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holiday lights zoolights

Point Defiance Zoo's Zoolights (Courtesy of Point Defiance Zoo)

Holiday lights all around! Your 2020 guide

Great places to brighten up late fall and winter.

Coming soon: There are all sorts of changes to how we can gather safely for holiday festivities this year. But with timed tickets for walkers (purchased ahead) and drive-thru light displays, too, we can keep this upcoming holiday season merry and bright.

Here are 8 great ways to see the lights in 2020.

1) Lanterns light up the holidays

UPDATE, Dec. 21: This event is SOLD OUT: This year at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, light displays go wild. The event is now WildLanterns; watch out for lightup jellyfish and tigers and bears. (Oh, my!) Nov. 13-Jan. 17. Timed tickets only, online tickets recommended.   Also: Pro tips from a family who went with two small kids

2) Drive-thru magic in Stanwood
The Lights of Christmas in Stanwood has gone drive-thru this year. Highlights: Drive-thru snacks (including hot mini doughnuts) and costumed characters. Nov. 27-Dec. 30.  Also: Find out how our reviewers like it and read their tips

3) Point Defiance comes alive
Zoolights illuminates Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma again with 700,000 dazzling LED lights. Look out for light tunnels and Sasquatch! Nov. 27-Jan. 3. Timed online tickets only. Read a parent review here.

4) Walk through Pioneer Square

Light displays throughout Seattle’s Pioneer Square Neighborhood

The Alliance for Pioneer Square and LUSIO are lighting up Pioneer Square with a winter public-light art experience. The self-guided tour runs through Jan. 14, 2.021. Here’s where to find the lights, which will shine from 4 to 8 p.m. daily. There’s also a selfie contest, and merchants are offering free parking on weekends with a purchase. More information here.

5) New in Maple Valley: DAZZLE

This new holiday event, opening Dec. 10, is described as “a lighting spectacular will thrill the senses of the entire family.” It’s a walk-through “sparkling wonderland” with LED lights, music and theatrical aspects. It will also have food, hot cocoa and a vendor village emphasizing local businesses. The event runs from 5-9 p.m. nightly through Jan. 3 at 21401 244th Ave. S.E., Maple Valley. Details here, plus advanced ticket purchases (preferred) and safety/social-distance guidelines. Gifts of money and nonperishable food accepted for Maple Valley Food Bank, and a portion of event proceeds will be donated.


6) Big, beautiful and by the lake
Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Park was already ready for 2020: It’s the state’s largest drive-thru light display. Bonus: The trail runs alongside scenic Spanaway Lake. Nov. 21-Jan. 3.

7) Festive fairgrounds
Cruise through the Purple Gate for 2020 Holiday Magic, a drive-thru event with whimsical light displays (and food and hot cocoa stands) at the Fairgrounds in Puyallup.
Tickets sold online only (and very hard to come by!) Dec. 4-Jan. 3

8) Neighborhood merriment
Round up friends for a merry social-distancing and caroling walk to see the neighborhood lights. Take COVID-19 precautions: Don’t be too insistent that anyone bring you some figgy pudding. Lots of neighborhood maps and contests have sprung up. Here’s one from PhinneyWood; and the clever folks at the Mercer Island Preschool Association have created a fundraiser by offering a holiday-lights map and scavenger hunt for $10.

More on the holidays

Zoolights 2020: outdoor holiday fun at Point Defiance Zoo

New for 2020: WildLanterns holiday event at Woodland Park Zoo

Gift-Worthy Cookies for the Holidays

About the Author

Jillian O'Connor

Jillian O’Connor is managing editor of the Seattle's Child print magazine. She lives in Seattle with her husband, two sons and a dog named after the Loch Ness Monster.