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Published: Saturday, December 10, 2011, 12:01 a.m.

Warm Beach's dazzling display brightens December's dark nights

  • Cedar Lodge is the landmark facility of Warm Beach Camp at The Lights of Christmas festival.

    Patrick Taylor / The Lights of Christmas

    Cedar Lodge is the landmark facility of Warm Beach Camp at The Lights of Christmas festival.

  • Visitors can ride the Polar Express train at the Lights of Christmas.

    Visitors can ride the Polar Express train at the Lights of Christmas.

  • Ben Stephanie tells Santa his wish list for Christmas.

    Courtesy of The Lights of Christmas/Daniel Carver

    Ben Stephanie tells Santa his wish list for Christmas.

  • Adult attendees enjoy the holiday light displays at The Lights of Christmas south of Stanwood. 
Courtesy of The Lights of Christmas / Patrick Taylor

    Adult attendees enjoy the holiday light displays at The Lights of Christmas south of Stanwood. Courtesy of The Lights of Christmas / Patrick Taylor

Volunteers and staff at Warm Beach Camp -- home of The Lights of Christmas festival south of Stanwood -- never really stop working.
They're busy designing displays and planning entertainment all year long. They start testing lights in July. In September, light hanging begins.
Now is the time to see the amazing culmination of all their hard work, 1 million lights spread out over 15 walkable acres.
And the lights are just the beginning.
Food, live entertainment, activities for kids and even overnight getaways are part of the annual extravaganza.
Here's what you need to know to attend what's billed as the largest holiday light display in the Northwest, now in its 15th year.
When: 5 to 10 p.m. today and Sunday, and Dec. 15 to 23 and 26 to 28.
Where: Warm Beach Christian Camps and Conference Center, known as Warm Beach Camp, 20800 Marine Drive, Stanwood, about 10 miles west of exit 206 off I-5 at Smokey Point.
Cost: Admission is $15 for ages 13 to 59, $10 for military and age 60 and older, $9 for ages 4 to 12, and free for children 3 and younger.
Can't afford the cost? Attend on Dec. 19 or 28 and pay what you can to benefit the camp's scholarship program.
Tickets: Purchase tickets at the event or at www.warmbeach If you buy your tickets online, you can bypass the main line at the gate.
Kid stuff: Families can enjoy unlimited rides on a Polar Express train, take pony rides, pet farm animals, make wooden toys and ornaments, and meet Bruce the Spruce, a talking Christmas tree.
Visitors can also warm up with hot, fresh doughnuts, espresso and hot dogs, among other options.
Food venues accept cash only, but an ATM is available on site.
Entertainment: Five stages will feature free nightly performances by local musicians and theater groups.
Victorian caroling, acoustic and spoken word performances, country and bluegrass groups and storytellers will be featured on various stages.
Dinner theater: This year's free family theater event is a ramped up musical variety show, "Cirque de Noel! Christmas Can Be a Circus!" about a family holiday reunion. Performances are at 6 and 8 p.m. Sunday, and Dec. 18 and 26.
This year's dinner theater and Sunday dessert matinee show will be "Winds in the Morning," a family drama featuring traditional folk and holiday music.
Dinner theater performances are from 6 to 10 p.m. today and Dec. 15 to 17, and 22 to 23. Tickets are $39 or $48 and include a six-course meal, no alcohol.
Sunday dessert matinee performances will be from 4 to 6:15 p.m. Sunday and Dec. 18. Tickets are $24 or $29.
Reservations are required for all "Winds in the Morning" performances, which are open to ages 8 and older.
Access: The Lights of Christmas is not a drive-through event. It is wheelchair and stroller accessible. Parking is free.
Stay overnight: You can spend the night in a motel-style lodge that sleeps four, a cabin, a cottage or a three-room bunkhouse with 30 beds.
Room rates start at $108. Some include admission to the light displays and a buffet breakfast. Reservations are required.
More information: See for entertainment schedules, menus and more, or call 800-228-6724.
Sarah Jackson: 425-339-3037,
Holiday Tour of Lights
What: New this year in Marysville are public tours of 22 holiday light displays dotting the west side of Cedarcrest Golf Course, 6810 84th St. NE, Marysville.
Visitors can either take a tractor-driven hayride or climb aboard the five-car Marysville Rotary Club train to view the displays.
When: Tours are from 5 to 9 p.m. on Thursdays Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 30, except Dec. 24.
Cost: It's free but suggested donations are $3 for a child, $5 for an adult and $20 for families.
Information: Call 360-363-8400 or see for more information.
What: Zoolights at the Point Definance Zoo & Aquarium.
Where: Point Defiance Zoo is at 5400 N. Pearl St., Tacoma.
Half a million lights are crafted into elaborate animated scenes, including ice-skating puffins, a preying eagle and tiger cubs.
Most of the animals are sleeping during Zoolights, but visitors can see sharks, tropical fish and other marine life at the zoo's two aquariums as well some of the small animals in the exhibits.
When: Zoolights is open from 5 to 9 p.m. daily through Jan. 1, except on Dec. 24.
Scuba-diving Santa Claus will appear at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, and Dec. 21 and 28 and at 2:30 p.m. this Sunday and Dec. 18.
Cost: Tickets are $8.25 at the gate or $7 if you buy them at or at Fred Meyer stores. Children 2 and younger are free.
Information: Go to or call 253-591-5337.
Recycle lights: Bring burned out holiday lights for free recycling. You'll help raise money for the zoo's conservation fund.
Garden d' Lights
What: Garden d' Lights at the Bellevue Botanical Garden.
Where: The park is at 12001 Main St., east of downtown Bellevue.
Volunteers create blossoming light displays using more than 500,000 lights.
Kids can spot all the critters, including is Snap d'Dragon, Charlotte in her web and Willie the Slug.
Follow the trail to see a flowing river of lights with four "waterfalls."
When: It's open daily from 5 to 10 p.m. through Dec. 31, including Christmas.
Free nights, sponsored by KeyBank, are Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as space permits.
Cost: Admission is $5 and kids 10 and younger can visit for free. Buy tickets online to bypass the long ticket line.
Information: Call 425-452-6844 for recorded information or see

Story tags » StanwoodGardeningBellevueTacomaChristmas

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