You may have just put away the turkey and stuffing. But your kids are laser focused on that most wonderful time of the year. Jump start your holiday festivities with a sleigh ride (of sorts) to see magical light displays around the city. Grab your jammies and hot cocoa and read on…away we go!
The award-winning Keener’s Christmas light display in Bothell is a north end favorite for oh-so many reasons. Located at 16504 112 Pl. in Bothell, this traditional light display is put on with a whole lotta love (not to mention skill!) by Jeff Keener and his wife Candice. As you drive through the towering arch, you land in the middle of over 500,000 lights, for a truly magical effect. And if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of Santa or even shake his hand as he passes out candy canes along the circular drive. The display, and all the hard work put into it, helps raise money for the Ben Towne Foundation, and also acts as a food drive for HopeLink, so bring your spare cans if you’ve got them. You’ll see the donation drop when you drive through the 15-foot high arch on the circular driveway.
Find them on Facebook.
The folks at Evergreen Church in Bothell (located at 3429 240th St. S.E.) hope you and the kids will stop by to wonder at the light display they’ve been working on for months. The Littles will be entertained by over 500,000 bright lights dancing to choreographed music while parents can snuggle up under the heat lamps. Head inside for Christmas cookies and cocoa and, of course, a holiday picture after you’ve followed the decked out train through the lighted tunnel. The show runs nightly from 5 p.m.-10 p.m., starting Dec. 1 through Christmas Eve. Merry, merry!
Find them at evergreenchurch.tv/christmas-lights.
The Very Merry Christmas House
Be sure to put the Best Of Washington's 2015 winner on your driving route this year. Gena Laws and fam have been working all year on the Winter Wonderland theme that’s set to debut soon! Expect lots of fake snow, handmade displays and over 65,000 twinkling beauties as you watch the synchronized display (located at 30211 176th Ave. S.E. in Kent) with your crew. This is a get out and wander show (with tons of photo ops too!) that’s made from totally green materials the Laws have saved from the landfill. They spend the year going to garage sales, taking donations and scrolling Craig’s List ads to find everything you see in their fanciful display.
Plan to come any time after dusk (around 4:30 p.m.) to catch the show, and tune into 89.1 FM to synch with the music. (Lawn speakers are set out too, so you won’t miss anything if you get out to take an up-close look with your mini-me.) And if the spirit of the season moves you, bring some canned food to support the Black Diamond Senior Center Foodbank. Over the past eight years, The Very Merry Christmas display has collected over 15,000 pounds of food for the organization.
Find them on Facebook.
Menashe Family Lights
West Seattleites have long loved visiting the Menashe Family Lights at 5605 Beach Dr. SW. With over 340,000 lights strung around the property, alongside blow-up characters, animated animals, a manger scene with vintage figures and a sweet little train that captivates the kidlets, this is one display that’s brimming with holiday cheer. In year’s past, the Menashe’s have invited Santa and Mrs. Claus to make an appearance and even unleashed gentle flurries on the gathered crowd. Who knows what special additions will be made this year! Plan to park the car along the street and get out to wander (and wonder) at this dazzling display.
Keep an eye on the West Seattle Blog for opening dates and special appearances. Psst...they typically open the weekend after Thanksgiving.
If “go big or go home” is your family’s holiday motto, then ask Santa for tickets to Enchant Christmas at Safeco Field. It’s holiday lights, the whole Claus family and live entertainment packed into one big roof—Safeco Field. Your kiddos will dig the twinkling light display based on an original story The Great Search, which leads them through a mind-blowingly huge light maze set up in Safeco Field's outfield, in search of Santa’s reindeer. Once they’ve found them, strap on ice skates and hit the skating trail before sitting down with Mrs. Claus for story time. And if your kids are still wide awake, you can visit Santa’s workshop or the Artisan market before you head home. Get the full scoop here!
Family Christmas Spectacular
West Seattle Lights and Maple Valley Lights now put on their spectacular, computerized display in two locations! So whether you’re on the west side or the south side, you can load up the kidlets and enjoy the show. In West Seattle, families will find the familiar fave, Helmstetler house (located at 3908 S.W. Charlestown), decked out from head to toe in bright lights, ready to “dance” to the music while mom, dad and the kids sip cocoa in the car. And the light display in Maple Valley (located at 22629 S.E. 263rd Pl.) offers the same to bundled-up onlookers.
Whatever location you choose, check the schedule before heading out (the programs run nightly from Dec. 1 through New Year’s Eve), and then tune in to 101.9 on your FM dial to enjoy the show from your car. And if you would like to drop off a donation, food donations for the West Seattle and Maple Valley Food Banks are accepted at their respective locations, or you can give a little green to benefit The Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation in West Seattle, and Cops With Cancer in Maple Valley. Good causes, good night!
Find them on Facebook.
