As the most wonderful time of the year approaches, San Jose, a gem in the heart of Silicon Valley, transforms into a winter wonderland, celebrating the holiday spirit with various events and traditions.
From the enchanting lights at Plaza de Cesar Chavez to the musical performances at the California Theatre, San Jose becomes a focal point of holiday cheer in the Bay Area.
This year, immerse yourself in the festive season as we explore the annual holiday traditions, community events, and Christmas delights that make San Jose a special place to be during the holidays.
Searching for the perfect spot to enjoy Christmas in California? Don’t miss these posts.
Christmas Day is in our grasp, as long as we have hands to clasp! Christmas Day will always be, just as long, as we have we! Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand!Dr. Seuss
1. Symphony San Jose Chorale at the California Theatre
Immerse yourself in the melodious harmony of the Symphony San Jose Chorale, a cherished holiday event.
Dates & Location: December 9 & 10, 2023. The location is at the historic California Theatre.
2. Christmas Tree Lighting at Plaza de Cesar Chavez
Witness the magical lighting of the towering Christmas tree, a beacon of holiday spirit in San Jose.
Dates & Location: Friday, November 24, 2023, from 5:30 – 7:30pm PST at Plaza de Cesar Chavez.
3. Enchanted Forest of Trees
Discover a magical holiday experience at the Enchanted Forest, part of the beloved Christmas in the Park in Downtown San José.
For over 43 years, this event has transformed Plaza de Cesar Chavez into a festive wonderland.
Each year the two-acre park is transformed into a holiday fantasy with over 40 musical and animated exhibits, glittering lights and the 50-foot Community Giving Tree.
Dates & Location: Decorating Days: November 20-24, 2023: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: 10am-6pm and Friday: 9-2pm. Un-Decorating Days : Tuesday through Thursday (Jan 2-Jan 4) between 10am and 6pm. Christmas in the Park ends January 1, 2024. Location – Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park
4. Downtown Ice San Jose
Glide into the holiday season at Downtown Ice San Jose, a beloved local tradition that brings the joy of ice skating to the heart of the city.
Since 1994, this annual event has provided a festive and family-friendly atmosphere that’s perfect for creating holiday memories.
Dates & Location: From November 17, 2023, to January 15, 2024, enjoy the winter magic at the rink located at 120 S. Market Street in the Circle of Palms Plaza. This picturesque spot is nestled between the San Jose Museum of Art and the Signia by Hilton Hotel, providing a stunning backdrop for your skating experience
5. Santa Run Silicon Valley
Embrace the holiday spirit with a dash of fitness at the Santa Run Silicon Valley, a delightful event blending the joy of the season with a community-centered running experience.
This festive run, held in the heart of Silicon Valley, invites participants of all ages to enjoy a day filled with fun, exercise, and holiday cheer.
Dates & Location: December 17th, 2023. The race will start at Santa Clara St. and Market in Downtown San Jose. The kids’ race will commence at the Christmas in the Park finish line.
6. Holiday magic at Santana Row
Experience the magic of Christmas at Santana Row, illuminated with dazzling lights and festive activities. If you are someone who wants to enjoy sights and bites then Satana Row is the place to be.
7. Enchant Christmas at PayPal Park
Experience the magic of the holidays at Enchant Christmas, where an all-new light maze and festive activities await. This event transforms PayPal Park into a dazzling winter wonderland.
Dates & Location: November 24 – December 31, 2023 at PayPal Park. Tickets start at $33 for adults and $25 for juniors
These are key attractions at Enchant Christmas in San Jose, each offering a unique holiday experience!
- All-New Light Maze – Santa’s Magic Timepiece: This is a captivating light maze adventure where visitors embark on a journey to find the eight missing star fragments of Santa’s magic timepiece. It’s an immersive experience that weaves magic into every corner, making it a central feature of the Enchant Christmas festivities.
- The Village: This is a charming area within Enchant Christmas featuring a collection of tiny storefronts. Here, visitors can explore artisan vendors, specialty crafters, and boutiques, perfect for holiday gift shopping. The Village also offers a variety of seasonal treats and beverages, enhancing the festive shopping experience.
