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Best time to go to Santa Cruz, CA

Santa Cruz Christmas Lights 2022

Take a ride on a holiday train or a holiday boat in festive Santa Cruz


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Located on central California’s coast, Santa Cruz might not boast a white Christmas, but it definitely boasts a bright one! Its harbor, long wharf, and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk are always well decorated for the holidays. Restaurants and boutiques put out lots of twinkling lights to help people get into the Christmas spirit. You can choose several excellent ways to enjoy Christmas lights in santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz Holiday Lights Train (November 25–26, December 3–4, 12–13, 17–23, 2022)

Holiday Lights Train is the best way to experience Christmas illumination in Santa Cruz. Get aboard a vintage car, decorated with thousands of LEDs, and take a ride through Santa Cruz streets so you can enjoy the holiday atmosphere in the city and brightly decorated houses in the residential areas. Carols sing-alongs and Santa visits will entertain you on your trip. And don't forget to try spiced apple cider! Santa Cruz Holiday Lights Trains depart from the Neptune’s Kingdom on the Boardwalk at 5, 6:30, and 8 pm. The ride lasts for about one hour.

Holiday Lights at Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds (November 25–December 25, 2022)

Every winter, Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds becomes a winter wonderland. Holiday Lights is a drive-through display, which is open on select days in November and December. A half-mile route features fantastic lighted holiday displays, such as Santa, Reindeer, Snowman, and, our course, giant Christmas trees twinkling with lights. The lighted tunnel is another highlight of the show. The lights are on from 5:30 pm to 9 pm. Admission is $20 per car if purchased online.

Santa Cruz Harbor Lighted Boat Parade (December 3, 2022)

The most impressive holiday event in Santa Cruz, the Lighted Boat Parade, takes place every December. It features about 50 lavishly-decorated power and sailboats, which sail through the Santa Cruz Harbor. Hot drinks and snacks are available at various eateries in the South Harbor. The parade runs from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. The event, sponsored by the Santa Cruz Yacht Club, benefits Second Harvest Food Bank.

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