My list of the best Christmas lights in Orange County will help you find the most magical lights in your area.
Orange County loves holiday lights around Christmas time. From family home displays to entire waterfronts lit up with festivities, there’s no shortage of lights to enjoy with the family as the days get shorter.
Many of the best places and neighborhoods to view Christmas lights are free of charge and perfect for any occasion.
Load the family into the car once the sun sets, and head out into the magic. Nothing says Christmas like a stroll through colorful twinkling lights with a hot beverage to sip on.
And for some of these, you won’t even have to get out of the car.
I’ve made sure to compile the best of the best Christmas lights in Orange County with this list, so you can get straight to the fun. Happy holidays!
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Where Can I See Light Displays Across Orange County?
To find the best Christmas lights in Orange County, check out our map of Orange County Christmas Light Destinations below:
Best Christmas Light Neighborhoods in Orange County
Nellie Gail Ranch, Laguna Hills
Where: 25488 Nellie Gail Rd, Laguna Hills, CA
When: Late November through December 25th, Tuesday-Sunday evenings 5pm-9pm
The residents living on Nellie Gail Road in Laguna Hills are known as some of the most festive folks with spectacular holiday lights.
Laguna Hills is one of the best neighborhoods to see Christmas lights in Orange County.
All of the houses on the street are decorated beautifully for the holiday season.
The main attraction used to be at 25473 Nellie Gail Road, but sadly, the couple moved.
Now, I recommend starting at Nellie Gail Ranch light display and making your way around the neighborhood from there.
Annual Holiday Home Lighting Contest, Mission Viejo Lights
Where: 24932 Veterans Way, Mission Viejo CA
When: Submission deadline is early in December (2023 dates TBD) and lights stay up all through December
The entire community of Mission Viejo is encouraged to decorate their homes for the holidays to enter into the annual Mission Viejo Holiday Home Decorating Contest.
Dozens of homes throughout the area participate in what is one of Orange County’s most extensive neighborhood holiday light extravaganzas.
The winner of the Mission Viejo Lights contest recieves a “Winner” sign on their lawn, and is featured on the holiday light directory (featured on the event website).
There are lots of categories to enter, which makes for a very fun drive around the neighborhood.
Eagle Hills, Brea
Where: 2970 Primrose Ave, Brea, CA 92821 (Follow signs for the guided route through the Eagle Hills neighborhood in Brea to see all lights.)
When: Nightly through December, 6pm-10pm
The annual holiday light displays in Eagle Hills is a Brea Christmas tradition that has been operating for over 20 years. Almost every house is lit up for the holiday season.
The entire neighborhood of Eagle Hills is decorated and set up to offer a smooth flow of traffic for viewing these Brea Christmas light displays throughout the neighborhood each night.
Signs indicating “Santa’s Route,” offer directions through the neighborhood. Following the proper route helps keep things organized and moving.
The residents also encourage parking at one of the designated locations and walking instead of driving for a more interactive experience.
Brea Christmas is in Orange County but is considered part of the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
While you’re there, check out Yorba Linda Christmas lights down by the water.
Lake Forest Christmas Lights
Where: 22981 Belquest Drive, Lake Forest, CA (and surrounding neighborhood)
When: Late November through December 31st, 5:30pm – 10pm
The Lake Forest Christmas lights display is an annual event on Belquest Drive, Green Bay, and Jeronimo Road, which brings holiday cheer to the Lake Forest neighborhood each year.
Guests can turn their car radios to FM 89.7 to tune into the soundtrack that thousands of blinking lights are set to and enjoy an immersive Christmas light experience.
The main house is located at 22981 Belquest Dr., but the surrounding neighborhood is equally spectacular.
I’d recommend starting at this house and making your way around the neighborhood from there.
King Eider Curb Side Forest, Aliso Viejo
Where: King Eider Lane, Aliso Viejo (at the intersection of Aliso Creek Rd and El Toro Rd)
When: Tree lighting TBD, houses decorated Throughout December, Friday – Sunday evenings, 6pm – 8pm
The community in the King Eider region of Aliso Viejo organizes a neighborhood light display and Christmas food drive each year throughout the holiday season in South Orange County.
