Last week my family and I visited Leavenworth, Washington for their annual Christmas lighting festival and truly had the best time of our lives. Leavenworth is an over-the-top charming Bavarian-styled village nestled in the Cascade Mountains. The Cascade mountains are located in in central Washington State and about a 4 and 1/2 hour drive from where we live in Northern Oregon.
The streets are lined with Alpine-style buildings for shopping and dining. The restaurants in Leavenworth primarily serve German food and beer (who doesn’t love a giant pretzel and hot creamy cheese sauce??) but you can always find other non-German staples as well. In addition to restaurants there are quite a few bakeries to serve up your sweet tooth with choices such as apple turnovers, cupcakes, and my favorite – black forest cake!
Another highlight in Leavenworth is a Nutcracker Museum which displays thousands of nutcrackers, some dating back centuries ago. The town is located on the Wenatchee River and the Waterfront Park is the hub of the town where you’ll find children sledding when there’s snow. The picture above is my four year old and my husband enjoying some sledding – that was her first time sledding and she loved it! It’s been said Waterfront Park is the perfect location to view ospreys and eagles as well. The village is also located near ski areas and wineries for the sommeliers in your life.
Every year Leavenworth holds an annual Christmas Lighting Festival for three weekends in the month. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year to go as the quaint Bavarian town becomes a “Village of Lights” with over half of million Christmas lights lining the streets. They take this holiday quite seriously and there is plenty of live musical performances, St. Nickolaus himself for the kids to tell their Christmas wishes to, and even a cookie crawl for the children to enjoy.
On Saturdays and Sundays the festivities kick into full gear at 12:00pm when the children can see the arrival of Santa and other costumed holiday characters such as Mrs. Claus and even snowmen walking through the crowds. Throughout the day tourists can enjoy musical performances in the Front Street Gazebo, including hand bell choirs, solo artists, and even high school and professional choirs. The town literally flows with wonderful holiday cheer!
Because the accommodations were so expensive to stay directly in Leavenworth, we opted to stay in the neighboring town of Wenachtee, Washington which was perfectly lovely. Wenachtee has many hotels and dining establishments as well. One caveat – be prepared for massive crowds and long wait times wherever you go. If you can handle that, you’re definitely going to find your Christmas spirit in Leavenworth!