Ivar’s Clam Lights is one of several Christmas lights displays in the Seattle area. While not as large as WildLights in Seattle or Zoolights in Tacoma, Ivar’s Clam Lights is a holiday tradition in its own right. Since 1994, Ivar’s Clam Lights has lit up the shores of Renton throughout the month of December. And best of all, Ivar’s Clam Lights is free, which makes it pretty unique as most Christmas lights displays in the Seattle area have a fee to enjoy them.
Ivar's Clam Lights is a stunning visual display of several dozen trees and bushes decorated with thousands of Christmas lights. Ivar's is--of course--the center of the display and is located at 1201 Lake Washington Boulevard N. in Renton. The display also wraps around Kidd Valley and Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park in a flat, walkable loop that measures about a mile. Each year, the display kicks off with a night filled with holiday magic, including musical entertainment, the Rainier Yacht Club's Parade of Boats, and a visit from the Christmas Ship. After that, the lights stay on each night through the end of the year!
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Ivar's Clam Lights Information
Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park
1201 Lake Washington Blvd. N.
Renton, WA 98506
When: Check the website for this year's start date as it varies from year to year, as to the events. The first night of the display, the event kicks off with a blast. The night's festivities include live music performances, Christmas carols and a parade of lighted boats.
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About Clam Lights
Each year, Clam Lights starts off with a bang—opening night, chocked full of holiday fun that ranges from live music to hanging out with Santa to a bonfire sing-a-long. Opening night often coincides with a visit from the Argosy Christmas Ship, which brings with it a different choir each year. The choir performs on board, but is broadcast via speakers to the people on the shore. The lights go on for the first time of the season on this night, and then they stay on until a week or so after Christmas.
Since 2010, Ivar’s Clam Lights has used all LEDs for its more than 50,000 lights on display. Displays consist of holiday scenes, including Candy Cane Lane, Santa, reindeer and—of course—the Dancing Clams! Some displays are animated, including the clams, which all have feet and appear to walk along the shores of the Puget Sound. Candy canes line the walkways, and often the light poles transform into candy canes too.
The displays, like most in the area, are walk-through. This means that it’s a good idea to be prepared for rain, cold weather or even snow. What’s really special about Ivar’s Clam lights isn’t that it’s the biggest and the best, but that it’s situated right on the water. Lights along the walkways reflect and create a beautiful and unique scene to check out.
If you live in between Seattle and Tacoma—why drive a half hour north or south when Renton has such a fantastic display?
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Other Christmas Light Displays
The Seattle area is filled with Christmas lights displays so you don't have to drive far to find one, or you can set out to enjoy more than one! Different displays offer different takes on the season, from the animal-theme zoo displays to garden themes to straight-up holiday themed shindigs such as Snow Flake Lane in Bellevue.
In Seattle, WildLights at Woodland Park Zoo is the place to be. Not far away, Bellevue Garden d’Lights fills the Bellevue Botanical Garden with cheer and lighted displays with a botanical theme.
In the South Sound, Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium is the most popular display, but Fantasy Lights at Lake Spanaway is a good option on a rainy night as you can stay in your car. It's the area's only drive-through display.