5 REASONS YOU MUST EXPERIENCE THE LEAVENWORTH CHRISTMAS LIGHTING FESTIVAL THIS YEAR
The Christmas season is coming! Snow-filled landscapes and mountain goodness! Holiday decorations and seasonal drinks! Lights! Lights! And more lights!!
Sorry, we tend to get just a wee bit excited when the holiday season rolls around. And while Seattle may tend towards being a bit…ahem…drab during this time of year, there happens to be a winter wonderland chock-full of snow, fun and festivities waiting to be explored in your own backyard.
Only a short and scenic deluxe motorcoach ride away, the snowy mountain village of Leavenworth brims with plenty of holiday magic and cheer during the town’s old-fashioned Christmas Lighting Festival. The event culminates each weekend night in December (the 2nd, 3rd, 9th, 10th, 11th, 16th & 17th), when the whole town comes alive with lights. One of our favorite (and yours!) tours, here are five reasons you don’t want to miss out on this perfect holiday experience..
1. Jaw-Dropping Scenic Mountain Views
For journey junkies, the three hour ride northeast over the Cascades offers a sense of escape few other forms of travel can offer. It is the rare kind of trip that affords the opportunity to sit back and take in the region’s spectacular geography while someone else does the driving, allowing you to arrive relaxed and ready for adventure.
Incomparable views begin right away. Admire Jack Frost’s handiwork as you wind your way through the frozen mountain passes and watch as snowflakes gently fall on quiet forests. When hunger strikes, tuck into your delicious Clipper-provided breakfast box and nosh on a Blazing Bagels cranberry orange muffin and Zoi honey Greek yogurt. Just don’t forget to keep staring out at the natural beauty that surrounds you.
There is nothing more magicial than watching the snow fall on the surrounding forests. Photo: Spencer Thomas
A quick 2.5 hours later, rolling past the snow-covered banks of the Wenatchee River, means you are mere moments away from Leavenworth’s postcard-perfect scene. Rows of classic Bavarian-styled buildings decked out in their holiday finest stand against frosted peaks. Scramble off the bus and soak in the sights, sounds and smells of this festive-themed town.
Soak in scenic views of the icy blue Wenatchee River on your way in to town. Photo: Scott Meis
2. A Bounty of Boutique Holiday Shopping
Of course, when visiting a quaint town filled with a treasure trove of unique boutiques and galleries, a little retail therapy is an essential part of your trip. Meandering down Front Street, it’s hard to resist the chance to snag some last-minute Christmas décor at Kris Kringl, the town’s year-around Christmas store or amazing selection of wooden nutcrackers the nearby Nussknacker Haus.
Blanketed in snow and lights, Leavenworth is a veritable winter wonderland. Photo: Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce
If you need something to warm your noggin on a cold winter day, head to the renowned Hat Shop to try on everything from Viking helmets complete with blonde Brunhilda braids to fascinators like the ones worn at the royal wedding.
Thousands of lights cover the town, from street poles to the Bavarian-style storefronts.
Fashionistas should be sure to check out the open and sunny, Posy Handpicked Goods. With an artfully curated collection of small-batch goods that includes luxurious body oils and scrubs, delicate hand-made jewelry and stylish home décor, you are sure to bring more than a few “special finds” home for Christmas.
3. Holiday Magic Delivered Through Fantastic Seasonal Sips
At Icicle Brewery you can sample over seven different tasty brews. We’ll cheers to that!
Cozy up in Leavenworth’s unofficial town living room at Icicle Brewing, and sip on a lineup of frothy brews made with local ingredients (Seriously, even the water is sourced down the street at Icicle Creek). We recommend pairing their exceptional bar bites with a pint of the Bootjack IPA, Colchuck Raspberry Wheat or Crosscut Pilsner.
Cuddle up by the fireplace at the Icicle Ride Winery Tasting room and sip one of their amazing wines.
From there, continue down Front Street and duck into the Chelan-based Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards to sample the tasting room favorite, “Seduction” or their unique, crisp Pinot Noir rose. Pop a few doors down to the log-sided Icicle Ridge Winery tasting room to savor the vineyard’s award-winning white Riesling or their highly-acclaimed “Romanze” red blend. For something different, be sure to taste the Huckleberry or Raspberry Rieslings. Deliciously sweet, they pair excellently with dessert and are absolute perfection.
4. Holiday Hunger? Leavenworth to the Rescue
Everything from wood-fired pizzas to chorizo and sharp white cheddar stuffed mushrooms await you at Sulla Vita. Photo: Dzhan Wiley
An hour or two of walking around town breathing in the nutty aroma of roasting chestnuts is likely to leave your stomach rumbling, and if that doesn’t do it, the smell of brats sizzling on the grill certainly will. Follow your nose to the popular sausage house, Sausage Garten and feast on a selection of house-made bratwurst, currywurst, kielbasa, chorizo and Copenhagen street dogs.
Head inside Sulla Vita’s beautifully crafted, reclaimed wood dining room to grab a late lunch or early dinner. A local foodie favorite, the restaurant serves up handcrafted small plates cooked in a wood-fired oven. To get a taste of all the deliciousness, order up as many of these treats as your heart desires (we recommend the gorgonzola stuffed dates, caprese salad or the sulla vita platter) paired with one of the vintages from what may be one of most impressive wine lists in town.
Chocolaty, smooth and pilled with whipped cream, this is one dessert you don’t want to miss. Photo: Dzhan Wiley
Down the road, the brick-lined Watershed Café is the epitome of culinary goodness in the Pacific Northwest. With a farm-to-table menu that changes daily, expect a new experience every time you visit. Keep an eye out for a few of our favorites, such as the Washington Herb-Cured Organic Chicken Confit or the Grape Leaf-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin. Just be sure to save room for the restaurant’s decadent desserts such as the warm flourless chocolate cake. Served with house-made caramel sauce, San Juan sea salt and local vanilla ice cream, it is a little piece of chocolate heaven.
5. Festive Outdoor Fun for the Kids and Kids at Heart
Listen to songs performed by breakout solo artists and some of the best high school and professional choirs in the Pacific Northwest as you sled by the Front Street Gazebo. Photo: Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce
From snowflakes on your nose, to the sound of carols in the air, to what seems like a million trillion lights, this festive Bavarian town has endless ways to spark your holiday spirit. When the snow flies, whiz down the town’s sledding hill on Front Street Park under a rainbow of blinking Christmas lights or glide over fresh power on a sleigh ride past rivers and woods.
When the last rays of sunlight fade from the horizon, follow the harmonic sounds of alphorns to the town Square for the highlight of the day – The Lighting Ceremony. In one magical moment, the entire town comes to life with a synchronized display of more than half a million sparkling lights and live music.