Credit: JiaYing Grygiel
Update Dec. 14: The Fair is releasing additional tickets and they go on sale at noon today. Get them quick!
It was like being stuck in traffic, in the best sense possible: surrounded by pretty lights, Christmas music on the radio, the scent of warm Fisher Scones with raspberry jam.
Holiday Magic at The Fair is a new, drive-through event at the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup. It opens tonight and runs through Jan. 3. The event is so popular that its initial 10,000 tickets have already sold out. (Hope you got yours.)
You can tell people are hungry for COVID-safe holiday outings when an entire event sells out before opening day. The appeal is obvious. We’ve all been cooped up so long, with more long, dark days ahead. For Holiday Magic, you stay in your own car the entire time — with just your own family germs. (You must wear a mask if you get out of the car to order food or use the restroom.) And you can’t beat the price — $25 per vehicle. Load up the kids!
What it's like
Holiday Magic is a brand-new event for 2020, featuring 10-plus acres of lights and holiday displays. To maximize the experience, tune your radio to FM 101.5 for accompanying Christmas music. Plan on spending 30 to 45 minutes driving the route, depending on whether you pull over to buy food or merchandise.
All along the route, people wearing light-up necklaces directed traffic efficiently. “Drive slow or you’re going to miss fun stuff,” the greeter at the entrance told us. “Merry Christmas!”
The décor was installed in-house, not by a third party. Some of it came from Wild Waves, some of it from Enchant, the light show that was at the ballpark the past two years. (Not like they were going to need it this year). Holiday Magic is not as polished as Enchant or as exquisite as WildLanterns at Woodland Park Zoo, but it’s got that fun kitschy Fair vibe.
Your kids will spot penguins coasting down a giant slide, huge blow-up animals, a miniature train with supersized stuffies onboard. There’s even the RV from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” At the center stands an enormous Christmas tree you can see from a mile away.
There are vendors selling pizza, popcorn and fudge, though the most popular stand we saw was the Fisher Scones booth selling its famous scones for $18 for a baker’s dozen. You can also buy fun light-up toys, and who doesn’t need a shirt that says, “Baby, it’s COVID outside”?
One of the ticket add-ons is a pair of special holographic glasses that turn all the lights into snowflakes, well worth the extra $2.50. Each car also gets a scratch-off scavenger hunt sheet, which you redeem at the exit for a surprise goodie bag. Spoiler: You'll get Christmas-themed rubber duckies and tickets to the Spring Fair in April (seems fairly optimistic).
Doin’ the Puyallup
In a normal year, the late-summer Washington State Fair draws more than a million visitors. This year was the first time it’s had to be canceled since World War II. Miss The Fair? Get your Fair fix at Holiday Magic. You’ll drive by the Farm at Sillyville, see the iconic wooden roller coaster aglow with colored uplights and you can eat all your favorite Fair food.
Our family's favorite part of the drive-through was the tunnel of lights. Little flecks of green flickered into our car, and we drove as slowly as we dared through the multi-colored strands. And then suddenly we were at the exit and my kids were asking, “Wait, we’re leaving?” It was over all too soon.
If you go...
Where: Holiday Magic at The Fair takes place at the Washington State Fair Events Center, 110 9th Ave. S.W. in Puyallup. Enter through the Purple Gate, off Fairview Drive on the west side of the fairgrounds.
When: This event runs select nights Dec. 4, 2020–Jan. 3, 2021.
Cost: Timed-entry tickets start at $25 per vehicle and are currently sold out.
More holiday-season fun for families: