The Northwest in winter is all about pulling on your beanie and plaid shirt and glorying in the scenic beauty of the chilly season. The holidays are almost upon us and it’s time to enjoy the run-up to Christmas by taking in all the seasonal entertainment that the region has to offer.
Tis the season in the Northwest
Washington’s scenic mountain village with a Bavarian vibe is a popular winter getaway destination. The weekends leading up to the big day feature a Christmas Lighting Festival with over half a million lights, creating a magical atmosphere for live festive music and plenty of warming refreshments.
Where: Downtown Leavenworth WA
Claiming to be the largest holiday festival in the Pacific Northwest, the Stanwood events light up every weekend throughout December. The Warm Beach Campsite features dazzling light displays, live entertainment, children’s activities, refreshments, Christmas gift stalls, and plenty more. Selected dates also offer pay-what-you-can admission for visitors on a tight budget.
Where: 20800 Marine Dr, Stanwood, WA
5 weeks of festive activities make the Seattle Center the city’s go-to holiday venue. Winterfest’s Ice Rink, Train and Holiday Village are at the hub of the action, but there are also live performances, dance parties, and fireworks displays. There is a full day of ice carving displays and workshops on Sunday, December 17.
Where: Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St, Seattle, WA
4. Mt. Hood
Holiday season takes a firm grip on Oregon’s Mt. Hood territory from the start of December. Highlights include a holiday craft and gifts fair, a pioneer-style Christmas in the Country show, and Santa’s personal visit to Ski Bowl. A thrilling fantasy trail leads visitors through a maze and tunnels around a romantic castle, lit up with Christmas scenes.
Where: Various locations, Mount Hood Territory, OR
Don a Santa suit and hat and congregate with fellow revelers at sites around Portland. The gatherings are spontaneous celebrations of the season. Portland’s events are scheduled for December 2 and December 16, but others may be organized at short notice. The December 16 event is an illuminated costume party, with the theme of “Misfit Toys.”
Where: December 2, Paul Bunyan Statue, Portland OR, December 16, Stumptown, Portland OR
The luxury resort in the Cascades hosts a wealth of holiday activities for families. The Traditions Celebration offers horse-drawn sleigh rides through a snowy meadow, followed by hot chocolate and stories from one of Santa’s elves. Visit Santa’s workshop to check on progress with the toys, or marvel at the glorious creations in Gingerbread Junction.
Where: 17600 Center Dr, Sunriver, OR
This luxury resort destination gets into the festive spirit with its memorable Journey to the North Pole cruise across Lake Coeur d’Alene. The 1.5 million lights arrayed over the lake create a spectacular display, and the magic continues when you arrive at the North Pole toy workshop where Santa greets each visiting child by name.
Where: 115 S 2nd St, Coeur d’Alene, ID
Spring Creek Ranch in the Teton Range brings guests lavish helpings of holiday magic with an activities program that includes sleigh rides and dog sledding, snowshoe treks on the butte, and winter wildlife safaris. There is also no end of eggnog, candy canes, freshly baked cookies, and hot cocoa in the Ranch House.
Where: 1600 East Butte Rd, Jackson, WY
This celebrated alpine retreat in Montana is the perfect escape for the holiday season. Festive events at Rock Creek include ice-skating on the pond, thoughtfully equipped with a warming shed and hot cocoa. Try sledding or downhill skiing, and enjoy a visit from Santa and his elves.
Where: 79 Carriage House Lane, Philipsburg, MT
All aboard the Alaska Railroad for the stunning Aurora Winter Train journey through the Alaska backcountry. In December, there are Saturday and selected midweek departures on the 12-hour journey from Anchorage to Fairbanks, with the return leg on Sundays. It’s the rail journey version of Winter Wonderland, with pristine snowscape vistas.
Where: Alaska Railroad, Anchorage, AK
Snow is pretty much a given in the Northwest, but all the other ingredients for a magical holiday season are also present. Whether you ride the rails or sled over the snow, get your skates on or pull on a Santa suit, enjoy another memorable holiday season out west.