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Piercing the nighttime darkness, high among the treetops in rural western Washington, is a 100-foot long moving illuminated silhouette of Santa Claus’ sleigh pulled by his eight reindeer. This stunning visual icon is just one of the many displays of the Lights of Christmas Festival near the small town of Stanwood, WA. As you stroll through the grounds below, the over one million Christmas lights that make up this yule time exhibition will enchant you. Live music, craft shopping and even dinner theatre round out the festival’s offerings and make this an exceptional northwest family holiday attraction.
Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Lights of Christmas Festival attracts over 66,000 visitors annually. It is held at the 50 acre Warm Beach Camp and Conference Centre, an auxiliary of the Free Methodist Church, located on the water’s edge of Port Susan across from Camano Island. Conveniently, this holiday festival is just a two hour drive south from Vancouver, BC in nearby Snohomish County.
From the creative light displays and animated Christmas scenes to the piping hot apple cider and hot chocolate with fresh mini donuts, the festival will truly delight both young and old. The wood burning fire pits positioned throughout the grounds are surrounded by adults warming their hands while children roast marshmallows.
A favorite attraction for thousands of children each year is Bruce the Spruce, a talking spruce tree that brings out the joy of Christmas with his storytelling. Plus, there are many other activities and attractions such as pony and train rides, a petting farm, a light maze, make your own toy and ornament workshops and of course Santa Claus.
For a more relaxed visit, the Lights of Christmas Festival offers dinner theater and Sunday dessert matinees, which provide live stage entertainment within this wonderful holiday atmosphere.
Christmas on the Tumblin’d by Victoria Ritchey will be performed on stage this years. Ritchey has directed three previous productions and performs the role of Priscella in this year’s offering. The play takes us back to 1941 where Lucy, a fashionable Boston girl, heads west to spend Christmas on her Aunt’s Colorado ranch. She arrives to find cowboys, music, romance, adventure and a healthy dose of Christmas spirit.
Dinner is a five-course meal with a choice of pepper-crusted prime rib, lemon peppered baked salmon or butternut squash ravioli. For lighter fare, visitors can attend the Sunday Dessert Matinee, enjoy a fine dessert or snack and still have ample time afterwards to view the lighted exhibits.
Guests can extend their stay overnight as the Lights of Christmas Festival offers holiday-themed cottages and a breakfast buffet, making this a perfect family holiday weekend get away. Accommodations on site book up quickly so we opted to stay at the Angel of the Winds hotel, a 20 minute drive from the venue. Holiday packages at Angel of the Winds include a deluxe room for two, a VIP shopping packet, breakfast for two at their buffet, a $20 Casino funbook and complimentary shuttle service to Seattle Premium Outlet Mall.
Thousands of families have already made this fabulous festival one of their holiday traditions, returning year after year to enjoy the dazzling lights and fun activities. With beautiful displays, live entertainment, food, drinks and shopping, the Lights of Christmas Festival is sure to brighten up the dark nights of the pacific northwest.
Photos: Lui Ming Quan
If you go:
20800 Marine Dr. Stanwood, WA
December 1-4, 8-11, 15-18, 20-23, 26-28, 2016 5 – 10 pm
Admission: adults $16, seniors $12, youth $11
Free parking on site.
The Lights of Christmas offers onsite accommodation.
3438 Stoluckquamish Lane, Arlington WA