Skip to Main Content

California's Great America

Skip to Next Section

Insider Tips for How to See All 7 Million Lights

Danny Messinger

As area manager of digital marketing, I get to tell the incredible stories of our park to the world—and take our biggest fans Between the Lines. I’ve been an incurable amusement park fanatic since I was a kid and have worked at two other parks (shout-out to Cedar Point and Valleyfair!). Now, I can’t wait to share my passion with our readers! Find me @DannyMessinger on Twitter.

This is my absolute favorite time of the year at California’s Great America. During WinterFest, the park is completely transformed into a winter wonderland. Everything that I love about the park during the normal season is amplified by special shows, delicious food and insanely beautiful decorations.

If you’re looking for things to do this holiday season in the South Bay, look no further—and just follow the lights! This WinterFest, Great America has over seven million lights on display throughout the park, making for one of the most impressive Christmas light displays in the Bay Area.

It’s completely possible to see all 7 million lights in just one night. Here are some insider tips for how to see the most lights possible in one night:

1. Start with the Tree Lighting Ceremony

Every night of WinterFest, we kick things off with a spectacular Tree Lighting Ceremony. Our tree is one of the tallest in the area: 65 feet! Even better, it’s completely covered in beautiful soft white lights that sparkle and dance to music during the show at 5:30 p.m. every evening. You’ll see tens of thousands of lights by catching this show.


2. Take a Ride on the North Pole

Right next to the Tree Lighting Ceremony is Star Tower, which is renamed North Pole just for WinterFest. This observation tower ride provides an overhead view of Great America from the highest vantage point within WinterFest. Standing 200 feet tall, this ride slowly glides up the tower and stops at the top for breathtaking views. From this magnificent vantage point, you can view all ten of WinterFest’s themed areas.


3. Stroll Through Arctic Alley

Once back on solid ground, take a wandering walk toward Arctic Alley. This themed area is one of the most magnificent areas in the park and is home to a really cool photo op! During the regular season in this part of the park, guests can stroll through a lush wisteria tunnel. And during WinterFest, when the wisteria drops its leaves and fragrant blooms, we add hundreds of animated icicle lights to the tunnel, making for one of the most jaw-dropping light displays at Great America.


4. Hop on the Aerial Gondola Ride

New for 2019: one of Great America’s most popular family rides is open for WinterFest! Delta Flyer and Eagle’s Flight, more commonly known as the sky ride or the gondola ride, takes riders from one end of the park to the other at a peaceful pace. This leisurely ride soars over Great America, offering an overhead view of millions of sparkling holiday lights.


5. Get Here Early—It’s Dark By 5 p.m.!

December is the month of short days and long nights, so plan to get to WinterFest early to take advantage of the dark skies and myriad lights! By the time the event opens every evening, it’s already dark enough to have fantastic conditions for light peeping.


WinterFest Discount Tickets

For the best deals on tickets, buy online through our website. Remember that if you want unlimited visits to Great America for all next year and for the remainder of 2019, a 2020 Gold Season Pass will pay for itself after only two visits!

Related Topics:

Share This

Danny Messinger

As area manager of digital marketing, I get to tell the incredible stories of our park to the world—and take our biggest fans Between the Lines. I’ve been an incurable amusement park fanatic since I was a kid and have worked at two other parks (shout-out to Cedar Point and Valleyfair!). Now, I can’t wait to share my passion with our readers! Find me @DannyMessinger on Twitter.

Post a Comment

Skip to Next Section

Create Your Dream Sugar Cookie in Mrs. Claus' Kitchen

What makes the holidays so special? Those Christmas traditions we all look forward to every year. One of those is, of course, baking sugar cookies and spending hours decorating them until they are just perfect!
Read More

Under $30 Gift Ideas for Great America Fans

Here are our top picks for some Christmas gifts you can find at California’s Great America during WinterFest—all for under $30!
Read More

The Biggest NYE Party You’ve Ever Seen

As 2018 draws to a close and the New Year readies to come roaring in, Great America is prepping to offer a brand-new, family-friendly way to ring in 2019. During New Year’s Eve at WinterFest, Bay Area families will find an all-ages party full of traditional NYE festivities, plus plenty of surprises.
Read More

The Holiday Transformation of St. Nick's Pics

The transformation of the park for WinterFest begins long before November. In the months leading up to WinterFest, what is known as the Season Pass Processing Center during the summer is completely renovated and turned into St. Nick’s Pics.
Read More

A New Ride Experience Just for WinterFest

What guests know as Barney Oldfield Speedway in the summer months has been transformed into a unique holiday experience just for WinterFest! For the next six weeks, riders will still be able to drive their antique car around the tried-and-true Barney Oldfield Speedway layout, but along the way, they’ll be surrounded by the classic carol Twelve Days of Christmas.
Read More

Chill Out in a VIP Igloo

The holidays are all about slowing down—taking a break to really enjoy the warm company of friends and family. This year, you'll be able to relax in a private, premium igloo when you come to WinterFest!
Read More

Which Rides Are Open During WinterFest?

WinterFest is coming to town—next Friday, in fact! New this year: we’re expanding the number of rides that will be open during this magical time! We’ll have five more rides open this winter, including our newest roller coaster.
Read More

NEW Indulgent WinterFest Desserts

We all can agree that the holiday season is an excuse to indulge in your favorite foods. Comforting dishes and sweet desserts are what make the holidays so great. At WinterFest this year, you can enjoy some of the Bay Area’s best holiday desserts!
Read More

Behind the Screams: New Experiences at Haunt

With one completely new haunted maze, one reimagined fan favorite maze and one entirely new scare zone, there are plenty of new surprises lurking around each and every corner of California’s Great America this fall. We recently walked through each of the three new experiences with our entertainment manager, Sean Lee, to find out a little more about these attractions.
Read More

Drilling Deep into our Newest Maze: Tooth Fairy

The new-for-2018 Tooth Fairy maze has been a huge hit at California’s Great America Halloween Haunt this season. Here’s a peek at some of the coolest shots we’ve gotten from the maze—just in case you’re not brave enough to keep your eyes open in real life!
Read More