A true winter wonderland, this magical display (located at 23620 N.E. 183rd St. in Woodinville) will have you and your little elves believing in the magic of Christmas from the first minute you see it. The nightly display that runs from Dec. 1-Jan. 1 features two, 48-minute shows cycling through over 30 songs each, plus two masters of ceremonies. Rudy the Reindeer and Elfus the Elf tell jokes and make announcements throughout the show, and generally keep everyone entertained.
Families are encouraged to get out of their cars to explore (creator Mark Zembruski’s got speakers on the lawn so you won’t miss a thing and sometimes he’s even outside passing out candy canes!). It’s okay if you don’t get a chance to see everything the first time around, come back for a second time later in the month. Tune into 101.9 FM for the programming, then take in the wonder of the season! And if the season’s got you in the mood to spread some good will to others, donating to Washington Special Olympics and the Northshore Wranglers through Woodinville Wonderland is a good way to do it. Last year they split the $7,486 they collected between the two, and over the years they’ve raised nearly $55,000 for these two causes.
Find them on Facebook.
Ravenna's Candy Cane Lane
23 cute little houses all in a row, adorned with lights, blow ups, sleighs and reindeer are what you’ll find at this Seattle institution. Since 1949, Candy Cane Lane in Ravenna has been charming visitors far and wide with their whimsical, neighborhood display. Want the scoop on this popular event? Read up before heading out. It runs Dec. 3-Jan 1, so there’s plenty of time to fit this one in!
A lovely drive through a lighted neighborhood and favorite holiday tunes on the radio is the perfect incentive for some fun with the fam. So, fill up the tank and grab your slippers, then head out to this multi-family display in Mountlake Terrace (located between 228 St. S.W & 42nd Pl. W.) where you can take a stroll or drive around the nearly 25 houses lighting the way. This sparkling spectacular runs through New Year's Day. Away we go!
It’s hard to believe this Eastside staple is in its 24th year! The annual Garden d’Lights at the Bellevue Botanical Garden opens Nov. 24 and runs through Dec. 30. Expect lots of familiar favorites, like Charlotte of web fame and Willie the Slug, at this Eastside tradition, but be on the lookout for some new displays and critters in the mix too. Music is in the mix this year too. Each night around 6ish expect holiday songs from local musical groups to get you in the spirit. Tickets are just $5 per person, and kids 10 & under are free. You can grab yours with a few clicks of a button before heading over. After you've marveled at this outside display, head over to the Aaron Education Center to view the Gingerbread Village.
Good to know: Put this year's free nights on your calendar: Nov 24-29.
Issaquah's Nutcracker Lane
Each house in this Eastside cul-de-sac (190th Ave. S.E. off S.E. 44th Way) gets in on this festive display. Six-foot tall painted nutcrackers line the street and lights twinkle in the background. Get in step with the Christmas spirit when you drive around to take in this de-lightful display!
Ivar's Clam Lights
Dance with the clams at Ivar’s 24th Annual Clam Light display at Gene Coulon Memorial Park in Renton. The party starts November 30th with a tree lighting ceremony, Santa pics (between 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m.) and an Argosy Christmas Cruise Ship drive-by around 7 p.m. After the initial kick-off, families can stroll along the stunning mile-long loop around brightly decorated trees and bushes that shine with the season. And don’t forget that killer waterfront view, plus plenty of space for your active kiddo to burn off energy. This popular display runs nightly from 5 p.m.-9 p.m., through the New Year.
Wildlights & Zoolights
The Christmas light display canon just wouldn’t be complete without mentioning two wildly popular area faves for families. Woodland Park Zoo’s Wildlights features thousands of brilliant LED lights lit up as familiar animals in their sometimes familiar, sometimes exotic habitats around the zoo property. Beyond making the rounds, families can also get in on an indoor snowball fight at the Snowmazium, take a night ride on the carousel and meet some sleigh-pulling experts, Santa’s reindeer. Wildlights runs from November 23, 2018 through January 5, 2019, from 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. each night (it’s closed Dec. 12, 24 & 25). Tickets are available online and they can be used any night Wildlights runs.
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s annual Zoolights festival is the other great display to catch. Each year, the grounds are decked out in their dazzling best, to wow visitors big and small. Besides oohing and ahhing at the 3-D displays, kiddos can snap a selfie with a reindeer while riding in Santa’s sleigh or hop on a camel for a nighttime ride. This display goes live November 23, 2018 and runs through January 6, 2019 from 5 p.m.-9 p.m. nightly. Buy tickets online to avoid a line, or play it fast and loose when you get there, for those nights when the season’s excitement takes over your minis and a last-minute energy burn is in order.
The Olympic Manor Neighborhood light display (between N.W. 75th & N.W. 100th) makes for a lovely winter evening walk (or slow drive) for families. The houses in the area are decked and then decked again for a truly illuminating effect that can’t help but make you smile. Bundle up for this one!
Good to Know
Be sure to check the Facebook pages of your favorite displays for progress reports, scheduling changes and amazing photos of what you’ll see. We’ve linked them up for you to make it easy!
Do you have a favorite light display to add? Tell us in the comments below!
— Allison Sutcliffe