Drivable and Walk Through Holiday Light Displays
The holiday season is here at last. And in our part of the Pacific Northwest that means the dark nights will glow bright at events and festivals featuring millions of dazzling and sparkly lights as we make our way to the New Year. In some places it will even snow on command.
So, get ready to drive through or stroll merrily among the brilliant lights of the season.
Here is a sampling of drive-through experiences to see the holiday lights in our area.
As always, be sure to check ahead and reconfirm schedules and timing before heading to a show.
Snowflake Lane, Bellevue
Bellevue’s Snowflake Lane returns with a complimentary nightly holiday parade featuring dancers, toy drummers and other characters, a dazzling light show, floats, music and the promise of falling snow for those who stroll the sidewalks between Bellevue Square and Lincoln Square. Santa arrives Friday, November 25 to light the 30-foot tree at Bellevue Place Wintergarten.
Dates: Nov. 25 to Dec. 24.
Hours: Begins 7 p.m. nightly.
Candy Cane Lane, Seattle
A drive or stroll past a charming row of brick houses and lawns elaborately lit up for the holidays on Candy Cane Lane (Park Road NE and NE Ravenna Boulevard) in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood is a holiday tradition dating back nearly 70 years.
Dates: Early December through Jan. 1. Keep an eye on the Candy Cane Lane Facebook page for the announcement of this year’s specific hours, pedestrian-only days, theme, food drive and more.
WildLanterns Festival, Seattle
Woodland Park Zoo is lit up again for the WildLanterns Festival, featuring large lanterns representing wild animals and wild places from around the world.
This walk-through holiday light show features interactive activities and brightly colored larger-than-life lanterns depicting a zoo-worthy menagerie of animals, ranging from dragonflies, bugs and bunnies to tigers, red pandas, orangutans, koalas, kangaroos, and other creatures. Bonus events include animal ambassador visits and live traditional Chinese dance performances.
Admission: Tickets start at $29.95 (adults) and $25.95 (kids ages 3–12).
Now through Jan. 30. (Closed Mondays, except Dec. 19 and 26; Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day).
Hours: 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Last entry at 8:30 p.m.)
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, reindeer jumping over cars and, of course, Santa.
This year Fantasy Lights Walk sessions return for two nights (Nov. 19–20) to allow a 2-mile stroll to enjoy the light displays, with music, food trucks, and more.
Admission: Tickets start at $15 per vehicle, some $10 discount nights. Advance purchase required. (Military discount also available).
Dates: Nov. 25–Jan. 1 (Fantasy Light Walk, Nov. 19–20)
Hours: 5:30 p.m.–9 p.m.
Parade of Boats, Seattle
During the holiday season the Argosy Christmas Ship is decorated with thousands of shimmery white lights and sails to various waterfront Puget Sound waterfront communities. Onboard choirs perform for ship guests and visitors on shore.
During the annual Parade of Boats, though, the Christmas Ship is joined by hundreds of other decorated boats for a dazzling floating parade that travels from Lake Union through the Fremont Cut and back. No problem if you don’t have your own boat; you can gather with others for onshore viewing parties.
Admission: free to view from shore
Hours: 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Date: Dec. 9
Holiday Magic, Puyallup
The Washington State Fair in Puyallup is hosting Holiday Magic once again.
Visitors can stroll through the fairgrounds among lights tunnels and elaborate, festive lights; visit Santa’s village; and step into a holiday forest filled with decorated trees covered in lights.
Tickets include a ride on Santa’s Express train and a Sugar Plum Merry-Go-Round.
Ice skating, 3D Glasses, and snacks are available at the event for an additional fee.
Admission: Tickets are $22.50 online/$25 online (general) and $17.50 online/$18/onsite (ages 6-12). Early bird price discounts available through Nov. 28.
Dates: Dec. 1–4, 8–11, 15–18, and 20–23.
Hours: 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The Lights of Christmas, Stanwood
In Stanwood, an hour north of Seattle, the Lights of Christmas is a mile-through drive-through event at the Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center with millions of twinkly lights, dozens of holiday displays, costumed characters and a place to stop for snacks along the way.
This 30-minute driving tour is celebrating its 25th year and offers visitors a winter wonderland dotted by displays of tunnels, trees and figures created out of more than a million shining LED lights, and a few anniversary surprises.
