Last Updated on September 16, 2022
Front Street features alpine-style buildings with restaurants serving German beer and food. Being “Little Germany” in the USA, it is, of course, touristy, but it is still packed full of fun. If you’ve ever been to Germany, you’ll feel like you have been transported back. The architecture is beautiful and the merchants offer everything you would hope to find.
In December, Leavenworth provides all the necessities for romance and family fun during the holidays when it is transformed into the Leavenworth Christmas town with the Leavenworth Christmas lights display. Leavenworth is known for its scenic beauty and its Bavarian-styled village. The city is home to a number of popular tourist attractions, including the Leavenworth ski hill, the Nutcracker Museum, and Leavenworth Reindeer Farm.
Leavenworth hosts popular festivals throughout the year, with Oktoberfest being another popular celebration.
Leavenworth is also a popular destination for hiking, camping, and rafting.
Table Of Contents
- About Leavenworth
- Where Is Leavenworth?
- What Makes Christmas In Leavenworth Special?
- A Snowy Village
- Leavenworth During Christmas
- Getting Around Leavenworth
- Where To Stay In Leavenworth
- What To See And Do
- Winter Driving Precautions
Where Is Leavenworth?
Leavenworth is a city in the state of Washington. It is located in the north-central part of the state, about halfway between Seattle and Spokane. Leavenworth is situated in the Cascade Mountain range. The city was founded in 1863 and was named after Henry Leavenworth, a general in the United States Army.
What Makes Christmas In Leavenworth Special?
For many people, the holidays are a time to relax and spend time with family. But for others, it’s a time to hit the road and explore new places. If you’re looking for a festive winter getaway, consider Christmas in Leavenworth, Washington. This charming town goes all out for the holidays, with twinkling lights and holiday decorations adorning the main street. You can also enjoy festive holiday activities like sleigh rides and visiting Santa’s workshop. And of course, no visit to Leavenworth would be complete without sampling some of the local food and drink. From hot cider to roasted chestnuts, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Leavenworth at Christmas is the busiest, but most magical, time of year to visit. We had been to Leavenworth at Christmas before and were so mesmerized by the magic of it that we felt pulled back again. Plus, last time we were there we somehow missed that there was a Reindeer farm nearby — how did we possibly miss THAT?
Wandering Leavenworth during the Christmas Lighting Festival feels like you have stepped into a Hallmark Christmas movie, or that you have finally found the North Pole. To get the most out of the twinkling lights, enjoy one of the lighting ceremonies that are held every Saturday and Sunday during the first three weekends of December. Enjoy some delicious German treats to stay warm as you watch the lights come alive.
The Leavenworth Christmas lights are a sight to behold.
A Snowy Village
Unlike our first Leavenworth experience, there was not much snow in the Village. Apparently, it is an unusual occurrence to not have snow for the start of the Christmas Lighting Festival. I watched the weather forecast up until we left for our trip and went back and forth in my thoughts. No snow? Should we cancel and reschedule our trip? Then I realized that different doesn’t necessarily mean bad and snow does not necessarily coincide with Christmas in the PNW. So we went. And we are so glad we did. Seeing the quaint Bavarian village lit up with half a million lights really is something special.
Just because there wasn’t snow in the village during our second visit to the Leavenworth Christmas Lighting Festival, didn’t mean that we did not find a ton of snow on the way there. Along Steven’s Pass, there was plenty of snow to admire and play in, with a storm passing through a couple of days before our trip. And to be honest, not having snow in the Village of Leavenworth did make things easier with four kids. So in the end, it was not all bad; the kids just didn’t get to sled down the hill in town.
With that said, even if the town is not covered in snow, still bring all of your snow gear. We pulled over at a great rest stop — with a huge field and a little hill for the kids to sled down. It was absolutely perfect and the sun was even shining. Watching the kids play in the snow is even better than playing in the snow when you’re little yourself. The kids sure bring the magic back into the simple things. Olivia even had her first experience in the snow.
We loved the drive to and from Leavenworth. Snow-covered trees make for a gorgeous and mesmerizing drive.
Leavenworth During Christmas
It was wonderful being surrounded by such Christmas cheer. We loved the smell of roasted chestnuts, the big group of carolers strolling through town, and that there was a traditional Gluhwein Tent (selling hot spiced wine and cocoa). Costumed Christmas characters wandered around for photos, and the kids loved them, even if they were a little creepy. St. Nikolas even made his rounds and if you kept an eye out, you could also find Mrs. Claus.
Taking a stroll around town, if it snows you will be able to enjoy the sight of kids sledding in the heart of town, live holiday Christmas music, and shops serving warm treats. We especially loved the fun countdown to all the twinkling lights coming alive in the heart of the town. The million Leavenworth lights are mesmerizing after dark.
Getting Around Leavenworth
The Leavenworth Lighting Festival is all around the main town and Front Street. There are pay parking lots all around town. If you get there early enough, you may also find some free parking spots along the road. The Christmas Lighting Festival and the surrounding town are completely walkable.
If you are planning on bringing the kids, most stores do not allow strollers inside. If it is snowy, your best bet is to pull the kids around on a sled or babywear. A stroller could be a big pain in all the snow that there was, though the main Leavenworth road was well cleared.
There are busses that run from Seattle to Leavenworth, but if you plan to do excursions, it is best to have a vehicle.
Where To Stay In Leavenworth
If you want to stay at a hotel right in the heart of the Leavenworth celebrations, be prepared to pay a pretty penny and you’ll find that you have to book a year in advance as rooms are reserved fast. Since we didn’t book a year in advance, we ended up staying outside of the town in Wenatchee, both times that we adventured to Leavenworth.
