish holiday, Julefest is celebrated in California’s Little Denmark, Solvang. Pronounced Yule-fest, the holiday is celebrated Dec. 1, 2017 – Jan. 5, 2018. Themed A Danish Tradition, Julefest features music and Santa Julemanden in Solvang Park. Also in Solvang Park, the Julefest Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place at 5 p.m. Dec. 1. In addition, there’s a Julefest Parade and Nativity Pageant. For adults, the Holiday Wine and Beer Walk adds a merry touch.
Holiday Lights Displays: Idaho
The annual tree lighting on Nov. 18 kicks off Winter Wonderland where 500,000 lights illuminate downtown Indian Creek’s bridges, railings, lamp posts, trees and character displays.
Ranked among America’s top holiday displays, the Coeur d’Alene Resort Holiday Light Show is a sight to behold. More than 1.5 million lights sparkle from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. It’s the largest on-the-water holiday lights display in America. The signature “Journey to the North Pole” Holiday Lake Cruise visits Santa’s North Pole Toy Workshop. See where America’s Tallest Floating Christmas Tree towers above the lake with thousands of twinkling lights. A fleet of cruise boats depart every evening through the holiday season.
Holiday Lights Display: Washington
Holiday lights and a nightly snowfall make Snowflake Lane a magical place for families. In addition, the Bellevue Collection features more than 200 live toy soldier drummers, costumed characters, lights and music. Plus, see falling snow at 7 p.m. every night Nov. 24 – Dec. 24. Don’t miss the New Year’s Eve celebration featuring music, lights, confetti and bubbles.
The 23nd annual Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Park is the Northwest’s largest drive-through display. Featuring a mystical LED light tunnel, the display includes thousands of lights and nearly 300 figures. Fantasy Lights is open from 5:30- 9 p.m. Nov. 24, 2017 – Jan. 1, 2018.
Holiday Lights Displays: Wyoming
Sit back and enjoy a Holiday Lights Tour aboard the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley from Dec. 11 – 24. Tours take place at 6 and 8 p.m. departing from Sears at Frontier Mall. Tickets go on sale Dec. 1 and must be purchased in advance. $12 adults, $6 children. 307-778-3133.