Christmas Lights in garden

Where to see the best Christmas lights in Pretoria and Johannesburg, 2023

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When I think of Christmas, I imagine the twinkling lights on reindeer, and stars, and candy canes, and bells, and gingerbread men, and Santas, and, of course giant Christmas trees covered in tinsel and other elaborate decorations.

As a child, I loved Christmas and everything that goes along with it (PS, nothing has changed since). I remember going with my mom and brother to the shopping centres to admire the festive Christmas lights. I still recall the atmosphere it created and how any sombre mood transformed almost instantaneously. I remember how excited we were when there was a ‘Father Christmas’ with a letterbox where we could ‘post’ our letters of wishes for Christmas gifts.

Later, when I had my boys (about 27 years ago), we would visit a shopping centre with the best decorations and ‘Father Christmas’ to take a photo with him and the boys. This tradition lasted until the boys refused to be photographed with some stranger. Nevertheless, I now secretly look forward to the day when I can continue this tradition with my grandchildren.

I still enjoy wandering through streets and shopping centres with ornate displays of Christmas lights, trees, garlands and wreaths, transporting me back to those warm childhood memories. If you are like me and want to know where the best Christmas displays are, then keep on reading. I share information about where to find Christmas markets, attend seasonal parades and listen to festive Christmas music.

Large chandelier of gold Christmas decorations and lights
Large gold Christmas Chandelier
Close-up of beautiful Christmas decorations on a Christmas tree in white, black and burgundy. Includes dried citrus slices.
Dried slices of Citrus as Christmas decorations

Here is my list of the best places to appreciate Christmas lights and its cheerful decorations in and around Johannesburg

Melrose Arch Christmas Lights Big colourful chrismas bulb
Christmas Lights display at Melrose Arch 2023

Melrose Arch Christmas Lights

Melrose Arch decorated with Christmas lights with large teddy bear, Santa in sleigh, and arches.
The Melrose Arch light festival Photo: Courtesy of Melrose Arch

This upmarket shopping center transforms into a wonderland with the most impressive lights and activities each year. The lights are set up in a walkable alley. Here, you can wander through thousands of lights that illuminate the precinct. The festive tunnel of lights provides excellent photo opportunities, which include a life-size reindeer, a giant teddy bear, Christmas trees, elves and other extraordinary light sculptures. New decorations are added each year to make the precinct the most admirable place to witness Christmas lights. Various stalls (operating from 18:30 to 22:00) sell a selection of sweet delights.

Visit their website to stay updated with the festive season activities, such as performances by the Jeppe Pipe Band (15th of December), children’s entertainment, a magical Christmas market on the Piazza (opening on the 29th of November to the 2nd of December) and The Melrose Arch Festive Market held in the retail Galleria (15th to the 16th of December). Don’t miss the parade by Santa, his elves, and his friend, the snowman from the North Pole (this always makes Petra laugh a lot) from the 15th to the 17th of December and the 22nd to the 25th of December between 18:30 and 20:00.

We annually visit this awesome display of Christmas Lights since 2017. This year (2023) they increased the size of the display. We can highly recommend visiting this spectacular sight. The only thing to keep in mind is that it gets quite busy over the weekend. If at all possible rather try to visit it during the week.

Where is the Melrose Arch Christmas lights festival?

Melrose Arch Precinct, Corlett Drive, Melrose North, Johannesburg

When does the Melrose Arch Christmas lights festival start?

24th of November to 31st of December 23023

What is the admission fee for the Melrose Arch lights festival?

Access is free

What is opening hours for the Melrose Arch lights festival?

Monday to Sunday, 18:00 to 22:00

Is there parking near the Melrose Arch lights festival?

There is a large under-ground parking garage nearby.

Summary of activities at Melrose Arch Christmas Lights Festival

Large Father Christmas on display with lights at Melrose Arch
Melrose Arch light festival with Travel Buddies Bernie and Petra in 2017
Melrose Arch Christmas Lights Massive Father Christmas made of lights
Large Father Christmas at Melrose Arch Shopping Centre 2023

Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens

You can enjoy the astonishing world of Christmas Town this festive season at the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden. The gardens are set in a serene natural area. Green rolling lawns invite you to picnic beneath giant trees while birdwatching and admiring the indigenous plants and wildlife. The garden is the perfect location to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas Town offers several events, including candy cane hunting, gingerbread decoration, meeting the Santa characters, a craft market, and festive foods.

