Nothing quite compares to the holidays when it comes to conjuring up memories of our childhood and the many traditions surrounding this magical time of year.

Gathering the family in the now mythical paneled station wagon to look at holiday lights was an annual highlight for many of us. Now more modern versions of this family outing are lighting up Southern California, where families can immerse themselves in lighting displays instead of passively driving by, guaranteed Instagram memories in the making.

Closest to home is Sherman Gardens 6th Annual “Nights of a Thousand Lights”
offered December 6-8, 12-15 and 19-22 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
It is billed as twelve nights of Christmas cheer and includes everything from a Blue Christmas with Elvis to Trolls, Gnomes and of course the big guy, Santa. Entry also includes complimentary coffee, hot chocolate, and a make your own s’mores station. To find out more and purchase tickets:

The cute little town of Claremont, located in the Pomona Valley is home to Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens and it’s where you’ll find their version of illumination called “Luminaria Nights”. There the garden glows not only with light, but also music, featuring; Steve Rushingwind, Windsong Canyon and Mason Henley on December 13, 14, 20 and 21. To find out more and purchase tickets:
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The LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia has created what they call their “Moonlight Forest”, billed as, “a fantasy of lights that takes you to new places” including under the sea and a winter wonderland, along with live entertainment. The Moonlight Forest is available for viewing from 5:30- 10:00 every Wednesday through Sunday until January 12. For more information and to purchase tickets:
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Not far from the LA Arboretum in La Cañada Flintridge, is the beautiful Descanso Gardens, where you’ll find the “Enchanted Forest of Light”, described as “an interactive, night time experience unlike anything else in Los Angeles, featuring a one-mile walk through unique lighting experiences many of which are interactive, allowing visitors to manipulate the lights and sounds”. The Enchanted Forest of Light will be available for viewing until January 5. For more information and to purchase tickets:


If glowing animals are more your thing then you might think about heading to “L.A. ZOO LIGHTS” at the LA County Zoo located within Griffith Park in Los Angeles, this is where you’ll find the “world’s largest illuminated pop-up storybook” seasonal treats and of course Santa! This illuminated extravaganza can be seen 6:00-10:00 pm through January 5 For more information and to purchase tickets: ht tps://

In case you’re planning a trip up north, namely the Central Coast, this list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the multi-acre walk through installation located in Paso Robles, known as the Bruce Munro: Field of Light at Sensario.

Mr Munro is an internationally acclaimed artist that has created”an array of 58,000 stemmed spheres lit by fiber optics that illuminates the landscape with blooms of morphing color”. Smithsonian Magazine has called Munro’s art “stunning.” Sensorio is located at 4380 Highway 46, East Paso Robles, CA 93446, and is open to the public 5:00-9:00 Thursday and Sunday and 5:00 to 10:00 on Friday and Saturday until January 5 For more information and to purchase tickets:

Please note, some of these events sell out, best to buy your tickets ahead of time, also tickets are rain or shine, so have your umbrellas handy!