- Ice Skating Trail: This attraction allows visitors to ice skate through a dazzling forest of Christmas lights. The Ice Skating Trail is a unique experience where skates are provided, allowing guests to glide on real ice, creating magical holiday memories.
- Santa’s Landing: This is a special area in Enchant Christmas where visitors can meet Santa Claus. It’s a popular spot for families, where children can find out if they are on the naughty or nice list and have their annual photo taken with Santa. Professional photography services are available here for capturing these holiday moments.
- Little Elves Play Place: Designed specifically for families with young children, the Little Elves Play Place is a quieter, more relaxed space within Enchant Christmas. Children aged 0-7 will find a variety of fun activities here, providing a break from the busier areas of the event. This play area is included with any admission ticket and is ideal for families looking for a child-friendly zone amidst the festive wonder.
Each of these attractions contributes to the overall magical and festive atmosphere of Enchant Christmas, making it a comprehensive holiday destination for visitors of all ages.
8. “How The Grinch Stole Christmas!” – A Musical Extravaganza: Broadway San Jose
At The Center for Performing Arts in San Jose, the touring company of Dr. Seuss’ – How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical, captivates audiences with its heart-warming holiday musical tale.
This acclaimed production, which achieved record-breaking success for two consecutive years on Broadway at the St. James and Hilton theatres in New York, is now thrilling audiences in San Jose.
The musical features the iconic songs “You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch” and “Welcome Christmas,” composed by Albert Hague and Dr. Seuss.
These tunes, along with the captivating story, envelop viewers in the whimsical world of Whoville. The New York Times lauded this production as “100 times better than any bedtime story,” a sentiment echoed by audiences nationwide.
The story unfolds through the narration of Max the Dog, revealing the tale of the mean and scheming Grinch, whose heart is “two sizes too small.”
Determined to steal Christmas from the joyous Whos, the Grinch’s plan unfolds with intrigue and humor.
The show’s visual splendor is amplified by magnificent sets and costumes, designed by John Lee Beatty and Robert Morgan, respectively.
These elements are inspired by Dr. Seuss’ original illustrations, bringing a vibrant and imaginative dimension to the production.
The musical’s richness is further enhanced by the Music and Book of Mel Marvin and Timothy Mason. Their work breathes new life into this timeless narrative, exploring the true meaning of Christmas.
The 2018 production, directed by Matt August and choreographed by Bob Richard, builds upon the original choreography by John DeLuca, showcasing a creative spectacle.
Dates & Location: November 28 – December 3, 2023, at The Center for Performing Arts, 255 S Almaden Blvd, San Jose, CA 95113
9. Christmas in the Park
Join the annual tradition of Christmas in the Park, a whimsical walk-thru event that has been a staple of San Jose’s holiday season for over four decades.
The two-acre park becomes a holiday fantasy with glittering lights, a 65-foot Christmas tree, and trees decorated by local schools and community groups.
It’s a dazzling display of community spirit and festive cheer!
Dates & Location: Nov 24, 2023, to Jan 1, 2024, at Plaza de Cesar Chavez, Downtown San Jose.
10. Drive-Thru Light Show at History Park San Jose
Glide through a luminous journey at the Drive-Thru Light Show at History Park San Jose, a holiday spectacle of dazzling lights and displays.
This event transforms the park into a winter wonderland of lights, offering a mesmerizing experience for all ages.
Dates & Location: Nov 29, 2023, through Jan 1, 2024, at History Park San Jose.
11. Christmas Lights at Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph in San Jose
As the holiday season descends upon San Jose, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph emerges as a beacon of festive splendor.
This historical landmark, nestled in the heart of downtown, is transformed into a captivating spectacle of Christmas lights, drawing visitors from near and far.
Dates & Location: Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph, Every night from 5:30-10 p.m. now through Jan 1st, 2023
12. Willow Glen’s Festive Light Extravaganza
Willow Glen, a quaint neighborhood in San Jose, becomes a captivating spectacle of holiday lights, embodying the joyous spirit of Christmas.
