While the Pacific Northwest is one of the most beautiful places in the whole world (in my opinion, at least,) most of the region’s residents will agree that Washington is dark this time of year. It’s hard to ignore the way one’s energy droops during these long cold winter days, especially when it feels as though the sun has crawled back under the covers with Netflix and its fourth cup of coffee, leaving Washingtonians to fend for themselves.
Luckily, Washingtonians also know how to brighten their winter days. The Seattle area is home to dozens of charming holiday events, including gorgeous, cozy light displays to illuminate winter’s gray. Here are just a few of the best light displays in the Seattle area right now.
When: Sun. through Thurs. 5pm to 9pm and Fri. through Sat. 5pm to 10pm
Where: 23620 Northeast 183rd St, Woodinville
Cost: Free, donations to charities encouraged
A private Woodinville home hosts this light display, which is so enormous that it has its own radio station. Visitors are encouraged to park or walk around and tune in to the radio station to enjoy the music and light animation show.
Nutcracker Lane Issaquah
Where: 190th Avenue Southeast off Southeast 44th Way.
An entire neighborhood works together to light up their homes for this display. Drive through, or bundle up and take an evening stroll.
When: Dec. 1 through January 1, 5pm to 9pm
Where: Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park
Trees and shrubs around the park and waterfront walkway are professionally decorated with thousands of lights. The light display is arranged around a one mile trail loop.
When: Nightly, dusk until about 11:30pm through Jan 2nd.
Where: 30211 176th Ave. Southeast
Cost: Free, can food donations encouraged for the Black Diamond Senior Center/ Food Bank
This private home hosts an annual light display that features over 50,000 LED lights, leaping arches, an enormous Christmas tree, and other handmade decorations, all synchronized to classic holiday music.
When: Nov. 24 through Jan. 1, 5pm to 9pm
Where: Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium 5400 N. Pearl St. Tacoma, WA. 98407
Cost: At the front gate: $10, online and at Fred Meyers non-members: $8.50, online and at Fred Meyers members: $5, children aged two and younger: free
I have many fond memories of attending this classic Tacoma event as a child. Each year, the zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland with over a half-million lights and 3D animal light displays.
When: Nov. 25 through Dec. 31, every evening, including holidays, 4:30pm to 9:00pm (the lights go out at 9:30pm),
Where: Bellevue Botanical Garden 12001 Main St
Cost: $5, children 10 and younger are free
This display includes over a half-million lights arranged into the shapes of waterfalls, plants, flowers, birds, and animals. Visitors can also check out the garden’s Gingerbread Castle of Dreams and enjoy hot chocolate, coffee, and tea.
When: Dec. 3 through Jan. 1, 4 pm to 11 pm (open until midnight on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day)
Where: NE Ravenna Blvd & Park Rd NE, University District, Seattle
Candy Cane lane is actually a street of charming 1920s-style Tudor homes in a Seattle neighborhood that has gone all out for the holidays for over 6 decades. You can expect occasional appearances from Santa, sleighs and reindeer, blow up candy canes, mechanical decorations, and, of course, plenty of lights.
When: Nov. 24 through Jan. 1, 5:30pm to 8:30 pm nightly, closed Dec. 24 and 25
Where: Woodland Park Zoo, 5500 Phinney Ave. N., Seattle
Similar to Point Defiance’s Zoolights, this event includes lights, fake snow, Santa and his reindeer, and other family activities.