Christmas Light Parades in California

Looking for family-friendly Christmas fun? Cities and towns across California host free Christmas Light Parades. Salinas, Los Altos, San Francisco, Fallbrook, Fortuna have made our list (and Santa’s)! Likewise, holiday lights shine bright in parades in Santa Barbara, Redding, Sonora, Belmont Shore (Long Beach) and Eureka.

Salinas Holiday Parade of Lights

photo credit: facebook.com/salinasparadeoflights

The Salinas Holiday Parade of Lights steps off from Salinas High School December 1, 2019, at 6 p.m. To clarify, the parade is always the first Sunday after Thanksgiving Day. Arrive early with your chairs and blankets and pick just the right spot! See marching bands, holiday floats, drill teams and color guards. In addition, view dancers, antique cars, equestrians, walking groups and more. Santa and Mrs. Claus love Christmas light parades and make an appearance on a red fire truck. Pre-parade activities for children 12 and younger begin at 4 p.m.

Los Altos Festival of Lights Parade

white float with Christmas trees and merry-go-round horse
photo credit: losaltosparade.org

The Los Altos Festival of Lights Parade also comes to life the first Sunday after Thanksgiving at 6 p.m. As a result, costumed, lighted characters; high school marching bands; and colorful lighted floats fill the streets. The hour-long event concludes with the exciting arrival of Santa and his reindeer. Take a look at Bronner’s Bavarian Parade floats!

Vintage bike rider

Fisherman’s Wharf – One of the Christmas Light Parades on the Water!

photo: visitfishermanswharf.com

Moreover, San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf is home to the Holiday Lights & Sights Boat Parade. It takes place Friday, December 13, 2019, at 6 p.m. Over 75 boats are festooned with lights and holiday decor. They make their way from PIER 39 to Marina Green and back again. In addition, many homes along Marina Boulevard are illuminated for the season. The Fisherman’s Wharf Fishing Fleet boats remain lit throughout the Christmas season until January. Bronner’s has lights for your house, boat or car.

lighted and decorated boats lined up at marina for Christmas light parades
                photo credit: www.stfyc.com (St. Francis Yacht Club)

Fallbrook Christmas Parade

people riding in lighted and decorated antique fire engine in Christmas light parades
                 photo credit: Village News/Christine Rinaldi

The Annual Fallbrook Christmas Parade kicks off at 5 p.m. the first Saturday of December. At least 100 Christmas-themed, brightly lit entries participate each year. To clarify, they represent a number of businesses, organizations, sporting groups, individuals, schools and more. Lighted wreaths make a festive addition to a parade entry (or your front door). The parade date for 2019 is December 7. Get your parade ugly on with a DIY ugly Christmas sweater!

two sheriff's deputies riding costumed horses in Christmas parade
photo credit: Village News/Christine Rinaldi 

Christmas Light Parades Featuring Trucks – Fortuna!

semi-truck cab and trailer decorated with lights for Christmas light parades
                               photo credit: visitredwoods.com

Big rigs, wheeled vehicles, floats and even people, for example, may participate in the Fortuna Electric Lighted Truck Parade. However, they must be decked out in Christmas lights. The annual festivities take place at 6:30 p.m. the first Friday of December. As a result, December 6 is the parade date in 2019. At parade’s end, the lighted entrants are invited to park for viewing. At this time, participants and parade-goers alike enjoy refreshments. In conclusion, special prizes are awarded top participants in each category: Most Lights, Most Spirited, Best Junior Entry and Most Original.

Santa Barbara Parade of Lights

large sailboat loaded with people and decorated with lighted Christmas silhouettes
                               photo by Ronald L. Williams

2019 marks the 33rd Annual Parade of Lights in Santa Barbara. Family fun begins at 3 p.m. Sunday, December 8, at Santa’s Village on the City Pier. During the festivities, play in 10 tons of snow. Get your picture taken with Santa! The lighted, decorated boat parade launches at 5:30 p.m. At this time, about 30 boats paddle, sail and motor the Santa Barbara coast. Judges award cash and prizes to winners in five categories. Set sail with large, LED-lighted outdoor decorations from Bronner’s. In conclusion, fireworks follow the parade, ending the evening with a bang!

crowd watching fireworks display over the water following Christmas light parades
                             photo by Ronald L. Williams

Winning Christmas Light Parades Include Redding!

Similarly, the annual Redding Lighted Christmas Parade lights up Saturday, December 7, 2019, at 6 p.m. Parade entries dance, march, cruise and ride through the streets. During the festivities, participants are judged on their use of the parade theme in their entries, creativity and use of lights.

Sonora Joins Historic Christmas Light Parades

Sonora’s parade makes its way through the historic downtown Friday, November 29, 2019, at 6 p.m. Local radio personalities announce entries as they pass by. In addition, Holly Jolly Trolley transports parade-goers around the downtown area before and after the parade. Santa also greets children post-parade. The Home Town Crafter’s Holiday Fair and Fire on the Mountain Christmas Festival takes place that evening. Love to decorate at home, too? Here’s how to decorate a Christmas tree!

Annual Belmont Shore Christmas Parade

woman holding her dog while both in Renaissance costumes for Christmas light parades
           photo credit: yelp.com/Erica F

Belmont Shore (Long Beach) holds its annual Christmas parade at 6 p.m. Saturday, December 7, 2019. As a result, over 100 entries are expected to participate. This includes, for example, more than a dozen marching bands and floats designed by Long Beach associations and businesses. Moreover, local dignitaries and personalities, and even Santa Clause make an appearance! Celebrate your pet and parade partner with an ornament from Bronner’s..

Eureka Truckers Parade

lighted and decorated semi-trucks lined up for Christmas light parades
photo credit: facebook.com/truckersparade

Held annually the second Saturday of December (December 14, 2019), the Truckers Christmas Parade hits the road at 6 p.m. The parade departs Redwood Acres Fairgrounds in Eureka. Most importantly, the convoy features 50 to 100 trucks ranging in size from pickups to big rigs. They are all decked out in Christmas lights and decorations galore! Small, lighted ornamental shapes are an inexpensive way to pack some punch into decor, whether it be your rig or home. Some rigs have been adorned in over 40,000 lights powered by three generators. In conclusion, the parade returns to Redwood Acres. Awards are presented and the trucks remain lighted on display until 8:30 p.m.

In Michigan? Enjoy these wonderful winter festivals!

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