As you walk through the streets, you’ll be mesmerized by homes festooned with sparkling lights and festive decorations.
This neighborhood tradition showcases the creativity and camaraderie of the residents, as each house adds its unique touch to the overall holiday ambiance.
The light displays in Willow Glen are not just visually stunning; they also foster a sense of community, drawing people from all around to share in the celebration.
It’s an immersive experience that combines the magic of lights with the warmth of a close-knit community.
Dates & Location: The light decoration typically begins in early December and lasts through the holiday season. Location – Willow Glen neighborhood, San Jose, CA.
13. Holiday Candlelight Tour at Winchester Mystery House
Illuminate your holiday season with the enchanting Holiday Candlelight Tour at Winchester Mystery House.
Available on select nights from November 25th to December 30th, this tour transforms the mansion into a candlelit holiday haven.
Journey through the festively decorated rooms, immerse yourself in Victorian traditions and possibly encounter ghostly tales.
Don’t miss the Menagerie Oddities Market on the estate, open only during these special nights, for unique holiday shopping.
A blend of holiday charm and historical intrigue, the Candlelight Tour is an unforgettable holiday experience.
Dates & Pricing: Select nights, November 25 – December 30. Adults: $44.99, Children (5-12): $19.99, Free for children under 5 with an adult ticket.
Location: Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, CA.
Christmas Lights And Events Around San Jose
- Fantasy of Lights at Vasona Lake County Park, Los Gatos
- A Sparkling Journey: The Fantasy of Lights is a cherished holiday tradition now in its 25th year. This drive-thru event features environmentally friendly LED lighting displays in a breathtaking setting.
- Dates & Location: December 5-30, 2023, at Vasona Lake County Park, 333 Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos.
- Lynbrook Holiday Craft Faire in San Jose
- A Crafty Celebration: Discover unique holiday crafts and gifts at the Lynbrook Holiday Craft Faire, a perfect destination for finding one-of-a-kind holiday items.
- Date & Location: November 18, 2023, at Lynbrook High School Auditorium, San Jose.
- WinterFest at California’s Great America, Santa Clara
- Winter Fun for Everyone: WinterFest is an immersive holiday experience with festive decorations, entertainment, and activities suitable for all ages.
- Date & Location: November 24, 2023, at California’s Great America, Santa Clara.
- Winter Wonderland 2023 at Vine Church
- Enchanted Holiday Experience: Winter Wonderland at Vine Church offers a magical setting filled with holiday joy and enchantment.
- Date & Location: December 9, 2023, at Vine Church.
- 29th Annual San Jose Saxophone Christmas
- Saxophones in the Park: This unique musical event showcases a saxophone ensemble performing holiday favorites at Christmas in the Park.
- Date & Location: Ist Performance – December 16, 2023, at Christmas in the Park @ 2pm and 2nd Performance -December 16, 2023, at Eastridge Mall @5pm.
- Dave Koz and Friends Christmas Tour at San Jose Civic
- Jazz up Your Holidays: Enjoy an evening of smooth jazz with Dave Koz and friends, a perfect blend of music and holiday cheer.
- Date & Location: December 21, 2023, at San Jose Civic, 135 West San Carlos Street, San Jose, CA 95113
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As the curtains fall on our exploration of the Christmas events and lights in San Jose, California for 2023, we are reminded why this season is often hailed as the most wonderful time of the year.
The Bay Area, with its vibrant holiday spirit, offers a plethora of Christmas events that bring together communities and kindle joy in every heart.
Whether it’s the twinkling lights, the cheerful carols, or the festive gatherings, each moment spent in San Jose during this season is a chance to welcome Christmas with open arms and a warm heart.
So, let’s embrace these celebrations, create new memories, and carry the essence of this magical season wherever we go. Happy Holidays! 🎄✨
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I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide to Best Christmas Events and Lights in San Jose, California. You may also enjoy these San Francisco Bay Area travel guides.
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