The 3 Best (Free!) Christmas Light Displays in Los Angeles

It can be tough to get into the spirit of the holidays when you live in Southern California. After all, our weather is just so relentlessly perfect that we just can’t quite get that snowed-in sense of coziness. But packing the family into the car and checking out some of the area’s best (and free) Christmas light displays can do the trick. There’s something just so spectrally moving about the soft glow of Christmas lights in the December night. Sure, you’ll find plenty of ticketed light events, some of which we even covered recently in our Christmas events rundown. But if you’re looking for something a bit more DIY but no less impressive, this is your list. 


While the three Christmas light displays from our original list are still very much a thing, we thought we’d update with a couple more contenders for the 2023 season! Riverside, you’re in luck. Mission Inn is set to glow with its annual Festival of Lights, running through January 7. With over 400 animated characters and countless lights, it’s sure to dazzle. Likewise, the Venice Canals are keeping the tradition of light-festooned bridges. While not as garish as some of the other choices on the list, it offers a classy treat for westside eyes. Venice doesn’t set a hard date for this display, so catch them before Christmas to be safe!

Christmas Tree Lane

Located: Santa Rosa Avenue (Between Woodbury Rd and Altadena Dr), Altadena
Dates: Tree Lighting & Winter Festival – Saturday, December 9th (3pm – 9pm)
Christmas Lights Display – December 9th – 31st (7pm – 10pm)
Photo credit: Geographer

It doesn’t matter how many lights you string across a display; it’s tough to top Altadena’s Christmas Tree Lane. Its sheer historical significance alone gives it a reverence that can’t be ignored. Nicknamed the “Mile of Christmas Trees”, Christmas Tree Lane has been illuminating Altadena’s dark December skies since 1920! Talk about tradition! 

It’s regarded as the oldest Christmas tree lighting spectacle of its size. Ultimately, this resulted in historians adding it to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990 where it enjoys protections as a California Historical Landmark. 

The display kicks off on December 10th with the official tree lighting ceremony. Food vendors and local artisans will be on hand for the event. But if you just want the lights without the fluff, you can visit Christmas Tree Lane for the entire rest of December. 

However, be prepared for heavy traffic congestion as visitors come from all across the city to see this historic Christmas lights display. It’s rumored that starting from the north and heading southward offers the most forgiving flow. But when you’re bumper to bumper in a winter wonderland, what’s the hurry? 

Sleepy Hollow Christmas Lights

Located: Robert Road (just off the Pacific Coast Highway), Torrance
Dates: December 2nd – New Year’s Eve (6pm – 10pm)
Photo credit: Envato

If quality and quantity go hand in hand for you, you’re going to love Sleepy Hollow. That’s because the residents of Robert Road seem to saturate every inch of their street with Christmas lights. And they’ve been doing it for decades, building quite the seasonal reputation for Seaside Ranchos, colloquially referred to as Sleepy Hollow. 

Don’t worry, there’s no Headless Horseman lurking among the luminescent bulbs. However, you might lose your head at the overwhelming amount of Christmas cheer. And the residents of Sleepy Hollow likely lose their heads when that electric bill arrives! 

Street parking is pretty much non-existent, so if you’re not planning a roll through, you may want to make an offering to the parking gods. Ultimately, vets of this Christmas light display recommend parking on neighboring streets like Calle Mayor, Prospect, or the PCH itself. From there, it’s just a festive few blocks away. 

Candy Cane Lane

Located: Lubao Avenue and Oxnard Street, Woodland Hills
Dates: December 9th – New Year’s Eve (weekdays – 6pm – 10pm; weekends – 6pm – 11pm) 

Christmas spirit always hits better with a bit of mystery. Maybe that’s why Woodland Hills’ Candy Cane Lane is so consistently magical. For the last six decades, the eight blocks spanning out from Lubao Avenue and Oxnard Street have transformed every year into the valley’s answer to the North Pole. Santa Claus poses for photos. Elves patrol the streets. And snow falls from clear, dry nights. 

But this is a blog about Christmas light displays, so you can bet the residents of Candy Cane Lane serve up the goods. This informal beacon of comfort and joy begins to glow on the second Saturday of December and doesn’t extinguish until New Year’s Day. Motorists are encouraged to drive through slowly with headlights dimmed so as not to interfere with the spectacle. Likewise, the residents request no visitors past 10pm on weekdays and 11pm on weekends. 

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