Twinkling and colorful holiday light shows are a favorite way for families to enjoy the winter holiday season, and the Seattle/Tacoma region hosts several amazing light shows that seem to become more extravagant and creative each year. You'll find these lights in local zoos, gardens, and parks as well as on the local waters, but all of these light shows are held after dark, so be sure to dress warmly.
The Christmas Ship Festival
Argosy Christmas Ships, bedecked with holiday lights, lead a parade of decorated boats around Lake Washington, Lake Union, or Puget Sound locations, varying with each night's schedule. During the Christmas Ship Festival, you can participate by booking a place on an Argosy cruise, by joining in with your own lighted and decorated boat, or by watching from the shore.
A tradition in the northwestern United States since 1949, the Christmas Ship Festival will take place in 2018 throughout the month of December (until the 23). Cruise options include several trips aboard the signature Spirit of Seattle official Christmas Ship (Lead Boat Experience), as well as an adults-only party aboard a follow boat and a special kid-friendly event aboard the Spirit of Seattle on December 9, 2018.
Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
Every year, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium puts on a lavish holiday light display, and in 2018, Zoolights returns to this area favorite attraction from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day in 2019. After strolling through the zoo paths to view the twinkling decor, you can enjoy live holiday entertainment, take a carousel ride, warm up with some hot chocolate, or pose for family photos. Advance Zoolights tickets may be purchased at Fred Meyer, online, or at a zoo kiosk.
Wildlights at Woodland Park Zoo
The region's newest Christmas-time attraction, Wildlights, features hundreds of thousands of colorful, energy-efficient LED light displays covering the Woodland Park Zoo. During your Wildlights visit, you'll get to stroll through the pathways of the western section of Woodland Park Zoo after dark to experience festive scenes from nature. Strolling carolers, live reindeer, snow play, and ice sculptures are other things you might have the chance to see and do.
Wildlights runs nightly from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. from November 23, 2018, through January 9, 2019, but will be closed on December 12, 24, and 25, 2018. Advance tickets are highly recommended and can be purchased online.
Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Park
Fantasy Lights is a drive-through extravaganza of holiday lights with close to 300 displays and thousands of sparkling lights, all along a two-mile stretch at Spanaway Lake from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve each year. While you're driving through the park, you can tune into local radio station FM 93.7 for show music to accompany your journey, and admission is charged per vehicle, so you'll want to fill up your car or van with friends and family before you arrive.
Garden d'Lights at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens
Throughout the holiday season, the Bellevue Botanical Gardens burst into color with displays of holiday lights draped throughout the landscaping, in the trees, on the ground, and all around the gardens themselves as part of the annual Garden d'Lights event. Decorations include special Christmas and garden characters and scenes and over half a million sparkling lights throughout the gardens. The 24th Annual Garden d'Lights will take place from 4:30 to 9 p.m. nightly from November 24 through December 30, 2018.
Snowflake Lane in Bellevue
Colorful lights, sparkling decorations, and festive costumes are all a part of the evening festivities in downtown Bellevue each year for Snowflake Lane. Held along Bellevue Way and Northeast 8th Street among all the awesome Bellevue shopping, Snowflake Lane features faux snow, toy soldier drummers, holiday characters, and live entertainment on several stages. Bellevue's Snowflake Lane takes place on most evenings throughout the holiday season, starting on the weekend after Thanksgiving and lasting through the new year, and will feature a nightly parade most evenings during this month-long celebration.
Neighborhood Holiday Light Displays
Just driving around and enjoying the twinkling lights and decorations is a fun and free way to enjoy the holiday season, and there are several neighborhood holiday light displays in and around Tacoma and Seattle this year. Several Seattle neighborhoods go all out and have become a holiday evening's entertainment in their own right. Some of the best spots to check out these unique neighborhood displays are at Candy Cane Lane and Olympic Manor.