Wintertide holiday light show at Everett's Evergreen Arboretum
The sun sets in Seattle today at 4:19 p.m., no joke. And it’s soooo cooooold. But while it’s tempting to remain at home clutching your mug of hot tea, checking out a dazzling light display — especially a free one! — makes for such a fun family outing that it’s worth finding everyone’s hats and mittens for.
All of the big Seattle-area holiday light shows are in full swing, but tickets are selling fast and some are a bit of a splurge. 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 our winter nights — and spirits.
Bundle up and head out in the darkness to revel in the beautiful light:
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. 4.
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.
Illuminate Winterfest: Seattle Center is all decked out with lights. Wander around the campus, check out the Winter Train & Village in the Armory, or catch the last couple of free Armory performances. To top it all off, the Space Needle fireworks are back! Join in person to marvel at the show mixing fireworks, lights and drones (?!), or stay home on the couch and watch it all on King 5.
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 carries on this favorite tradition, 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. The lights are up through Jan. 7.
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 at the J will be sparkling every evening through Jan. 1.
Evergreen Christmas Lights: This Bothell church is offering a free light show with music, for its eleventh year. All are welcome to stop by and enjoy the light show, twinkling every night through Dec. 24.
Tacoma Light Trail: This community light fest kicks off with a parade and a performance on Dec. 31. Turn up to close out 2022 in sparkling fashion, and/or wander the light trail at your leisure every night through Jan. 19. It is sure to put some dazzle into dreary January. In addition, special events may dot the light trail, so check the schedule.
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 Light 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 of the lovely light displays, 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 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 of 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.
Editor’s note: This article was first published in 2020 and just updated for 2022.