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Free Seattle-Area Holiday Light Shows to Brighten Your Winter

Where families can find sparkle in 2021

Nancy Chaney
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Published on: December 16, 2021

Wintertide holiday light show at Everett;s Evergreen Arboretum among free light shows families can see near Seattle
Photo:
Wintertide holiday light show at Everett's Evergreen Arboretum

We are desperate for some light in the darkness this time of year, and 2021 seems a little extra dark and rainy (or is that just me?). Lots of our big Seattle-area holiday light shows are in full swing, but tickets are selling fast.

But don't worry if you didn’t get any tickets or your budget won’t allow for a pricey outing. Lots of Puget Sound-area communities are serving up free holiday light displays to brighten families’ winter nights — and spirits.

Mask up, bundle up and head out in the darkness to revel in the sparkling lights:

Google’s Musical Holiday Lights: This free show is set up along the Cross Kirkland Corridor. Dance to holiday music programmed to sync with the lights — by Google engineers, of course. The show is on through Jan. 1. Free parking in the Google lot.

Bonus: On your way over, pop by Kirkland’s Marina Park at 5 p.m. for a nightly tree lighting, all through December.

Redmond Lights: Enchanting Redmond Lights is back in its extended version, lighting up Downtown Park and along the way to Redmond Town Center. Just wander around or download the free self-guided tour. The lights are sparkling every night through Jan. 5.

Light art installations at Redmond Lights among free holiday light displays near Seattle
Redmond Lights

Wintertide Lights: North Sound families can take a lovely stroll through Everett’s Evergreen Arboretum, currently all dressed up and glowing in lights. Catch this display through Dec. 31.

View of Wintertide Lights free holiday season light display Everett Washington
Wintertide Lights

Campus Luminata: Lots of Seattle Center's awesome holiday fun is back, including the Winter Train & Village and free Armory Stage entertainment. On top of that, the whole Seattle Center campus is sparkling with color-changing lights, and the tree of lights sits atop the Space Needle. Pretty magical, through Dec. 31. (Note that the Space Needle will have fireworks on New Year's Eve, but people are not supposed to gather at Seattle Center; instead, stay home and watch the show on TV.)

Bonus: If you have Lego fans, and the budget, the Awesome Lego Exhibition is set up inside Fisher Pavilion, usually home of the Winterfest ice rink, through Jan. 16.

View of the Space Needle at Seattle Center at holiday time and Seattle Center campus dressed up in lights
Credit: Nancy Chaney

Renton Holiday Lights: This show at Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park replaces Clam Lights, a beloved free show that, not surprisingly, was sponsored by Ivar’s. The city of Renton has reinvented the show and all are welcome to enjoy the lights, twinkling every night through Jan. 1.

Downtown Holiday Lights: Downtown Seattle wants to welcome residents and visitors for shopping and sightseeing. Among the enticements are sparkling sculptures created with lights at Westlake Park and Occidental Square. In addition, each park hosts special events, including live music, free treats, stocking-decorating and more. The lights are up through Jan. 9, but check the specific dates of special events.

Lights Up at the J: Mercer Island's Stroum Jewish Community Center invites the community to walk among trees decorated with lights and enjoy light-art displays. The lights are part of Illuminate MI, a community effort to show some light in the darkness around Mercer Island. The lights at the J will be sparkling every evening through Jan. 3.

SLU After Dark: This interactive display is like a light-up playground! Visit Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood and stop at four light-art installations. Hop on the teeter-totters set up in the shadow of the Amazon Spheres and dash through a tunnel of light. These nifty-light-sculpture play things will be around through Dec. 31.

Light up teeter totters are set up in front of Seattle’s Amazon Spheres for a South Lake Union neighborhood light art display
Impulse, part of SLU After Dark.

Christmas Lights at Evergreen: After only being able to offer a virtual show last year, this Bothell church is back at it, welcoming all in the community to stop by and enjoy the magical light show. Watch the light show and enjoy free cookies; warm beverages are available for purchase.

Tacoma Light Trail: This community light fest kicks off with a parade and a performance, in addition to the light-art installations around downtown Tacoma. Say goodbye to 2021 on a sparkly family stroll on New Year’s Eve, or brighten up your dreary January on any night through Jan. 16.

Sometimes the best thing to do is walk or drive around your own neighborhood to marvel at the lights. A few neighborhoods coordinate their efforts and really go all out. These are among them:

Winter Porch Parade: The cities of Bothell, Kenmore, Lake Forest Park and Shoreline have invited residents to decorate their homes in lights, then register their address to show on a map. Pick a section of the map and cruise by all the lovely lights, through Dec. 31.

Candy Cane Lane: A string of homes on Northeast Park Road off of 20th Avenue Northeast and Ravenna Boulevard in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood has been wowing neighbors with lights since the 1940s.

Olympic Manor neighborhood: This mid-century neighborhood just north of Ballard in northwest Seattle, is famous for its residents’ holiday lights efforts. Some folks just drive the streets, but we recommend parking and walking. You won’t risk fender benders from drivers distracted by all the pretty lights, and you’ll get to look more closely at the amazing displays.

Sammamish’s Timberline neighborhood: This Eastside neighborhood is known for residents who really deck out their homes in lights. Past years’ displays have included a Grinch House and the Polar Express Station.

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