Holiday Happenings at State Parks

November 23, 2016

'Tis the season!


Whatever your winter traditions, December is a great time enjoy brisk and chilly weather, celebrating the warmth that comes from within and being with family and/or friends.  If you’re getting weary of all the shopping,  baking and general holiday stress, take a break and get out for one (or two, or three…) of these fun, family-friendly events happening all month long!

Don’t forget your Discover Pass! You’ll need one to park for day-use visits.

Holiday Beach Party and Lighted Boat Parade

Feel the glow—enjoy the show! The Lighted Boat Parade is a holiday highlight at Lake Sammamish State Park.
Where: Lake Sammamish State Park
When:  4:30 to 5:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3
The skinny: A beach bash in December? You bet! Trade your bikini for a big coat and come on out to Tibbets Beach in Lake Sammamish State Park for the Holiday Beach Party sponsored by the Friends of Lake Sammamish. Gather around the bonfires for some hot chocolate while the Issaquah Singers kick things off with a chorus of caroling. Then, turn your sights to the twinkling lights as the Lake Sammamish Yacht Club hosts the Lighted Boat Parade on the water.  Dress warmly, bring a flashlight, a beach chair and a happy heart.

Gingerbread House Workshops

Ok…ok…can we eat it NOW? Make some tasty decorations at a Cama Beach Gingerbread House Workshop.
Where: Cama Beach State Park
When: 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3 and Saturday, Dec. 10
The skinny: If you build it, they will cheer! Get crafty with your family and learn to build a traditional gingerbread house with Alice Blandin—aka “The Gingerbread Lady” and a volunteer with the Cama Beach Foundation. Each year The Gingerbread Lady graciously offers her expertise to help people make their gingerbread masterpieces. Please register for this workshop. Organizers would like to hear from people at least one week before the workshop so they can plan how many gingerbread parts to bake. The supply fee is $15 and includes decorative candy. Feel free to bring your own decorations, too. This event is a fundraiser for the Cama Beach Foundation.

Also happening on the same days at Cama Beach: Free crafts workshops from 10 a.m. to noon. Create a swag with newly picked greens for your home and make an ornament using buttons.

Bringing in the Yule Log

Swing into the season with a trip to Schafer State Park’s annual Yule Log Hunt.
Where: Schafer State Park
When: 1 p.m., Sunday Dec. 11
The skinny: There is no way “yule” want to miss this event! Schafer State Park’s annual Yule Log Hunt dates back to the 1950s but went on hiatus in the 1970s. The Friends of Schafer & Lake Sylvia (FOSLS) revived the fun seven years ago.  Bring the kids and gather in the park’s day-use area. On the shout of “THREE” the kids begin the hunt for the special log marked with a ribbon. Working together, all the “hunters” tie a rope to their catch and drag it back to camp where they take turns cutting it to size—under close adult supervision. The finder gets the honor of carving his or her name into the handle on the ax used to cut the log, a tradition dating back more than 50 years. Then, gather around the fire at Schafer’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)-built fireplace at the Group Camp Shelter and enjoy hot beverages, treats and music.

Light Up Your Holidays at Admiralty Head Lighthouse

Feel that holiday glow this December at Fort Casey’s newest holiday event: Light Up Your Holidays at Admiralty Head Lighthouse! Photo of Admiralty Head Lighthouse by Lee Dygert.
Where: Fort Casey Historical State Park
When:  11 a.m. to 4 p.m. , Dec. 10-11
The skinny: New this year! Fort Casey is hosting a two-day event guaranteed to lighten your holidays!  Treat the whole family to a full afternoon of fun at one of Whidbey Island’s most beautiful—and historic—places. Dig into some children’s crafts and have your picture taken with Santa at the historic lighthouse. Get into a festive mood listening to local groups perform holiday music throughout the day. In the late afternoon, gather around the campfire for stories and interpretive talks.

Bowman Bay Holiday

What do you want? Why to go to the Holiday by the Bay event at Deception Pass Park of course! Photo courtesy of Deception Pass State Park Foundation
Where: Deception Pass State Park
When: 4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 16-17
The skinny: Bowman Bay is a great place to play—and celebrate the holidays! Join our friends from the Deception Pass Park Foundation for their second-annual holiday fundraiser. Last year’s event was so successful they are back again with even more! Admission is $5 per family and goes to support the foundation’s education efforts throughout the year.  Immerse yourself in holiday fun, from the historic kitchen shelters, to the campground. Greet Santa. Do a little shopping at booths in the campsites. Enjoy local music, hot chocolate and baked goods. Dive in to some fun crafts for the kids and then enjoy the sunset over the water, followed by holiday lights on the park cabins before warming up by the fire. A perfect island holiday in one afternoon!

A Starry, Starry Night

Where: Larrabee State Park
When: 4 to 7 p.m. Dec 16-17
The skinny: Feel that holiday glow build as you walk under star-filled skies on the shores of Samish Bay. Larrrabee is hosting it’s first lantern walk and winter celebration this year and hopes you will bring a lantern or lamp (with battery-operated tealights and NO open flames, please) and join the fun. Bundle up and then warm your spirits with a bonfire, carols, cocoa and cider and maybe a little holiday shopping at the park store! Bring that camera too! This promises to be a photogenic event!

Snowman-Building Contest

Build a real cool creation this winter at Lake Wenatchee State Park. Then share it’s picture for a chance to win a prize!
Where: Lake Wenatchee State Park
When: All winter long, as soon as there is snow to build with
The skinny: Keep in the holiday spirit throughout the season! Do you want to build a snowman? Super! May we suggest you do so at Lake Wenatchee State Park where you can enter your creation (by photo) into a season-long  contest for a chance to win prizes. Creativity is encouraged! When the snow finally arrives (you may have to wait a couple of weeks) enter your creation in one of three categories: taller than 3 feet; 3 feet tall and under;  and “wild card”— including snow scenes, animals and so forth. The snow’s the limit! For full contest rules and more information write to

Looking for perfect holiday gift that keeps on giving?
Check out our 2017 State Parks calendar on sale now, or give the gift of year-round recreation—a Discover Pass!

Tell us about your holiday at Washington State Parks!
Share your stories and photos here!

Feature photo courtesy of Deception Pass State Park