Part of the joy of the holiday season is exploring holiday lights with the kids. They’re bright and festive, and just inspire imagination and awe. Especially in young children, going hunting for lights is a time-honored holiday tradition. Unfortunately, more and more people are not decorating their homes with lights. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still great light displays out there to be found and enjoyed. Here are a few of my favorite holiday lights hot spots.
23620 ne 183RD St. Woodinville, WA 98072
A family oriented display awaits you in Woodinville! Here you’ll find a full acre display of lights set to music and light animations. The display is free to visit, but cash donations are appreciated. The donations benefit a variety of charities. To get the most out of the experience, tune your radio to 101.9 FM.
16504 112th PL NE Bothell, WA 98011
Another home with a ton of lights can be found in Bothell. Keener Christmas is a drive-through experience with no foot traffic allowed. You’ll find more than half a million lights as well as animations and inflatables. This family favorite home has been featured in many newscasts about the best-decorated homes in Western Washington. From time to time you’ll even find Santa on site handing out candy canes! If you’re so moved, you can also donate food to charity at the site!
Bellevue Botanical Gardens
12001 Main St. Bellevue, WA 98005
Get lost as you wander through the fields of flower-themed lights at Bellevue’s annual Garden d’Lites festival. Now in its 24th year, the tradition of nature-themed light shows is a must for many people during the holiday season. You’ll also find a running river made of lights. The Gardens set up a scavenger hunt among the lights to keep young people excited, and there is always espresso and hot cocoa on site, too. There is a small admission fee, but there are also free nights every season as well. Check the website before heading out so that you can plan! Remember – kids ten and under are free!
19525 SE 54th St Issaquah, WA 98027
For something just a little different, head out to Issaquah and the Cougar Mountain Zoo! Here you’ll find a full Christmas themed park, culminating with live reindeer! The 31st annual Reindeer festival keeps limited hours, open only until 4:30 pm, but is nothing short of pure wonder for your children. Since the reindeer are on site, of course, you can expect to see Santa! You can also hear a story from an elf during your visit!
For more homes with amazing lights, check out this interactive map!
If you’re up for a drive, there are plenty of lights in Seattle, too. You can visit the Woodland Park Zoo for their annual Wild Lights show, or check out the Candy Cane Lane neighborhood! Whatever you do, be sure to take lots of photos and share them with me! And, if you know of a hot spot that I’ve missed, I really want to hear about it!
The Eastside does family fun with flair! There are so many fun family events around town that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed! The good news is that most of these events are free, or at least low cost, so you can try them all out and see which ones are the best fit for your family. Here’s a rundown of the events that make creating family traditions fun!
15670 NE 85th St. Redmond, WA 98052
Act fast! This is a weekend event special, happening on December 1-2. It’s a free event held in downtown Redmond. The progressive event starts at City Hall with a tree lighting ceremony and fireworks show. From there, stroll down a lighted pathway dotted with carolers and performers. Your trail ends in Redmond Town Center where you’ll find more entertainers, shops, treats, and family fun.
This event is the priciest on my list. But it does offer a fun experience that the kids will love. You board an Argosy ship at one of many docks around Lake Washington or in Seattle and set sail! Along the way, you’ll be serenaded by choirs and subject to beautiful views. Many local yacht and boat owners follow the parade of boats and have their vessels decorated as well. If you have kids, try to snag a ticket on the lead boat, since Santa is on board and there is a dedicated kid space for coloring and crafts. There are adult beverages available for purchase as well. The event will almost always sell out, so book tickets well in advance! If the ship isn’t for you, plan to take the family to designated beaches to view the parade of boats from land!
Another annual family tradition for many Eastside families, there just aren’t enough words to describe how magical this event is. Marching drummers, dancing snow fairies, and even ice queens. You’ll also experience “snow” falling every night. (It’s really a foam machine, but the kids won’t care. It’s still magical!) The event features a parade, music, dancing, and free candy handed out by the character cast. It’s a popular event, though, so be sure to get there early. The event is free and kicks off nightly at 7 pm.
11730 118TH Ave. NE Kirkland, WA 98034
This annual play features local child actors. It’s a tradition for many families and offers a glimpse into theatre life for children. Recommended for ages 4 and up, the show is only offered on weekends. Tickets are $20 per person for all ages.
3429 240th St. SE Bothell, WA 98021
An outdoor lights display, this one is just north of the Eastside. Put on by Bothell’s Evergreen Church, this is a free event. Take advantage of free cookies and cider while you’re there, too.
Finally, let’s talk outside of the Eastside. One of the benefits to living here is the close proximity to Seattle. If you feel like making the trip across the bridge to the big city, here are my favorite holiday events in the city.
1250 1st Ave. Seattle, WA 98134
New to the city this year, this is a traveling display of lights that features the world’s largest Christmas light maze. You’ll find an ice skating trail, as opposed to a rink, which winds you by live entertainment and right to your visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. You need to pre-book your time in the event. Here’s a Groupon for tickets to help save you some cash!
The Sheraton Seattle
1400 6th Ave. Seattle, WA 98101
Now in its 26th year, this is an impressive display of gingerbread houses. Many have moving parts and most are taller than your child! It’s simply magical. Every year they have a different theme — this year is Dr. Seuss. Always a must see!!
Fisher Pavilion & International Fountain
305 Harrison St. Seattle, WA 98109
There are so many activities here! From the Winter Train Village to an ice skating rink and carousel to live ice sculpting demonstrations and live performances all season long. Be sure to check the website before heading down as the schedule changes daily.
These are all amazing activities in our very own backyard. Many of which I have started as traditions in my family!! What are your favorite traditions during this magical time of year!?