Driving to the Lights of Christmas in Stanwood the week before last, I was more excited than my children. Not only is this something I have come to love over the years, it has become a family tradition for us.
We arrived prepared for the cold, a chilly 24 degrees. My children, ages one and three, wore two layers of clothes, mittens and a hat, and were bundled up with a blanket. After parking, we took the short walk to the entrance and were relieved when we spotted a fire pit, where we took a couple of minutes to warm up while watching people hurry in. We were all eager to see the lights.
The Lights of Christmas, located at Warm Beach Camp, is in its 17th year, with its popularity growing each year. Spread over 15 acres, it one million lights, five entertainment stages, a petting farm, pony rides, train rides, snack shops and more.
Despite the cold, it was crowded. We strolled slowly, taking in all the lights while stopping occasionally to warm up at one of the fire pits, which are located throughout the camp. The one million lights are strung to form a variety of amazing scenes, such as angels heralding with bugles against a brilliant backdrop of mountains to an ocean with “fish” that blink on and off, as though they were jumping from the water.
"Mom, it's Santa!" said my oldest. I followed his gaze to the top of a building with Santa and his reindeer lit up. We spotted a lumberjack, musical notes up high, mountain landscapes and many other breathtaking displays.
As we walked along, amazed by all the lights, the music of Christmas carolers filled the night. We breathed in the cold air and the smell of popcorn and cinnamon.
There are dozens of activities beyond the light displays. Kids love the pony rides, Polar Express train ride, Santa visits, story-telling and petting farm. Adults will have fun shopping (Joyland Ornament Shop, Elfland Toyshop) and the nightly entertainment. Everyone will enjoy Bruce the Spruce, Washington State’s only talking Christmas tree.
We eventually made it to the line for Bruce, which was long and moved slowly, in part because Bruce — a big tree with huge red lips and blue eyes — took five minutes or more to chat with each group. He asked for names and where people were from, followed by a couple of funny questions. To the adults, the origin of Bruce’s voice was obvious (piped in from the building next door), but to the children, he was a magical Christmas tree.
A final highlight of our chilly night at the Lights: My son discovered he could see his breath and was amazed by this. "I'm making my own fog!" He exclaimed.
We left feeling cold, full and ready for bed.
Lights of Christmas tips
- Food options, from sweets, hot dogs, clam chowder, chicken wings to pretzels, popcorn and fries. Don't forget about the hot fresh mini-donuts -- well worth the long lines.
- Bundle up! Parents, don't forget to dress warm too!
- Cash preferred, ATMS available.
- Leave your furry friends at home; no pets are allowed.
If you go ...
Where: Warm Beach Camp, 20800 Marine Drive, Stanwood
Cost: $10–$15. Pay what you can night is Dec. 29. Kids 3 and under are free. Free parking.
Hours: Every weekend in December, 5–10 p.m.
Overnight accommodations are available.
About the author: Christina is a writer who lives in Arlington with her husband and two children. She enjoys books, all things vintage and coffee.