Summary of activities at Christmas Town at the Jo'burg Botanical Gardens Lights

Where is the Walter Sisulu (Johannesburg) Botanical Gardens?

The botanical gardens are near Ruimsig, Johannesburg.

Extended opening hours of the Jo'burg Botanical Gardens

Monday to Sunday, 8:00 to 22:00

When do the Christmas lights festivities start?

15th of December to 24th of December 2023

Is there an admission fee to view the Christmas lights at the Botanical Gardens?

Yes, prices range from R110 to R600. Booking essentials, buy from Webtickets

Is there parking near the Botanical Gardens entrance?

There is free and secure parking near the entrance.

Johannesburg Zoo’s Festival of Lights

The Festival of Christmas Lights at the Johannesburg Zoo is always a spectacular treat for everyone. Visitors can enjoy the life-size animal characters illuminated with magnificent lights as they walk on a designated lit route. 

The path is away from the animals under large trees decorated in enchanting lights. Exciting entertainment, such as live performances, a night craft market, stalls with delicious nibbles, and several other children’s entertainment options, are available.

Summary of Christmas lights activities at JHB Zoo

Where is the Johannesburg Zoo?

Corner Jan Smuts Avenue and Upper Park Drive (M16), Parkview Johannesburg

Opening hours of the Johannesburg Zoo over December

Thursday to Sunday, 19:00 to 22:00

When does it the Festival of Lights start at Johannesburg Zoo?

1st of December to 7th of January 2024

Is there an admission fee for the Johannesburg Zoo’s Festival of Lights?

Yes, R175 per adult, R75 per child (ages 3 to 12), and under three years enter free. R100 per person for pensioners. Booking essentials, buy from Webtickets

Where to park at the Johannesburg Zoo?

Free, secure parking is available next to both entrances.

Private Houses decorated with Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights House Weltevreden Park

44 Biesies Avenue is a private house decorated with beautiful Christmas Lights. The Christmas lights will be visible from the 1st of December until the New Year. Visitors enter the house from a side gate of the house. There is no entrance fee, but visitors are encouraged to make a small donation in aid of CANSA. 

Before you go, consult the ESKOM se push application to see when the area has load shedding. The lights are also weather-dependent. For more updates about events (live music on certain dates) at 44 Biesies Street, visit their Facebook, “Christmas Lights House Weltevreden Park.

Christmas Lights Johannesburg
The entrance to the house filled with Christmas Lights in Weltevreden Park Johannesburg

Christmas lights at Moray Drive, Bryanston

The meticulously decorated (20 +) houses in Moray Drive in the Bryanston suburb are the work of ‘Mrs Clause’ (Danielle Golf). Santa’s helper took it upon herself to bring festive cheer to her neighbourhood for the last two decades with their magnificent display of Christmas Lights. 

From a wonderland sleight to twinkling trees and a Christmas throne. There is even a letter box for children’s wishes to Santa. This festive street will surely delight big and small and bring a smile to everyone when they experience the magic of ‘Santa’s Kingdom’’.

I visited this street on Sunday the 3rd of December 2023. It is worth taking a drive to Moray Avenue to show your children. The benefit of the street’s decorations and Christmas lights is that you don’t have to get out of the car. There are a massive amount of decorations on the sidewalk and not so many Christmas lights. 

Mrs Clause did an amazing job to bring the spirit of Christmas to her neighbourhood. What stood out for me was the detail she put into decorating the street. This is not a project that you complete in a week. It took at least a month or more to decorate the houses like this. Due to the many years that this has been going on, the neighbourhood has collected a vast selection of Christmas lights and decorations.   

You can read more about this fascinating Christmas Lights project of Mrs Clause on the Good Things Guy’s’ website.

