Instagram Guide to the Winter Wonderland Imaginarium Lights Show at the Cal Expo in Sacramento

We’re going on five years living here in Sacramento and we’ve started to look forward to the Global Winter Wonderland which comes to town every year for the holiday season. During the months of November, December and January the Cal Expo in Sacramento converts into a magical lights festival with light displays, holiday music, amusement rides and carnival foods.

This year the festival was themed Imaginarium and is made up of over three million lights. You can walk through the whimsical scenes and of course capture plenty of Insta-worthy photos. My favorite display had to be the Flower Field of Dreams with lit up LED flowers. I’m always a sucker for Instagrammable flower fields.

The Imaginarium Lights Show is the perfect family-friendly outdoor event where you can comfortably bring children of all ages. We brought our stroller for the baby and it was very smooth to push it along the paved paths. My 3-year-old daughter was also able to ride some of the carnival rides accompanied by an adult family member.

The light display themes range from gardens, under the sea, celestial moons and stars, Cinderella fairytale, Christmas winter wonderland and more. Keep scrolling through this blog post to see over 40 photos from our trip to the Imaginarium.


The entire Imaginarium event is outdoors at night during the winter months. So you should definitely plan on bundling up with warm jackets and layers. Feeling cold and chilly all night can spoil your visit.


After you’ve completed a self-guided tour of the entire exhibit you’ll probably clock over a mile of walking. So I suggest you ditch the stiletto heels and opt for comfortable walking sneakers or boots.


For all the camera shutterbugs, the extremely low lighting conditions will be a photography challenge. If you plan on being in the photos, wear an outfit with a lot of white or lighter colors. Dark colors will make you blend into the background and your portrait photos make just look like floating heads.


As you walk through the Imaginarium, you’ll come across special light displays that are set up for that perfect Instagram moment. In the flower fields you can walk a little bit into the field while your photographer takes photos from the opposite side, giving the effect that you’re inside the field. The lit up angel wings are also perfect for an Instagram photo.


During our visit we saw a gal get creative with her style and she had a light-up tulle skirt on. The twinkle lights inside her skirt really brightened up her outfit and she matched the theme of the event. You can find a lot of cool light up clothes on Etsy including LED dresses, jackets, glasses and accessories.


I’ve mentioned that the Imaginarium is a great family night out, but it’s also a very romantic place for a date night. Holding hands and walking through a bright fairytale land is not a shabby way to spend the night with your crush. Sharing an ice cream together with put the cherry on top of date night!

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