If you have ever considered spending the Holiday Season in the San Juan Islands, you are in for a delightfully festive experience. Each island has unique traditions for you to enjoy. Orcas Island kicks off the season during the last weekend in November, when you can see the Olga symphony perform and enjoy the Eastsound Artwalk to pick up some unique, locally handcrafted gifts. Throughout December you should also plan a visit to the Rosario Resort, which features Christmas Trees decorated by local non-profit organizations. Tickets are only $1, all proceeds go to non-profits, and the cost of admission also buys you into a raffle drawing where you can win spa visits, dinner at the Mansion restaurant, and other fun prizes. There are several plays and concerts throughout the month, but you shouldn’t miss the Holiday Tree Lighting on the Village Green or the arrival of Santa at Deer Harbor. Both of these events take place the first weekend in December.
Friday Harbor features a Tree Lighting and Caroling celebration during the first weekend in December. Meet at the Village Green to listen to classic Christmas songs sung by a local barbershop singing group, then participate in singing some carols! The official tree lighting happens after dark, and all the local shops are fully decorated and ready to help you find the perfect gift. The Friday Harbor lighted boat parade and Santa’s arrival is a unique way to celebrate the season in the islands. Throughout the month, in addition to taking in shows and concerts, you can also take a special tour of the Lime Kiln Lighthouse. If you want to end the season on a high note, also plan to join in San Juan Island’s New Year’s Eve Community Celebration. It is an alcohol free celebration featuring music, entertainment, games, and dancing, and is open to the whole family!
The Lopez Island celebrations kick off early; their tree lighting celebration takes place during the last weekend in November, followed by the island’s pre-school holiday bazaar which features over 70 artists selling homemade gifts, a bake sale, music, entertainment, and the opportunity to get pictures with Santa. Foodies should plan to stay at the MacKaye Harbor Inn in order to savor the annual Traditional French Christmas Dinner taking place on the second Saturday in December. The weekend before Christmas, visit the Lopez Center for the Community and the Arts, where visitors are treated to a unique Winter Solstice Concert that features traditional and original songs not typically heard at other holiday concerts.
Winter is a great time to see a unique side of the San Juan Islands that most summer visitors never get to see. Since it’s the off season for tourism, all the islands offer hotel and restaurant deals during the holidays as well. Visit the San Juan Islands Holiday Visitors page for more information.