Checking out cool Christmas light displays (or more than one!) is a popular tradition for many Seattle-area residents. No matter where you live in the Puget Sound region, there is a professional light display somewhere near you. From neighborhood shows like Candy Cane Lane to professional setups at the Tacoma zoo and Bellevue Botanical Garden, Seattle goes all out for the holidays.
Candy Cane Lane
Candy Cane Lane is in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood and is unique as far as Christmas light displays go. It is also free because rather than a zoo or botanical garden or Seattle Center, Candy Cane Lane is a series of homes on NE Park Road (although a canned food donation is suggested). Every year, these homes deck themselves out for the holidays. The result? A neighborhood with a magical holiday atmosphere sure to be a hit with kids, but also beautiful and impressive enough to delight adults.
You can see Candy Cane Lane lit up from December 5, 2020, until January 1, 2021. The lights are on between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. from Sunday through Thursday, and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Visitors are welcome to drive through or walk on foot, as long as they are wearing face masks and maintain social distancing.
While not a Christmas light display per se, Snowflake Lane in Bellevue combines Christmas lights, a light show, and music to ring in the holidays every night. Snow falls from the sky (artificial, but it’s still very cool). Drummer boys climb onto platforms all up and down the street, which is lined with trees covered in lights. Then a parade of more toy soldiers, reindeer, fire engines, and Santa. This very well may be the best seasonal shopping experience in the Puget Sound area.
Even though the parade and performances are canceled for December 2020, you can still walk down the street—wearing the required face mask—while enjoying the light displays and snowfall. The lights are turned on nightly from November 27 until December 24, 2020.
In the South Sound, there may be no better place to view amazing holiday lights than Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium during Zoolights. Lighted displays are set up all along the walking paths at the zoo, including moving displays. Another highlight is that sometimes Santa shows up in a diving suit at the aquarium. A snack shop is open with hot chocolate and other warm food and beverages.
Zoolights runs every night from November 27, 2020, until January 3, 2021, except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Tickets with a timed reservation slot are required to enter, and the number of people allowed inside has been limited.
The Seattle Center is a lovely place to enjoy the holiday atmosphere. The annual Winterfest event typically hosts a full calendar of events, along with the decked-out holiday lights. While the majority of Winterfest events are taking place virtually in 2020, the Seattle Center is decorated and visitors can stop by after dark to see the light displays. Winterfest at the Seattle Center takes place from November 27 to December 31, 2020, and it's one of the only places you can see elaborate light displays with the Space Needle soaring right overhead.
Renton Holiday Lights
One of the largest Eastside Christmas displays, Renton Holiday Lights decks Gene Coulon Park out with Christmas lights. This isn't the biggest display in the area, but it's free and a lot of fun. When the Argosy Christmas Ship is sailing, it often stops by at least once per season and there are other nights where you'll find live entertainment. Renton Holiday Lights are open every evening between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. from November 28, 2020, until January 4, 2021.
Lumaze Seattle is canceled in 2020.
Another newer display is the indoor Lumaze Seattle at the Smith Cove Cruise Terminal. Wander through a million lights set up in displays, tunnels, but also interactive displays like hanging picture frames, LED hopscotch, LED swings, and more. There's also a Christmas market with about 30 craft and artisan vendors to explore. Several food trucks and other food and drink options will also be out in force.
Christmas Ship Festival
The Christmas Ship Festival is canceled for 2020.
The Christmas Ship Festival comes to you! Each year, Argosy Cruises sends its Christmas Ship out to cities located up and down the Puget Sound—Seattle, Tacoma, and everywhere in between. You can ride along on the Christmas ship to enjoy a live choir as well as boxed meals, snacks, and drinks. If you want to enjoy the Christmas Ship Festival, check the schedule to find out when this floating light parade is coming to your town. The festival visits more than 50 communities. At each stop, people wait beside bonfires. When the parade arrives, the choir on the Christmas Ship sings to those waiting onshore as well as to those on the ship.
Fantasy Lights in Tacoma is canceled in 2020.
Fantasy Lights is the largest drive-through Christmas light display in the Northwest and is located just outside of Tacoma. Stay in your car, turn on some Christmas music, and enjoy a leisurely drive through 2 miles of displays. Often when it opens for the season, Fantasy Lights closes to cars and welcomes in walkers. Some nights do involve long lines to get in, but the perk of this is that traffic moves slower so you get more time to look at the displays!
Bellevue Garden d’Lights
Garden d'Lights is canceled in 2020.
With more than a half-million lights, Bellevue Botanical Garden’s Garden d’Lights is a walk-through light display, much like Zoolights in Tacoma. Fitting with the location, the displays are botanical—giant butterflies, flowers, spiders set in beautiful twinkling webs, peacocks with shimmering tail feathers, and more. This is an especially perfect option if you want a Christmas lights display that's a little different than usual as you'll find a lot less Santa and a lot more beautiful botanicals here.
Holiday With Lights at Wild Waves
Wild Waves Theme Park is closed for the 2020 holiday season and plans to reopen in 2021.
This unique lights display allows you to ride the rides at Wild Waves Theme Park, visit Santa, or catch a show. The entire theme park is decked out in a million lights, making this perfect for families with kids who enjoy a ride or two with their holiday fun.
Enchant Christmas is canceled in 2020.
One of the newer Christmas lights displays in the Seattle area, Enchant Christmas at T-Mobile Park is spectacular. The display is set up as a maze of Christmas lights on the field and takes up nearly 100,000 square feet of sheer twinkly goodness. Each year, the maze has a theme or a story behind it and features objects to find in the maze-like reindeer who have run away or toys that a mischievous elf has hidden. Along with the maze, there's also a Christmas Market where you can buy a snack or bite to eat as well as shop from artists and crafters.