For many, climbing into the family car and touring holiday lights – be they elaborate and intricate or simple and dignified – is a tradition that doesn't grow outdated.
This year, as you join the pilgrimage, you can compare how Sacramento stacks up with findings of a survey by Batteries Plus of its e-newsletter subscribers.
The survey found that 34 percent of households don't decorate outside. Of those that do, 83 percent hang fewer than 500 lights (indoors and out); colored lights are more popular than white, blinking, bubble or stringed lights; and 60 percent use a regular switch rather than a timer to control how long lights are illuminated.
If you're wondering where to start with your own research, Bee readers have suggested addresses not to miss. The numbers before each address correspond to a map on Page 28. You can also find an interactive map at sacbee.com/holidays.
– Janet Vitt
1. 4025 Diane Drive: This gingerbread house vision is ablaze with more than 160,000 lights. It has been featured on TLC's "Invasion of the Christmas Lights." Donation barrels are on site for the ninth annual toy and food drive. Santa photos on weekends. See more at www.christmastyme.com.
2. 8432 Rimstone Place: Santa salutes the season as he waves before takeoff from his airplane packed with toys; Rudolph and the reindeer enjoy a drink from the magical candy cane stream; more than 1,000 colored LED lights synchronize to 20 Christmas songs. On weekends, Santa collects canned goods for the needy.
3. 8213 Rockbury Way: Santa's Zoo, the Three Bears, and a peacock leading Santa's sleigh are among the attractions. In addition, there are 40 snowpeople and 20,000 lights.
4. Holly Hills: Themed "Christmas Time on Holly Hills," the winter wonderland is in its 12th year, with twinkling lights, LED light displays and ornaments. Today: Canned food drive, complimentary hot chocolate and cookies and Cameron Park Fire Department Santa parade. On Saturday, neighbors meet at 6 p.m. to walk the street to view the lights; outside lighting party with a fire pit, food and refreshments.
5. 4260 Spring Meadow Road: Corner lot of 75,000 lights in a "Central Park" theme, two merry-go-rounds, ferris wheel and swing; a group of ice skaters; and illuminated carolers playing music nightly; elves; Santa's sleigh and reindeer suspended over Christmas trees. Entry code is displayed on the LED panel at the gate.
6. 7520 Fair Oaks Blvd.: Nearly a quarter-million lights on the Kovar's Karate building in Carmichael are synchronized to music broadcast on 107.5 FM. Bring nonperishable food to donate. For more information, videos of past years, special event nights and show hours, visit www.LightUpXmas.com.
7. 5611 Whitney Ave.: Illuminated in 40,000 lights. 5-8:30 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; 5-10 p.m. Fridays-Sundays.
8. 6617 Golden Rain Court: This corner house has clear icicle lights and multicolored lights, clear lights outlining the roof, rooftop illuminated angel, Star of Bethlehem and Santa and reindeer; a projected Christmas scene on the garage door and doors wrapped in red ribbons and bows; candy-cane stakes; illuminated "Merry Christmas" sign; Nativity scene; illuminated spiral trees, reindeer, snowmen, candy canes, wreaths, snowflakes and window candles.
9. Orelle Creek Court: There are 21 homes on the court, each lit with thousands of lights. At the entrance off Old Auburn Road, visitors will be greeted by a 60-foot-tall redwood crowned with a lighted star and decorated with lights and ornaments. Santa also visits.
El Dorado Hills
10. 4012 Alamo Court: Most of the court is covered in lights that are synchronized to the same Christmas music. To see last year's show: www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zrvYsA57JU.
11. 9720 Great Egret Court: Spilling over to the neighbor's yards, this display combines decorated vehicle displays, including planes, trains, helicopters and a ship, with Peanuts, Hello Kitty and Disney characters, among others.
12. 3316 Lake Terrace Drive: Thirty-four computer circuit boards connect to a computer that controls more than 100,000 lights that spin, fly and dance to synchronized music. The display includes 24,000 lights covering a 50-foot redwood tree. Accepting food donations for the Elk Grove Food Bank.
13. 3446 Point Pleasant Road: Showcases a walk-through area. The front and backyards are decorated.
14. 7780 Kanihan Court: Window displays; a village and dollhouses. The yard scene includes multiple blow-ups and various yard display scenes. Lighted archways, a fairy playhouse and thousands of lights. There are carolers, a horse and buggy, Santa waving, candy canes, and more. Look for the dragon and lighted castle.
