The holidays are here and the harbor will soon be all aglow with everything that comes with the season, from Christmas festivities to maybe even some snowfall. Something that always brings the surrounding communities together is the highly anticipated Festival of Lights weekend that takes place each year in Montesano. The festivities begin on Friday, December 7, and go through Sunday, December 9. There is also something new this year called Jingle Lights, a light show that up until last year was done in Central Park.

“The city of Montesano purchased the equipment and so they’re running that show at Fleet Park,” shares Leslie Goings, Festival of Lights parade chair. “Each weekend, there’s a different non-profit. So, they’re asking for donations and then that non-profit for that weekend will get the proceeds.”

Festival of Lights Bayview parade
Last year, Montesano saw over 13,000 people come out for the parade. Don’t miss the chance for the heartwarming experience on December 8. Photo courtesy: Festival of Lights

Each year, there is almost always a set theme, but this year it is just “lights” to welcome the addition of Jingle Lights and to encourage everyone to shine brighter than ever through the parade. “We decided not to do a sub-theme, we’re sticking with the Festival of Lights,” Goings shares. “Part of it is it has been so specific over the last couple of years that we wanted to let some of the participants reuse some of their decorations, but also with Jingle Lights coming this year we really wanted to focus on lights.”

The small town of Montesano becomes especially magical during the holiday season and the festival really brings everyone together to spread the holiday cheer. There is a committee with about 10 people that collaborate for a smooth weekend, but countless harborites participate in several ways, from decorating to hosting events.

“It’s pretty much a city-wide effort,” Goings shares. “The city and public works department, they put up the garland around town, and each business is responsible for doing their own decorating. And then we have just a lot of support, whether it’s monetary sponsorships or donations. Everyone just kind of works together.”

Festival of Lights Yule Log
There’s nothing like a warm Yule log fire to ring in a holiday season and the Festival of Lights weekend has one on Pioneer Street at 7 p.m. on December 8. Photo courtesy: Festival of Lights

Last year, more than 13,000 people came together to watch the parade and this year it’s predicted to be even bigger with some fun new entries to see. “We have quite a few new participants this year that I’m excited about,” Goings shares, adding that places like the Extreme Fun Center and Home Depot will be in the parade now plus the annual entries that always have beautiful displays.

There is so much to see and do throughout the weekend in addition to the parade:

Friday, December 7

  • 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. An art show featuring Ken Hurley at the showroom at Whitney’s Chevrolet
  • 6:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m., and 8:00 p.m., Jingle Lights at Fleet Park
  • 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. live music at the Montesano High School Commons featuring Ken Albert, Gladys Whitney, and Christine Hill. Free admission
  • 9:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. For those 21 and older, check out the Ugly Sweater Dance Party with prizes at Charlie’s Sports Bar

Saturday, December 8 

  • 7:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Pancake breakfast with Santa and an auction at the Montesano Community Center
  • 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Check out Santa’s Sweet Shoppe with treats for all at the Montesano Community Center
  • 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. An art show featuring Ken Hurley at the showroom at Whitney’s Chevrolet
  • 9:00 a.m. participate in the Jingle Bell Jog, a two-mile fun walk or 12k race. Pre-register at Montesano High School, $20 adult/$15 child. Contact: April Pocklington 360-249-4041.
  • 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. See over 60 vendors at the craft fair hosted at the Montesano Junior High gym
  • 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Tour the Grays Harbor Historical Courthouse with tours from local commissioners
  • 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Tours of the Chehalis Valley Historical Museum
  • 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Live performances at the courthouse by Olympic Flute Choir (1:00 p.m.) and Montesano School Choir (2:00 p.m.)
  • 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. See the children’s program at H. Abel Memorial Timberland Library
  • 3:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Enjoy hot beverages, cookie decorating and photos with Santa (kids and pets) with The Odd Fellows at Friendship Hall (formerly Marcy Center)
  • 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Meet at the Umpqua Bank for a scavenger hunt
  • 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Chowder feed by the Montesano Fire Department Volunteer Association, donations appreciated
  • 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. For $3 per person, enjoy homemade chili and cornbread at the Montesano Moose Lodge
  • 4:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Head to the Montesano Fitness Center studio for a cocoa factory activity with all donations going to Connections
  • 4:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Free sweet treats and crafts for kids at Our Community Credit Union inside PickRite with a raffle
  • 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Open house at the W.H. Abel Memorial Library with music and snacks
  • 6:00 p.m. Grand parade with Grand Marshal, Sue Bucy
  • 7:00 p.m. Yule log lighting on Pioneer Street
  • 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Live nativity at Montesano Presbyterian Church
  • 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Jingle Lights at Fleet Park
  • 7:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. $10/child at Kids Rock ‘n Bowl at Bulldog Lanes with hot cocoa bar included
  • 7:30 p.m. Dukes of Swing at Montesano Moose Lodge, free to members, $3 for non-members
  • 9:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. Live music by Feelin’ Good at Gepetto’s
  • 9:00 p.m. Live music by Ready or Not at Charlie’s Sports Bar

Sunday, December 9

  • 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. An art show featuring Ken Hurley at the showroom at Whitney’s Chevrolet
  • 10:00 a.m. Cribbage tournament at Bulldog Lanes, $5 entry, cash prizes
  • 1:00 p.m. Yule log hunt and Christmas sing-a-long at Schafer State Park
  • 7:00 p.m. Christmas Cantata at the United Methodist Church

For more information or inquiries on the festival, check out the Montesano Chamber of Commerce website or visit the Festival of Lights Facebook page. For a complete schedule of Jingle Lights shows that begin on Thanksgiving night, visit the Jingle Lights event page.

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