Photo by author
Photo by author

Best Christmas Light Displays and Home Holiday Decorations around Los Angeles

When the lights start going up, then you know it's Christmas! And whether your holiday of choice is Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, or Kwanzaa there is a timeless joy in taking a spin around the neighborhood holiday lights. The big flashy light displays that charge admission are thinner on the ground in 2020, but there is a particular magic to finding over-the-top lawn displays created by someone's (if thankfully not your) next-door neighbor. Even better is a whole street made up of nothing but this kind of neighbor, and a few of those extra special Christmas neighborhoods are rallying to keep the lights on in 2020. Also check out some of LA's professional and drive-thru holiday light displays, new for 2020!

Some of LA County's top Christmas light displays are listed below (not to mention some amazing holiday lights in Orange County). Many families and neighborhoods are still deciding how and if they can adapt their usual festivities to make them COVID-friendly, since many of these neighborhoods attract loads of foot traffic during the holiday season (and rightly so!). As decisions and info about each display are made public, we will continue to update this post. Our hope is that many of the communities below will find away to continue to light up the December nights!

If you visit, please respect the safety of the homeowners, many of whom are someone's grandparents! Please keep safe distances, wear masks, and don't touch any decorations.
This post is being continuously updated with 2020 info as it comes in.

Sleepy Hollow Christmas display Torrance

Sleepy Hollow lights are anything but sleepy. Photo by author

Sleepy Hollow Christmas Lights - Torrance

2020 Info: The word so far is that some families are decorating this year and some are not. Expect a smaller display than most years, with no cocoa stands, but still worth a drive.
Robert Road
Torrance, CA 90505
Also known to locals as "The Hole," Torrance's Sleepy Hollow neighborhood has been sending up flares for Santa for more than 40 years, and there's no question he's seen them—as have a whole lot of other admirers. Fans pour through nightly from Thanksgiving weekend until Christmas, and the best way to enjoy the vibe is to park outside the neighborhood and walk through. We're guessing the hot chocolate and candy cane stands may not be erected this year, but no doubt many residents (some dressed as Santa) will still sit around their fire rings and wave at the holiday lights admirers. A limited number of cars are allowed through, but it's slow going; one can only hope that no one is waiting for a pizza delivery guy.

Parking options are best on either Pacific Coast Highway or Prospect. Robert Road is just north of Calle Mayor off PCH.

South Bay Cities Lighting Contests

New in 2020!

Lawndale, CA
Manhattan Beach, CA
While in the South Bay, it's worth venturing past Sleepy Hollow. The City of Lawndale is hosting the annual holiday decorating contest, with homes across the city decked out in their twinkling best. Lights are on from 6pm-11pm for the evenings of December 16-18, 2020.

To raise much needed funds for the Roundhouse Aquarium, Manhattan Beach and the surrounding beach cities are also lighting up. Businesses, residences, and vehicles (that could mean bikes, cars, golf carts, and more—literally anything with wheels) can enter the contest and win prizes by displaying the most creativity and spirit. Judging takes place December 13-19, 2020. Although entries from these contests will be spread throughout the community, our hope is that continuing to check the websites will yield more info as displays enter the contest—and both Lawndale and Manhattan Beach are sure to be unusually festive as a result. These South Bay lighting displays are a holiday treasure hunt from the car.

Nortons Winter Wonderland Burbank
Ever wondered how many lights can fit on one lawn? Photo courtesy of Nortons Winter Wonderland

Nortons Winter Wonderland - Burbank

2020 Info: The Norton family is on bigger than ever for 2020! Webcams are installed for those stuck at home, and the guest book is online this year. Please wear a mask and keep a safe distance if leaving your car.
513 N. Florence Street
Burbank, CA  91505
This fellow Dick Norton is about as Christmasy a neighbor as anyone could want—and he lets everyone feel like his neighbor by sharing both the lengthy construction process and his nightly holiday light show via a string of webcams. His website has plenty of info, including ongoing progress as the display grows—completed this year before Thanksgiving even rolled around! The website also has a link for sending email to Santa, and info about another formidably lit house on his street, Keith's Winter Snowland. Note that on wet evenings, much of the display is turned off.

