Credit: JiaYing Grygiel
A winter wonderland in a parking garage? Now this I had to see.
Starlight Lane is a new drive-through holiday show in the stadium garage of Lumen Field (formerly CenturyLink Field). When I first heard about it, I imagined twinkling lights, festive elves, prancing reindeer.
The show was not what I expected at all. With its laser beams and disco balls, it felt like we were driving through a nightclub. The effect is strangely edgy and industrial, less cozy and cheery.
The show covers two levels of the parking garage and features a lot of pulsing lights and fog machines with long stretches between Christmas decorations. (There are three reindeer, to be fair, and a snowman.)
The show is unique to Seattle, produced by an all-local crew. The coronavirus has hit the event industry hard. With no corporate events, no parties, no concerts to pull off, here’s an opportunity for local lighting companies to show off their stuff, and for people to go out and do something festive that’s COVID-safe.
Like the other holiday events this year, tickets to Starlight Lane sold out like hotcakes, in just four days. A second round of tickets was just released, adding nine more days to the show's run. Each evening can accommodate about 300 cars; tickets start at $40 ($51 with fees).
The show isn’t especially designed for kids, except for the part featuring Santa. He’s dimly lit, so when I saw him I thought at first that he was a mannequin. But then he waved. Seeing an actual live Santa, through the car windows, was definitely the highlight for my kids.
When you enter, tune your radio to 90.5 FM to listen to pop Christmas music as you drive through. The reception is scratchy, however, because you’re in a garage. Plan on spending 30 minutes max inside. You must stay in your own car, with the windows up. There are no drinks or food items for sale, and there are no restrooms. At the end of the show, you can donate new or like-new toys to Toys for Kids.
Why a parking garage? Drive-throughs are the way to go this year, but they’re mostly located outside the city, in places like Spanaway, Stanwood and Puyallup. Within Seattle, there aren’t many venues that accommodate a lot of cars. So a parking garage in SODO it is.
The good thing about Starlight Lane is that it’s an easy destination for people who live in the city. But I was more excited to see the (free) neighborhood lights on the drive home because they didn’t flash. I haven’t been clubbing since the ’90s, so I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the target demographic for this show.
If you go...
Where: Starlight Lane takes place at the Lumen Field Event Center Garage (formerly CenturyLink Field), 800 Occidental Ave. S., Seattle. Enter the garage at street level off the corner of Occidental Avenue South and South Royal Brougham Way.
When: The event runs on select dates through Jan. 3, 2021. Some evenings start at 5 p.m., others start at 6 p.m. Check the event website for details.
Cost: Tickets start at $40 per vehicle, which comes to $51 with fees.