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Christmas in the Northwest

Fun Things to Do During the Holiday Season


Central Ave in Whitefish decorated for the holidays with view of Big Mountain.

Central Ave in Whitefish decorated for the holidays, with view of Big Mountain.

©Brian Schott

We have many different ways to celebrate Christmas in the Northwest. Our mountains and forests are great places to go choose and cut your own tree, or to enjoy snow sports such as tubing and skiing. Holiday parades, tree lighting ceremonies, and craft fairs are offered in most every community, making it a great time for a Christmas-themed getaway.

Here are some of the top Christmas events in the Northwest:

Christmas Parades in the Northwest
Santa often makes his first appearance of the season at Christmas parades. The Northwest has a tradition of boat and ship parades, where the decorations and lights reflect off the water to magnificent effect. Many of these holiday parades take place during the days following Thanksgiving, while others run throughout the season.

  • Parade of Lights in Missoula, Montana
    Santa headlines this festive holiday parade through downtown Missoula.
  • Portland Christmas Ship Parade in Portland, Oregon
    Portland's Christmas Ship Parade is an annual event on the Columbia and Willamette rivers.
  • Downtown Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony in Seattle, Washington
    This annual Westlake Center celebration ends with not only a Christmas tree lighting but fireworks.
  • Christmas Ship Festival in Seattle, Washington
    Music and lights on the waters around Seattle, headed up by an Argosy cruise ship.
  • Cheyenne Christmas Parade in Cheyenne, Wyoming
    All the traditional parade fun with a Christmas theme.

Christmas Light Shows and Festivals in the Northwest
The twinkles and color of lights are everywhere during the holiday season, whether on a yacht, a downtown storefront, or a path at the zoo.

  • Candle Lighting Festival in North Pole, Alaska
    Festivities include the crowning of the year's North Pole King and Queen and a Christmas carol sing-a-long.
  • Holiday Lights Show at The Coeur d'Alene Resort in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
    The whole family can enjoy holiday lights, fireworks, and festive lake cruises throughout the Christmas season at the The Coeur d'Alene Resort.
  • Zoolights at the Oregon Zoo in Portland, Oregon
    Every holiday season the Oregon Zoo becomes a Christmas wonderland of colorful lights and decorations.
  • Portland Courthouse Square Tree Lighting in Portland, Oregon
    This annual tree lighting ceremony is held on Thanksgiving evening at Portland's Courthouse Square.
  • Christmas Lighting Festival in Leavenworth, Washington
    Live music, food, and festivities in Leavenworth's Front Street Park.
  • Zoolights in Tacoma, Washington
    Every year, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium puts on a lavish holiday light display.

Outdoor Christmas Fun in the Northwest
It might be more than a bit chilly, but getting outdoors during the Christmas season can be fun for the whole family. Most of these outdoor events include hot cocoa or fresh doughnuts, making them an extra special treat.

  • Cut Your Own Christmas Tree
    The Northwest's national forests sell permits allowing you to cut your own tree. You'll also find choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms throughout the Northwest.
  • The Grotto Christmas Festival of Lights in Portland, Oregon
    The Grotto, a 62-acre Catholic Shrine and botanical garden in Portland, puts on a fantastic and moving Christmas Festival of Lights each year.
  • Winter Garden aGlow in Boise, Idaho
    The Idaho Botanical Garden in Boise decorates their grounds in 250,000 twinkling lights to celebrate the winter holiday season.

Holiday Trains in the Northwest
Kids love Christmas and they love trains - combine the two and you're sure to have some holiday fun.

  • Christmas Holiday Train in Anchorage, Alaska
    This family-friendly Alaska Railroad event includes Santa, sweet treats, and festive and scenic train ride..
  • Thunder Mountain Train in Horseshoe Bend, Idaho
    This railroad puts on a number of special train rides during the holiday season, including the North Pole Express.
  • Christmas Trains at Mount Hood Railroad in Hood River, Oregon
    Mount Hood Railroad offers a number of Christmas-themed trains, including The Polar Express, Christmas Tree Trains, and Holiday Brunch Trains.

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