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Holiday Light Extravaganzas in the South Bay

Fantasy of Lights

Fantasy of Lights, Los Gatos, Photos by Dana Rebmann

The holidays are coming fast and furious. While some stores have been decorated for months, last weekend was the official, albeit wet, kickoff for homes and neighborhoods around the Bay Area to flip the switch on their holiday spirit. I went hunting during my weekend trip to in the South Bay and found some standouts.

Fantasy of Lights

Now in its 14th season, Fantasy of Lights is a 1.5 mile drive-through holiday lights show that will have you craning your neck in every direction toward display after display of sparkling lights. When you arrive, you’re told to set your radio to their all-Christmas-all-the-time station and (while supplies last) given a pair of 3D glasses. These are not your typical holiday illuminations. There are dinosaurs, an erupting volcano, the Loch Ness Monster and a very talented hoop shooting Santa Claus. Put on your 3D glasses and well, I won’t ruin the surprise, but it adds yet another level of fun to the event. Weekends and the days leading up to Christmas can get busy, so go early or consider taking one of the Reindeer Express Luxury Bus Tours. There’s even a special Cocoa with Santa Tour. Prices vary, but advance registration is required for all bus tours.

Fantasy of Lights

Fantasy of Lights

The 14th Annual Fantasy of Lights runs now through December 31, 2012, 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm nightly including holidays.  Vasona Lake County Park, 333 Blossom Hill Rd., Los Gatos, 408-355-2201. Admission is $10 per Vehicle (up to 9 people) now through December 6th, than the price goes up to $15 per vehicle. Cash or check only, no debit or credit cards accepted.

Willow Glen

Residents of the Willow Glen neighborhood of San Jose have a unique Christmas light tradition. Folks buy one small, Charlie Brown style tree per house, place them in their front yard about 10 feet from the sidewalk and cover them with lights. Extravaganza no, but it makes for a neat holiday effect. I didn’t have an address, but just did some roaming and found a stretch near Markham and Mayette Avenue, not far from Willow Glen High School.

Willow Glen Holiday Lights

Cherry Avenue and Robsheal Drive, Willow Glen

I also stumbled across a great house decked out for a great cause at Cherry Avenue and Robsheal Drive. This very festive home is collecting donations for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. They even schedule Santa visits. Last year, the display collected more than fifteen thousand dollars. A sign in front of the house makes it clear they’re aiming for even more this year. The display will be lit 6 to 9:30 pm through December 26th.

Glacier Lights

I missed seeing this display by just one night, but hear it's fabulous. Seven years ago, a couple of neighbors got together to build a grand display and proof of their success is glowing brightly at Glacier Lights. About 70,000 LED lights are synchronized to music broadcast over short-range FM radio so visitors can park, turn off their headlights, and listen to the music over their car stereo. They also have a donation box out front for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Shows run Sunday through Thursday, 6-9 pm and Friday and Saturday, 6-10pm.

I wish I’d had more time to explore in the South Bay. I’m sure there are many very deserving neighborhoods and homes that I didn’t mention. Do you know a Bay Area neighborhood that puts some extra glow in the holidays? South Bay, East Bay or North Bay, it doesn’t matter where. Comment below or find me on twitter @drebmann