There’s something about a city center when it’s all aglow with lights and decorations during the holiday season. It feels warm and welcoming, with a sense of community among shop owners and visitors alike. 

This year, the Downtown Long Beach Alliance (DLBA) is launching “Illuminate Downtown,” a holiday lighting and decor competition, in which businesses in the Downtown area are invited to go all-out to light up and decorate their storefronts. Winners will see a $500 donation made in their name to the nonprofit charity of their choice, and will also benefit from a $500 gift card giveaway hosted by DLBA, along with some additional holiday shine across DLBA’s social media platforms.  

Many shops have already entered and have come up with some striking ideas. 

holiday decorations in dtlb

“Long Beach is a coastal city with a rich maritime history. We are going to embrace that and our own identity by incorporating a nautical theme,” said Joe Wang, Owner of Stinkin’ Crawfish restaurant at 150 E Broadway. “We’re going to use anchors, ship wheels, and life buoys, and we’re going to hang fish nets with twinkling lights to create a festive maritime ambiance.” 

Should Stinkin’ Crawfish win, Joe said his $500 donation will go to the Aquarium of the Pacific.  

“Our team is working on a design concept that uses our large, multi-paned windows to send a message of hope,” said Sinead Finnerty-Pyne, Marketing & Special Projects Director for Studio One Eleven at 245 E 3rd Street. “Picture vibrant colors, light, and impactful messaging coming together for a visually striking display.” Finnerty-Pyne mentioned that the Sowing Seeds of Change Urban Farm will be the donation recipient if Studio One Eleven wins.  

Wendy Ortiz and her husband Moises have operated Caravana Furniture at 975 Long Beach Blvd. since 2016, and were in another location just around the corner for many years before that. 

“We entered the contest because we believe it’s important to spread a bit of happiness,” Ortiz said. “Starting this week, we’ll begin ‘decking the halls’ – or more accurately, our windows – with lights and Christmas decorations. We’re excited to bring the holiday spirit to life.”   

Photo of Downtown Long Beach decorated for the holidays

Ortiz, a passionate animal lover, said she and her husband would make their charitable donation to the Friends of Long Beach Animal Shelter.  

Anticipation is growing about how wonderful Downtown will look this holiday season, and what a special place it will be for shopping, dining, and entertainment. Downtown shop owners are certainly getting into the spirit! 

“We are embracing the friendly competition,” said Finnerty-Pyne. “We hope that we can inspire others to join in to transform our Downtown into a vibrant and welcoming place for all, throughout the holiday season and beyond.”

Contest judges will be looking for displays that highlight local pride, inclusivity, creativity, and community collaboration. While three winners will be chosen by judges, the public will also have a voice in selecting a favorite.

NOTE TO DOWNTOWN BUSINESSES: There is still time to enter! It’s recommended you register by Nov. 20 and have your decorations up by Shop Small Saturday on Nov. 25. However, late registrations are being accepted through Dec. 10. Click here to register and get all the contest details.