Dazzling Light Displays in Southern California

What Southern California lacks for in snow, it more than makes up for in festive and brilliant light displays. We all know SoCal isn’t exactly known for frigid temps and falling white powder in the wintertime (except in higher elevations), but there’s no denying that Tinseltown shines even brighter this time of year when a bazillion twinkling lights illuminate every corner of the region. So bundle up, put on your comfy kicks, and pack a Thermos of hot cocoa to take along with you on your evening adventure marveling at dazzling light displays in Southern California. 


26th ANNUAL FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS

THE MISSION INN HOTEL & SPA
3649 Mission Inn Ave. | Riverside
Nov. 23, 2018 to Jan. 6, 2019
missioninn.com

Dazzling light display at the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside, CA.
The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa | Riverside, Calif.

Named “Best Public Lights Display in the Nation” by USA Today, Southern California’s historic Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside County hosts its 26th Annual Festival of Lights, a six-week-long holiday extravaganza featuring one of the largest light displays in the country. The massive AAA-Four Diamond hotel is decked out in five million twinkling lights and 200 animated characters, all of which can be admired for free. The event also offers appearances from Santa, freshly fallen snow, and more. And around the property there are horse-drawn carriages, live entertainment, and food vendors. 

Dazzling light display at the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside, CA.
The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa | Riverside, Calif.

L.A. ZOO LIGHTS

LOS ANGELES ZOO AND BOTANICAL GARDENS
5333 Zoo Dr. | Los Angeles
Nov. 16, 2018 to Jan. 6, 2019 (closed 11/22, 12/24, and 12/25)
lazoolights.org

Dazzling light display at the LA Zoo & Botanical Gardens.
Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens | Los Angeles, Calif.

For this seasonal event, a portion of the Los Angeles Zoo is transformed into a magical world of twinkling lights featuring 3D projections, animal-themed LEDs, lasers, and animated displays. You can catch a dazzling water and light show choreographed to music and attend the black light party at the reptile house. While most of the zoo animals won’t be awake, the reptiles and amphibians at LAIR will be on view and Santa’s reindeer will be welcoming zoo guests at Reindeer Village. 

Dazzling light display at the LA Zoo & Botanical Gardens.
Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens | Los Angeles, Calif.

ENCHANTED: FOREST OF LIGHT

DESCANSO GARDENS
1418 Descanso Dr. | La Cañada Flintridge
Nov. 18, 2018 to Jan. 6, 2019 (closed 11/22, 12/24, and 12/25)
descansogardens.org

Dazzling light display at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge.
Ancient Forest | Descanso Gardens

Our pick for coolest winter light display in SoCal would have to be Descanso Garden’s Enchanted: Forest of Light, a meandering one-mile path of glowing lights and mystical sounds featuring 10 unique light experiences. Some installations offer an interactive component that kids of all ages can enjoy, especially Luminous Lawn and Symphony of Oak. Ry was also mesmerized by 3 Starlight Garden and the geometric sculptures that cast stunning shadows on the ground when spun until he got a cut on the finger from one of the metal lanterns. Otherwise, I couldn’t pry the kid from the installation, and overall, Descanso Gardens was truly enchanting.

Dazzling light display at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge.
Luminous Lawn | Descanso Gardens

CANDY CANE LANES

VARIOUS LOCATIONS

Dazzling light displays at Candy Cane Lane in El Segundo.
Candy Cane Lane | El Segundo, Calif.

Candy Cane Lanes dot the region spreading cheer to those who come and admire the luminous displays. These “lanes” or streets and neighborhoods where residents go all out adorning their homes and properties with plenty of lights and decorations typically draw massive crowds each holiday season. And for the especially hard core homeowner, no expense is spared to create elaborate light displays with animatronics choreagraphed to music.

Dazzling light displays at Candy Cane Lane in El Segundo.
Candy Cane Lane | El Segundo, Calif.

CHRISTMAS TREE LANE
E. Mariposa St. & Santa Rosa Ave. | Altadena

BREA CHRISTMAS LIGHT NEIGHBORHOOD
2960-2970 Primrose Ave. | Brea

CANDY CANE LANE 
1200 E. Acacia Ave. | El Segundo

GRISWOLD’S CHRISTMAS HOUSE DISPLAY (PRIVATE RESIDENCE)
The Griswold’s home from the comedy classic “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” recreated.
15912 Golva Dr. | La Mirada

Dazzling light display in La Mirada, California.
Griswold’s Christmas House Display | La Mirada, Calif.

UPPER HASTINGS RANCH CHRISTMAS LIGHTS 
North of Sierra Madre Blvd and east of Michilinda Ave | Pasadena

THOROUGHBRED CHRISTMAS LIGHTS 
Thoroughbred St. & Sapphire St. | Rancho Cucamonga

WAKEFIELD WINTER WONDERLAND
21865 Copper Hill Dr. | Santa Clarita

LIGHTS ON DISPLAY (PRIVATE RESIDENCE)
Computer controlled Christmas display featuring animatronics synchronized to music (13 minutes). 
3901 Longview Valley Rd. | Sherman Oaks

SLEEPY HOLLOW CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
Pacific Coast Highway & Calle Mayor | Torrance

CANDY CANE LANE
Luboa Ave. and Oxnard St. | Woodland Hills


SHOPPING CENTERS

VARIOUS LOCATIONS

Dazzling light displays at Citadel Outlets in Commerce.
Citadel Outlets | Commerce, Calif.
Dazzling light display at The Grove in Los Angeles.
The Grove | Los Angeles, Calif.

RODEO DRIVE
Rodeo Drive | Beverly Hills

CITADEL OUTLETS
100 Citadel Dr., Suite 480 | Commerce

THE AMERICANA AT BRAND
889 Americana Way | Glendale

IRVINE SPECTRUM CENTER
670 Spectrum Center Dr. | Irvine

THE GROVE LA
189 The Grove Dr. | Los Angeles

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