The holiday season is here and with it comes Pierce County community outdoor light displays to dazzle and delight all ages. Bundle up the family, grab to-go cups of hot cocoa, put on holiday tunes and hit the road for the magic of holiday light displays in Tacoma, Spanaway and, for the first time ever, Puyallup. Get into the spirit of the season with breathtaking twinkling lights and create fun, family memories.
Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Lake Park
14905 Bresemann Blvd. South, Spanaway
November 21 – January 3
Nightly from 5:30 – 9:00 p.m. including Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day
Opening the Saturday before Thanksgiving, Fantasy Lights will have the earliest opening date of any of the area’s outdoor holiday shows. They have even ‘kicked it up a notch’ further this year with snow boys that kick field goals and the addition of a vibrant, animated velociraptor. They boast that their 700,000 lights in the drive-thru exhibits exceed all others in the Northwest and comprise nearly 300 displays. Holiday music can be tuned-in on AM 1700 during the tour. Admission prices vary from $10 (private car) to $45 (bus) depending on the number of occupants. Purchase tickets online in advance or at the gate.
Holiday Magic at The Washington State Fair
110 9th Ave SW, Puyallup
December 4 – January 3
Check online for ticket reservation dates and times
Brand new! The inaugural! The first time ever! Be there or be square! Holiday Magic is Puyallup’s answer to the cancellation of A Victorian Country Christmas and the Extreme Christmas Tree Lighting (both of which were canceled) this year. Holiday Magic is a delightful, whimsical drive-thru experience with a Christmas music soundtrack on an FM radio channel you can tune to during the event for the whole family to enjoy. Get in the holiday spirit with activities like a fun scavenger hunt, Candy Cane Lane and festive fair foods (hot cocoa, scones, turkey legs, elephant ears). Tickets are being gobbled up fast! Several dates are already sold-out. Pricing is per carload. Sponsored by Columbia Bank, this new event is one to not miss.
Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium
5400 North Pearl Street, Tacoma
November 27 – January 3
5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
See the zoo transformed into a winter wonderland. Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium is a walking tour of the zoo that is an extremely popular family tradition year after year. It is decorated with eye-popping, colorful displays throughout the grounds with the exceptions of the aquariums, goat area and carousel that will be closed for safety. Everyone age five and up must wear a face covering unless they have been given a medical exemption. Tickets must be purchased ahead of time, no walk-up or purchase at the gate. Admission prices are $5.50 – $14.00. Tickets are timed, i.e. you must arrive on time and they cannot be rescheduled or refunded. Carefully check all the details on the website when you order your family’s tickets so there is no confusion or disappointment. Zoolights will be closed on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Neighborhood Light Displays
With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror, my husband Charles and I set out in search of outdoor Christmas light displays at homes around Tacoma and Pierce County.
With a full moon and broken clouds ahead of a promised windy and rainy evening, we headed out in our antique red sleigh that we call ‘Red Beauty’, a ’91 Volvo, powered by four tiny reindeer (aka cylinders) chugging along up the hills and treacherous cobblestone streets of Tacoma.
In four-and-a-half hours, we crisscrossed the entire city of Tacoma from the Narrows, North End, Downtown, Old Town, Proctor District, Point Defiance, East Side, South End, West End, 6th Avenue District and beyond.
Our search extended to Fircrest — a town we know well. Fircrest is renowned for its plethora of bears as wood carvings. However, what was most prevalent among the Christmas décor we observed was not bears or wood carvings, but a nod to aviation in the form of Snoopy and The Red Baron. It seemed there were numerous homes that had inflatable, motorized aircraft on their lawn with the propeller spinning and Snoopy on board with his scarf waving in the breeze.
We continued through University Place in search of the most creative and dazzling outdoor light displays for the holidays. I worked at Bridgeport Place for years so this was all familiar territory, too.
From UP, we headed out to Lakewood. Charles and I lived in Lakewood when we were first married more than 25 years ago.
After scouring Lakewood, it was on to Steilacoom. Again, Steilacoom is like home to both of us. We owned Love Me Now Floral Design there for years and I served on the Chamber of Commerce. My kids and I lived there long before that. So, we have lots of community connections there. I even served as one of the judges for the Holiday Decorating Contest each year at Christmastime.
We drove along Chambers Creek Road up to the very top of the bluff overlooking Chambers Bay where there are lovely homes that have traditionally had extensive light displays. To date, there are a few homes in that area that have outdoor lights completed. One of those is based on a Seahawks theme with the team flag flying and strings of lights around the architectural features of the roofline in green and blue.
On the opposite side of Steilacoom is Cormorant Passage, another lovely residential area with a waterfront view across Puget Sound. We found a handful of homes with outdoor lighted décor. One had inflatable Minions© and Star Wars© figures posed together on their front lawn.
Coming across religious-themed displays, it’s always a delight to see when families tie their Christmas decorations to their beliefs with manger scenes and baby Jesus. Some even included the Three Wise Men.
At one home in Fircrest, the family had placed a large plaque on a tree that begins by saying, “We believe.”
A home in North Tacoma features a revolving color wheel lighting their garage door with “Christ is Born” in addition to a flurry of other electric lights on and around their home.
During our adventure to find holiday lights, we found Frosty the Snowman as the #1 most popular outdoor décor figure. Not just Frosty, but he and other snowmen in a variety of fun configurations.
Santa Claus is #2 as most the most popular figure and is found caricatured everywhere from the fat-guy who’d never make it down any chimney to a scrawny little Santa you feel sorry for wondering how he can feed his reindeer. But he’s out there!
Our sleigh ride in ‘Red Beauty’ was not to present an award or choose a winner, but of all the homes and displays we feasted our eyes and hearts upon, (if we could) we would name as 2020’s Best of Tacoma and Pierce County Holiday Lighting Display the home at the corner of North 53rd and Winnifred in Tacoma. Our hats are off to you! The display is comprehensive, classy, balanced, something for everyone! You’ve got it all — well done!
Hop in your own sleigh (car) and find the merriment in your neighborhood Pierce County. Merry Christmas!