In December, the South Bay is all aglow with holiday parades, multi-cultural events, and artistic celebrations that light up the holiday season. Below are some beloved holiday events that are sure to bring a smile and brighten your spirit.
However, if you’re not feeling very adventurous, then I recommend simply walking the streets of Willow Glen at night with a hot cocoa and candy cane in hand, wandering down beautiful streets each fitted with their own holiday theme. The homes in this charming little neighborhood put on one of the most stunning displays of Christmas lights in the entire Bay Area. (Head north of Willow St between Lincoln Ave and Glen Eyrie Ave to ensure you don’t miss the gigantic, larger-than-life reindeer!)
- Los Gatos Holiday Tree Lighting & Children’s Christmas Parade | Los Gatos | Dec. 2-3
The historic fir tree in the Town Plaza Park comes to life when the Mayor flips the switch at 6pm on Dec. 2. Plus, free photos with Santa are available; click here for details! The following day, the beloved annual Children’s Christmas/Holiday parade marches downtown with school bands, drill teams, floats, and equestrian units all making their way down the Avenue with adoring parents looking on. Stake out your curbside seat early in the day for kick-off at 11am. Learn more at lgsrecreation.org.
- Lighted Boat Parade | Santa Cruz Harbor | Dec. 3
This popular lighted boat parade features 50 beautifully decorated power and sailboats parading on the water through Santa Cruz Harbor. Go early for the best viewing spots, bundle up, and bring a reusable mug for hot chocolate! Check out scyc.com for more details.
- Entwined | Golden Gate Park, San Francisco | Dec. 1 – Mar. 2023
Take a magical twilight stroll through Golden Gate Park’s Peacock Meadow as Entwined returns for the third season. This immersive experience features a dazzling forest of light, new sculptural artworks, and special performances, including the Tap Dancing Christmas Trees, to delight visitors of all ages. Events are free and open to the public. Discover more at sanfranciscoparksalliance.org.
- Carol of Lights | Downtown Campbell | Dec. 3 – RESCHEDULED
Rescheduled for early next year as a winter fun festival due to rain! This annual family-oriented event opens the holiday season in Downtown Campbell. Prepare to be enthralled by lots of festive lights, carols, donkey rides, a petting zoo, music and dance performances, and of course a visit from Santa! Find more info at downtowncampbell.com.
- Holiday Bubbly Walk | Willow Glen | Dec. 3
Sip, stroll, and shop the Avenue in charming Downtown Willow Glen. Local merchants will have their doors open for cheerful shoppers, and tasting stations will be set up on the walking route. Purchase tickets here.
- Menorahs and Miracles: A Hanukkah Celebration | San Jose | Dec. 4
This annual Hanukkah celebration at the Children’s Discovery Museum features dreidel games, candle making, a miracle scavenger hunt, music, and a parade to light the menorah. Click here for reservations.
- Weihnachtsmarkt – German Holiday Market | Mountain View | Dec. 10
Step into Germany for a day in this open-air European winter market in the heart of Silicon Valley. Shop for unique, handcrafted gifts from Germany and local artisans, and warm up with traditional German sausages and Glühwein as you enjoy this seasonal celebration by the German School of Silicon Valley. More details await at germanholidaymarket.org.
- Vasona Park’s Fantasy of Lights | Los Gatos | Dec. 3-30
Turn up the holiday tunes on your car radio as you enjoy a magical evening in Vasona Park. This cherished holiday tradition features a 1.5-mile drive-through of over 50 larger-than-life, animated holiday lights and displays. (Two special walk thru-only nights are available on Dec. 3 and 4.) Admission is with pre-paid tickets only. Purchase through EventBrite.
- Christmas in the Park | Downtown San Jose | Daily through Jan. 1
Glittering lights transform Plaza de Cesar Chavez into a holiday fantasy with over 40 musical and animated exhibits, a 60-foot Community Giving Tree, and an enchanted “forest” of Christmas trees decorated by local schools and other groups. Enjoy nightly entertainment and holiday treats. Get more info at christmasinthepark.com.
- Holiday Lights Train | Santa Cruz | Dec. 3-4, 10-11,17-23
Hop aboard the Holiday Lights Train from the Santa Cruz Boardwalk! Vintage excursion cars adorned with thousands of lights roll through the streets past the colorful homes of Santa Cruz. Find more info at roaringcamp.com.