Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Jack Fog steaming up the windows. Tamale-making parties steaming up kitchens.
We’ve got many holiday traditions here in the Valley, not the least of which are the light displays that brighten neighborhoods. Here are some of the bigger ones:
Big Fresno Fair’s Holiday Fantasy of Lights
The Big Fresno Fair’s Holiday Fantasy of Lights will kick off on Dec. 3 and run through Dec. 23, with more than 450 light displays accompanied by special music to ooh and ahh over.
This year it’s not just a drive-through event: On Dec. 4 and Dec. 15, participants can walk past the displays and will be treated to special appearances by Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. The hours of operation for Holiday Fantasy of Lights are 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The early bird will get the biggest discount: Tickets purchased before Dec. 1 will be $18 per vehicle and are good for any single day. After that, ticket prices are $20 for Monday through Thursday and $25 for Friday through Sunday.
Tickets may be purchased in advance online at www.fresnofair.com/FantasyofLights, at the fair’s box office from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, or at the gate (cash only). The fairground is at 1121 S. Chance Ave. in southeast Fresno; participants should enter from Kings Canyon Avenue.
There will be an area to drive up and purchase treats from local food trucks before driving through the lights display. Featured food trucks and vendors will be listed on the fair’s website.
Christmas Tree Lane
The grandpappy of holiday lights shows in Fresno continues to be Christmas Tree Lane on Van Ness Boulevard between Shields and Shaw avenues.
The tradition has continued since 1920, and visitors can expect to see millions of lights and fanciful displays on houses and in yards along a two-mile stretch of Van Ness, which becomes a one-way street during the monthlong event.
For the second year in row, there will be no walk-only nights. Christmas Tree Lane typically attracts 25,000 people each night and is classified as an “outdoor mega-event” by the California Department of Public Health. Such events require participants to show proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 tests, so the event organizers decided not to have walk nights this year.
Christmas Tree Lane will open on Dec. 1 and through Christmas night. Hours: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
There is no charge to enter, but donations are gratefully accepted by the Fig Garden Home Owners Association, which hosts the annual event.
Candy Cane Lane
Cindy Lane near the intersection of Peach and Alluvial Avenues in Clovis will turn into Candy Cane Lane starting Dec. 1.
There’s no official organization and it’s up to the neighbors themselves to decide how much to decorate their homes, many tucked into culdesacs that increase viewing options for drive-through visitors.
Frank, who declined to give his last name, was working Wednesday morning in the front yard of his home on West Athens Avenue with family members, dusting off the decorations that have been stashed in the attic since last Christmas.
When he and his family moved in in 2003, they were unaware of the community tradition until neighbors came over with a videotape, he said. Over the years they’ve accumulated a manger scene, Snoopy, angels, and deer to light up the yard.
Frank estimates the lighting costs him an extra $200, but he says it’s money well spent because of the enjoyment it gives visitors.
The unofficial/official start of Candy Cane Lane is Dec. 1. It will continue through Christmas night, with lights typically going on around 5:30 p.m. each evening and staying bright through 10 or 11 p.m. — or whenever homeowners decide to turn the lights off, Frank said.