Just outside of Tacoma is a Spanaway Park – a park that’s filled with green spaces and a lake where you can swim and boat all summer long. In the winter, the entire park transforms into a magical wintery wonderland that also just happens to be the largest drive-through Christmas lights display in the Northwest. That’s right. You don’t even have to get out of your car, which is just perfect if the night you want to see some Christmas lights happens to be rainy or way too cold.
Important Info about Fantasy Lights 2019:
- Fantasy Lights is celebrating its 25th season in 2019!
- The displays are open from November 28-January 1, 2020, from 5:30 – 9 p.m. every night, including holidays.
- Admission is $15 per vehicle or minibus up to 24 people/$45 for buses with more than 25 people.
- Lines can be long on Friday and weekend nights. If you want less company, go on a weeknight.
- Spanaway Park is located at 14905 Bresemann Boulevard S., Spanaway, WA 98387, but you’ll enter the displays from the park entrance on Military Road S. just west from Pacific Avenue.
What to Expect and What You’ll See
If you visit on a peak night, the lines of cars waiting to get in will greet you as soon as you’re in the vicinity of the entrance (and, be warned, if you go close to Christmas on a Friday or weekend, you might be waiting a while…bring snacks and distractions for the kids!). If you go on a slower night (pro tip: go on a Monday night when there’s a football game on if you want to have the place almost to yourself!), you might wonder if you’re in the right spot…until you turn the corner into the park and are greeted by bajillions of glittering lights.
The displays start as soon as you pass the pay stations and include nearly 300 lighted displays throughout the park that range from small, stationary characters, to huge displays, to animated displays, to a tunnel with lighted archways. The path that you’ll drive through the park winds for about two miles. Another pro tip: if you go on a slower night, drive slow, enjoy the displays. It’s really easy to move along and then realize you’ve made it through the whole thing in 10 minutes, and that’s no fun. You only get one loop through the displays for the cost of admission, so make it count.
Highlights include a huge pirate ship, a rainbow and rain made of lanterns, and a giant red teddy bear that has been a mainstay of this display for as long as I’ve been going (which has been about 15 years!). You’ll also see lots of animated displays that are a lot of fun to stop and watch – let a reindeer leap over your car, watch a triceratops jam on a guitar (because why not?), or catch Santa jumping over some presents on his motorcycle.
One of my favorite things about Fantasy Lights is something that’s tough to capture in a photo, which is how you can look out in the distance and see all the displays shining behind each other. It creates a magical landscape that’s really cool…but looks completely lackluster in a photo.
Other Things to Know
If you don’t bring along your own Christmas tunes (and assuming you want to listen to Christmas tunes), tune to FM 95.3.
Each season, there is usually a walk-through event if you prefer to see your Christmas lights on your feet. This usually happens right before the park opens.
You can get discounted Fantasy Lights tickets a few different ways. Usually each year, there are some half-price nights. In 2019, these were December 1-5 so they’re over with already. You can also get a $3 discount from the event website before you go, or stop by Lakewood Community Center or Sprinker Recreation Center to buy tickets for $12 before you go.
For more information, check out the Fantasy Lights website.