This month we are heading in to the mountains to a town that USA Today rated one of the U.S.’ Top Christmas Towns – Leavenworth. During the month of December, thousands of people descend on this Bavarian town to experience an old town Christmas full of lights, carols, holiday characters and hopefully, snow.

The big show happens on the first three Saturdays (the 3rd, 10thand 17th) of December for the Christmas Lighting Festival. Beginning at noon, Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas and Santa Clause arrive to town ushering in the live music and entertainment happening at the town square. As 4 p.m. rolls around, head to the square as all of the town’s lights are turned off and everyone joins in singing “Silent Night,” before the big moment at 4:30 p.m. when the town comes alive with approximately a quarter of a million lights.

The lighting of the town isn’t the only fun Leavenworth has to offer during Christmas. Here are a few more ideas:

  • Sled in the park along Leavenworth’s main street.
  • Explore the Nutcracker Museum, which houses more than 6,000 nutcrackers from more than 40 countries.
  • Browse the shops in Leavenworth for unique holiday gifts for everyone on your list
  • Head to nearby Mountain Springs Lodge for old-fashioned sleigh rides. The two-horse drawn sleighs depart at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. from the lodge. The lodge offers a “Feed the Horses” breakfast ride and a dinner ride. Check their website for all of the details: www.mtsprings.com.
  • Go snowmobiling as part of Bawana Bill’s Starlight Express – two hours of nonstop snowmobiling under the stars at Mountain Springs Lodge.

Getting there:

There are many options for getting to Leavenworth for the Christmas Lighting Festival.

  • From Seattle, take Highway 2 east – it’s about two hours from Seattle; you can also take Interstate 90 to Highway 97 North.
  • By train, you can take:
  • Amtrak: the train leaves Seattle at 4:50 p.m. and arrives in Leavenworth at 8:10 p.m.; for the return trip, the train leaves Leavenworth at 6:15 a.m. and arrives in Seattle at 10:20 a.m.
  • Alki Tours operates day-trip trains from Seattle to Leavenworth in the month of December. The train arrives in Leavenworth at 12:30 p.m. and leaves at 5:25 p.m.

Staying overnight?

If you plan to stay in Leavenworth overnight, book your accommodations early – hotels fill up fast! Visit Leavenworth’s lodging guide here