San Jose

Christmas in the Park 2.0: The Drive Thru Experience

NBC Universal, Inc.

Each year more than half a million people visit Christmas in the Park in Downtown San Jose, and while COVID concerns are limiting the crowds this year, the holiday event will still take place with one very big change. 

This holiday season, a train will be on the move from Plaza de Cesar Chavez, where it's been the last 40 holidays, to History Park for Christmas in the Park 2.0, reimagined as a drive thru experience.

“We knew we could create something magical during one of the roughest times we’ve ever experienced,” said Jason Minsky, executive director of Christmas in the Park.

That holiday magic is powered by 160,000 more lights in 18 million colors.

“Some things we added a 320-foot pixel tunnel and pixel forest,” said exhibit engineer J.R. Mattos.

And it's interactive. During the mile and a half drive you can tune in to music on your car radio and hear characters talk as you drive by.

You'll also enjoy mega trees, snowflake arches and light towers in the $1 million display.

It's the biggest expansion since Christmas in the Park first opened 41 years ago, but with a pandemic casting a shadow, this year there will be fewer visitors.

“Last year we had a little over 650,000 visitors. This year we expect about 200,000 to come through,” sais Minsky.

It’s smaller and reimagined, but during this year filled with challenges, Christmas in the Park still aims to brighten the holidays.

To visit you have to sign up in advance online at The cost is $10 or $20 a car depending on when you visit.

The event opens to the public next week on Nov. 27.

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