Candy Cane Lane Los Angeles
We believe in Candy Cane Lane! Photo by author

Candy Cane Lane - Woodland Hills

2020 Info: It sounds like some families on the four streets are decorating this year, and some are not. Expect a smaller display than most years.
Lubao and Oxnard Streets
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
The Valley's version of Candy Cane Lane can be enjoyed from the comfort of one's car, but be prepared for traffic as the holidays draw closer. The group of homeowners on the four streets bordered by Oxnard, Martha, Corbin, and Winnetka collectively out-do themselves every year, and cars are drawn like kids to Santa. Visitors are encouraged to dim headlights on the eight-block stretch so that everyone can enjoy the holiday lights. Brace yourself for slow-moving traffic—so slow, in fact, that most cars end up with kids poking their heads through the sunroofs waving at each other with holiday cheer.

The lights can generally be enjoyed from the second Saturday in December through New Year's Day, though many homes start decorating Thanksgiving weekend.

Daisy Avenue Christmas Tree Lane Long Beach

2020 Info: The parade is canceled this year, and the Daisy Ave median decorations, normally maintained by senior citizens, is taking a break to keep organizers safe. Other homes in the neighborhood have been encouraged to decorate, though, to pick up the slack, so the general area should still be worth a drive.
2000 Daisy Avenue
Long Beach, CA
Long Beach holiday light groupies may be our most spoiled Southlanders at this time of year, between the Naples Island holiday lights and the annual light-up treat at Daisy Avenue, which kicks off its annual display with a Christmas Tree Lane Parade, generally the second Saturday of December. With more than six decades of experience in the Christmas lights business, this neighborhood has it down, complete with musical entertainment on the Saturday and Sunday evenings leading up to Christmas.

RELATED: Christmas Boat Parades around LA and OC

Christmas decorations Los Angeles
And a place to park your camel, too... Photo by author

Christmas Tree Lane - Altadena

2020 Info: Christmas Tree Lane is on this year! Lights will be displayed, but the Centennial Celebration planned for opening night is canceled.
2024 Santa Rosa Lane
Altadena, CA 91003
Altadena's famous Deodar cedar trees have been lit with festive strings of holiday lights every year since 1920, in what is recognized as the oldest large-scale outdoor Christmas display in the world. Some of the houses decorate, but the attraction here is really more the trees, which create a delightful .7 mile colorful pathway to cruise. There isn't a sidewalk, so it's not as inviting a walk as it is a drive; cars ramble slowly down the length of Santa Rosa Lane taking in the view. Be a good neighbor and dim down to your parking lights while viewing, to help other drivers enjoy the lights more.

Lights switch on the second weekend of December with a big tree lighting event and remain lit (until 10pm nightly) through January 1.

Christmas Tree Lane, St. Albans Road - San Marino

2020 Info: Christmas Tree Lane San Marino is unconfirmed so far, but we hope that it will follow the lead of the Altadena display.
Huntington Drive & St. Albans Road
San Marino, CA 91108
The Altadena and San Marino versions of this lighted holiday pathway are twinsies. The towering trees lining the road get decked out like giant Christmas trees, and the estate homes behind them don't look too shabby either.

Upper Hastings Ranch Christmas decorations
Peanuts are timeless. Photo courtesy of Upper Hastings Ranch Association

Upper Hastings Ranch - Pasadena

2020 Info: Upper Hastings Ranch is planning to launch the annual neighborhood display 12/12/20.
North of East Sierra Madre
Pasadena, CA 91107
Since 1951, each block in this neighborhood has decorated its homes to a theme, marked by an icon placed in the parkway, and themed wooden signs along each block. The neighborhood is large enough that one evening's drive probably won't catch everything; but the pride this neighborhood takes in the collective project definitely merits an evening's drive. Choose a route, and let the oohs and aahs begin; opening night is December 12, 2020, and the displays run nightly, 6pm-10pm, through January 2, 2021.

