This time last year, the Washington State Fair ran a wildly popular drive-through holiday light show. At that point, no one was vaccinated and everyone desperately needed somewhere to go during a year of virtual everything. It was a long drive for a short reward.
This year Holiday Magic at the Fair is an in-person, park-your-car and walk-right-in event. A million times better. On a scale of one to four, we give it four scones!
Holiday Magic is not around for long, though, just 13 select dates through Dec. 31. (That means buy your tix asap.)
Getting in the spirit
Parking at Holiday Magic is free, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get a parking spot as far away as possible from the Green Gate entrance. That way, you start things right with a free tractor-drawn wagon or shuttle van ride to the gate, caroling all the way.
At the entrance, a friendly employee checked our vaccine cards. Per state mandate, everyone 12 and older is required to show vaccine verification or a negative Covid test from within 72 hours. If you forgot, there’s a tent conveniently next to the entrance with free Covid tests (until 8 p.m.). Everyone ages 5 and older is required to wear a mask, indoors and outdoors.
Once in the gate, we beelined it to the rides, which are free and unlimited. We hopped on the merry-go-round and Santa’s Express Train, which takes you through a tunnel and around a loop to see lights. So much better than last year, when we could only watch the train chugging along from our car.
My 6-year-old’s favorite was Santa’s Village. For Holiday Magic, the cluster of buildings that is normally the Farm at Sillyville was decked out to look like Santa’s workshop, a candy factory, a gift wrap station and Mrs. Claus’ kitchen. Adorable. Each kid got a mini stocking to fill with goodies at each stop. The sweet ladies at the last stop, Mrs. Claus’ kitchen, offered us milk and cookies by a cozy fireplace.
Photos ops and more fun
If you like, dress in your holiday best so you’re ready to knock out a fabulous family pic for your holiday card. There’s a photo op with the RV from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and an entire building filled with fun backgrounds. Pretend to be inside a snow globe, relax on a tropical beach with a snowman or settle into a woodland scene with gnomes.
The indoor ice-skating rink is an additional $10 per person onsite, or $8 if you bought a ticket in advance online. We opted to skip the ice skating because there was so much other stuff to do.
There’s an arena with a cool laser light show, a barn with a giant indoor light tunnel and a display about holidays around the world. Don’t miss the manger with darling real-life animals: a sheep, a donkey, a goat and a cow munching on hay in a living, moving Nativity scene.
We attended Holiday Magic on opening night, and were surprised it wasn’t at all packed. There was hardly any wait for the rides. We were glad to see lots of seating outdoors, and the buildings had their entrances wide open for ventilation. Even if you go on a wet night (there’s a good chance you will), most of the activities are under shelter.
Out of the park
Last year’s event was what could be managed at that time. This year, the Fair really hit it out of the park. We appreciated that the staff members were so kind to the kids. Props to the Fair for pulling off such a fun, safe event for families.
We fought through Friday rush hour traffic to get to the fairgrounds, and by the time everyone was ready to go home, we’d blown through dinnertime and bedtime. Dinner wound up being warm Fisher scones with jam, which hit at least two food groups, right? The kids went home clutching their stockings with happy, sticky faces. Completely worth it.
If you go...
Where: Holiday Magic takes place at the Washington State Fair Events Center — also known as the Puyallup fairgrounds — at 110 9th Avenue S.W. in Puyallup. Puyallup is about a 45-minute drive from either Seattle or Bellevue, and about 20 minutes from Tacoma.
When: Holiday Magic operates Dec. 17–23 and 26–31, 5–10 p.m. (last entry at 9:30 p.m.)
Tickets: Book your date-specific tickets online for the best prices: $20 for ages 13 and older; $15 for kids ages 6–12; kids ages 5 and younger enter free. If you buy tickets at the gate, it’s an extra $2.50 per ticket.
Entrance and parking: The entrance to Holiday Magic is at the Green Gate, off Fairview Drive on the west side of the fairgrounds. Parking in the Green Lot is free.
Good to know:
More holiday fun in 2021: