Christmas in the Park (San Jose)

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Coordinates: 37°19′56″N 121°53′23″W / 37.33222°N 121.88972°W / 37.33222; -121.88972

Exhibit of Christmas trees
A display with downtown buildings in background

Christmas in the Park is a Winter event that takes place each year in downtown San Jose, California, roughly from the last week of November to January 1. During this time, more than a hundred Christmas trees decorated by local schools and other groups are displayed in Plaza de César Chávez Park. There are also more than 70 Christmas-related musical and animated exhibits,[1] a 60-foot high Community Giving Tree, and many souvenir and treats shops.[2]

The event is attended by more than 450,000 visitors each year, and has been taking place in Plaza de César Chávez for more than 30 years. It is described as "San Jose's biggest production."[3] The event brings an estimated $13 million in visitor spending to the city.[4] It is free to the public, although donations to help offset its costs are suggested.[5]

Next to the park there are about half a dozen rides for children during this time, which in some years have included a Ferris wheel, a pirate ship, etc.


The Christmas in the Park event traces its origin to the Nativity display built by Don Lima in the 1950s in front of his Lima Family Mortuary in Willow Glen. The exhibit attracted attention and he began adding more displays, and as they grew, there were more and more visitors.

In the 1970s, after the exhibits grew quite big he donated them to the City of San José. For a while they were set up on the lawn of where San José's original City Hall used to be, at the intersection of First and Mission Streets.

The event was moved to Plaza de César Chávez in the early 1980s.[6]

The 2012 turnout was down more than 35%, in part due to heavy December rain.[7]



  1. ^ "Sprucing up for Celebration: Christmas in the Park volunteers put final touches on displays". San Jose Mercury News. November 30, 1997. Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  2. ^ What is Christmas in the Park? Christmas in the Park website
  3. ^ "S.J.'s Cherished Tradition: Christmas in the Park, a time to see through a child's eyes". San Jose Mercury News. December 24, 2006. Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  4. ^ "Christmas in the Park Struggles: Rain, Low Turnout", NBC Bay Area, December 28, 2012
  5. ^ Christmas in the Park FAQ
  6. ^ History of Christmas in the Park
  7. ^ "Thousands of Santas, Grinches and elves run to save San Jose's Christmas in the Park", San Jose Mercury News, December 26, 2012