By Theresa Goffredo Herald Writer
The Lights of Christmas at Warm Beach Camp is in its 16th year, but even this popular holiday destination is improving with age.
If you are not familiar with the Lights of Christmas, it’s renowned as the Northwest’s largest holiday light display. But it’s more than that. It’s a 22-night, over-the-top festival experience in Stanwood that combines family activities with all sorts of live entertainment.
Though it’s hard to improve on more than a million holiday lights, five entertainment stages, Polar Express Train rides and Bruce the Talking Spruce, there are a few new things in place this year to “keep the event looking fresh,” spokesman Patrick Patterson said.
“We wanted to have some new and wonderful surprises for people returning and also expand the capacity to serve more people,” Patterson said.
One of the additions this year is a light display called “Gloria,” a grouping of seven angels all done in clear white lights that are positioned 9 to 10 feet off the ground, heralding the entrance to the Nativity scene, with three shafts of light shooting up from the ground.
“The whole thing is dramatic and quite beautiful,” Patterson said.
Also, the area known as Frontier Camp is receiving an expanded “Christmas Falls,” a waterfall and river, all in lights.
Patterson described it as blue lights that cascade down through the trees and wend through cabins to a marsh or pond area with different kinds of plants, reeds and flowers and even lighted deer.
The expanded “waterfalls” area is to highlight the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest. It features a walking path through Frontier Camp and out to the petting farm, Patterson said.
And for those visitors who like their doughnuts fresh, warm and fast, the popular mini-doughnut-making tent has been expanded and relocated. Now there’s no waiting in line for 45 minutes as four machines are rolling out the mini sweets lickety-split.
Returning favorites include The Bayside Ornament Shoppe, which allows visitors to buy or create their own ornament.
The Warm Beach toy shop returns this year. It has been renamed Elf Land Toy Shop, where families can make wooden toys such as yo-yos, tops and wooden ornaments.
Visitors to Warm Beach can also shop for Christmas gifts, keep toasty around one of several warming fires or be entertained at one of the five entertainment stages:
Deer Mountain Lodge: Story-telling hourly beginning at 6 p.m.
Caroling Stage: Victorian carolers perform hourly beginning at 5:45 p.m.
Joyland Concert Hall: Traditional Christmas performances at 5:45, 6:45, 7:45, and 8:45 p.m.
Tinhorn Town: Western and bluegrass music performed hourly beginning at 5:15 p.m.
Starry Night Coffeehouse: Acoustic and spoken word performances hourly beginning at 5 p.m.
There are also dinner theater performances featuring “Back Home on the Tumblin’ D” by Victoria Ritchey.
This is a dramatic comedy about how life on a Colorado cattle ranch during the holidays during World War II can have its share of intrigue.
The play’s performed at 6 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 22.
The dinner theater, including a six-course meal, starts at $39 per person.
Sunday dessert matinees at 4 p.m. Dec. 9, 16 and 23, start at $24 per person.
Theater tickets are not part of the general admission cost.
Other entertainment, family activities, snack options and overnight lodging are listed on the Warm Beach website at www.warmbeachlights.com.
The Lights of Christmas can get busy. Patterson is predicting the busiest nights to be Dec. 15, 22 and 23.
But, he said, Warm Beach absorbs the crowds quite well.
“Lots of people create an energy all of their own, and everything seems more bubbly and alive,” Patterson said.
“There are so many venues where you can go indoors and walk around, and you really don’t feel like you are being squeezed out of anything.”
Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424; email@example.com.
Lights of Christmas
Where: Warm Beach Camp, 20800 Marine Drive, Stanwood.
Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Dec. 8 and 9, 13 through 16, 18 through 23, and 26 through 29
Admission: $15 adults, $10 seniors and military, and $9 for kids ages 4 to 12. Children 3 and under are admitted free.
Parking is free. The event is wheelchair accessible.
Information: 800-228-6724; www.warmbeachlights.com.