 

Wakefield Winter Wonderland - Santa Clarita

2020 Info: Wakefield residents are lighting their lights on a more modest scale this year and ask visitors to enjoy the display from inside their cars.
Wakefield Court between Seco and Haskell Canyon
Santa Clarita, CA 91350
The double cul-de-sac of 41 houses in the Saugus neighborhood of Santa Clarita offers an annual elaborate light display that includes a ceiling of lights strung across the street from house to house. Wakefield Court is off Copper Hill Drive and Courtland, and the lights switch on nightly from 5:30pm-10:30pm, starting December 1. The community decorations (Candy canes, Wakefield sign, story board, light post decor, etc.) are not being used in 2020, and some houses will remain dark, but the toned down display is still worth a drive. For the safety of the community, residents request that guests drive by in lieu of walking the neighborhood.

Wakefiled Winter Wonderland Christmas decorations
Families in this cul-de-sac don't mind the traffic. Photo courtesy of Wakefield Winter Wonderland

Yolanda Lights Winter Holiday Light Display - Reseda

2020 Info: The arches start going up Thanksgiving weekend as always. Visitors should be sure to wear masks; organizers say the arches are placed six feet apart.
7300 block of Yolanda Ave.
Reseda, CA 91335
The neighbors along Yolanda Avenue want you to park your car, admire their handiwork, and donate some canned food items or blankets for the local homeless. The display is a simple incandescent tunnel of holiday lights straddling the sidewalks on both sides of the street, which is on the south of Valerio. Construction on the series of lighted archways begins on the Saturday after Thanksgiving each year, and the display remains until Three Kings Day (January 6).

Montgomery Road and Janss Road - Thousand Oaks

Montgomery Rd & E Janss Rd
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
This home doesn't have a fancy name or a flashy website, but our friends in Thousand Oaks love to drive by this family's extravagant display every year. It's just one house, but no corner goes unlit, and the decorations are generally up and flashing their seasonal cheer by Thanksgiving weekend.

Timberdale & Pinedale - Moorpark

Timberdale Rd. & Pinedale Rd.
Moorpark, CA 93021
This isn't one of those neighborhoods with a Facebook page, a special street sign, or even a kitsch name, but if you're on a search for holiday eye candy, this is a sweet spot to check out. The neighborhood is across from Moorpark High School (head east on Countrywood Drive until you hit Timberdale), and it's just house after house of sparkling delights, in a clear spirit of "I can make my house more visible from space than yours is."


Candy Cane Lane in El Segundo. Photo by Pedro Szekely/CC BY 2.0

Candy Cane Lane - El Segundo (closed 2020)

2020 Info: Candy Cane Lane is sadly closed in 2020. Lights will not go up, and residents are asking fans to please not come looking; the lights will be back in 2021!
1200 Acacia
El Segundo, CA 90245
The eastern block of Acacia Avenue is announced by a Candy Cane Lane sign, marking a tradition of more than 60 years. Houses are alight with trains, reindeer, giant characters, and music, plus frequent appearances by Santa Claus in a covered sleigh at the end of the cul-de-sac. The lights are on by 6pm (though most turn on at dusk); Santa usually sits down in his sleigh at about 7pm. Opening night always includes extra entertainment. If you're looking for the most holiday lights per square foot, Candy Cane Lane is your destination.

The street itself is closed to cars, making for a delightful, one-block family stroll, and parking is available throughout the rest of the (well decorated) neighborhood. The last night of the official display is usually December 23, keeping the street more private for the actual holiday.

Winter Wonderland - Simi Valley (closed 2020)

Winter Wonderland pledges to return in December 2021.
469 Highland Road
Simi Valley, 93065
This open house features many of traditional decorations, but dog lovers will appreciate the "dog land" section, in which light-up canines (including a boxer and a sleigh-riding dachshund) lend some ruff appeal to the Christmas cheer. Be sure to check the Facebook page for the schedule. While Winter Wonderland is free, the owners gladly accept donations for Relay for Life (American Cancer Society), Casa Pacifica, and For the Troops (FTT).

 

Originally published December 5, 2011

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