15. 1380 Copping Court: Embellished with LED lights on the house, trees and Snoopy on his doghouse. There are 14 miniature Christmas trees lining the driveway; inflatable Santa pulling his sleigh; inflatable penguins on a teeter- totter; inflatable deer; animals decorating the Christmas tree; snowmen; a gingerbread house; giant candy canes and candles; Santa on a train and more than 6,000 lights choreographed to music. Catch the show from 5 to 9:30 nightly through New Year's Day.
16. 108 Pradera Court: Dash out to see this 13,000-light display, which highlights path lights, a Santa, LED stick trees, an LED snowman, an LED bear, a train, swans, a merry-go-round, six deer, wreaths and a lamppost.
17. 403 Stafford St.: Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary hosts the third annual Wild Nights and Holiday Lights event, featuring thousands of colorful LED lights decorating holiday vignettes, exhibits, buildings and grounds at the zoo. An enchanted forest of more than 100 decorated and lighted trees surrounds the area where Santa visits with guests each night; and the zoo's holiday mascot, Santa Paws, roams the grounds to welcome visitors and pose for photos. Carolers, seasonal treats, and docent presentations add to the holiday cheer. 5-8 p.m. today through Dec. 23. Admission is $5 general; free for ages 2 and younger. More info (916) 355-7285, or www.folsomzoofriends.org.
18. 2973 Mendel Way: The large display is highlighted with a high-powered computer light show playing on the hour. Listen to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Gary Hoey, among others, from the comfort of your vehicle as they transmit on FM radio 99.5. Showtimes are 5-10 p.m. daily through New Year's Eve. More info at www.rickslights.com.
19. 1950 Fowler Road: Walk-through arches with more than 250,000 lights lead into "Tiny Town," with more than 80 miniature houses, 13 inflatable displays, Santa's flying reindeer, and a 25-foot Christmas tree decorated in flashing and dancing lights synchronized to more than 30 Christmas songs. Complimentary hot apple cider and popcorn. 6-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays through December.
20. Dovewood Court: A treasured blockbuster production this time of year. Neighbors suggest parking the car and walking the block to immerse yourself in all the glory.
21. 10625 Lambrusca Drive: Dubbed "The Street of Christmas Dreams," a twinkling tradition among the neighbors on the end of Lambrusca Drive toward Aramon Drive, decorations include icicles along rooflines, lighted figurines, blow-ups, handcrafted wooden holiday characters such as a train on a fence, a large LED sleigh, giant blinking snowman, wire frame LED deer, and a spiral tree lit in 5,600 lights controlled by a computer.
22. 6900 Destiny Drive: Destiny Christian Church will host a light show synchronized to music every 30 minutes starting at 6 p.m. Thursday through Dec.23. More information: www.destinyrocklin.com/ christmas.
23. 5620 Onyx Drive: More than 28,000 lights synchronized to 14 songs broadcast on 104.7 FM. The show is 5-10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 5-11 p.m. Fridays-Sundays. To view last year's display online: www.youtube.com/ watch?v=Iac3w05qj4Y
24. Strand Road and Pebble Creek: "A Christmas Street" blitz with more than 100 homes decorated with lights and characters within a four-block area. Neighbors suggest parking at the park-and-ride lot at Sunset and Pebble Creek.
25. 4008 Vosburg St.: Visitors will see a gingerbread house setting, complete with gumdrops and other candy. Plus, Santa, Rudolph, and a Nativity scene.
26. 607 Falcon Way: Decked out in 28,000 lights; candy cane sidewalk; Santa on a John Deere pulling two wagons with a cow and reindeer inside; Santa on a ladder hanging lights in tree while a dog pulls on his pants; three giant ornaments; horse and carriage; snowman; penguins; Nativity scene; stacked gifts.
27. 533 Twinwood Loop: Self-proclaimed "Candy Cane Lane," with many homes on the street decorated and computerized to music. Lighted arches and more than 50 Christmas songs. Extends to Red Oak Court. Canned food drive benefits Placer County Food Bank.
28. 7436 Circle Parkway: A gingerbread house on a snowy winter night.
29. 7712 Countryfield Drive: Follow the bright star to Countryfield Drive. Lighting up the neighborhood is a bright star above the garage. Two shooting stars; a Nativity scene; icicles; several wreaths; illuminated trees.
30. 7706 El Douro Drive: Shining brightly in the window is a 21-foot tree decked out in holiday cheer.
