Zoo lights tunnel of lights

The Best Holiday Light Displays in Washington

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Its the most wonderful time of the year! HOLIDAY SEASON, YAY!! Nothing gets me in the spirit of the holidays quicker than sparkling Christmas lights! Especially here in Washington, the bright shiny lights are such a wonderful contrast from the daily grey that we are living in! Because I live in Western Washington, thats where my list is focused. Without further ado: I bring you my favorite Holiday light displays in Washington!

Best Holiday lights in Washington #5 Pt Defiance Zoo Lights

Number 5 on the list of best holiday lights in Washington goes to: Zoo lights at Pt Defiance. In our family this is a yearly treat that we all enjoy. It’s not ranked 5 because its not good, its just that the others on the list have other factors that rank them above zoo lights in my opinion.

  • Pt Defiance zoo is located in Tacoma
  • Zoolights begins Nov 26 and runs through Jan 2.
  • Hours are 4:30pm – 10pm. nightly, except for a two-night closure on Dec. 24 and Dec. 25.
  • Parking is free
  • Timed entry and advance ticket reservations are necessary
  • Masks required (2021)

Zoo lights cost:

  • Mon.-Thurs.: $12 general admission, $6 members
  • Fri.-Sun.: $15 general admission, $7.50 members
  • 2-years-old & younger are free.

Pt defiance zoo does a great job lighting up the zoo with colorful lights everywhere. There are the favorites of Mt Rainier, the ice skating puffins and a giant octopus, along with a few new additions each year. My personal favorite is the tunnel of lights, which will be DOUBLED this year, so I am super excited about this!

Along with the lights, you can also ride the carousel, visit the kids zone, and grab a snack from the plaza cafe. The Aquarium is closed and you cant see any animals except for sometimes the penguins are swimming around.

For more information and to grab your zoo lights tickets you can click here.

Best Holiday lights in Washington #4 Fantasy Lights

Fantasy lights in Spanaway is such a fun holiday light display! Dubbed the largest drive through light display in the NorthWest, this incredible show has nearly 300 displays! The best part? You don’t have to leave your car! For people who can sometimes be a bit antisocial, and also who like to complain about the cold weather (this is me I’m talking about here) a drive through display can be the perfect way to celebrate the holidays and what leaps this above zoo lights for me on my list.

  • Located at Spanaway Park
  • Fantasy lights begins Nov 26 and runs through Jan 2.
  • Hours are 5:30 -9 pm nightly.
  • Admission is charged by vehicle
  • Advanced reservations are necessary

Fantasy lights cost

  • $15 per vehicle up to 24 passengers Nov 26-28 and Dec 5-9
  • $20 per vehicle up to 24 passengers Dec 3-4 and Dec 10-26
  • $40 per bus
  • $10 discount night Nov 29-Dec 2 and Dec 27-Jan 2

This is a 2 mile slow drive through the park. Its fun to grab some hot cocoa and listen to Christmas Carols while driving through the lights. You can get your advanced tickets here

Best Holiday lights in Washington #3 Wild lanterns Woodland Park Zoo

This was my first year visiting Wild Lanterns and I LOVED it! I really, really loved it! Its an incredible way to spend the evening. The reason its not ranked higher on my list is the cost. While, I am glad that all the money goes back into caring for the animals, and I think zoos are important for education and preservation, I do think that this activity will be out of reach of many families which is unfortunate. If you can only choose one “zoo” activity, I’d pick Woodland Park if you can afford it.

  • Located at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle
  • Nov 12-Jan 30
  • Closed Mondays EXCEPT Dec 20 and 2. CLOSED Nov 25, and Dec 24/25
  • Covid Vaccination proof +12 (or neg covid test within 72 hours)
  • Masks Required for ages 5+ (2021)
  • Advanced ticket and time slot reservations necessary

Wild Lanterns Cost

$30.95 for Adults (Ages 13+)
$25.95 for Children (Ages 3-12)
Toddlers (Ages 2 and under) are free

Wild Lanterns is a beautiful experience. As you walk through the zoo to the many displays you’ll be amazed at the incredible sights before you. The lanterns are HUGE! The colors are beautiful. Some of the lanterns are animated which is super fun. They also have quite of few interactive displays that were even fun for 2 adult women there with no kids (yep, we jumped on stars and played on the swings.) There is a larger than life shark which makes for some awesome photos as you walk through it, a peacock that spreads its tail feathers, and an enchanted forest full of butterflies that was so beautiful I thought we wandered into a fairy tale. There are snacks and food available. Get tickets for Woodland Park Wild Lanterns Here.

Best Holiday lights in Washington #2 Bellevue Snowflake Lane

Unfortunately, I have the worlds worst photos of this gorgeous event. Be sure and check out the website to see pictures!

If you are looking for a super fun family experience look no further than downtown Bellevue. Snowflake lane is such a fun way to spend an evening together. Theres a parade, there’s toy soldiers, there’s music, twinkling lights, and SNOW! Its absolutely beautiful! If you have young kids, they will delight at the princesses, and nutcracker characters and absolutely love the falling snow!

  • Nov 26-Dec 24
  • Nightly at 7 pm, you’ll want to get their early to park and find a spot
  • On the sidewalks along Bellevue Way between Lincoln Square and Bellevue Square

The best part of this event is the cost- FREE! Yep, even parking is free! However, if you want to avoid the traffic and late night drives, you could always book a hotel room in Bellevue.

If you live close, or stay an extra day, consider adding a walk through the Bellevue Botanical Garden for their light display as well. Garden d’lights features half a million sparkling lights throughout the garden. Ir tuns Nov 27- Dec 31 from 4:30- 9. Cost is $5 for 10 and over, and free for under 10. You do need tickets for this one, and they are time specific so plan ahead. Tickets are here

Best Holiday lights in Washington #1 Leavenworth

Yep, the whole town. If you haven’t been to Leavenworth at Christmas time…WHY NOT? Seriously. Go. Unless you don’t like feeling like you’ve stepped into a Hallmark movie set surrounded by charm, incredibly scenic mountains, and a billion sparkling lights. But you wouldn’t be reading this if you felt that way, so go to Leavenworth!

Leavenworth sits nestled in the Cascade Mountains right in the middle of the most beautiful road trip in Washington. Its Bavarian theme and idyllic setting make it flat out gorgeous anytime of year, but it really comes to life at Christmas Time! The whole town is decked out in lights complete with an enormous Christmas Tree at the center of town. Here you’ll hear carolers, and find visits with Santa. Due to COVID, they have forgone the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony each night, and instead will just have it lit the entire time. Be sure and have a pretzel and a local beer or mulled wine while you are there!

Hotels and airbnbs nearby book up early each year, but don’t hesitate to look in nearby towns such as Wenatchee. You can search for available hotels at great rates here (you’ll have to register the first time).

Now that you are in the Holiday spirit, you should get your shopping done! Lucky for you, I have a list of the best holiday gifts for Travel lovers, you can shop right from your couch!

These are my favorite holiday displays that I try to get to every year as one of our Christmas Traditions. Did I miss your favorite? What should I add to the list? Let me know! If you want to keep the holiday spirit going, you can head over to The Clever West Wind and read the Ultimate Guide to Christmas lights in Oregon.

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