If ever there was a year to head out on an automobile odyssey in search of holiday light displays, 2020 is it. So dress the kids in their snuggliest holiday jammies and grab your thermos of hot cocoa, it’s time to track down spectacular dancing lights, set to music, that will dazzle and amaze. From drive-thru to drive-up, these 19 light shows will make your season bright from the socially distanced comfort of your car.
Miracle on 134th
Maybe you visited Miracle on 134th to enjoy their Corona Lights last spring. Or you checked out their spooky Halloween show last month. But if you haven't made the trek up to this seasonal display, make this your year. Alongside their 5,000-plus LED, programmable lights coreographed for your enjoyment, your kiddos will spy fun cut-outs like Santa and skating elves. And although most of the songs featured in the 15-20 minute long show are holiday themed, you might just hear a nod to a galaxy far, far away too. We love that a special tribute will be paid to the frontline healthcare workers and first responders who have gone above and beyond this past year (see if you can spot their tribute song). Catch it all on your dial at 93.9 FM.
Location: 8110 134th St. S.E., Snohomish, WA 98296
Dates: Nov. 27, 2020-Jan. 3, 2021
Times: 5:30-10 p.m.
Pennlights Holiday Show
This spectacular dancing light show, started back in 2007 by Dan Penn, has grown into a neighborhood affair over the last few years. Now families can enjoy not just one light display, but two, as his neighbor Craig has gotten in on the Christmas programming action. Much like dueling pianos, this delightfully entertaining display involves two houses and one completely synched-up show, complete with the ping-pong back-and-forth your kids will love. Plan to spend around 20 minutes taking it all in, tuned to 103.1 FM from your car. Expect lots of fast-paced holiday songs, mash-ups and dub step that'll have your kids dancing in their car seats. If you're able, take in this show on a weeknight; it's at the end of a cul-de-sac so things can get a bit crowded on the weekends. Make a plan to visit this cheerful display!
Location: 21726 & 21725 N.E. 136th Pl. Woodinville, WA 98077
Dates: Nov. 28, 2020-Jan. 2, 2021
Times: Sun.-Thurs., 5-10 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 5 p.m.-midnight
Christmas in Redmond
Now in its seventh year, this Eastside display is all about tradition. And this is the first year the display has gone completely RGB (that's light show speak for pixelated red, green and blue LED lights). Now boasting a complete rainbow of colors, families can expect about seven or eight songs to be featured, and should plan to sit back and relax as the lights do their thing for about 20 minutes. Just tune your car radio to 103.1 FM to make the cascading jumping lights spring to life, like a reindeer on a rooftop.
Location: 6203 144th Ave. N.E., Redmond, WA 98052
Dates: Nov. 27, 2020-Jan. 1, 2021
Times: 5-10 p.m.
The long-running Keener’s Christmas light display in Bothell is a north end favorite for so many reasons. It's a traditional light display put on with a whole lotta love by Jeff and Candice Keener. As you drive through families land in the middle of over 100,000 lights, spread across a full acre, for a truly magical experience. Much like Disneyland, you'll find themed areas. Keep your eyes peeled for Santa Land, Blowup Land, Snowman Land and others as you motor through. Although these lights don't dance, families can still tune into 91.9 FM to hear festive songs that add to the evening. The display, and all the hard work put into it, helps raise money for childhood cancer research and HopeLink of Kirkland, so bring your spare cans, coins and dollars if you're able. You can't miss the sweet gingerbread playhouse where you can drop canned food and the mailbox set up for monetary donations at the end of the long circular drive.
Insider tip: Keep a lookout for the Japanese Maple. It's this year's highlight, and it's debuting this year.
Note: This is a drive thru only display; no parking or walking. Please make sure food donations are within the expiration date.
Location: 16504 112 Pl. N.E., Bothell, WA 98011
Dates: Dec. 1-31, 2020
Times: 6-10 p.m. (weather permitting)
With over 30,000 sequenced lights and delightfully animated faces that “sing” songs to guests, the Farklezoo display in Tukwila, has been entertaining neighbors and visitors alike for over 20 years, first as a static display, now as a dynamic one. And although the display has bragging rights for being the “Most Technical” display (2017) and “Most Visible From Space” (2018), collecting food for the Tukwila Pantry is at the heart of this delightful display. Tune in to 107.9 FM to watch the display from your car. It plays seven days a week so you can get in the spirit anytime.
Location: 14480 58th Ave. S., Tukwila, WA 98168
Dates: Nov. 25, 2020-Jan. 1, 2021
Times: 6-10 p.m.
The Very Merry Christmas House
Be sure to put the Best Of Washington's 2015 winner on your driving route this year. Families will always find something different at this display with every passing season. This year's theme is The Classics. It will include charming throw-backs like the Island of the Misfit Toys and Charlie Brown's iconic Christmas tree that just needed a little love. To listen to the 12 songs synched with the over 65,000 lights, tune into 89.1 FM. We love that this display is totally committed to being "green." In fact, almost everything you see has been saved from the landfill by display designer, Gena Laws and her family. If the spirit of the season moves you, bring some canned food to support the Black Diamond Senior Center and Food Bank.
Insider tip: Swing by the NW Christmas display while you're in the area. It's another great find!
Location: 30211 176th Ave. S.E., Kent, WA 98042 (follow signs off of Covington/Sawyer Rd. & 179th)
Dates: Nov. 26, 2020-early Jan. 2021 (check their Facebook page for updates)
Times: 4:30 p.m. (or dusk)-11:30 p.m.