Houses on both sides of the street down King Eider Lane are lit with unique Christmas light decorations.
The community even serves hot chocolate, hot apple cider, and cookies on the corner of Aliso Creed and El Toro.
Guests are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to donate to the South County Outreach Food Pantry.
I recommend timing your night out in conjunction with the Aliso Viejo tree lighting and festival.
Candy Cane Lane, Corona
Where: West Mission Rd, Corona, CA
When: Throughout December, 6pm – 10pm weekdays, 6pm – 11pm weekends
A holiday tradition that has been returning for almost three decades, Candy Cane Lane in Corona is a family favorite.
Dozens of houses participate each year on West Mission Road and the surrounding streets.
Grab some hot chocolate, and then drive over to West Mission Road to view the lights on “Candy Cane Lane.”
From there, you can check out some other streets nearby, such as Gingerbread Lane, which shares in the light display enthusiasm.
Christmas displays in Orange County neighborhoods are beloved traditions for the whole family – and this is one of my favorites.
Best Houses for Christmas Lights in Orange County
The Brown Family Lights, Rancho Santa Margarita
Where: 16 Calle Liberacion, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, 92688
When: Every day except Sundays, 5:30pm – 9:30pm
The Brown Family returns annually with their Christmas lights display comprised of three separate homes linked together in over 40,000 dancing lights.
Tune your car radio to FM 88.3 to listen to the soundtrack as you watch the light show.
I’d recommend bringing some hot chocolate and blankets for cozying up to enjoy the festive experience.
The families have been known to take on different themes over the years.
Many past viewers say this one was the highlight of their holiday season, so go witness the magic for yourself!
Snoopy House Holiday Display, Costa Mesa
Where: Costa Mesa City Hall
When: Select dates in December (2023 dates TBD), 5:30pm – 9pm
The Snoopy House at Costa Mesa City Hall has been a Costa Mesa community tradition for over 50 years.
If you love Charlie Brown and The Peanut Gang, and if you’re also looking for activities with beautiful lights and lots of activities that won’t break the bank, this one is a great choice.
The main attractions are all of the vintage set pieces orchestrated to make it feel like you’re right in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Come enjoy some nostalgic family time with Snoopy!
8073 Calendula Dr, Buena Park
Where: 8073 Calendula Dr, Buena Park, CA
When: Throughout December, 5pm – 10:30pm nightly
This home holiday light display has returned to Buena Park for many years. They even won 3rd Place for the City of Buena Park in 2019.
It’s a beautiful family-decorated spectacle that feels like stepping into the North Pole.
A total of 10 different inflatable characters, reindeer, several Christmas trees, a see-saw, candy canes, and thousands of LED lights make these Buena Park Christmas lights stand out each year.
Fountain Valley 56,000 Lights Christmas House
Where: Stanislaus St. & Apache River Ave, Fountain Valley, CA
When: Throughout December, 5pm – 11pm weekdays, 5pm – 12am weekends
This Fountain Valley home hosts a breathtaking light show each Christmas season.
I’m serious when I say that it takes the cake as one of the best Christmas light displays in Orange County.
You can sync your car radio to the light show’s soundtrack and enjoy viewing from the car.
If you’re ready to stretch your legs, get out and walk right up to listen through the loudspeakers.
Kids love walking up to interact with the host family and all of their festive characters.
Light tunnels, festive trees, and lasers make this one a very special stop, not far from Huntington Beach.
Time it right, and you can also see the Fountain Valley tree lighting festival!
1431 North Shaffer St., Orange
Where: 1431 N. Shaffer Street, Orange, CA
When: Throughout December, 5pm – 10pm
If you’re looking for light displays in Orange, this family home on Shaffer Street is one for the books.
This house is a festive fantasy with Santa and his reindeer leaping from the roof, tons of lighted archways, and a giant light-up Christmas tree.
