Thousands of people are expected gather among the twinkling holiday displays for this year’s Snoqualmie Winter Lights, Dec. 7. Festivities take place downtown, and a map takes people on an adventure to see the Trail of Lights all over town.
Beginning at 5 p.m. at the gazebo in Railroad Park, the free event will include a tree lighting with Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson and the arrival of Santa Claus via the Northwest Railway Museum’s Santa Train, which turns 50 this year. The head elf will be available for selfies.
The gazebo and trees will be decked out with thousands of lights.
All week long leading up to the event, kids are encouraged to deposit their letters addressed to Santa at the North Pole into the large red mailbox on the gazebo. A letter template is available on the city’s website. Letters can be delivered to the mailbox until Dec. 22.
There also will be musical performances on stage by several local acts including the Snoqualmie Middle School Jazz Band and the Sno Valley Winds as well as a hand bell choir known as the Emerald City Ringers.
A European-style outdoor holiday market will be hosted by Heirloom Cookshop from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. that day, featuring handmade gifts and tasty treats from local crafters and businesses. Shops along the way will offer specialties.
Nicole Wiebe is the city’s events coordinator and has been working on the event — a long-standing community tradition — for two years now. She said people come from far and wide to Snoqualmie for Winter Lights, and it’s more than one event, it’s a whole season. She said the city has worked hard to get Snoqualmie on the map as a major destination for holiday lights.
Last year, Wiebe said at least 3,000 people attended. Some of the local churches serving hot chocolate ran out. The Facebook event for Snoqualmie Winter Lights 2018 had 30,000 people interested, and this year there are already more than 85,000 people who have clicked that they will be attending.
Other event activities include the singing of holiday carols, horse-drawn carriage rides, photo opps, vendor booths, cocoa and cookies, Coffee-with-a-Cop, a sledding hill made from delivered snow with sleds provided, a cookie decorating booth with the Mount Si High School culinary program, and new this year is an ice carving artist performing an ice carving demo and ice art installation along the boardwalk.
The layout of the event will take visitors from the gazebo, down the boardwalk, past the ice art and vendor booths, to the market and back, incorporating historic downtown Snoqualmie.
“Some of the businesses had their biggest day of the year at this event last year,” Wiebe said.
As far as the Trail of Lights, Wiebe said the Snoqualmie Valley is known for having some pretty fabulous lights displays at residences and businesses including the Railway Museum and the Salish Lodge & Spa. A map of places to see the lights can be found on the city’s website.
“The community really lights itself up,” she said. “We’re kind of a lighting destination.”
Wiebe believes the event will be a hit.
“I think it’s just really nice. It’s the biggest attended event that the city promotes,” she said. “It’s nice when the community comes out together and celebrates in the winter time and comes outside. It’s pleasing to see the community come out of their houses, and the lights are so pretty compared to it being so dark and gray this time of year.”
More information can be found online at https://ci.snoqualmie.wa.us/669/Winter-Lights.