Maple Valley Lights
You'll find merriment and dancing lights at this stunning display in Maple Valley. Getting in on the festivities is easy. Simply pull up with your cuties and tune the car radio to 101.9 on your FM dial to enjoy the show that's filled with Christmas spirit. Then sit back and watch the mesmerizing lights do their thing as they cycle through 10-15 songs (that's about 30 solid minutes of programming!) before heading home to put the Littles to bed. If you would like to drop off a food donation, you'll find a spot to leave non-perishables for the Maple Valley Food Bank. Good cause, good night!
Good to know: The hosts are expecting large crowds this year and may have to cut the show down quite a bit to reduce crowds. So come early in the season if you want to see the full show.
Insider tip: The show runs until midnight on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve.
Location: 22629 S.E. 263rd Pl., Maple Valley, WA 98038
Dates: Nov. 28-Dec. 31, 2020
Times: Sun.-Thurs., 5-9 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 5-10 p.m.
Seattle Neighborhood Favorites
Who else loves bringing their kids to marvel at the lights along Ravenna's Candy Cane Lane and admire the dazzling displays in Olympic Manor and Mountlake Terrace? We'd be remiss not to include these area favorites in our list, but as of publication, it's unclear whether these local shows will happen this year. The good news for neighborhood faves is that the magnificent Menashe Family Lights (located at 5605 Beach Drive in West Seattle) is moving forward this year, with a smaller than usual display, that will be set up the week after Thanksgiving.
Snoqualmie Winter Lights
Now in its second year, Snoqualmie's annual Winter Lights is a holiday wonderland you won't want to miss, even during a pandemic. Whether you drive the strip or park the car to wander, masked and socially distanced, there are at least 12 gaze-worthy spots to catch. To get the full effect, start at the Salish Lodge, where you’ll find dazzling trees. As you wander, remember to stop at the gazebo in town, where kids can place their letter to Santa in his personal mailbox. The route is stroller friendly and includes plenty of family-friendly spots to sit and grab a bite to eat or warm up with a cup of cocoa and a cookie (lots of local shops will be open for takeout) as you dash in and out of your car.
Insider tip: Add a little extra light to your season when you visit Dutilly Christmas Lights while you're in the area.
Holiday extra: If you want to make a day of it, add a trip on the Yuletide Express to your day before you view the lights.
Location: Historic Downtown Snoqualmie
Dates: Nov. 26, 2020-Jan. 1, 2021
Times: 5 p.m.-11:30 p.m.
Say goodbye to WildLights and hello to WildLanterns when you bring the kids to experience this stunning new display. Families will find over 40 different animals and lighted plants lining the zoo’s walking paths, some at kiddo eye height, but many towering overhead. All of your zoo animal favorites will be there, alongside familiar PNW ocean dwellers like crabs, octopus and orcas, lit up from within. And keep your eyes peeled because some of these creatures move, starting with the strutting peacock just inside the entrance. Otherwise, challenge your kiddos to find swinging monkeys, winking frogs and alligators opening wide. Plan about 90 minutes to walk the whole loop with your little adventurers. It's a different kind of winter light display!
Location: Woodland Park Zoo, 5500 Phinney Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98103
Dates: through Jan. 13, 2021; closed Mondays and Nov. 26, Dec. 24 & 25
Times: 4-8:30 p.m.
Cost: $28.95/adult; $23.95/kids, ages 3-12; free, kids 2 & under
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s annual Zoolights festival is a great outdoor display for animal lovers of all ages to catch. Each year, the grounds are decked out in their dazzling best to wow visitors big and small. In addition to familiar faves, like the giant octopus and the Narrows Bridge, kids should keep their eyes peeled for a nod to Seattle's newest team (release the Kraken!) and an elusive forest dweller (psst... think Harry and the Hendersons) as they wander through this magical display.
Location: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, 5400 N. Pearl St, Tacoma, WA 98407
Dates: Nov. 27, 2020-Jan. 3, 2021 (closed Dec. 24 & 25).
Times: 5-9 p.m.
If you want to rock the Emerald City's electric avenues between Thanksgiving and the new year, it's easy to do. Put on your puffy coats, warm beanies and woolly mittens, then explore the Seattle Center Luminata display with the kids. Its twinkling lights in the bare trees and eye catching features make an ordinary evening magical. Don't forget to look for the special winter light display at the Cornish Playhouse. Westlake Park is another light hot spot, where families will find oversized light sculptures of presents, arches, trees and more, and uncover hidden holiday treasures with their smartphones along the way. Don't forget to livestream with city's annual tree lighting at your place!
You never know when you'll encounter a snow flurry at this favorite Eastside destination. While there won't be parades or performers this year, families can still find lots of dazzling lights on this stretch in downtown Bellevue. Whether you drive or walk through (wearing a mask and staying socially distant), you can't help but feel the spirit of the season as you do. Psst... put the Bellevue Collection annual tree lighting (it's virtual this year) on your calendar for Nov. 27. Merry merry!
Location: Bellevue Way N.E., between Bellevue Square & Lincoln Square
Dates: Nov. 27-Dec. 24, 2020
Hours: 5-9 p.m.
Displays Worth the Drive
If you're up for a drive, these drive thru displays won't disappoint. At the Fairgrounds in Puyallup, families can experience Holiday Magic on the weekends through January 3, 2021. Fantasy Lights is another destination drive south of the city. A holiday tradition for many families, the two mile route along the lake is delightfully memorable, and best planned for a weeknight when lines are shorter. If you're on the north end, consider making the trek to the Lights of Christmas' drive-thru display. It's over one million twinkling lights you can enjoy from the car, plus costumed characters and the chance to wave at Mr. & Mrs. Claus as you vroom on through.
Editor’s Note: 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!
feature photo: iStock