For the ultimate experience, there are several hotels along and nearby the main strip. The Bavarian Lodge is a popular option, right in the heart of the Bavarian village.
What To See And Do
Leavenworth Reindeer Farm
If you would like to visit Santa’s reindeer while they take a break from their flying lessons, some of the reindeer live at the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm. If you are big on Christmas magic, this reindeer farm will knock your socks off. We were even able to snap a group photo with Santa.
If you are taking the kids, remember to explain to them that Rudolph is already at the North Pole getting ready for Christmas. The kids were thrilled to meet some of Santa’s Reindeer-in-training. Honestly, it was magical for us adults too. It was great to feel like kids again. We were all completely enchanted.
A visit to a reindeer farm is a truly magical experience. These majestic creatures are fascinating to watch, and it’s amazing to see how they interact with their environment. The farmers who operate this farm are incredibly passionate about their work, and they’re always happy to show visitors around. If you’re looking for a unique and memorable experience, then a visit to a reindeer farm is definitely something you should consider.
Leavenworth Reindeer Farm is located less than 1/2 mile from downtown Leavenworth. A tour includes an educational presentation on reindeer, followed by time to visit with and feed Santa’s friendly herd.
Winter Sleigh Rides
One activity we wished we had time for was a winter sleigh ride. Everything you need to know about reserving a sleigh ride, and the available companies that provide them, can be found here.
Winter sleigh rides are a fun and festive way to enjoy the snow-covered scenery. Gliding through a forest, sleigh rides offer a unique way to take in the sights and sounds of nature. And what could be more romantic than snuggling under a blanket with your special someone while taking in the beauty of a winter wonderland?
If you’re looking for a memorable experience this winter, why not take a sleigh ride? Get into the Christmas mood wrapped in cozy and warm blankets while you dash through the snow on a two-horse open sleigh along with gorgeous snow-covered trees.
Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum
As anyone who has ever tried to crack open a nut knows, it can be a difficult task. But at the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum, you will find more than 7,000 nutcrackers from all over the world that are up to the challenge. With nutcrackers representing more than 50 countries, this museum has one of the largest collections of nutcrackers in the world. In addition to traditional and antique nutcrackers, you will also find ones that are inspired by modern pop culture. There are even nutcrackers made out of wood, plastic, and metal. See some of the fascinating ways that people have devised to crack open nuts by checking out the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum.
Some of our favorite finds were nutcrackers shaped like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Santa Claus, and Snoopy. You will not want to miss this one-of-a-kind collection!
The Gingerbread Factory
It does not feel like Christmas without the smell and taste of warm, spiced gingerbread. The Gingerbread Factory is full of delicious festive treats, including the most Instagrammable Gingerbread cookies, old-fashioned gingerbread, a gingersnap ice cream sandwich, and a gingerbread latte. Expect to wait in a long line, but it is totally worth the wait. If you are not a fan of gingerbread, they also have various other options, so you are sure to find something delicious that suits your craving.
Explore the Christkindlmarkt
Leavenworth Christkindlmarkt is a Bavarian-themed holiday market held annually. The market features a wide variety of festive stalls selling everything from handmade gifts and traditional German foods to Christmas trees and holiday decorations. Christkindlmarkt is also a great place to enjoy live music and entertainment, as well as take part in festive activities like gingerbread house decorating and Santa visits. For those looking to get into the holiday spirit, Leavenworth Christkindlmarkt is the perfect place to start! It is held in Front Street Park and also in the Leavenworth Festhalle on Thanksgiving weekend.
What better way to celebrate Christmas than with a lantern parade? The children and their parents will follow Mr. Santa Claus through the streets, carrying handcrafted glowing lanterns to the Gazebo where the Christkindl will welcome everyone.
Kris Kringl Christmas Store
Kris Kringle in Leavenworth is a magical place that will make all of your Christmas dreams come true. This two-story, 6,000-square-foot store is packed to the brim with everything you need to make your holiday perfect. You’ll find beautiful Christmas trees, exquisitely crafted decorations, and all of the toys that your children have been dreaming of. In addition to all of the classics, at the Leavenworth Christmas store, you will also find some unique gems that will leave you completely mesmerized.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect gift for a loved one or simply wanting to get into the holiday spirit, Kris Kringle in Leavenworth is sure to have everything you need. So come on in and explore the most wonderful time of the year!
Winter Driving Precautions
When you’re visiting Leavenworth in Winter, be sure you take the proper precautions for winter driving conditions:
- Don’t rush. Take your time.
- Winterize your vehicle. This should include an examination of the spare tire, battery, belts, hoses, anti-freeze, tires, brakes, heater, defroster, and windshield wipers.
- Have winter tires with good traction.
- Have chains for your tires; both routes from Vancouver to Leavenworth had signage saying chains were recommended, or mandatory.
- Clear all snow and ice completely off windows, side view mirrors, headlights, taillights, and license plates.
- Buckle up!
- Try to keep your vehicle’s fuel tank more than half full. The extra volume can help reduce moisture problems in your fuel system and it adds extra weight to your vehicle. A topped-up gas tank will also be an asset if you become stranded.
Best of all, the fun doesn’t have to end when the lights go out. Leavenworth offers plenty of other activities to enjoy year-round, from hiking and skiing in the snow-capped Cascade Mountains to golfing and rafting in the summer. No matter when you visit, Leavenworth is sure to put a smile on your face.
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