You could be 5 or 50 and still an over-the-top holiday light display simply never gets old. The Seattle-Tacoma region puts on many a glittering show, whether it be at the zoo, in a public park, on the high street, or in its tucked-away residential neighborhoods. Some are drive-able while others must be explored on foot. So, bundle up and discover some of the best Christmas lights in the Pacific Northwest.
Keep in mind that many holiday events scheduled for the 2020-2021 season have been altered or canceled. Check the websites of organizers for updated information.
Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
Every year, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium puts on a lavish holiday light display featuring illuminated critters like the beloved giant octopus and local landmarks like the Narrows Bridge. After walking the glittering zoo paths, you can enjoy live holiday entertainment, take a carousel ride, warm up with a hot chocolate, or pose for family photos. In 2020, tickets must be purchased in advance and all indoor attractions will remain closed for the season. Zoolights will be open from November 27, 2020, to January 3, 2021, except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
WildLanterns at Woodland Park Zoo
Woodland Park Zoo's annual Wildlights event has been reimagined as WildLanterns in 2020. Usually, the event would feature hundreds of thousands of colorful, energy-efficient LED light displays that flank the pathways and depict festive scenes from nature. Strolling carolers, live reindeer, snow play, and ice sculptures are also involved. However, in 2020, the event will feature lanterns modeled after grizzly bears, eagles, mountain goats, and more. The park will be divided into themed sections such as Jungle Lights, SeaMazium, and African Savanna. It's open November 13, 2020, to January 17, 2021, from 4 to 8:30 p.m., but will be closed on Mondays, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.
Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Park
Fantasy Lights is the biggest drive-through lights display in the Northwest, comprising close to 300 displays and thousands of sparkling lights along a 2-mile stretch at Spanaway Lake. While you're driving through the park, you can tune into local radio station FM 95.3 for show music that complements the exhibits. Admission is charged per vehicle, so you'll want to fill up your car or van with friends and family before you arrive. During the 2020-2021 season, Fantasy Lights will be open from November 21 to January 3, 5:30 to 9 p.m.
Snowflake Lane in Bellevue
Colorful lights, sparkling decorations, and festive costumes are all included in the Snowflake Lane celebration that takes place in Bellevue every year. Held along Bellevue Way and shop-heavy Northeast 8th Street, Snowflake Lane features a nightly parade, faux snow, toy soldier drummers, holiday characters, and live entertainment on several stages. In 2020, the event has been reimagined. It will still feature light displays and music over the loud speakers but no in-person performances. You can visit between 5 and 9 p.m. November 27 through December 24.
Neighborhood Holiday Light Displays
Just driving around and enjoying residential light displays and decorations is entertaining in Seattle and Tacoma. These twin cities are home to several neighborhoods that take their holiday decor seriously—one is even nicknamed Candy Cane Lane. This luminous strip—known year-round as Park Road Northeast—is located in Seattle's Ravenna neighborhood. Olympic Manor is another option, known to have more than 20 decorated facades.
The Christmas Ship Festival
The Argosy Christmas Ship, bedecked with holiday lights, leads a parade of decorated boats around Lake Washington, Lake Union, and various other Puget Sound locations depending on the night. You can participate in the Christmas Ship Festival, a tradition in the Northwest since 1949, by booking a place on said vessel, where a choir and Santa Claus wait on board. Other ways to join include booking a trip on the Argosy follow boat (which is usually 21+), following in your own decorated boat, and watching from the shore. Those on shore are treated to the sounds of the choir via loudspeakers. In 2020, the Christmas Ship Festival has been canceled.
Garden d'Lights at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens
Throughout the holiday season, the Bellevue Botanical Gardens bursts with light and color as festive decor festoons the trees, gardens, and grounds. The annual Garden d'Lights features more than half a million lights depicting special Christmas- and garden-inspired characters and scenes. In 2020, the event has been canceled.