Santa Claus Letter Box at Moray avenue Bryanston
Santa Claus Letter Box at Moray avenue Bryanston
Decorated House by Mrs Claus at Moray avenue Bryanston
Decorated House by Mrs Claus at Moray avenue Bryanston
Decorated House by Mrs Claus, Moray Avenue Bryanston
Tinsel Town by Mrs Claus, Moray Avenue Bryanston
Street house decorated with Christmas Lights
Moray Avenue, Bryanston decorated with Christmas Lights

Two Johannesburg casinos also bring visitors festive cheer: Emperors Palace and Montecasino in Fourways.

Montecasino's Christmas Village at Fourways

It is argued that Montecasino offers Johannesburg’s largest (debatable) Christmas Lights display. 

I visited this venue on the 9th of December and was quite disappointed with the display. Because the casino, shops and restaurants have too many lights, the building is not dark enough to make an impression. I would skip this venue, but if you’re in the area, it may be worth visiting to evaluate for yourself.

The Italian Christmas village dazzles visitors with its display of Christmas lights, the Christmas market in the Ballroom of the Piazza, and spectacular Christmas shows in the Pieter Toerien Theatre and Teatro.  

The Christmas village has been going for the last five years and is still growing in size and offerings. Over 40 exhibitors are selling anything festive or Christmas-related. Montecasino’s Christmas market is worth visiting for special Christmas items such as homemade Christmas cakes and decorated biscuits. There are also little elf dresses for your little princess and reindeer hats for babes. 

A few years ago, I bought the most beautiful homemade fabric Christmas garlands (seen in this article’s main picture). Besides their stall selling the perfect Christmas gifts and decorations, there are also stalls selling ice-cold craft beer, trendy gin and special bubbly.

The festive holiday market is in the Ballroom and will be open from the 1st of December until the 7th of January 2024. Children can watch 3D Christmas movies on the open-air Piazza’s big screen.

The Nutcracker ballet production will be in full swing from the 1st of December until the 10th of December in the Teatro at Monte Casino.

From the 15th to the 24th of December, Monte Casino’s Teatro will present ‘Swinglebells’ with Johnathan Roxmouth and Johannesburg Big Band’s 17 musical instruments conducted by Adam Howard.

If you want to get into the festive mood, attend the ‘Christmas Carol’ performance at the Pieter Toerien Theatre only until the 10th of December. So hurry and get your tickets!

You can read more about the Christmas Village on their website.

Christmas Lights in Monte Casino
Christmas Lights in Monte Casino
Christmas lights against the ceiling at Monte Casino
Christmas lights against the ceiling at Monte Casino
Christmas Lights at Monte Casino near the Thava Restaurant
Christmas Lights at Monte Casino near the Thava Indian Restaurant
Christmas Lights in the walk ways at Montecasino
Christmas Lights in the walk ways at Montecasino

The Christmas Village at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park

This multi-functional village winter wonderland promises to be bigger and better than its debut in 2022, with 10,000 visitors. The Christmas Village is on Level 5 of Emperor Palace’s covered parking garage. According to the Emperor Palace’s website, they have made a 180-degree turn on their Christmas Lights Village’s layout. They created three distinct sections of the winter wonderland before reaching the stalls where several vendors offer unique festive season items. 

Upon exiting the Tunnel of Light, visitors can wander through the Enchanted Light Forest, decorated with hundreds of lights; this section also showcases the beautiful Snow Queen, Nutcracker Castle, Model Village and spectacular Butterfly Garden. There is also a Storybook Fantasyland and Christmas Village with several stalls. You can purchase your tickets from Ticket Pro. The Christmas village will be open from the 1st to the 31st of December, 16H00 to 22H00. Visit their website for more info. Tickets are R60 per person, Children 3 to 12 years pay R30. There is even a pensioner’s fee R50.

You can read more about the Christmas Village on their website.

I am visiting this venue tonight (9/12/2023), so will update you tomorrow!

Here is my list of the best places to appreciate Christmas lights and the seasonal brilliance in and around Pretoria

The Jacaranda Liggie Fees (Lights Festival)

“Liggie Fees 2023” (meaning “Light Festival” in Afrikaans) in aid of Jakaranda Children’s Home is always an annual highlight not to be missed by any Christmas enthusiast. Visitors are treated to a magical display of thousands of Christmas lights.

