Where to Drive or Walk Through to See Holiday Light Displays
The holiday season is upon us. Around these parts, that means the nights will glow with millions of lights through the New Year. After a hiatus of one year due to COVID-19, many holiday lights shows held in Washington and northern Idaho are back in their usual formats. So, get ready to drive through or stroll among the brilliant lights of the season. Remember, though, to wear a mask, and follow state and local guidelines for safe social distancing.
Here is a sampling of drive-through experiences to see the holiday lights in our area. Walk-through events are still enforcing social distancing measures, which include required face coverings. Some of the start dates and times are subject to change. Also, it is important to verify any special requirements as some of these events require proof of vaccination prior to entry.
Snowflake Lane, Bellevue
Bellevue’s Snowflake Lane returns for its 17th year with a nightly parade with characters and holiday floats starting on Nov. 26. The twinkling lights, holiday music and surprise snowfalls are also back to delight those who take a drive or are on a stroll along Bellevue Way.
Admission: Free. Starts at 7 p.m. nightly. Nov. 26 to Dec. 24.
Candy Cane Lane, Seattle
A drive past the charming row of ornately decorated brick houses and lawns along Candy Cane Lane (Park Road NE and NE Ravenna Boulevard) in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood is a holiday tradition dating back nearly 70 years.
Admission: Free. Early December through Jan. 1. Keep an eye on the Candy Cane Lane Facebook page for the announcement of this year’s hours, theme, food drive and more.
WildLanterns Festival, Seattle
Woodland Park Zoo is bringing back the WildLanterns festival. The walk-through holiday event features interactive activities, a 130-foot tunnel of lanterns, and larger-than-life lanterns depicting a zoo-worthy menagerie of animals, including giraffes, grizzly bears, eagles, snow leopards, tigers, gorillas, zebras and sea creatures.
Admission: $30.95 (adults) and $25.95 (ages 3–12). 4 p.m.– 8:30 p.m. Now through Jan. 30, 2022. Closed Mondays (except Dec. 20 and 27), Nov. 25 and Dec. 24–25.
Fantasy Lights, Spanaway
With more than 300 elaborate displays and thousands of sparkling lights, the Fantasy Lights holiday drive-through at Spanaway Park, just south of Tacoma, claims to be the largest such event in the Northwest. Stretched along a 2-mile lakeside path, visitors will spot animated scenes with bears, flying kites, penguins sliding down an igloo, reindeers jumping over cars and, for some reason, Santa and Rudolph sailing a tall ship.
Admission: Tickets start at $15 per vehicle. 5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. Nov. 26 to Jan. 2, 2022.
Holiday Magic, Puyallup
The Washington State Fair in Puyallup is hosting Holiday Magic, where you can once again stroll through the fairgrounds among lights and festive displays. Visit a Santa’s village or a Hometown Holiday Forest covered in lights, ride Santa’s Express train or a Sugar Plum Merry-Go-Round. Ice skating is also an option at this year’s event for an additional fee.
Admission: Tickets are $17.50 (general) and $12.50 (ages 13 and up). 5 p.m.–10 p.m. Select dates Dec. 10–31.
The Lights of Christmas, Stanwood
In Stanwood, 50 miles north of Seattle, the Lights of Christmas event remains a drive-through-only event with millions of twinkly lights, dozens of holiday displays, costumed characters and, of course, snacks along the way.
The drive-through route is a little over a mile long. Visitors will be able to wave to Santa and Mrs. Claus as well as other costumed characters. There will be an opportunity to drop off letters to Santa at the drive-through mailbox.
Admission: Tickets start at $25 per vehicle. Reserved times start at 5 p.m. Select dates Nov. 26 to Jan. 8, 2022.
Christmas in Color, Garden City
Christmas in Color is an animated drive-through light show near Boise packed with more than one million LED lights synchronized to a site-specific FM radio station playing holiday music. In addition to brightly lit tunnels with leaping arches, be on the lookout for brilliantly lit Christmas trees, giant snowflakes, candy canes, snowmen and other Christmas characters.
Admission: Advance timed tickets only, starting at $30 per vehicle. Monday–Saturday: 5:30 p.m.–10 p.m. Select dates Nov. 19–Jan. 2, 2022.
Winter Garden aGlow, Boise
The Idaho Botanical Garden in Boise brings back its traditional Winter Garden aGlow event this year. The gardens will be transformed into a winter wonderland with tunnels of lights, a model train display, Santa and Mrs. Claus and other attractions.
Admission: Advance tickets only, $15 (general), $12 (ages 4–12). Wednesday–Sunday: 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Nov. 25 – Dec. 31.
Winter Spirit, Lewiston
Locomotive Park in Lewiston has once again canceled an opening night lighting ceremony for this popular event, but the historic steam locomotive, the caboose and many of the trees will be lit up with twinkling colored lights starting on Nov. 20.
The large gas fireplace with heated benches will be operating, and there will be plenty of brightly lit arches and interactive displays, including musical bears and dancing penguins, to entertain visitors.
Admission: Free. Monday–Tuesday: 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Wednesday–Sunday: 4:30 p.m. to midnight. Park lights are also 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. daily. Nov. 20 to the first weekend in January 2022.
–Written by Harriet Baskas in 2020, updated November 2021.
–Top photo courtesy of snowflakelane.com.