Big & Bright: Where to See Christmas Lights in the East Bay in 2023

Big & Bright: Where to See Christmas Lights in the East Bay in 2023

It is time to bundle up, pour hot cocoa into a thermos, and head out to see the most beautiful Christmas lights in the East Bay. Rain or moon-shine, 'tis the season for the sparkling light shows created by bulb-happy residents and businesses.

First, here is some sage advice for you twinkle-eyed adventurers searching for holiday lights in the Bay Area:

  • Map the sites you want to hit before you leave home so you aren’t zigzagging around town or backtracking.
  • Bring festive car snacks and no-spill thermoses.
  • Have a little cash on hand if the homeowner who is footing the massive electricity bill (for your enjoyment) provides a donation jar.

Now, on with the light show!

Best Displays of Christmas Lights in the East Bay


1. Christmas Tree Lane, Alameda

You'll be ooo-ing and ahhh-ing over this neighborhood effort that typically involves more than 50 homes. Now in its 85th year of celebration! Look for homemade decorations, timed light shows, and themed houses. Drop a letter to Santa in the special post box by Dec. 19 and get a reply from the jolly man himself. See the Christmas Tree Lane Facebook page for the schedule of special events like live music and Santa visits. 3200 block of Thompson Ave., between High Street and Fernside, Alameda.


2. Oakland Mormon Temple Holiday Lights & Garden

For the best Christmas lights in the East Bay with a hilltop view, head to the extensive grounds of the Oakland Mormon Temple. The tall palm trees there are wrapped in lights so bright they can be seen from the freeway below. The grounds glow every evening from dusk to 9 p.m. through Dec. 31. 4766 Lincoln Ave., Oakland

3. Oakland Zoo Glowfari

Oakland Zoo has gone wild with Glowfari, featuring larger-than-life glowing animal lanterns throughout the zoo. Every evening through Jan. 28, you can take a mile-long illuminated stroll and visit the desert with camels and bighorn sheep, have an African safari adventure with elephants, giraffes, and an 8-foot crocodile head, walk through the forests of Asia to meet red and giant pandas – and, of course, ride the gondola to the land of bugs featuring a 65-foot Queen Ant Tunnel! Finish the evening with a visit to Santa and ride the Express Train through a Winter Wonderland. The zoo lights up from 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Get details and buy tickets here9777 Golf Links Rd., Oakland

4. Picardy Drive, Oakland

The entire block of storybook-style houses on Picardy Drive is aglow in this Mills College neighborhood. When residents buy homes here, they commit to participating and stringing twinkly lights along their rooftops. Picardy Drive is located between Seminary and 55th avenues, Oakland

5. Tilden Park Merry-Go-Round Winter Wonderland, Berkeley

Where to see Christmas Lights in the East Bay - Tilden Merry-Go-Round

Tilden's historic merry-go-round has been spinning dreams for over 110 years! There are holiday lights, photo stations, hot chocolate, classic movies, and visits from Santa and Olaf the Snowman. Check the Tilden Merry-Go-Round website for details and tickets. Central Park Drive and Lake Anza Road, Berkeley

6. Holidays on Fourth Street, Berkeley

Fourth Street sparkles with cheer every night, beginning at dusk. Special events include a holiday craft market (Dec. 9) and the Holiday Fantasy Parade (Dec. 16). Don't forget to drop a letter in Santa's mailbox in front of Peet's Coffee and get a real letter back from one of his elves. See the Holidays on Fourth Street schedule here.

7. 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.

8. Tunnels of Joy, Brentwood

This beautiful display on La Costa Drive in Brentwood began as a Christmas-time tribute to resident 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. The event, which runs through Dec. 26, also is a fundraiser for families affected by pediatric cancer. This year's beneficiary is 18-year-old Jeremiah, who is battling stage IV mesenchymal chondrosarcoma.

Drive or walk through the tunnel from 5-9 p.m. nightly and enjoy special events such as food trucks, photo ops, and live music. See the schedule and learn how to donate to Jeremiah at the Tunnels of Joy Facebook page.

Location: The event is centered around La Costa, Pasatiempo, and Torrey Pines drives in Deer Ridge.


9. 6716 Fountaine Ave., Newark

One of the contenders on the ABC show, “Great Christmas Light Fight”! 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!) Past years have featured a synchronized light show broadcast on 88.1 FM.

10. Shadi Holiday Display, El Cerrito

The annual creation of a life-size nativity scene on the Moeser Lane hillside is a seven-decades-long family tradition started by resident Sundar Shadi. Every year, the Shadi family and volunteers transform the lot into a picturesque Bethlehem with many sheep and shepherds. This year's display lights up Dec. 16-26,  5-10 p.m. Check out this cool time-lapse video from a previous year's setup. Get more details here. 7501 Moeser Ln., near Seaview, El Cerrito

Did we miss one of your favorite displays of Christmas lights in the East Bay? Let us know, and we'll add it to this list!