This year there’s also a spot to get out of the car, take photos, and spot holiday characters as well.
Admission: Tickets start at $27 per vehicle. Advance purchase required for a timed arrival . Reserved times start at 5 p.m.
Dates: Nov. 25–27, Dec. 1–4, 8–11, 14–23, 26–31.
Holiday Light Show, Coeur d’Alene
The Holiday Light Show at the Coeur d’Alene Resort and Boardwalk Marina near downtown harnesses the power of more than 1.5 million lights to turn the area in a winter wonderland during the holidays.
Festivities kick off on Friday, Nov. 25 with a parade, the flicking of the switch on all those lights, fireworks, and the lighting of two giant trees. Visitors may also view the lights from the water during a boat ride across the lake that includes a visit to Santa and his elves in their floating waterfront workshop.
Admission: Light show viewing on the dock and around the Resort is free. Tickets required for Journey to the North Pole boat rides.
Dates: Now through Jan. 2
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 $35 per vehicle.
Hours: Monday–Saturday: 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Dates: Select dates Nov. 18–Jan. 1, 2023. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Winter Garden aGlow, Boise
The Idaho Botanical Garden in Boise brings back its traditional Winter Garden aGlow and will once again transform the gardens into a winter wonderland with more than 600,000 lights, Santa’s cottage, choirs, a lurking Grinch, holiday music, fire pits, and complimentary hot cocoa and cookies.
Admission: Advance tickets only, $18 (general), $14 (ages 4–12).
Hours: Wednesday–Sunday: 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Dates: Wednesday–Sunday Nov. 24–Dec. 31
Winter Spirit, Lewiston
The historic steam locomotive, the caboose and many of the trees in Locomotive Park in Lewiston will glow with twinkling colored holiday lights. There will also be brightly lit arches and interactive displays, including musical bears and dancing penguins. To keep visitors warm, there’s a large gas fireplace with heated benches. Lighting ceremony November 19.
Hours: Monday – Tuesday: 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Wednesday–Sunday 4:30 p.m. to midnight.
Dates: Nov. 20 – first weekend in January 2023.
Christmas Ships Parade, Portland
The Christmas Ships Parade is a longstanding Portland tradition, dating back to 1954 when one lone boat wrapped in sparkling lights sailed from the city Yacht Club. Today, onlookers can marvel at a fleet of up to 60 brightly lit boats floating along the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.
Days: Dec. 2–21; times vary. See schedule.
Peacock Lane, Portland
Residents along Peacock Lane have been going all-out for the holiday season for nearly a century. Every house on the street is decked out in extravagant Christmas and holiday decorations with hundreds of thousands of lights and other props and decorations. Visitors can take in the sights by car, foot, or even horse-drawn carriage.
Dates: Dec. 15–31
The Oregon Zoo dons more than a million-and-a-half Christmas Lights during the holiday and invites visitors to view the ZooLights displays on foot, on a mini train around the Zoo or by car on select nights.
Admission: Timed advance tickets range from $21 to $29 based on date and time.
Hours: 4:30–8 p.m.
Dates: Nov. 23–Jan. 5, closed Christmas Day.
Winter Wonderland, Portland
Portland International Raceway hosts a drive-through Winter Wonderland experience with more than 250 lights set and many animated displays along the way.
Admission: Prices start at $37 per vehicle.
Hours: Monday–Thursday 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.; Friday–Sunday 4:30 p.m.–11 p.m.; special hours December 16–25.
Dates: Nov. 25–Dec. 31
Christmas Festival of Lights, Portland
During the Christmas Festival of Lights at The Grotto more than 2.2 million lights are strung around the property’s forest and gardens. In addition to puppet shows and storytellers, this festival features nearly 160 indoor holiday concerts performed by many of the region’s choirs from schools, churches and civic organizations.
Admission: $14 (general); $6 (children aged 3-11).
Hours: 5 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Nov. 25–Dec. 16; 4:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Dec. 17–30.
Dates: Nov. 25–Dec. 30. Closed Christmas Day
–Written by Harriet Baskas, updated November 2022.
–Top photo courtesy of snowflakelane.com.