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The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Tanaka Farms’ drive-thru Festival of Lights

Tanaka Farms in Irvine is putting on their first annual drive-thru Holiday event, Hikari – A Festival of Lights.

According to Tanaka Farms’ website, “Literally translated, Hikari means Shine in Japanese.”

Light up sign reading, "Tanaka Farms ... Hikari."
Light up sign reading, "Tanaka Farms ... Hikari." Photo credit: Myron Caringal

Tanaka Farms is a family-owned farm in Irvine, run by Glenn Tanaka and his son, Kenn Tanaka, who are 3rd and 4th generation Japanese Americans, and 3rd and 4th generation farmers, respectively.

“This holiday season we have really made Tanaka Farms shine with over a mile of twinkling lights! As you drive through our 30-acre farm, you will be dazzled by farm-themed lightning from trees to scarecrows, tractors…even our sugarcane got the holiday light treatment!”

The event started Friday, Nov. 27, and will run every day through Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021, except for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.

Reservations are required before coming to the farm.

Tanaka Farms lit their tall sugarcane crops red and white to represent candy cane.
Tanaka Farms lit their tall sugarcane crops red and white to represent candy cane. Photo credit: Myron Caringal

Upon arrival, there are three registration lanes where employees will check-in guests. Food is being sold in the same area, with snacks and drinks such as nachos, kettle corn, cookies, hot cocoa, strawberry lemonade, and Capri sun.

From there, the three lanes merge into a single lane that will remain the only lane throughout the event.

Through a downloadable app, Listen Everywhere, guests can tune into Tanaka Farms’ own radio channel and listen to Christmas tunes throughout the farm. Visitors have to connect to a custom WiFi network to listen. There were consistent connectivity issues with the WiFi and the radio channel; there is no internet access through the custom WiFi network.

Tanaka Farms has its own radio channel that is playable for this event.
Tanaka Farms has its own radio channel that is playable for this event. Photo credit: Myron Caringal

There are three designated sections throughout the drive, the strawberry fields, Candy Cane Road, and Christmas Tree Lane.

The strawberry crops have many strings of lights, brightening up the field. Candy Cane Road features Tanaka Farms’ tall sugarcane crops with red and white lights to represent candy canes. Christmas Tree Lane a row of vibrant colored, light up Christmas trees on both sides of the road and finished off with a building-sized color-changing light-up Christmas Tree.

In between the three sections are small exhibitions showcasing a variety of lit items, including snowflakes and scarecrows.

At the end of the experience, cars pass by livestock and there is a special photo opportunity with Santa Claus every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Tickets are $49 for Monday through Thursday and $59 for Friday through Sunday.

There are allocated time slots every 15 minutes for a group of 40 cars. The first time slot available is at 5:30 p.m. and the last car should enter at 9 p.m. Tanaka Farms asks that guests plan to arrive 10 minutes before their start time.

Lights from behind and going forward, with a line of cars waiting to move.
Lights in the past, present and future, with a line of cars waiting to move. Photo credit: Myron Caringal

Masks are required when passing through the farm; Tanaka Farms will refuse service to anyone without a mask as there is a face covering order in the City of Irvine.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit

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    Ed SotoDec 5, 2020 at 7:09 am

    Very disappointed, we brought our 4 Grandkids and had to bring 2 cars which was not cheap, I was still looking for the special lights and next thing I knew it was over. I know your heart was in the right place but when thing are tough you hope for more!