There is a Christmas market and over 30 delicious food exhibitions. Children can enjoy the special carnival area, pose for photos with Santa, or ride the giant carousel. Visitors can view the lights in the comfort of the Train of Thought. Support this worthy cause by purchasing a ticket to attend the fairy-tale festivities.

Summary of activities at the Liggie Fees

Where is the Liggie Fees?

1 Talitha Kumi Street, Derdepoort 326-Jr, Pretoria

When does the Liggie Fees start?

1st of December to 30th of December 2023 (not open of the 24th, 25th of December)

Opening hours of the Liggie Fees

Monday to Sunday, 18:00 to 22:00

Is there an admission fee for the Liggie Fees?

Yes, R50 per adult, R30 per child (under 18), and under three years enter free. Booking essentials, buy your tickets on their website NOW to avoid disappointment. Tickets are usable any day during the festival.

Liggies Fees, Kruis Street, Potchefstroom

This Christmas Light Festival, in aid of the Abraham Kriel Children’s home, is held in Kruis Street Potchefstroom. This festival is breathtakingly beautiful and worth a visiting.

The Lights festivities start on the 1st of December and end on the 31st of December. The entry fee is only R40 and it goes for a very good cause.

Kersliggies Oppi-Plaas Fees

Kersliggies Oppi-Plaas (Christmas Lights on the Farm) supports the HELP-net Fund. Kersliggies Oppi-Plaas is one of the biggest festivals. Last year, the festival attracted 10,000 visitors, so it is an event not to be missed. Legends Adventure Farm, where the festival is being held, is just outside Pretoria on the R515 Road. 

Visitors can look forward to thousands of spectacular lights, artists, and costume characters that create a fairy-tale atmosphere. One of the biggest attractions of this festival is the performance of several local musicians on different evenings. Kids can pose for photos with Father Christmas and post their letters to the North Pole.

Summary of activities at Kersliggies Oppi-Plaas

Opening hours of Kersliggies Oppi-Plaas?:

Monday to Sunday, 18:00 to 22:00

Where is Kersliggies Oppi-Plaas?

R515 Donkerhoek, Legends Adventure Farm (also known as Rhino Park), Pretoria East

When does the Kersliggies Oppi-Plaas start?

15th of December to 24th of December 2023

Is there an admission fee for the Kersliggies Oppi-Plaas?

Yes, prices vary depending on seating preferences. Booking essentials, buy your tickets NOW on their website to avoid disappointment.

Click on their Facebook link for more information.

Lawley Street Christmas Lights

Lawley Street is well—known in the Pretoria community for its joyous Christmas decorations. This street has recently become a gated community. However, the main gate is still open for visitors to admire the magnificent Christmas lights in the neighbourhood. 

You can either drive down the street or find parking on the side of the road and stroll along in admiration. There are some vendors on the side of the road and bands playing Christmassy music.

Wrapping up the Christmas glow

Christmas is such a remarkable time of the year. It is the season to spend precious, memorable time with your friends and family. May this season allow you to create unforgettable memories! Please tag us on Instagram if you visit any of the above locations.

Please leave a comments if you know of a special venue not covered in this Christmas Lights Article.

Christmas tree decorated in deep red Christmas globes and bows
Red Christmas globes and bows

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About Author

As a freelance travel journalist and seasoned business professional, Bernie van der Linde has made it her mission to explore the world's most unique and luxurious destinations. With a PhD in business studies from the University of South Africa, Bernie has channeled her passion for travel, web design, and writing into founding the travel blog Travel Buddies Lifestyle. Here, she shares her adventures alongside her best friend and travel business partner, Petra, who seamlessly translate and compile articles relevant to their German and European audience.

Bernie's love for exploring new places has taken her to some of the world's most exotic locations. Whether gazing out at the glittering skyline of Dubai or enjoying the tranquillity of a private beach in Mauritius, Bernie is always looking for unique experiences that will inspire and entice her readers to travel.

Through her thoughtful writing and unparalleled passion for travel, Bernie van der Linde has made a name for herself in the world of travel writing. Her knack for uncovering hidden gems and sharing her experiences with her readers has made her a trusted source of inspiration for those looking to explore the world in style.

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