Where to See Christmas Lights in Palm Springs
Santa would be proud of this oasis of lights in the desert
As the festive seasons pulls into view in the final month of the year, Palm Springs comes alive with the unmistakable mirth and cheer that could only be delivered by the spectacle of Christmas lights. It’s the sole time of year when looking around you can be as electrifying and exciting as looking up at the sky in the arid desert plains surrounding the city. In December, the stars appear to be reflected in the festive décor. Here at Plum Guide, we've seen our fair share of Christmas lights, what with us being certified travel experts, so when we say that Palm Springs is one of the top places to visit at this time of year, you really can trust us. Whether you’re ambling down a residential street to check out how competitive locals are with one another, or forcing your family to attend a festive event, the Christmas lights in Palm Springs won't disappoint. And don’t worry, some of the brightest and most festive parts of the city are the malls and shopping areas, so you can still get some last-minute Christmas shopping done in this charming city.
The Robolights garden
This is one of the more... unusual displays of Christmas lights in Palm Springs. As its name suggests, you and your family are in for something of a bionic treat. You’ll enter a garden like no other, replete with sci-fi gimmicks and dystopian-themed installations that’ll blow the minds of your little ones (and you, secretly). Countless Christmas lights bedeck the robots, which are made from a hodgepodge of homemade materials, from old mobile phones and vacuum cleaners to car parts and toys. It’s basically the most retro and old-world take on the future you can imagine. It’ll make for a great hour or two, as you delve into the weird and wacky world of the past’s future, and wonder what on earth it all has to do with Christmas. Hey, just be glad you don’t live across the street from it - a couple of hours is the perfect amount of time to stay here.
OK, after the weird world of robots and vacuum cleaners, we’re going a little more mainstream with the main light festival of the festive season in early December. Stroll down the principal street of the shopping area in the adjacent Palm Desert and see the region's famous palm trees wrapped in layers of lights. They’re switched on (the lights, not the trees) as dusk falls to mark the festive period, while large inflatables get blown up. Before the last light of day scurries beyond the horizon, admire the silhouettes of the mountains against the crimson sky. While in these parts, your kids will never forgive you if you fail to drop in at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Back in the shopping area, get those last-minute Christmas presents you neglected to buy early at the Palms to Pines Shopping Center and its (un)originally-named Palms to Pines West Shopping Center.
The various neighbourhoods
You may even be lodging in one of these light-tastic (not a word) neighbourhoods. We don’t know why it happens and we don’t know when it starts, but some of the best Christmas lights in Palm Springs can be found in residential streets and districts. Each year, locals appear to compete for who can set up the most flamboyant and ostentatious set of decorations, bringing hordes of rubber-necker fans of the spectacle to the street as that day of mirth approaches. Grab a thermo full of hot chocolate or a few (dozen) cups of mulled wine (if you want to be a bit of an inappropriate and weird mum or dad).
The Rancho Mirage at the Ritz Carlton
We’re sure you’re more than used to the level of exclusivity and luxury at the Ritz Carlton, but they take it to a whole new level in December, with the hotel’s holiday display. The pastry team put together intricate window displays that are reminiscent of the ones from New York, so you can feel like you’re in Home Alone, while you’re not home or, presumably, alone, on your Plum Guide holiday. While in the hotel, dine in the exclusive restaurant or try one of the other famous eateries in Palm Springs, such as Miro’s Restaurant, Le Vallauris and Copley's on Palm Canyon.