31. 3961 Fair Oaks Blvd.: Six 40-foot themed Christmas trees, snowy meadow with deer and dancing lights choreographed to music; Santa's sleigh and reindeer; Thomas the Tank Engine; a gingerbread house; life-size Nativity scene; angels; nutcracker soldiers; Santa's special helper. Accepting new and unwrapped toys through December for the children at Sutter Memorial and UC Davis hospitals.
32. 4821 F Parkway: Inspired by Tim Burton's 1993 film "The Nightmare Before Christmas;" handmade decorations of Jack Skellington and his ghost dog, Zero, in a graveyard that is covered in ghostly white snow and bright colored lights. Skeleton reindeer on the rooftop; Oogie Boogie Man and his henchmen give the gifts of fright.
33. 724 53rd St.: Embellished with lights wrapped around the trees and bushes; roof covered in lights; large star above the roof; Santa and his reindeer launching off between two shooting stars; wreaths and candles in the windows; Santa; snowman.
34. 53rd and S streets (off T Street): A yearly holiday high note with many homes in the neighborhood participating in the traditional razzle-dazzle festivities.
35. Front and K streets, Old Sacramento: Theatre of Lights, two 20-minute light shows and live staging of "The Night Before Christmas" at 6:30 and 7:45 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays, through Dec. 23, with 6:15 p.m. shows Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. The Christmas Eve show will only be at 6:15 p.m. New Year's Eve will feature the fireworks spectacular with shows at 7 and 8:30 p.m. (916) 442-8575.
36. 452 Little River Way: An "Angry Birds"-"Star Wars" theme to include lights, wooden sculptures and "Angry Birds" games and theme songs. Light show programmed to 20 songs broadcast on 97.5 FM; hourly snowfall; 20-foot tree; an eight-foot pink breast-cancer ribbon with more than 30,000 lights; several multicolor mini trees; more than a dozen inflatables; garage door Santa's workshop scene.
37. 2604 Morley Way: Themed "Sounds of Christmas," featuring 25,000 lights synchronized to FM broadcast 7-10 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 7-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays. Monetary donations, gift cards and board games accepted for Angels for Hearts.
38. 5712 Nonnie Ave.: Watch more than 15,000 lights dart from the rooftop to the sidewalk all synchronized to Christmas songs. Shows are 6-10 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 6-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays.
39. 4813 Ortega St.: A slice of whimsy went into these large sculptures, which include a 10-foot Santa spider made of leaves; a sparkling snowman made from bicycle wheels; a leaf-man Santa delivering presents via pogo stick, and an 11-foot star.
40. 2417 Wulff Lane: Tune in to 99.1 FM for a synchronized 20-minute Christmas light show of 15,000 lights; 11-foot tree, leaping arches and 3.5-foot Bethlehem star.
Outside the print map
Lodi: ZooLights at Micke Grove Zoo, 11793 N. Micke Grove Road, 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, weather permitting. Featuring twinkling lights, games, crafts, refreshments, and photos with Santa. Bring canned food to benefit the Emergency Food Bank or a new or gently used teddy bear for Friends Outside. $5-$10. (209) 331-2010. http://mgzoo.com/zoo/micke-grove/assets/pdf/zoolights_flyer.pdf
Minden, Nev.: The Carson Valley Inn presents its third annual Candy Cane Lane on Highway 395, custom outdoor drive-through with thousands of seasonal lights and a variety of scenes depicting traditional characters and images. FM radio frequency posted at the entrance for music. The lighted arches mark the way.
Placerville: 1434 Country Club Drive. The seasonal display includes a Santa Toy Shop scene with various elves; animated, live-size talking Santa in large sleigh with lighted presents; three animated reindeer and elf on roof; 5-foot illuminated wreath; two life-size lighted angels; large synchronized multicolored lights outlining rooftop; large synchronized multicolored lollipops and candy canes outlining driveway; life-size snowman; multicolored Christmas tree with lighted presents and animated deer in yard; large animated inflatable skiing Santa; snowman and penguins on toboggans sledding down "Toboggan Hill."
San Francisco: San Francisco Zoo, Sloat Boulevard at the Great Highway: Zoo Lights, a holiday-themed light show; 30-foot Christmas tree, sparkling path lined with twinkling animal topiaries and glistening garland trees. Sing along to seasonal entertainment; Candy Land; station for kids to create holiday crafts. 4-8 p.m. Dec. 22-23, 26-30. Admission: $5 general after 4 p.m.; free for children ages 2 and younger. (415) 753-7080.