There are even signs pointing to the North Pole and lots of other features across the entire lawn.
You can also check out the aerial view of this house before heading out. This quick drone video is the perfect way to get the kids excited.
43 Woodswallow Lane, Aliso Viejo
Where: 43 Woodswallow Lane, Aliso Viejo, CA
When: Nightly through December, 5pm – 10pm
This house in South Orange County appears right out of the North Pole, thanks to its many Christmas characters, lit-up Christmas trees and entire lawn of holiday decorations.
There are carolers on select nights throughout the season and interactive opportunities for children.
This house on Woodswallow gives Clark Griswold a run for his money!
Best Places to Look at Christmas Lights in Orange County
Annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade & Ring of Lights
Where: The Newport Harbour, 309 Palm St A, Newport Beach, CA 92661
When: December 13th – 17th, 6:30pm nightly
A Newport Beach Christmas is not complete without the annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade.
The harbor also happens to be one of the best places to find Newport Beach Christmas lights during the month of December.
The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade has been an annual holiday tradition for over 100 years.
Dozens of yachts, boats, kayaks, canoes, and basically anything else that floats will be beautifully decorated for the holidays and celebrated by the Newport community.
Viewers can come out only to watch the parade or catch glorious views while dining at one of the harbor restaurants.
And after the parade, you can take a stroll along the waterfront or through the neighborhoods to see all the beautiful Newport Beach Christmas lights displayed on land.
There are lots more Newport Beach Christmas festivities happening through the month of December, but reserve the whole evening out for attending the parade.
The waterfront is gorgeous this time of year, and you won’t want to be in a hurry!
Huntington Harbour Boat Parade & Cruise of Lights
Where: Huntington Harbour, Huntington Beach, CA
When: December 9th & 10th, 5:30pm
The annual Huntington Harbour Boat Parade is a completely volunteer-run holiday parade on the water.
It draws thousands of spectators each year to witness the beautiful lights on boats of all shapes and sizes.
There’s also a boat decorating contest associated with the parade, which has lots of different categories for boat owners to enter.
The People’s Choice Awards hand out awards like “Best Tribute to Theme,” “Most Beautiful,” and “Most Effective Use Of Lights.”
Boats on the water and on the land, as well as waterfront homes, can compete. The whole community can vote online.
This is a special community event each Christmas season.
Night of 1000 Lights, Corona Del Mar
Where: Sherman Library & Gardens, 2647 E. Coast Hwy., Corona del Mar, CA
When: Select dates in December (2023 dates TBD)
The Night of 1000 Lights at The Sherman Library and Gardens in Corona Del Mar is a Christmas light sighting of glorious measure for the whole family.
Guests can stroll through the gardens and view the thousands of twinkling lights throughout the grounds while listening to Christmas music and lots of other live entertainment.
There will be hot beverages and treats for sale to enjoy while you meander through the gardens. It doesn’t get much more festive than a garden filled with lights.
Knott’s Merry Farm, Buena Park
Where: Knott’s Berry Farm, 8039 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90620
When: November 17, 2023 – January 7, 2024, hours vary based on the day of the week
Just like Disneyland and Universal Studios, Knott’s Berry Farm has its very own winter wonderland, “Knott’s Merry Farm.”
Most holiday lights aren’t up until after Thanksgiving. But I like that Knott’s Merry Farm opens in mid-November.
It’s the perfect place to take family and friends who visit for Thanksgiving.
Take Christmas card pictures with Snoopy and shop at the crafts market. Then, drink hot cocoa while watching a musical on ice and catch the nightly tree lighting.
Plus, the holiday festivities continue into January, perfect for that awkward time after Christmas and before the kids go back to school.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Taylor is a multi-disciplinary artist, writer, yoga instructor, and frontline worker who spends most of her time in her van (Vannigan) winding through the coastal and mountain roads of California where she feels most at home. From navigating the realities of van life to the fluctuations in diverse climates and landscapes, Taylor is excited to bring everything she’s learned about California to fellow wanderers seeking beauty and adventure.
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