Del Mar Holiday of Lights
When the winter approaches and the sky turns gray, bring a bit of light into your life by going to the Del Mar Holiday of Lights.
In the months of November and December, the Del Mar Fairgrounds is decorated with thousands of Christmas lights. You drive through in your car (with the headlights off) at a pace of about 10 miles per hour. It's not a race, so take your time to enjoy the 400+ displays. In order to keep traffic moving, it is recommended that you do not get out of the car to take family photos.
There is a radio station that you can tune into so that you can have the entire effect: holiday lights and holiday music! Hey, why not bring along some popcorn and hot chocolate? Be warned though: there are no bathrooms so be sure everyone empties-out before they get in the car.
If you have kids who are cold, cranky, and don't want to walk, this drive-through is a great, painless way to entertain them.
As you enter, you will see lights arranged into snowflake patterns. As you wait to pay, you will see garlands of light strung in loops. But you know you've really entered when you see the tunnel of lights: about 5 car lengths of wrap-around lights which you drive through. Inside the fair grounds, you will see lights arranged in various displays (displays may change from year to year):
- elves playing volley ball, polar bears playing golf
- jockeys on horseback
- a castle of lights
- candy canes, gingerbread men, snowmen
- presents, trees, candles
- Santa being pulled by reindeer
- national icons (American flag)
- and a whole lot of stuff!
Depending on traffic, it will take at least 15 minutes to snake through the entire show which is 1.5 miles long. Before you exit, there is the option to drive through again, so you can go around and around as much as you want.
Location, Dates, and Price
The Del Mar Fairgrounds is located 20 miles north of downtown San Diego, at 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd. in the city of Del Mar, California. 858-793-5555.
Open from from Nov. 22, 2012 through Jan. 1, 2013
Closed on Mondays: Nov. 26, Dec. 3 and Dec. 10
Sundays-Thursdays, 5:30 to 10 pm
Fridays and Saturdays, 5:30 to 10:30 pm
$15 per car of 5 people
$20 for vehicles with more than 6 people
$50 per bus.
Back by popular demand, you can tour the Holiday of Lights on an old-fashioned Hayride. Costs $10 per person (tickets are often sold out and should be purchased in advance). Children under 3 ride free; hayride includes a holiday cookie and hot chocolate (or cider). Holiday Hayride available only on Nov 23, Nov 30, Dec 7, and Dec 14. Go to Holiday of Lights web site for details.
In the winter of 2011, over 21,000 vehicles entered the Holiday of Lights! That's more than in 2010 when over 18400 vehicles entered. In 2009, attendance was over 17,500 vehicles (that's 450+ vehicles per evening!) In 2008, over 19,000 vehicles entered the Holiday of Lights (average 450+ vehicles per day). And in 2007, there were 21,000+ vehicles (average 500+ vehicles per day).
What Else is There to do?
After visiting the Holiday of Lights, you can head towards the Del Mar Plaza (about a mile south of the Del Mar Fairgrounds). The Del Mar Plaza is a touristy, upscale marketplace with boutiques and restaurant. It's a fun place for kids to run around and explore. The upstairs courtyard offers a relaxing seating area with coffee and drinks.
Address: 1555 Camino Del Mar. The plaza closes at 6 pm on Sundays and at 9 pm all other days.
Information is accurate at time of publication but can change without notice.