Biggest and Brightest Holiday Lights in the East Bay
It is time to bundle up, pour hot cocoa into a thermos, and head out to see the most beautiful holiday lights in the East Bay. Rain or moon-shine, ’tis the season for the sparkling light shows created by bulb-happy residents and businesses, now through New Year’s.
First, some advice for you twinkle-eyed adventurers: Map the sites you want to hit so you aren’t zigzagging across the East Bay. Bring festive car snacks (like gingerbread!) And try to enjoy the lights without worrying about the owner’s electricity bill. (But bring a little cash in case a homeowner provides a donation jar for the electricity fund.)
Now, on with the show!
Christmas Tree Lane – Alameda
3200 block of Thompson Ave., between High Street and Fernside
This illuminated neighborhood effort involves more than 50 homes! Look for homemade decorations, timed light shows and themes, including a “Nightmare Before Christmas” house. Santa himself makes appearances through Dec. 23 from 6:30-8 p.m. Sightseers are welcome until 10 p.m. For more info and special announcements, visit the lane’s Facebook page.
11th Annual Holiday Circle of Lights – Oakland Hills
Mountain View Cemetery, 5000 Piedmont Ave.
You’ll find whimsy in this cemetery, which is filled with hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights and scenes from Santa’s workshop. The grounds close to visitors at 9 p.m. nightly. Details
Oakland Mormon Temple Holiday Lights
4766 Lincoln Ave.
The extensive grounds of this hilltop temple include tall palm trees wrapped in lights so bright they can been seen from the freeway.
Oakland Zoo Lights
9777 Golf Links Rd.
Festively-lit gondolas, new laser light shows, and a candy cane lane-themed Adventure Landing await you! Hot cocoa and homemade s’mores are available, too. Nightly 5:30-9 p.m. except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Picardy Drive – Oakland
Between Seminary and 55th avenues, downhill from Mills College
This entire block of storybook-style houses is all decked out, with every sloping rooftop connected and lined with lights.
Tilden Park Christmas at the Carousel – Berkeley
Central Park Drive and Lake Anza Road
Take a nighttime spin on this very merry merry-go-round, a historic carousel built in 1911. It runs nightly until 8:30 p.m. through Dec. 23. Visit the Candyshop for unique ornaments, hot chocolate, and cookies. Details
Holidays on Fourth Street – Berkeley
Stroll down the lit-up street, visit Santa and his Mrs., enjoy a hot cocoa bar where you can customize your toppings, shop for unique gifts, and listen to live music on Saturdays and Sundays. Details
928 The Arlington – Berkeley
Located in the Thousand Oaks neighborhood of north Berkeley, 928 The Arlington has a spectacular display. Walk down a candy-cane pathway and see every tree and shrub lit in different colors.
Tunnels of Joy – Brentwood
La Costa Drive in Deer Ridge
This beautiful display is a Christmas-time tribute to a friend and neighbor, Joy Bursch. Joy lost her fight against breast cancer in 2009, and left behind three young children. The bright tunnels are meant to reflect Joy’s kindness, and they attract holiday sightseers from all over the county. On Dec. 23 at 6:30 p.m., professional photographers will be taking family portraits for a fee, with all proceeds going to another La Costa resident struck by a breast cancer diagnosis. Read more here.
6716 Fountaine Avenue – Newark
You literally can’t miss the 30-foot inflatable Santa and 20-foot Frosty the Snowman that tower over this magnificently glowing house at 6716 Fountaine Ave. (If you do miss it, you obviously had too much bourbon in your nog – and shouldn’t be driving!) A synchronized light show runs from 5-10 p.m. and is broadcast on 88.1 FM. Look for dancing Christmas trees on the garage.
Shadi Holiday Display – El Cerrito
7501 Moeser Ln., near Seaview
The annual creation of a life-size nativity scene is a 68-year-old tradition begun by resident Sundar Shadi. The Shadi family and volunteers transform a hillside lot into a picturesque Bethlehem with many sheep and shepherds. The display lights stay on from 5-10 p.m. Details
What’s your favorite illuminated holiday house or street? Share in the comments section below!