Family Local

The Ultimate Guide to Christmas in Los Angeles, Part III: Let there be LIGHTS!

IMG_5823It wouldn’t be Christmas without LIGHTS! Unfortunately, most of Los Angeles isn’t exactly set up for the tacky, old-school light wars of suburbia…but it is Hollywood where bigger is better, and entertainment is king. AND there are some special little ‘hoods that go for the gusto. So, if you want lights, LA will give you lights.

Saturday night we drove all the way over “the hill” to Woodland Hills’ Candle Light Lane (more commonly known as Candy Cane Lane – but signs on the street clearly indicated otherwise). It was AMAZING and so worth the drive.  We wandered the streets singing carols, chowing down on Christmas cookies while oohing and aahing all the pretty pretty lights.

As I walked the streets I wondered, how did this happen?  How did all these people decide to create a holiday lighting display “destination”?  How did they all decide to shed the stigma of being “that guy” and really go for it?  I like to imagine that several years ago some tacky new neighbor (likely transplanted from a small town in Minnesota) decked his house out with enough lights to get his neighbors’ khakis twisted. There was (per my overactive imagination) a massive homeowners association meeting where the folks of Candy Cane Lane debated ways to stop Sir Lights-a-lot. They tried notes, face-to-face requests, ‘accidental’ cord cutting…but nothing could contain his outpouring of holiday cheer. So they decided…if you can’t beat him, join him! And join him they did.  Except the random neighbors who didn’t have as much as a porch light on…but hey…every street needs the neighbor that refuses to come to the block party.

We chose to park and walk, and we were REALLY glad we did. Although there is no actual sidewalk, the cars move SO SLOW that it’s totally safe. The traffic however was INSANE. There were bumper to bumper cars moving slower than we were walking. Not to mention there were some pretty sketchy (borderline criminal) parenting choices from those driving including kids popping out of sunroofs, sitting in wide open trunks, on truck beds, and my personal favorite a couple of (what appeared to be) 10-year-olds actually sitting ON TOP of a car – on the roof. Really?? I get that your kids want to see the lights and that traffic is moving really slow…but, seriously? Don’t be that guy…or girl…be a parent…you know, the kind of that wants to keep their kids alive, with at least most of their limbs attached.

The lights were great.  There were cardboard characters, music, inflatables, sleighs to sit in and a GIANT train complete with working smoke stack, whistle and blinding light. There was a magnificent tree lit with 10,000 lights. There were neighbors selling hot cocoa, cookies and other treats for elementary school fundraisers (or just to pay their electricity for the month). The local marching band even played holiday classics up and down the street stopping at various houses for pop-up concerts.  My inner Buddy the elf was shouting out with glee.  There was everything from gaudy glorious tackiness to HGTV-worthy perfectly lit pure white awnings.  We spent THREE hours wandering the streets admiring the houses.

It was free.  It was fun.  It was festive.  It was a perfect start to a new family tradition we will be repeating year after year.


Hop in your car and get your holiday lights on!

Here is my advice for the most enjoyable experience possible:

  • Get there early. We got there right after the sun set and parked a block away. This made for less traffic and an easy exit.
  • Walk. You will be able to see the lights better and will likely move faster than the actual cars on the road. Make sure you have a good handle on the little ones though because there is no real sidewalk.
  • Baby wear. If you walk, the roads are super bumpy and not stroller friendly. Older ones will do just fine in a stroller, but you won’t want to push around an itty bitty one on the rough-ish terrain.
  • Bring some cash for treats and cocoa. Support some local schools and eat some yummy festive treats. It’s a win-win.
  • Have fun!

Candy Cane Lane:
Candy Cane Lane is located in Woodland Hills at the corner of Lubao Avenue and Oxnard Street. There are three streets full of festive lights – Lubao and the two streets that run parallel to it on either side. To get there, take the 101 and exit at Winnetka Avenue. Drive north on Winnetka and then take a right onto Oxnard Street across from Pierce College.  I recommend you drive past Lubao and then park on Oxnard and walk from there.

If you want to check out some other lights – here is a pretty comprehensive listing of other places to check out. Or you could just sit on your rear end and watch The Great Christmas Light Fight on ABC on Mondays 8/7c. But trust me…it’s way more fun in person.



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